Friday, October 28, 2016

Les Spann - Gemini

Les Spann was a perfect example of a jazz artist who had an impressive list of sideman credentials but never got very far as a leader. Although he played with heavyweights like Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, and Ben Webster, the guitarist/flutist didn't record on his own extensively — which is regrettable because Spann was an intriguing musician. How many guitarists are equally proficient when it comes to playing the flute ? Spann's two instruments get equal time on Gemini, an excellent hard bop date that was produced by the ubiquitous Orrin Keepnews. This album, which Fantasy reissued on CD on its Original Jazz Classics imprint in 2001, was recorded at two different sessions in December 1960. One finds Spann on flute, while the other finds him on guitar. Both sessions employ Julius Watkins on French horn, Tommy Flanagan on piano, and Sam Jones on upright bass, but there are two different drummers — Al "Tootie" Heath at one session, Louis Hayes at the other. Spann gives 100 percent at both sessions. As a guitarist, he is bluesy and expressive on material that ranges from Quincy Jones' "Stockholm Sweetnin'" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" to the standard "There Is No Greater Love." But he is equally impressive when he picks up the flute on tracks that include the melancholy "Afterthought" and a lyrical performance of the standard "It Might as Well Be Spring." One thing Spann doesn't do on this album is play both flute and guitar on the same tune; he is careful to keep them separate. And while it would have been interesting to hear him play a flute solo right after a guitar solo, Gemini is still excellent. It's too bad that Spann didn't do a lot more recording as a leader.
Alex Henderson

Source :

Les Spann
(Flute & Guitar)


1 Smile (Heywood)  6:13
2 Con Alma (Gillespie)  3:37
3 Q's Dues Blues (Spann)  6:15
4 It Might as Well Be Spring (Hammerstein, Rodgers)  4:45
5 Stockholm Sweetnin' (Jones)   5:35
6 Blues for Gemini (Watkins)  4:54
7 Afterthought (Spann)  5:08
8 There Is No Greater Love (Jones, Symes)  4:47

Les Spann - fl [# 1, 4, 6 & 7] & g
Julius Watkins - fr hrn
Tommy Flanagan - p
Sam Jones - b
Albert "Tootie" Heath - dr [# 1, 4, 6 & 7]
Louis Hayes - dr

Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, New York City ; December 8 [# 1, 4, 6 & 7] & 16, 1960.


yewsta said...

Thank you. Great material you have here.

jazzy62 said...

Thank you very much!

Otis Foster said...

Merci, Melanchthon

oui said...

it sounds wonderful!

danair said...

Thanks Mel not heard this for ages.

pedro gamundi said...


fcapeau said...

Well, this is a pleasant stuff, "Dans l'air du temps", the time of 1960, when storming disturbances were blowing on Jazz. And Spann plays the Keeper of the flame ! Many thanks, Mel.

blbs said...

Gracias Mel!

Gaetano Bevilacqua said...

mille grazie!

deGallo said...

Thank you.

kristophermc28 said...

Thanks again Mel. Love every Jazzland title I've listened to.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

Asphaltj said...

Hi Mel, your site is so brilliant. I was looking for some files and
most of them are on your blog! Unfortunately not anymore
available. Could you re-up them? Requests will be put in
related post comments. I start this this one where part 2
is missing. Thanks and happy new year with a lot of new
amazing disks.

Melanchthon said...

moxnix said...

Thank you for Gemini!

musician3 said...

AMAZING...............................THANK YOU FOR ALL

John Pickworth said...

Many thanks Mel !

Asphaltj said...

Thank You so much! your blog is such a treasure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much

Anonymous said...

Thank you MM, this one brings back good ole times!

DEEP said...

Spann died a homeless person on the streets of Manhattan. The booze got him but good.

Peter said...

Dear Melanchthon,

thank you for introducing Spann and his playing to me.
What a shame that he died in such a way.

rambert said...

Thanks. Another new artist I'm delighted to discover.

sep troelstra said...

Many thanks!!

Brush&Stick said...

Thanks so much!