Charles McPherson – Siku Ya Bibi (Day of the Lady) 1972

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Charles McPherson
Siku Ya Bibi (Day Of The Lady)


Mainstream Records – MSL 1004, 1972


1         Don’t Explain        
2         Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)        
3         God Bless The Child        
4         Miss Brown To You        
5         Good Morning Heartache        
6         For Heaven’s Sake        
7         I’m A Fool To Want You        
8         Lover Come Back To Me        


    Alto Saxophone – Charles McPherson
    Bass – Sam Jones
    Drums – Leroy Williams
    Guitar – Earl Dunbar
    Piano – Barry Harris


String arrangements by Ernie Wilkins

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This record is a tribute to Billie Holiday, and if it falls a bit short of commemorating her splendor it is really no fault of saxophonist Charles McPherson, a member of Charles Mingus’ ensemble of the time and soon to play on the incredible Charles Tolliver album “Impact.”   There just isn’t any instrument besides the human voice that is capable of emoting at the same level as Lady Day.  And to state the obvious, we’re talking about a very singular voice indeed.  He plays it pretty safe on this record, sometimes overly so, and McPherson is no Lester Young, but it’s still a pleasant and understated homage.

One delight is that the album opens with one of Billie’s own rare compositions, “Don’t Explain.” Some warning bells went off when I first noticed the album has a full string section, seeing as so much instrumental jazz with strings ala Don Sebesky leaves me cold if not actually annoyed.  But Wilkins is up to his task here and gives us more than pop gloss or window dressing, with charts that interact well with the core ensemble, and probably to most stunning effect on this opening cut.  I braced myself for the worst with “God Bless The Child,” as this often-mangled tune is better off left to the original recording for my ears, but McPherson manages to break out of the cliches long enough to even give us a few bars of straight bop.  At the very end of the stately “I’m A Fool To Love You,” the band swings it hard for about thirty seconds before a fade out complete with strings holding their own.  Sam Jones and Barry Harris put in an appearance on this blog a while back on a Sonny Stitt record from this same year, and while they don’t get to shine much here, they do manage to cut loose a little on the two uptempo numbers that close out both sides, “Miss Brown To You” and “Lover Come Back To Me.”  Guitarist Earl Dunbar (any relation to Ted Dunbar? I’m not sure), is kind of a non-entity here and when he takes the occasional solo it’s like he just strolled in from the studio corridor and then fades into the 1970s wallpaper right afterward.  But Barry Harris, who employed McPherson a few times in his own ensemble in the 60s, has  good rapport with the tenor man.  McPherson has a nice way of pushing the melodies up into the soprano range too, without his tone taking on a harsh timbre.   This is not an essential album, but it’s a solid enough one, and seems not to have made it onto compact disc.

Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply, cork ringmat); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename

in 320

in FLAC 16/44.1  or in three parts: Pt 1  // Pt 2 // Pt 3

in FLAC 24/96

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