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Leapin' and Lopin' (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition) [Remastered]

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Album Review

Sonny Clark's fifth Blue Note recording as a leader is generally regarded as his best, especially considering he composed four of the seven tracks, and they all bear his stamp of originality. What is also evident is that he is shaping the sounds of his quintet rather than dominating the proceedings as he did on previous dates. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and trumpeter Tommy Turrentine play very little harmony on the date, but their in-tune unison lines are singularly distinctive, while bassist Butch Warren and young drummer Billy Higgins keep the rhythmic coals burning with a steady, glowing red heat. Among the classic tunes is the definitive hard bop opener "Somethin' Special," which lives up to its title in a most bright and happy manner, with Clark merrily comping chords. "Melody for C" is similarly cheerful, measured, and vivid in melodic coloration. The showstopper is "Voodoo," the ultimate late-night slinky jazz tune contrasted by Clark's tinkling piano riffs. Warren wrote the exciting hard bopper "Eric Walks" reminiscent of a Dizzy Gillespie tune, while Turrentine's "Midnight Mambo" mixes metaphors of Afro-Cuban music with unusual off-minor phrases and Rouse's stoic playing. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad "Deep in a Dream," exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side. Top to bottom, Leapin' and Lopin' is a definitive recording for Clark, and in the mainstream jazz idiom, as well. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Hard Bop at its finest

Sonny Clark's final studio album before his untimely death at the age of 31 is indeed, as the aptly titled opening track asserts, "Somethin' Special". While "Cool Struttin'" might be better known, "Leapin' and Lopin'" is that album's more mature sibling, showing him continuing to grow and master the Hard Bop idiom on a set that displays a rhythmic and harmonic complexity that is so deftly ingrained it almost goes unnoticed due to the tight melodic structures that keep the tunes sounding much more straightforward than repeated listening reveals them to actually be. A master work that closes the book on an all too short career, "Leapin' and Lopin'" is a top shelf example of Hard Bop at its finest that should find a place in every fan of the genre's collection.


Born: July 21, 1931 in Herminie, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s

Like Fats Navarro and Charlie Parker before him, Sonny Clark's life was short but it burned with musical intensity. Influenced deeply by Bud Powell, Clark nonetheless developed an intricate and hard-swinging harmonic sensibility that was full of nuance and detail. Regarded as the quintessential hard bop pianist, Clark never got his due before he passed away in 1963 at the age of 31, despite the fact that it can be argued that he never played a bad recording date either as a sideman or as a leader....
Full Bio
Leapin' and Lopin' (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition) [Remastered], Sonny Clark
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  • $7.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Hard Bop
  • Released: Nov 13, 1961

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