Episodes of Virtuosity: Roy Haynes, Phineas Newborn Jr, Paul Chambers

Roy Haynes Phineas Newborn Jr Paul Chambers: After Hours

The word virtuoso is defined as, "a musician who is a consummate master of technique and artistry." or "… an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability at singing or playing a musical instrument."

When I decided to that I was going to be a serious (classical) musician, I regarded this word with esteem and respect. I saw the aspiration for virtuosity as a means of achieving self-actualization, and decided to dedicate my life towards this realization. However, like so many things, after six years of conservatory training the shine wore off this word and I fear that I have lost my reverence for the beautiful. After all, art is the habit of the artist. Nevertheless, it is my intent to use this platform to (re)discover, admire, and share music/musicians of the highest caliber, in any and all genres, strictly for the purpose of listening to Music worth listening to.  

We Three was originally released in 1958 and featured Roy Haynes (drums) Phineas Newborn Jr (piano) and Paul Chambers (bass). Although Roy Haynes was the marquee name, Phineas Newborn Jr. was the immediate focal point for me. His playing is gestural and loose, but it remains locked into the pocket because he anchors his gestures to the end of each phrase. For example, around 50 seconds his solo opens with a single repeated note that spins off into a scalar figure. It's bluesy, smoky, slippery, and even though you know where to put your foot when your taping along, he manages to dance in and around the groove in his improvisation. A second facet of his piano playing that I find incredible is his use of immediate changes in dynamic level and tone color. For instance, at 1:17 into the tune you hear him interact with himself as he tosses off a subtle half step figure in the upper register of the piano. Generally speaking, this level of detail and polishing is typical to his playing.

Paragraph on ensemble playing and the hidden fourth member as Phineas performs insane cross rhythms during the break down.  Whatever it was that they had as a group in the time in and around this recording was gold.

If you would like to purchase this album, I would suggest you start by getting comfortable with a dark cup of coffee and then head on over the itunes store to pick up the album. You dig?