In May 1961, Jack Sheldon recorded what today is one of his rarest and most interesting albums—A Jazz Profile of Ray Charles (Reprise). Over two days, the West Coast trumpeter recorded with a trio—Marty Paich (p,org), Joe Mondragon (b) and John Markham (d)., and when the album came out in July, the back cover featured an essay by Ray Charles praising Sheldon.
The songs on the album are Am I Blue?, Georgia on My Mind, When Your Lover Has Gone, Cherry, Come Rain or Come Shine, Just for a Thrill, Moonlight in Vermont, One Mint Julep, Rosetta, Basin Street Blues, There Is No You and 'Deed I Do.
What's particularly fascinating about this album is how much air Sheldon puts through his horn and how ruminative his playing is as he takes on Charles's singing voice. Also terrific is Paich's quirky organ, which has a hard tonality set to sound like Charles' organ on Genius + Soul = Jazz, released two months earlier. Paich almost as if the organ is an accordion, sustaining chords until his fingers move seamlessly on to the next one, making it seem as if the instrument is being operated by a bellows.
Paich in 1961 was busy writing arrangements for Sammy Davis Jr., Mavis Rivers, Ann Margret, Frances Faye and Ray Charles. During this period, drummer Markham recorded live with Benny Goodman (as did Sheldon) and Frank Sinatra and was in the studio with Al Hibbler. As for bassist Mondragon, he was on Paich's recordings with Sammy Davis and Ann Margret and well as recordings by Johnny Williams, Bob Cooper, Pete Rugolo, Ella Fitzgerald, Shorty Rogers and Claude Williamson.
For those who dig Sheldon, this is an opportunity to hear him out in the open, with just a supportive trio. The result is wonderful evidence of his technique, his improvisational choices and his soul.
JazzWax tracks: Sadly, this album has never been re-issued in the digital age. Perhaps a label will release it on CD and download with another rare Sheldon album.
JazzWax clips: Here's When Your Lover Has Gone...
Here's Moonlight in Vermont...
And here's One Mint Julep...
A special thanks to Douglas Paterson