BIG JOHN PATTON Let ‘Em Roll (Blue Note)To my untutored ears this 1965 recording finds the Blue Note label edging further away from its trademark hard bop territory towards a kind of electric rhythm ‘n’ blues. The band here is a bass-less quartet featuring Patton on organ, Grant Green on guitar, “Out To Lunch” veteran Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and Otis Finch on drums. I suppose the closest it comes to any other Blue Note album I own is Kenny Burrell’s “Midnight Blue”, if only due to its use of electric guitar, but John Mayall circa “Blues Breakers” might be a more apposite reference point.
So, “Let ‘Em Roll” is different, at least by the standards of my expectations, but it’s also pretty good. It swings, in an unobtrusively melodic, nightclub-friendly fashion, a cover of “The Shadow Of Your Smile” suggesting Patton would give a rotating Leslie for a crossover hit. The trump card is Hutcherson’s vibes work, adding vital timbral interest without which the album might’ve been too much of a wallow. There’s a measure of complexity to “Latona” and “Jakey”, though, and “One Step Ahead” rifles Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” for its lopsided groove, without doing anything quite so memorable with it.
Manufactured by the mysterious Scorpio Music, the currently available pressing of “Let ‘Em Roll” is actually one of the best records I’ve heard from that source; it’s a bit of a dull, thick, congested listen, but it’s not horrendous on the ears.