Dameron and 'Trane on a classic Prestige outing...
Colin Buttimer 2007-07-06
Mating Call begins with Philly Joe Jones’ rapid pitter-patter and a lugubrious rhythm traced out by pianist leader Tadd Dameron. Within seconds they’re joined by the siren sound of John Coltrane on tenor. The date is 30 November 1956 – Soviet troops have recently suppressed Hungary’s popular uprising and petrol rationing is on its way in Europe. Both events were surely a far cry from Rudy Van Gelder’s now legendary studio in Hackensack, New Jersey – America was enjoying a period of peaceful prosperity resulting in a landslide Republican victory for Dwight Eisenhower. Mating Call is correspondingly confident, at times commanding even.
Tadd Dameron was the most influential arranger of the Bebop era working with Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, amongst others. His solos and comping here are a pleasure, particularly his delightful strolling duet with John Simmons’ bass on Romas. However, it’s difficult not to be drawn to Coltrane. It would be a few years before the saxophonist would form his own group and at this time he was a paid-up member of Miles Davis’ first great quintet. His solos here are muscular and surging, rich and warm. And let’s not forget Philly Joe Jones’ playing, given a delightful solo towards the end of Super Jet, perhaps named for the drummer’s powerhouse attack.
At six songs lasting a total of thirty five minutes and fourteen seconds, Mating Call lacks the curses of alternate takes, studio chatter and the like that dog so many reissues – and it’s all the better for it, at least in this listener’s opinion. The cover isn’t one of Prestige’s most iconic designs, but it could be one of its most dottily endearing: seagulls stalking about a beach make for a humorous reference to the album’s title. The music is a confident, feel-good delight done justice by excellent liner notes and remastering courtesy of Rudy Van Gelder, the session’s original engineer. Recommended.