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Headin' South (1960)

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George Tucker

On the surface, Headin' South is another set of bluesy soul-jazz, but it actually finds the Horace Parlan trio stretching out a little. Adding conga player Ray Barretto to his usual rhythm section of bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, Parlan decides to take chances with his standard-heavy repertoire. "Summertime" features some evocative bowing from Tucker, and the solo sections on "The Song Is Ended," "Prelude to a Kiss," and "My Mother's Eyes" offer probing, intriguing tonal textures that make the selection of Ahmad Jamal's "Jim Loves Sue" understandable. Barretto's "Congalegre" is a fun, Latin-inflected number, and Parlan's "Headin' South" is a strong, swinging blues, but the slow blues "Low Down" is nearly undone by his incessant circular arpeggio, which lasts for over a minute. Still, that's not nearly enough to sink the record, which is another understated but solid effort from Horace Parlan. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine