Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Poll Winners - Straight Ahead (1975)

Some sixteen years after their last hit album for Contemporary, the Poll Winners reprised their intuitive, interactive approach to the modern trio with this July 12, 1975 session. Straight Ahead is a distillation of everything they've lived since the late '50s, and while their collective infrastructure is still based in the blues, swing and bebop, they now approach their music with an ear for the rhythmic and harmonic innovations of musicians such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery. So if "Blue Boy" begins with a rhythmic vamp suggestive of a popular rock beat of the day, when the players break into their trademark 4/4 blowing section, the years melt away. Drummer Manne reacts to the jamming with a more discursive ear than would have been considered quite polite in 1959, crashing and rolling through Barney Kessel's solo, as the guitarist responds with taut Monkish dissonances and modern harmonies. Their bluesy big band intro to the theme of "Laura," followed by bassist Brown's quicksilver contrapuntal dance, is as witty as any of the jazzy reworkings of pop songs that made them famous, and Kessel takes an immense solo, nodding sagely to the ghosts of Bird and Charlie Christian, ending with a flurry of percussive chords. As always, bassist Ray Brown is a mountain of strength and stability, a superb melodist, but first and formemost a great time player. Listen to how he steadies the disjointed themes and variations of "One Foot Off The Curb," anchoring the emotional spill-over in an enormous bell-like beat, then demonstrating a wide range of inflections and rhythmic variations — without ever relinquishing the beat. And you can just disappear in the glow of his firm, gentle long tones on the winsome "Two Cents."


Barney Kessel
Ray Brown
Shelly Manne
The Poll Winners - Straight Ahead


1 Caravan (Ellington, Tizol, Mills)  5:59
2 Someday My Prince Will Come (Churchill, Morey)  6:08
3 Blue Boy (Kessel)  7:14
4 Laura (Mercer, Raksin)  8:40
5 Two Cents (Brown)  5:40
6 One Foot Off The Curb (Kessel)  6:43


Barney Kessel - g
Ray Brown - b
Shelly Manne - dr

Recorded at Contemporary's Studio ; Los Angeles ; July 12, 1975


OldHippieRick said...

THANKS 4 the Share my friend it was the only one of the Poll Winners I did not have...;-)

Blue Eyes said...

I've all the Poll Winners, great post Mel!

Zape said...

I was (and still am) sure that I have this. But I could not find it anywhere?! So a big thank you!

Guelda said...

Three great musicians who deserve the nickname "The Poll Winners" !

As always, Kessell's chord-melody playing is flawless and inspiring, and his sense of time impressive. When he plays single-lines he sometimes reminds me of Coltrane in the sense it sounds a bit like Trane's "sheets of sound", so many notes chained so quickly.

Both Ray Brown and Shelly Mane have plenty of room to express the talent they definitly possess.

Thank you very much for sharing this one Melanchthon !

Jan said...

What a fabulous session!
Thank you for posting this Melanchton, The Poll Winners series is among my favourite guitar-bass-drums albums.

danair said...

The only one i don't have, thank you so much for this.

Melanchthon said...

musician3 said...

EXCELLENT..........................THANK YOU FOR ALL

John Pickworth said...

Many thanks Mel !

Fred Archtop said...

How come I didn't have that Poll Winners ???? Thanks a milllllllllion Mel.

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Thank you very much Mel!!

Angelo said...

Muito obrigado!!!

deGallo said...

Great! Thank you.

kristophermc28 said...

Thanks Mel!

Kovina Kris said...

Another upgrade for me. Thank you!

Jazz Padd said...

Got the earlier three albums they did, interested in hearing this later one. Many thanks for sharing it here.

xavier RUIZ HERRANZ said...

Bueno, pues gracias señor Mel... como siempre !!