Personnel: Jutta Hipp (piano); Zoot Sims (tenor saxophone); Jerry Lloyd (trumpet); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass); Ed Thigpen (drums).
This is part of Blue Note's Limited Edition Connoisseur series.
Jutta Hipp was often compared with male pianists like Lennie Tristano and Horace Silver. Sometimes those references were pejorative, as if she possessed no worthwhile original sensibilities. Perhaps the best recommendation came from Charles Mingus, who befriended the German-born painter/pianist and held her in the highest esteem. Heard in the company of Zoot Sims, Hipp sounds at times somewhat similar to Mingus when he chose to express himself at the piano. But that again is a comparison with a male musician! In the final analysis, listeners should simply groove with her and enjoy the interplay of ideas between the participants. Sims himself was constantly being compared with Lester Young, who did in fact inspire dozens of tenor players during the late '40s and throughout the '50s. One is also tempted to invoke Wardell Gray, whose presence is certainly felt whenever Sims stretches out and unravels a beautiful chain of ideas. Happily, this 1956 session transcends all critical preconceptions and could simply be enjoyed as a tangible dose of substantial music involving a rarely encountered pianist interacting with kindred spirits on one of Sims' very best dates. Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Ed Thigpen are ideally matched with Hipp in the rhythm department. "Just Blues" is an exhilarating romp, exuding friendly energies. "Down Home," based upon the chord changes of "Indiana," is trumpeter Jerry Lloyd's sequel to Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee." (Leonard Feather compared Lloyd's style to that of Chet Baker.) Sims positively glows on the ballad "Violets for Your Furs," and seems not at all reluctant to stroll over some of Lester Young's turf on "Almost Like Being in Love." Note that 1956 was Young's last year of relative good health and great recordings. Maybe he and Sims were tapped into some of the same wellsprings during that time period. "Wee Dot" cooks marvelously, while "Too Close for Comfort," according to Feather's liner notes, was "the first recorded cool jazz version" of this catchy number from the Broadway show Mr. Wonderful. Although this replication of the original release lacks the two bonus tracks amended to the 1996 reissue, it's a wonderful album, one that should move some listeners to seek Hipp's other Blue Note recordings. ~ arwulf arwulf