All-Analog 180g Vinyl LP of Baby Face Willette’s Face To Face Mastered from the Original Master Tapes by Kevin Gray & Pressed at RTI: Reference-Caliber Blue Note Reissue Helmed by Music Matters’ Joe Harley
Releasing his debut album, Face To Face, in 1961, this son of a preacher rode in on the wave of aspiring jazz organists that proliferated in the wake of Jimmy Smith’s breakthrough in the late 50s. Grant Green was happy to be a sideman on Roosevelt “Baby Face” Willette’s maiden session and he was joined by drummer Ben Dixon. To give the studio date a different flavor from Grant’s First Stand, saxophonist Fred Jackson, noted for his raspy tone, was added to expand the group to a quartet.
As “Swingin’ At Sugar Ray’s” reveals, Willette attacked the keyboard with a percussive ferocity, even though his touch was exceptionally light and staccato-like. The evocative late-night blues of “Goin’ Down” then gives way to the lone cover, a soul jazz deconstruction of “Whatever Lola Wants.” The title tune is driven by a catchy, blues-based riff while the driving “Somethin’ Strange” is another blues-drenched number played with great energy and enthusiasm. Earthy blues elements are also perceptible in vigorous closer, “High ‘N Low.” For fans of soulful organ jazz, Face To Face was a significant release because it introduced an exciting new Hammond B3 practitioner – one who had his own distinctive sound and brought a new dynamism to the genre.
|1||Swingin’ At Sugar Ray’s|
|3||Whatever Lola Wants|
|4||Face To Face|
|6||High ‘N Low|