Acoustic Sounds

Harold Vick

Steppin' Out



Label: Blue Note Tone Poet Series

Produced By: Alfred Lion

Engineered By: Rudy Van Gelder

Mixed By: RVG

Mastered By: Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio

Lacquers Cut By: Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio

By: Michael Fremer

May 3rd, 2023





Harold Vick's Blue Note Session Leader Debut And Finale

with Blue Mitchell, Grant Green, John Patton and Ben Dixon

Why saxophonist Harold Vick's Blue Note debut as bandleader was also his last, isn't clear. It certainly couldn't have been because the session was a musical disappointment. Far from it! Maybe it's because the date produced an album closer to the hard charging warm up for an r&b review than what Blue Note was typically releasing in 1963.

Vick had played with all here but trumpeter Blue Mitchell and all had played in or skirted the r&b scene. While recording this session, before and after, Vick was on the road with organist "Brother" Jack McDuff, where he'd previously encountered Grant Green and while Vick's name might not be familiar to some Blue Noters, certainly Green's and Mitchell's are.

The point is, these guys meshed tightly on this set of five Vick originals plus a cover of the classic Raksin-Mercer song "Laura" from the 1940's era same titled film. Of the opener "Our Miss Brooks", annotator Joe Goldberg wrote, Vicks was "reluctant to explain". Perhaps Vicks had a crush on Eve Arden? The tune has a sensual, almost burlesque show vibe, especially breaks wherein Dixon does staccato tom fills and the horns do ascending lines that sound like the soundtrack to clothes being flung!

I wonder how many younger readers have ever heard of the '50s era TV sitcom starring Arden titled "Our Miss Brooks"? It was a fairly sophisticated show featuring the great character actor Gale Gordon best known as Mr. Mooney on Lucille Ball's post Desi Arnaz sitcoms, but he also was on "Dennis the Menace" and many other sitcoms where he usually played eye rolling pompous types.

There's nothing eye rolling or pompous about the six tracks here, which chug along propelled by Patton's chunky organ and Dixon's drums, above which Vick and Mitchell soar and Green plays only the occasional erudite interrupter. There's not the much room for guitar in the sax/organ/trumpet racket interplay but when given the chance as on "Trimmed in Blue", Green cuts loose.

The sound is classic RVG mid sixties modern clarity, with especially fine drum kit miking that keeps the cymbals present but not overly splashy and the snare pleasingly crisp. Patton's Leslie fills the centerstage with juicy lines and Vick's tenor clear and present.

Overall a solid, fun filled, and kind of sensuous outing for sure worth the $30 or so bucks I dropped. Step outside your Blue Note comfort zone and give this Vick a rub. Of course the usual attractive "Tone Poet" series gatefold packaging.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: ST-84138 (B0033843-01)

Pressing Plant: RTI


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: original master tapes

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2023-05-06 06:29:33 PM

    Fred Morris wrote:

    Our Miss Brooks - yes! Wasn’t a very young Richard Crenna there too?

  • 2023-05-16 03:39:55 PM

    Nigel Tufnel wrote:

    Thanks for turning me on to this Tone Poet, Joe Harley and KG are knocking it out of the park with the Tone Poet series, uncovering lessor known titles. A Golden Age indeed for Jazz reissues!