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Minor Move (1958)

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Doug Watkins

Tina Brooks' first session for Blue Note was recorded in March of 1958, a month after he appeared on Jimmy Smith's sessions for The Sermon and House Party, but the music wasn't released at the time. The sessions remained unreleased for years, eventually appearing as Minor Move in Japan during the '80s. Listening to Minor Move, it's hard to see why the record was shelved. Not only does it feature Brooks in robust form, but he's supported by pianist Sonny Clark, trumpeter Lee Morgan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Blakey -- a first-rate lineup if there ever was one. Stylistically, the music here is no great surprise -- it's straight-ahead, driving hard bop -- but the performances are exceptional. Brooks has no problem keeping up with Morgan and Clark, who both have more than their fair share of fine moments here. He has a rich, full-bodied tone and clever phrasing, keeping the music fresh on standards like "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Everything Happens to Me." His original compositions "Nutville" and "Minor Move" are equally impressive, offering the entire band opportunities to stretch out and improvise vigorously. It is true that Minor Move is right within the hard bop tradition, but fans of that style will find much to treasure here. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine