Direct from the Blue Note Club

Direct from the Blue Note Club

by Leo's Five


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Leo's Five receive credit for 12 of the 21 tracks on this compilation, but the disc -- and, indeed, Leo's Five themselves -- seem like something of an umbrella name for musicians associated with Leo Gooden's Blue Note club in East St. Louis. Listeners get not only sides by Leo's Five, who had a fluid lineup, but also Albert King, Jamie Ross, Charles Drain, and Gooden himself, the club owner who was the overseer of sorts for the band, venue, and labels on which this material appeared. Even though some of the same guys appear on numerous tracks (by Leo's Five and otherwise), it's a kind of stylistically inconsistent roundup of musicians in the early- to mid-'60s St. Louis R&B/jazz scene, almost to the point of being a grab bag rather than a single-artist anthology. By far the most attractive items to collectors will be the four tracks by King (one of them a remake of his 1962 single "You Threw Your Love on Me Too Strong"), as these aren't too easy to find on their original 45 releases or reissues. The King sides aren't great, but they're solid enough representations of his blues/soul crossover sound shortly before he recorded his most popular work for Stax; Albert's also heard on the Leo's Five instrumental "Hold It" that kicks off this CD. The cuts actually credited to Leo's Five vary between sock-it-out instrumental club jazzy R&B ("Hold It") and some pretty hot soul-jazz, particularly when organist Don James comes to the fore, as he does on a two-part adaptation of "Johnnie Come Marching Home." Of the other artists, Charles Drain manages a pretty good Sam Cooke imitation on "Stop and Think About It Baby," though Gooden's 1963 single "Winkee-Do" sounds a bit like a vanity project in its Louis Prima-cum-R&B sound. Jazz fans might want to note the presence of a young Hamiet Bluiett (later in the World Saxophone Quartet) on some of the tracks, though overall this release falls on the fringes of what serious collectors of either jazz or R&B might want or need.

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