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Monday, May 16, 2022

Slow Freight - Ray Bryant


Satin Doll

Slow Freight 
Ray Bryant
Recorded: December, 1966 at RCA Studios in New York City
Recording Engineer: Ray Hall
Album Production & Supervision: Esmond Edwards
Cadet Records LP 781

Ray Bryant - Piano
Richard Davis - Bass
Freddie Waits - Drums
Art Farmer & Snookie Young - Trumpet & Flugelhorn 

From the back cover: Ray Bryant started something with the sound of piano trio with brass that he used on the very successful Cadet album Gotta Travel On. Then he followed this with another winner titled Lonesome Traveler utilizing the same dual flugelhorns of Clark Terry and Snookie Young. 

Ray was so pleased with the musical results of the two initial albums and so gratified  by their public acceptance that he decided to continue recording with the sound of mellow brass augmented his pianists. At the time Slow Freight was recorded, Clark Terry was touring Europe and unavailable for the session, but the great trumpeter and flugelhorn player Art Farmer teamed with Snookie to produce the soulful brass sounds heard here.

It is again obvious that Ray has come up with a sound that lifts his albums out of the usual piano trio category and adds a bright new dimension to his performance. He used the horns sparingly, brining them forward at just the proper moments to emphasize his playing. This is a most satisfying album on many counts. In addition to the bright, beautiful sound, there is the tremendous artistry of Ray Bryant, undoubtedly one of the foremost jazz pianists currently active. Much has been said about Ray's great ability to swing and his powerful left hand that often beats out the same line as the bass player, thus giving a gutsy kind of bottom to his performance.

Another feature of Ray Bryant piano mystique is his close affinity to the roots of jazz. Although a young modernist, he knows and digs the blues and his treatment of Slow Freight is a fine example of Ray's attachment to the form. An additional plus on Slow Freight is the ad lib vocal comments of Paul Serrano.

If You Go Away, popularized by Damita Jo, is somewhat similar in treatment to Ray's It Was A Very Good Year on the previously-mentioned Travel On album. Ray's beautifully conceived arrangement shows every sign of being as popular as Good Year was.

Satin Doll is a fine example of Ray's Straightforward jazz cooking. In the Duke Ellington standard he ranges the entire keyboard and takes a backseat to no one in the creative or groove department.

Freddie Waits has been the drummer on all three of Ray's Cadet albums. This young man loves to play and it is evident in his relentless drive and lilting swing. He never lets things get bogged down and is certainly an asset to the Ray Bryant sound.

We have mentioned everyone but bassist Richard Davis, but really what can you say about this phenomenal musician that doesn't sound like exaggeration. His intonation is flawless, his technique marvelous, his sound clear as a bell and his time like a metronome. Listen to Richard's beautiful bowed accompaniment to Ray on When The World Was Young and his solo on Satin Doll and you'll hear what I mean. Out of sight!

Ray Bryant always surrounds himself with pros; he's one and he wants nothing but the finest with him. The end product justifies the means. This is an excellent album. – E. Herbert

Slow Freight 
Satin Doll
If You Go Away
Ah, The Apple Tree (When The World Was Young)
The Return Of The Prodigal Son
The Fox Stalker

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