Monday, December 15, 2014

Buddy Tate Is A Texas Tenor

Buddy Tate was both a band mate of, and successor to, fellow Texas tenor saxophonist Herschel Evans. Both had played together in Troy Floyd’s Band and when Evans passed away at a young age, Tate was called to replace him in the Count Basie Band. Like Evans, Tate had a big sound drenched in the blues and like Evans, his playing contrasted with Lester Young. His playing was typical of what has become known as the Texas Tenor sound which includes such other masters as Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb. After leaving Basie in 1949, Tate had a lengthy career leading his own Celebrity Club band in Harlem as well as extensively touring Europe. By the time the Sackville album, that Delmark recently reissued “Texas Tenor,” was recorded in 1978, many artists would travel as single artists and hook up with local rhythm sections. In the present case, Tate was hooked up with the terrific rhythm section of pianist Wray Downes, bassist Dave Young and drummer Pete Magadini for a session of ballads and standards.

This is a wonderful date full of swing and some marvelous ballad playing. The opening tunes “June Night” and “Someday Sweetheart” are swinging renditions of numbers that were popular in Tate’s youth. The latter number was recorded by Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver, although Tate’s version is more modern rhythmically than the versions by those pioneering jazz artists. “If You Could See Me Know” is a wonderful rendition of Tadd Dameron’s ballad displaying the warmth and tenderness generally characteristic of Tate with the rhythm section providing a light touch. The rhythm is hotter on the fine rendition of “I’ll Remember April,” with Downes adding some nice latin accents.

Tate is heard on clarinet on a bluesy take on “Georgia on My Mind,” followed by some somewhat breathy tenor on “Alone Together.” His swinging, nuanced tenor throughly delights on “Bye Bye Blackbird,” where his swinging, nuanced playing thoroughly delights. This Delmark reissue of the Sackville release includes two previously unissued selections, a lovely rendition of the Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration “Isfahan” (Tate evokes later day Ben Webster here), and “Lullaby of the Leaves” which provides another example of his clarinet playing with a woody, bluesy flavor.

Supported by a rhythm section, Tate is terrific throughout the marvelous “Texas Tenor.”

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is Tate doing the classic ballad "Blue and Sentimental."

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