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  • Writer's pictureJulien Fraipont

Sonny Clark - Blues in the night

Hello, my little eight notes, how are we doing today?

Don't you, sometimes, have irresistible envy to listen to something in particular? Today is one of those days. So I'm proposing to you Sonny Clark's trio album Blues In The Night.

Recorded on December 7, 1958, in Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack for the Blue note label. Honestly, I don't know if Rudy ever slept. I saw once that he was really organized. On Monday, recording for Blue Note, Tuesday for Prestige, etc... Each label had a day.

Everyone wanted «his sounds» and it's really understandable, he was really a master in his domain. The warmth of the sounds, all the instruments are perfectly balanced, it's like you are in the room with them... Just great. He passed away a few years ago at the honorable age of 91.

So, Sonny Clark. This pianist is just incredible. He died at the really too young age of 31! If you are not a Hard-Bop fan (what you are slightly becoming, I'm sure) you maybe never heard his name. And it's quite normal. But he also stays under the radar for a lot of people, and he's a little underrated. Sadly enough because, his qualities as pianist accompanist, pianist soloist, composer, arranger are undeniable. And it's why for me, he is really incredible, getting those «skills» in such a short period of time.

First listening, you immediately get the idea. It's one of the reasons why I love Sonny Clark. It doesn't 't have to be complicated or fancy-schmancy to be good. Just the opposite, it's good, period.

Really «accessible» concept but not less interesting and qualitative. The arrangements are simple and concise, relaxed tempo, blues/bebop-inflected improvisation. Good ingredients for a good album. And it's a marvelous one.

When you listen to Sonny Clark, you hear the great influences he had. The bebop language of Bud Powell and the light touch of Red Garland. What a great combination.

One last interesting thing about this album is that he kept the idea of a traditional bebop trio session like with Bud Powell or Erroll Garner. The piano only takes solos. The rhythm section is there to support the pianist. They, the great Paul Chambers (b) and the less known, but no less talented, Wes Landers (d), let the pianist express all his talent. In a certain way, I recognize a premise to The Three Sounds Trio whom I'll talk about later.

Recognition is something really strange to me. This undeniable talented pianist didn't get the attention he deserves. Maybe because of his short career, maybe not, we'll never know. But what I know, is that when I see a Sonny Clark album, I'm sure that I'm going to listen to great music. And certainly when there is Sonny Clark's original. But, this is for another day.

Like always, enjoy your listening!

Greetings and long life jazz!

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