Junior Mance: Happy Time


Happy Time


Junior Mance (piano)


Happy Time (Original Jazz Classics 1029)

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Junior Mance (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Mickey Roker (drums).

Composed by Junior Mance


Recorded: New York City, June 20, 1962


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Julian C. Mance, Jr., better known as Junior Mance, was the pianist in Cannonball Adderley's first quintet in 1956-57 before Cannon joined Miles Davis. By the time Adderley formed his second quintet in 1959, the saxophonist had established his reputation and would now have much greater success as a leader, but Mance--by then touring with Dizzy Gillespie--was no longer in the picture. One can say that Mance's bluesy style was the progenitor for both Bobby Timmons and Joe Zawinul in Adderley's groups. A long-time jazz educator focusing on the blues, and the author of How to Play Blues Piano, the still active Mance --like his contemporaries Ray Bryant and Gene Harris--has always had a naturally soulful grasp of the idiom. Mance's 1962 Happy Time album is an excellent example of his often underappreciated scope as a pianist, from the suave and caressing treatment of "Jitterbug Waltz" to the boisterous back-to-the-chicken-shack funk of the title tune.

The intoxicating, feel-good theme of "Happy Time" is expounded upon in Mance's jubilant solo. Between his active left hand and the tight accord of Ron Carter and Mickey Roker--particularly the drummer's persistent cymbal beat--an irresistible momentum is maintained for the full six minutes of the track. Mance's blues-inflected tone adds extra vitality to his adroit phrasing and repeated patterns, as he builds ever so quickly from peak to peak. You might notice a run or two here from Mance that will also appear intact in the playing of soul-jazz pianist Les McCann. Mance's closing call-and-response riffs and arpeggios precede the reprise, after which a hard-driving out chorus--driven by his seductive left-hand ostinato--serves as a final hallelujah and amen.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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