Herbie Nichols: Applejackin'
Herbie Nichols (piano)
The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note CDP 7243 8 59352 2 0)
Recorded: New York, August 7, 1955
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Herbie Nichols remains one of the most under-recognized figures in jazz history, but luckily his entire output for Blue Note is available as a three-CD set. “Applejackin’” is a lively little piece of music with an almost childlike theme. Much has been made of the unusual structures Nichols’s compositions utilized, but it is worth considering his music apart from its usefulness in music theory courses. Here is a bright little sketch one could imagine coming from Thelonious Monk’s songbook, but Nichols’s style of performing is much different – on beat, in key, totally unselfconscious. He returns again and again to the theme – a skipping, happy phrase played twice before spiraling upward – while fleshing it out with his impromptu thoughts.
Reviewer: Steve Greenlee