Record of the Day: Ike Quebec, "It Might As Well Be Spring"

Record of the Day: Ike Quebec, “It Might As Well Be Spring”

Ike Quebec
It Might As Well Be Spring (Cd Blue Note 094636265223)

Ike Quebec's robust sax voice makes him a fascinating figure in the post-war jazz scene, although today the
his name is little remembered by the general public. Passed away at a young age due to cancer, Quebec was for
most of his musical activity one of the main collaborators of Alfred Lion, founder of the Blue Note label, for whom he supervised the recording sessions and looked for new talents (in this album the organist Freddie Roach appears, one of the numerous excellent discoveries that Quebec brought home Blue Note).

Starting from 1959 Quebec recorded a long series of songs on 45 rpm, mainly intended for the jukebox market, and only later was he able to create his first album “Heavy Soul”, which gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his expressive qualities never attempted by virtuosity of the fingers and mainly aimed at concentrating the melodic phrases towards the greatest possible intensity, often interacting in duet with Roach's Hammond organ, which created original harmonizations far from the clich├ęs typical of too many Organ Combos of those years.

Milt Hinton's double bass and Al Harewood's drums are a model of discretion, supporting the two leaders confidently without ever playing a note more than necessary. The album proceeds at a slow and relaxed pace, even the more swinging moments like “A Light Reprieve” are tackled with calm; the repertoire is mainly composed of ballads such as the title track, bloody blues (“Easy-Don't Hurt”) or classics such as “Ol'Man River”, “Willow Weep for Me” and “Lover Man”, but the skill of Quebec and his friends ensures that the result of such a series of slow songs never leads to boredom or banal routine.

Of course, there are more spectacular and even more expressive soloists from Quebec (just think of names like Webster or Rollins) but this does not justify the limbo in which his name has been relegated for the last forty years. It is to be hoped that these reissues will help to shine at least a little light on this artist, who only had the misfortune of being born in a historical moment in which the giants of jazz were multiplying on the music scene.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.