After Hours was a mega-hit for trumpeter Erskine Hawkins’ orchestra in the ’40s, and this second release on Contemporary by reedman Eric Allison is dedicated to the memory of Hawkins and his pianist, Avery Parrish, who wrote After Hours. Further than that, the session embodies the sort of late-night mood that once permeated the club scene from coast to coast. Allison’s rawboned tenor saxophone is comfortably at home in that groove, as are Lonnie Smith’s soulful piano and Hammond B-3 (which he employs on ‘Round About Dawn), John Bailey’s expressive trumpet and Jesse Jones Jr.’s plaintive alto (Jones is trumpeter Melton Mustafa’s older brother). The front-liners receive impressive support from bassist Marks (a sonorous and unerring range-finder) and drummer Burger who keep things swinging without getting in the way. Allison also has some persuasive moments on flute (Tip-Toein’), clarinet (Delta Joy) and alto (‘Round About Dawn) while Mauro’s dark-edged baritone (which isn’t heard often enough) complements the leader’s flute on Tip-Toein’. All of the selections except After Hours were written by Allison, and they are quite good albeit a stride or two short of memorable. The spirit of Hawkins is evident in the smooth-riding Midnight Groove, while ‘Round About Dawn paints a melancholy picture of the moments before sunrise, Sittin’ In depicts the gospel as it should be (with glimpses of You Are My Sunshine), Delta Joy is redolent with the spicy flavor of New Orleans-style Jazz, and everyone digs deep to lend extra drive to the session’s obligatory burner, Straight-Up. Allison is shrewd and articulate on every axe, and the back-up crew is admirable. A solid club-style blowing date that is well worth the price of admission.
Eric Allison, tenor, alto saxophones, flute, clarinet, tambourine; John Bailey, trumpet; Jesse Jones Jr., alto sax; Turk Mauro, baritone sax; Dr. Lonnie Smith, piano, Hammond B-3 organ; Dennis Marks, bass; Danny Burger, drums.
Midnight Groove, After Hours, Double Shot, ‘Round About Dawn, Sittin’ In, No Cover, Tip-Toein’, Straight-Up, Deanna, Delta Joy
Reprinted with permission from Marge Hofacre’s Jazz News