|Walt Dickerson has been called the John Coltrane of the vibes. But it might be more fitting to call Coltrane the Walt Dickerson of the tenor sax – Walt was that good. Photo by Nils Winther|
|Mister Music on Harvard Ave. – still there today!|
Eventually I found many more, mostly on Steeplechase, because Walt had begun recording again after about a decade away from the studio. On a trip to Philadelphia and a visit to Third St. Records, I found a fascinating vintage Dickerson LP – the one that is the subject of this post. It was on the unlikely jazz label MGM, had been recorded about fifteen years earlier and featured an unexpected sideman – one Herman "Sonny" Blount, aka the legendary Sun Ra. To add to the album's peculiarity, its selections were not Dickerson originals but a loose interpretation of Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack score for a now obscure 1965 Sidney Portier film called "A Patch of Blue."
Elizabeth Hartman and
Sidney Portier in "A Patchof Blue."
Dickerson had always chosen excellent sidemen for his recording sessions, and now he convinced Sun Ra to play piano and harpsichord on the date. Dickerson knew Ra from Philadelphia, Walt's hometown and, beginning in 1968, Ra's home as well. For the session, Ra eschewed his usual electronic keyboards and stuck primarily to piano, distinguishing the date as one of the very few that allowed listeners to hear him in the conventional role of accompanist.
|Le Sony Ra shines on stage at the 1980 Chicago Jazz Festival. For his 1966 session with Walt Dickerson, Ra was plain old Sonny Blount, no intergalactic paraphernalia involved. Photo by Gems of Jazz|
The results of the "Patch" session are excellent. The Goldsmith melodies remain, but this is entirely a Dickerson date, make no mistake. Ra is remarkable, at one moment evoking the stage show at the Club Delisa on Chicago's South Side, probing the Arkestra's spaceways the next. Both Cunningham and Blank, at one time members of Sun Ra's band, turn in yeoman performances. And, of course, Dickerson is magnificent. Ironically, this would be his last recording session for a decade. Only with "Serendipity" in 1976 would he emerge from retirement.
As always, these files were ripped from the original vinyl with only a slight cleaning of the sound (there is some surface noise). The record is unfortunately brief – only fifteen minutes per side – but I think you'll agree the music is well worth the download.
Walt Dickerson, vbs; Su Ra, p, hrpschd; Bob Cunningham, b; Roger Blank, d.
New York, NY; 1966; MGM SE-4358
1. A Patch of Blue, Pt. 1 1:25
2. A Patch of Blue, Pt. 2 4:30
3. Bacon and Eggs 5:25
4. High Hopes 5:10
5. Alone in the Park, Pt. 1 2:55
6. Alone in the Park, Pt. 2 6:30
7. Selina’s Fantasy 3:58
8. Thataway 4:15