Jan 1, 2013

Organ Jazz From Baby Face Willette: Face to Face From 1961

Roosevelt "Baby Face" Willette was a Jazz organist who released only 4 albums as a leader, and appeared on only a few as a side man.

Willette passed away in 1971 at the age of 37. The only real notoriety he has received has come in the last decade or so.

 His 2 Blue Note sessions as a leader, Face to Face and Stop and Listen have been reissued in a limited production run, Face to Face has been released on a 180 gram vinyl, a limited edition by the European label Doxy.

I always prefer the original Blue Note pressing if possible, but escalating prices and scarcity make this very difficult sometimes, I don't believe Face to Face was ever reissued by Blue Note its self on vinyl? So this pictured Doxy reissue is very welcome.

Face to Face is an album that features Willette in a soul jazz vain, not unlike Jimmy Smith in style, yet a little more of a gospel or blues influence is noted.

Guitarist Grant Green offers his support on the album, and as always adds a distinctive single note sound.  Green does not use the octaves like Wes Montgomery did. Grant Green really was an underrated player, who also has received the credit he deserved long after his death, Willette also played on Green's Blue Note album Grant's First Stand.

Green plays some seriously advanced single note runs on the lead off track "Swingin' at Sugar Rays" and the tenor sax of Fred Jackson adds some down home flavor.
If you are Hammond or Soul Jazz collector, Face to Face is a must have, and Grant Green Fans should go through hell to hear this record, if you can find an original pressing of Face to Face on eBay, it could set you back the better part of $500.

I was fortunate to find this Doxy reissue at Half Price Books, a chain of discount books and music stores located in the Mid West. I paid $7.99, a bargain indeed.

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