This compilation on the great Bobby Timmons reveals a man on his way to greatness, but who instead died of alcoholism in 1974 at just 38. Recorded between 1960 and 1964, this 14-song collection spans material culled from seven albums during the period.
Opening with a 1960 trio version of his "Moanin’," a hit the year before as a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, he sounds less swinging though no less formidable than on the classic Blakey version. Bassist Sam Jones and drummer Jimmy Cobb, who worked extensively with the Philly-grown pianist and had as much to do with the growth of soul jazz and funk bop as the pianist, are integral to the piece. Their work on the 1961 "Old Devil Moon" showcases their melding quality quite nicely.
The solo pieces -- "God Bless The Child," on which he is at once heavy handed and delicate, is full of trills and gorgeous runs; the breathtaking "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most"; "Lush Life"; and the live solo take on "Goodbye," with wonderful comping -- are beautifully played. The ensemble work is more captivating. "Soul Time" features trumpeter Blue Mitchell in tandem with Sam Jones and Art Blakey. To call Blakey and Jones impressive is an understatement. On "So Tired," they bring a Latin flavor to the session, with Mitchell breathing fire into his solo. Connie Kay’s crisp drumming joins Jones in rhythm behind Timmons on the superb medium tempo version of "Born To Be Blue." Jones and Cobb are back for a nice take on "Someone To Watch Over Me," with Timmons delivering lovely walking lines.
On "Dat Dere," also a 1959 hit with a previous employer - in this case Cannonball Adderley -- is given a stellar reading with Ron Carter and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath supplying the rhythmic magic. Timmons is brilliant here, quoting "Chain Gang" and "It Ain’t Necessarily So." On "Easy Does It" Cobb and Jones outdo themselves with rhythm work that any pianist would love to play behind. Timmons’ "This Here," another hit for Cannonball in 1959, benefits from excellent ensemble work and adds to the soulful jazz mystique that was Bobby Timmons. Everything here was produced by Orrin Keepnews, including the horrible cheesy organ take on "Moanin’" that closes the set. Less that closer, the set is superb.