It is some jazz musicians’ fate to be better known after their death then they were during their lifetime, to be considered a legend today when they were actually overshadowed by others during their prime. Sonny Clark, who died in January 1963 at the age of 31 due to self-abuse was well documented during 1957-62 but he never achieved the headlines of Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck, to name just three more famous pianists from the time. Blue Note fans have always known about Clark since he led seven superb albums for the label. Fans of Bud Powell knew that Clark was one of his top disciples, and collectors of Buddy DeFranco’s records of the early 1950s were aware of his contributions to the clarinetist’s recordings. But to a general public that bought Erroll Garner and George Shearing records, Sonny Clark was an unknown name. It was not until after his death that the music world seemed to finally realize what it had lost.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos
Sonny Clark’s fifth Blue Note recording as a leader is generally regarded as his best, especially considering he composed four of the seven tracks, and they all bear his stamp of originality. What is also evident is that he is shaping the sounds of his quintet rather than dominating the proceedings as he did on previous dates. Tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and trumpeter Tommy Turrentine play very little harmony on the date, but their in-tune unison lines are singularly distinctive, while bassist Butch Warren and young drummer Billy Higgins keep the rhythmic coals burning with a steady, glowing red heat. Among the classic tunes is the definitive hard bop opener “Somethin’ Special,” which lives up to its title in a most bright and happy manner, with Clark merrily comping chords. “Melody for C” is similarly cheerful, measured, and vivid in melodic coloration. The showstopper is “Voodoo,” the ultimate late-night slinky jazz tune contrasted by Clark’s tinkling piano riffs. Warren wrote the exciting hard bopper “Eric Walks” reminiscent of a Dizzy Gillespie tune, while Turrentine’s “Midnight Mambo” mixes metaphors of Afro-Cuban music with unusual off-minor phrases and Rouse’s stoic playing. Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad “Deep in a Dream,” exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side. Top to bottom, Leapin’ and Lopin’ is a definitive recording for Clark, and in the mainstream jazz idiom, as well.
• Remastered from the Original Rudy Van Gelder Blue Note Master Tapes!
• Remastered by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman at Acoustech
• Cut at 45rpm for Better Sound!
• Pressed on two 180 gram Virgin Vinyl LPs by RTI
• Limited Edition
• Ultra-Durable, Extra Thick Album Jackets
• Gatefold Album with Session Photos in stunning High Resolution
2. Deep in a Dream
3. Melody for C
6. Midnight Mambo
“The sound is lifelike, the horns are in the room with you. Our non-invasive mastering insures the true breath of life on these original Van Gelder session tapes is transferred to the virgin vinyl with absolute authenticity. It is like hearing these BLUE NOTE masterpieces for the first time and that is NO exaggeration. When we heard the first lacquer acetate playback from our first mastering session I thought Joe Harley was going to pee in his pants he was so excited. Actually we all were; after 50 years of many lackluster and some downright bad sounding versions of these albums, hearing the real deal is a humbling experience, even for us hardened music veterans. You will be able to listen to the music exactly like we did…” – Steve Hoffman