Gil Mellé: Patterns in Jazz (1956)
01. The Set Break
02. Weird Valley
03. Moonlight in Vermont
04. Nice Question
05. The Arab Barber Blues
06. Long Ago and Far Away
Gil Mellé – tenor sax, baritone sax;
Eddie Bert – trombone;
Joe Cinderella – guitar;
Oscar Pettiford – bass;
Ed Thigpen – drums
Recorded: Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey; April 1, 1956
Label: Blue Note
TOCJ-9581 [2004, CD, RVG edition]
Producer: Alfred Lion
Recording Engineer: Rudy van Gelder
Liner Notes: Barry Ulanov
Photography: Francis Wolff
Cover design: Reid Miles
Like the modern art that stormed the art world in the ’50s, Patterns in Jazz, Gil Melle’s debut album for Blue Note, is filled with bright, bold colors and identifiable patterns that camouflage how adventurous the work actually is.
On the surface, the music is cool and laid-back, but close listening reveals the invention in Melle’s compositions and arrangements of the standards “Moonlight in Vermont” and “Long Ago and Far Away.”
Part of the charm of Patterns in Jazz is the unusual instrumental balance of Melle’s bari sax, Eddie Bert’s trombone, Joe Cinderella’s guitar, and Oscar Pettiford’s bass.
These low, throaty instruments sound surprisingly light and swinging.
Compared to the two standards, Melle’s original compositions are a little short on melody, but they give the musicians room to improvise, resulting in some dynamic music.
Ultimately, Patterns in Jazz is cerebral music that swings — it’s entertaining, but stimulating.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine[allmusic.com]
Gil Melle was a 20th century renaissance man, a unique individual with wide interests and many talents.
In his life he wrote over 125 film scores, was a pioneer in experimenting with electronic music, built computers and synthesizers, was a notable painter, piloted planes, restored automobiles and airplanes, and was a visual artist whose art was used on the cover of records by Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk.
Musically he never stood still or fit easily into any category.
Early on Melle was a highly skilled baritone-saxophonist with his own sound and approach, performing at the Village Vanguard before he was even old enough to have a drivers license.
Patterns In Jazz from 1956 is Gil Melle’s definitive straight-ahead jazz recording.
The music is colorful and adventurous, laidback but eminently approachable.
Teamed in a quintet with trombonist Eddie Bert and guitarist Joe Cinderella, the emphasis is on low tones, bright colors and surprising patterns, whether on Melle’s originals or inventive rearrangements of “Moonlight In Vermont” and “Long Ago And Far Away”.
Blue Note engineer Rudy Van Gelder seemed to have a special affinity for Melle’s music since all of the Melle sessions recorded in Van Gelder’s studio are sonically exceptional, including this one.
The music on this rare gem is as unique, unusual and memorable as is Gil Melle himself.