Over the years, Queen has played with many jazz greats, including George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Kenny Drew, Plas Johnson, Junior Mance, Charles Tolliver, Terrence Blanchard, Robin Eubanks, and many others.
For all the time Queen has spent backing others, he has had precious little opportunity to put anything out under his own name.
The album I want to tell you about this time around is the first recording to appear thusly, the 1985 release, “Jammin’ Uptown”.
The personnel for this album are:
“Jammin’ Uptown” hits the ground running with a energetic Terrence Blanchard composition, “Europia”. Blanchard takes the lead almost immediately and holds it for the first couple of minutes. Then he steps back and Boyd takes over, blowing that tenor for all it’s worth. Hicks on piano is the next one in the spotlight, along with Drummond on bass. Toward the end all the horns jump in for a big, dynamic ending.
It’s worth pointing out here that the seven songs on this album were all written by members of the band. Boyd and Eubanks each contributed two songs, leaving Drummond as the only one without representation. Perhaps he was too busy earning a masters degree in political science, another masters in business administration, and teaching jazz at various colleges to write a song for this album. Slacker. (Just kidding!)
It is I suppose inevitable that a group led by a drummer would have a number that turned out to be one long drum solo. That’s the case with Queen’s only song here, “Hear Me Drummin'”. If you are really into drums, or maybe secretly in love with Queen, you’ll love and cherish all seven and a half minutes of it. Otherwise you’ll probably want to skip on to the next song.
That next song is a delightful change of pace, Robin Eubanks’ lovely ballad “Resolution Of Love”. Eubanks has the lead most of the way through, with Queen, Hicks and Drummond backing. Hicks takes a solo a little over half way through and is followed by Blanchard and the other horns. I had never heard “Resolution Of Love” before, and I have to say it’s delightful.
Come to think of it, I had never heard any of these songs before, including the one the album closes with, Manny Boyd’s “Hassan”. As he has throughout the album, Blanchard has the lead most of the time, and agreeably so. The rhythm section does an outstanding job here. There isn’t much else I can say about this fast-paced romp, other than I really enjoyed it.
I wasn’t able to locate any videos from this album online, but I did manage to find one from another of Queen’s albums. I hope you enjoy it.
The bottom line is, I think you’ll find “Jammin’ Uptown” to be a fantastic addition to your personal playlist, for a Saturday or any other night!
To learn more about Alvin Queen and his music, visit his web site.
Here’s an article about Alvin Queenthat appeared in the November 2008 issue of JazzTimes magazine.
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