LOU MACCONNELL - REACHING FOR IT
LP High Energy MD 0044 – BELGIUM, 1979
I collect LP by or featuring Michel Herr. I’ve known and appreciated his music since the early days of Solis Lacus. IMHO Michel Herr is one of Belgium’s greatest jazzmen, talented pianist, inspired composer and gifted arranger. I was therefore quite pleased to find this album a the S&H Record Fair (Brussels) last Saturday. I did not know what to expect exactly but considering the names in the band, I was not taking much of a risk.
I write "did not know what to expect" because I had absolutely no idea who Lou MacConnell is or was and could not find any useful info on the Net.
He played as a sideman on another rare LP, this time by guitarist Jan Doveren, featuring also Michel Herr on piano and on two Chet Baker albums. These are the only recorded traces of this talented saxophonist / flautist.
Reaching for It is an impressive album, it just blew me when I first heard it. It starts with a deep version of Naima followed by a breezy version of Jobim’s O Grande Amor with Macconnell on flute and beautiful Fender Rhodes courtesy of Michel Herr. Side A ends with a good rendition of Easy Living featuring again Macconnell on tenor and Herr on acoustic piano.
Side B starts with Miles’ Four followed by the “piece de resistance”- Coltrane’s Like Sonny. Side B ends on a lighter note with Horace Siver’s Gringo with Michel Herr back at the Fender Rhodes. It’s incredible that such a record could remain completely unknown. If ever there was a jazz record in need of immediate reissue, here it is.
If little is known about Lou MacConnell, it is not the case with his sidemen. In addition to Michel Herr on piano (acoustic anf fender Rhodes), we have hard bop veteran Wilbur Little on bass (he was living in Amsterdam since 1977) and Vinnie Johnson on drums. Johnson was a.o. the drummer on Stanton Davis’ Ghetto Mysticism and a member of Bill Frisell Triode with Kermit Driscoll (see the post on Good Friends, with Michel Herr also).
You can’t go wrong with a band like that!
1. Naima (John Coltrane)
2. O grande amor (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
3. Easy living (Rainger / Robin)
4. Four (Miles Davis)
5. Like Sonny (John Coltrane)
6. Gringo (Horace Silver)
Lou MacConnell - tenor saxophone, flute
Michel Herr - piano
Wilbur Little - double bass
Vinnie Johnson - drums
Recorded in July 1979 at Michel Dickenscheid's studio, Ougrée (B). Released in 1979 (MD 0044).
If that ain’t a lost treasure of European Deep / Spiritual Jazz, then I don’t know how to call it.