50 Jazz Blues Licks is an exclusive series of video
When I lived in New York I spent most of my radio time with WBGO, the Newark-based 24-hour jazz station where, among other things, Bob Porter hosted the show “Portraits in Blue.” No matter who Porter profiled on any given week, I was always transfixed by the opening theme, which I eventually discovered was a track by saxophonist Jimmy Forrest called “The Bolo Blues,” which appeared on a1961 Prestige album called Out of the Forrest. Speaking anachronistically, it’s the 1950s version of a slow jam – when the lights dim and the downtempo, gutbucket sax licks start wafting through the window, you know the star of the film is about to get lucky, or get shot trying. Forrest was best known for another blues, “Night Train,” which was adapted from an earlier Duke Ellington tune and has an equally classy cultural role as the embodiment of the mid-century stripper groove. All that steaminess aside, however, Forrest was also a badass uptempo purveyor of bebop, as evidenced by his playing on organist Jack McDuff’s 1961 record The Honeydripper – check out the solo he tears off on the opening blues and you’ll see what I mean. Grant Green and McDuff are no slouches on this album either, but Forrest’s playing on tracks like this and on “Sunkenfoal” from 1959’s All The Gin Is Gone is at once gritty and dazzling, no mean feat.
If you like these