October 2008

Horace Parlan - Movin' and Groovin'
Blue Note/Classic Records 4028
Format: LP
Originally released: 1960
Reissue released: 2008

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Perhaps as a matter of circumstance -- a bout of childhood polio that partially crippled his right hand -- Horace Parlan was an antidote to piano athletes like Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum. A modest stylist, Parlan never dominated, his elegant playing never overshadowing the contributions of those around him.

A collection of well-worn covers, including numbers by Tadd Dameron, Duke Ellington, and Milt Jackson, Movin’ and Groovin’ was Parlan’s first recording, made when he wasn’t quite 30. It percolates with understatement and the drive of his left hand. It would be hard to imagine a prettier version of "On Green Dolphin Street" or a more swinging "Stella by Starlight." As with other of Parlan’s trio recordings, bass and drums are vital parts of the formula. Veteran Sam Jones handles the bass, while Al Harewood, with whom Parlan often recorded, is on the drums. Easily overlooked because he never led a session, Harewood is the rudder of the music on Movin’ and Groovin’, flexing it in different rhythmic directions. He’s unsung, and I’m always pleased to see his name listed among the musicians, especially along with bassist George Tucker’s.

The LP was mastered and cut on Classic Records’ all-tube mono system, which uses a mono cutting head. Sonic authenticity reigns supreme and pays off with immediacy and in-the-room presence. Classic’s Quiex SV-P vinyl lives up to its billing save for a couple of noisy moments that show no scuffs or other outward signs of their presence on the LP. They make me wonder if they might be in the stamper.

Stereo Blue Note releases are getting much attention right now, but don't let them obscure Classic Records’ series of mono Blue Note LPs, many of whose titles are unique among reissues. Mono playback has its own unique appeal, and so do these Classic Records LPs.