Personnel: Philly Joe Jones (vocals, drums); Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone); Nat Adderley (cornet); Julian Priester (trombone); Tommy Flanagan (piano); Jimmy Garrison (acoustic bass).
Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York, New York on September 17, 1958. Originally released on Riverside (282). Includes original liner notes by Orrin Keepnews.
Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
Philly Joe Jones certainly didn't take a conservative approach to his first solo album. Instead, he chose to use his love of horror movies as the backdrop for this 1958 release. The opening track, "Blues for Dracula" commences with several minutes of Jones's ad lib impersonation of the horror-film icon Bela Lugosi, certainly an unexpected beginning.
The rest of BLUES FOR DRACULA is more straight-ahead. For example, "Tune Up" features a burning cornet solo from Nat Adderley and a virtuosic cadenza-style drum solo from Jones himself. Jones really takes his solo to the edge here, experimenting with a variety of abstract rhythmic motifs. On the final track, "Ow!," Jones employs a variety of fancy rolls (and other snare-drum rudiments) before orchestrating his ideas around the rest of the drum kit. The other five musicians shine on this session too, especially trombonist Julian Priester, whose improvisations are not only inventive but clean and articulate, a real feat for a slide trombonist. Overall, this is a hard-swinging disc filled with some bluesy horn solos and lots of imaginative stick work.