Clifford Jordan: Arapaho
Clifford Jordan (tenor sax)
Live at Ethell's (Mapleshade MS 56292)
Kevin O’Connell (piano), Ed Howard (bass).
Composed by Clifford Jordan & Barry Harris.
Recorded: live at Ethell's, Baltimore, MD, October 16-18, 1987
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
In the 1980s, one of the best bands to catch live in New York City was the group periodically led by Clifford Jordan and Barry Harris, which included the drummer on this track, Vernel Fournier. Those who didn't consider Jordan a bebop player were surprised by his skill and panache in the style, perfectly in sync with quintessential bop pianist Harris. "Arapaho," co-written by Jordan and Harris, is a thinly veiled takeoff on "Cherokee." Fournier announces the piece with a Native American war-drum pattern, and then plays imaginative fills as Jordan delivers the theme. Jordan's unique, always immediately identifiable sound, at once both breathy and throaty, is insinuating. He avoids the usual bop clichés in his solo, his swirling lines blended with deep honks, upper-register squeals and bluesy riffs. O'Connell, who was Jordan's regular pianist for six years, creates an intriguing solo of his own, with an appealingly light touch and assured, propulsive phrasing. As for Fournier, his delicate cymbal work contrasts with an otherwise aggressive attack in which he occasionally drops heavy bass-drum bombs. His lucid solo is typical of him, dominated by a workout on tom-toms and easily followed by the listener as Fournier sticks closely to the thematic material in his development. Jordan inserts part of the original "Cherokee" in the closing reprise, on the off chance that the audience at Ethell's might include some true squares.
Reviewer: Scott Albin