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Junior Mance: Holy Mama

Album Notes

The reissue label Test of Time has specialized in restoring a number of long unavailable LPs to print, most of which were originally recorded for the Japanese label East Wind and briefly available in the U.S. on the long defunct Inner City label. These 1976 sessions by pianist Junior Mance are typical for the era, mixing originals, standards, and a modern pop tune. Fortunately, the normally bland "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" benefits from Mance's soulful, upbeat treatment, featuring bassist Martin Rivera prominently as well as the leader. Mance's rambunctious introduction to "God Bless the Child" immediately signals that he plans to take it into a different direction, though there is a gospel air to part of his arrangement. Mance's upbeat "Holy Mama" also has strong gospel roots, while he closes with two more originals, the uptempo blues "The Good Old Days" and the soulful "Blues for the Schnug," though the liner notes don't explain the latter title's significance. This is an excellent date that is well worth seeking out. ~ Ken Dryden


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