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Kenny Drew

Kenny Drew - Undercurrent - 1960 - Blue Note

One of the greatest jazz hard bop albums ever recorded by the late, great jazz pianist, Kenny Drew. Check out his albums, "Ruby, My Dear," and "If You Could See Me Now."


1. Undercurrent
2. Funk-cosity
3. Lion's Den
4. The Pot's On
5. Groovin' The Blues
6. Ballade

All compositions by Kenny Drew.


Kenny Drew (piano)
Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
Sam Jones (acoustic bass)
Louis Hayes (drums)


Kenny Drew recorded fairly frequently in the 1950s but after his Blue Note album (reissued on this CD), he moved to Europe and did not appear as a leader on records until 1973. Still just 32 in 1960, Drew was teamed with the young trumpeter Freddie Hubbard (who already showed great potential), tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes on six of his originals (including "Undercurrent," "The Pot's On" and "Groovin' the Blues"). A fine hard bop set. © Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
One of the greatest albums ever by the late, relatively unknown pianist Kenny Drew -- a super-rare Blue Note session from 1960! The album's got a sock-solid soul jazz frontline -- with Hank Mobley on tenor and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet -- and working here with Drew, the trio of players craft a set of tunes that are surprisingly edgey, especially considering Drew's more staid piano trio work on his own. The backing is great, too -- with Sam Jones on bass and Louis Hayes on drums -- and the album's filled with original tunes by Kenny, including "The Pot's On", "Undercurrent", "Funk-Cosity", and "Lion's Den". Kenny Drew has made irreplaceable contributions to many Blue Note classics -- "Blue Train" and "Dexter Calling" to name two -- in addition to this fine album as a leader. This is the classic Kenny Drew album. Undercurrent begins with a Flight of the Bumblebee-esque flurry of notes from Drew, which is quickly followed by a swinging solo from Mobley that briefly incorporates Drew's intro. Hubbard's solo is blasting and brash, though his sense of control allows his excited playing to never get too unwieldy. Funk-Cosity is a minor key funk workout that begins with Hubbard and Mobley sharing a descending progression. Hubbard's solo on the song is restrained (at least for him) while still spirited. Drew's solo is wonderfully tense because it‚s restrained and melodic, forcing you to wait before the main theme bursts through again.On Lion's Den, a reference to Alfred Lion's original studio on Lexington Ave. in East Harlem, Drew plays around with the shifts in rhythm, playing more straightforward lines when the rhythm is bumpier and playing bouncier when the rhythm straightens up. Groovin' the Blues finds Mobley bouncing his notes into the pocket of groove created by the rhythm section of Jones and Hayes, while Hubbard creates tension by phrasing notes all over the meter and then slowing down for longer, bluesy lines. Hubbard's tone is seductive on the final track on the album's only ballad, entitled Ballade. According to the liner notes, Drew wrote the song in honor of a woman he was enamored of. His playing on the song is almost impossibly delicate, sounding as close to a harp as you will ever hear a piano sound. For fans of hard bop, Undercurrent is where it's at. This album is an almost forgotten classic.That's a shame because "Undercurrent" is a magnificent hard bop session from December 1960 featuring the talents of Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. The six compositions, all by Drew, are terrific medium and up- tempo swingers, with the exception of the lovely concluding piece, "Ballade." "Undercurrent" is as good as anything Blue Note recorded in 1960.


A talented bop-based pianist (whose son has been one of the brightest pianists of the 1990s), Kenny Drew was somewhat underrated due to his decision to permanently move to Copenhagen in 1964. He made his recording debut in 1949 with Howard McGhee and in the 1950s was featured on sessions with a who's who of jazz, including Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Milt Jackson, Buddy DeFranco's quartet, Dinah Washington, and Buddy Rich (1958). Drew led sessions for Blue Note, Norgran, Pacific Jazz, Riverside, and the obscure Judson label during 1953-1960; most of the sessions are available on CD. He moved to Paris in 1961 and relocated to Copenhagen in 1964 where he was co-owner of the Matrix label. He formed a duo with Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson and worked regularly at the Montmartre. Drew recorded many dates for SteepleChase in the 1970s and remained active up until his death. © Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


A.O.O.F.C said...


Kevin said...

Thanks for the upload - can't wait to check it out, especially since this is from that prime-time-Hubb-and-Mobley era.

Drew rocks on that youtube clip of Freddie doing "Birdlike" in Norway, and on everything else I've heard him play, so this oughta be a treat!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi! Kevin. Thanks. That Hubb-and-Mobley phase was a good time in jazz. Personally, I think that this album by Kenny Drew is superb. He really knew how to tickle the ivories! A rare talent, and I'm sure you'll love it. Please keep in touch, and let me know your opinions on the album. (A.O.O.F.C)