David "Fathead" Newman (with Ray Charles): Willow Weep for Me
Willow Weep for Me
David 'Fathead' Newman (alto sax)
Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman (Atlantic 1304)
Bennie Crawford (baritone sax), Edgar Willis (bass), Milt Turner (drums).
Composed by Ann Ronell.
Recorded: New York, November 5, 1958
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
David "Fathead" Newman first made his mark as a member of the Ray Charles band. But a talent this large was not destined to remain a sideman. Yet what a coup for Newman to have his debut as leader take place under the auspices of Mr. Charles himself—on Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David 'Fathead' Newman. Here the saxophonist picks up the alto to deliver an impassioned rendition of Ann Ronell's 1932 standard "Willow Weep for Me." Even before you get to the solos, Newman puts so much oomph into the melody statement that you already know that you are in the presence of a world-class artist. Not to be outdone, Ray Charles (in a rare sideman role) shows off his jazz chops. Charles gives a passing nod at Art Tatum's famous arrangement of this song in his intro, but then gets into his own distinctive bag of funky tricks. Newman would continue to delight jazz fans for another half-century, but even at this young age was a confident stylist with a sound all his own.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia