Andy McCloud's Gentlemen of Jazz: Blues For Bighead
"Although McCloud's been on the jazz scene for years, having worked with such notables as Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks, and Jimmy McGriff,
but has never really become a name that jazz fans would recognize. This album should help change that..." recommends All Music Guide.
Andy first caught Pierre's ear at a Clifford Jordan session with his down-in-the-gutter, bluesy bass solos. Andy picked three of New York's top
jazz guys to form the Gentleman of Jazz. Whether they're cooking or lyrical, on the melody or free, the group never strays far from the blues.
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REVIEW by All Music Guide
Andy McCloud's recorded tribute to a friend of his nicknamed "Bighead" was cut in 1990 in Pierre Sprey's studio in the bucolic surroundings of Upper
Marlboro, MD. Strangely, it lay in the vaults for 10 years before being released. Playing with his regular group (at that time), McCloud leads them
through a play list of his compositions. Despite the title, this is not a blues-dominated session. "I'm Tired of Talking" is a hard bop piece with Steve
Nelson's vibes and Joe Ford's alto taking solo honors. In contrast to this musical mayhem is the laid back, quite sedate "Who Is My Mother", where McCloud
plays long, fat, resonant bass lines, less sharp than the style of many of today's practitioners on the big fiddle. McCloud continues his generosity in
sharing the center stage spotlight as he lets guest Larry Willis make a strong, but ruminative, statement on "Song for Lou" as McCloud plucks away
underneath making it one of the more melodic tracks on the CD. The mike picks up the spontaneous jivin' as McCloud counts off the beat on the album's
flag waver, "Blues for Bighead" kicked off by the boppish alto of Joe Ford, it turns into a blues laden eight minute workout of a McCloud head arrangement
where everyone gets plenty of room to express themselves as Victor Jones's beats out the tempo, shoots out rim shots and otherwise engages in percussive
calisthenics designed to make a statement.
Although McCloud (has) been on the jazz scene for several years, having worked with such notables as Elvin Jones, Jon Hendricks and Jimmy McGriff,
but has never really become a name that average jazz fans would recognize. This debut album should help change that. Recommended. -Dave Nathan
REVIEW by CMJ
Bassist Andy McCloud has played countless sessions with such folks as Elvin Jones, Dizzy Gillespie and Don Pullen. Here he’s put together a beautiful
quartet that sounds like a classic Blue Note session from the early ‘60s. The playing starts out in a straight-ahead groove but looks to break off into
adventurous improvisation whenever possible, particularly on “Waltz For A Nebulous Woman.” McCloud sets the tone here with a bouncing bass style that
swings deep, but in a jaunty sort of way.
REVIEW by All About Jazz
Bassist Andy McCloud convenes the Gentlemen of Jazz–his working band–to produce a satisfying set of straightahead improvised music.
Around jazz since the New York loft scene, McCloud worked with likes of Elvin Jones in the late ‘70s, Clifford Jordan in the early ‘80s,
and Hilton Ruiz through the ‘90s. Blues for Bighead represents McCloud’s first disc as a leader. The all-original program of blues and
blues-oriented pieces provides some engaging twists: for one, the presence of Steve Nelson on vibes in the seat traditionally occupied by piano in a
quartet ensemble. Nelson really stretches out on “Lisa” and his mallet-work reinforces the groovy atmosphere. Joe Ford’s piercing yet soulful voice on
alto and soprano saxes captures the listener’s attention throughout the session. His alto on the opening number evinces a sophisticated command of the
blues idiom. Ford cuts loose long, flowing upper-register phrases on his solo on “Waltz for a Nebulous Woman”. McCloud himself keeps things fresh by
displaying the full complement of bass technique: fat walking lines on “Blues for Bighead” and a bowed introduction and closing on “Waltz for a Nebulous
Woman”. Bass and piano make an enticing duet. McCloud presents two numbers, “Song for Lou” and “Who Is My Mother”, with pianist Larry Willis.
Fans of mainstream jazz will find their generic expectation fulfilled by this debut offering from a jazz journeyman. -Asim Memon