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Leo Wright - Soul Talk

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Artist: Leo Wright

Album: Soul Talk

Label: Water

Review date: May. 22, 2005

Allmusic.com says 1963; the liners say 1970. Only one of these dates can be right with respect to the release of this my-t-fine lounge-bop combo's album, but in any respect, it's a dynamite session, and well-worthy of being dug out from the Atlantic vaults.

Playing in the traditional idiom of the lounge setting (Wright on alto sax and flute, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Gloria Coleman on organ, and Frankie Dunlap on drums) could be fairly boring and pat, not to mention little more than background for some prime rib and a bottle of Blue Nun. Wright steers his group away from that with balance, control and unmatched intuition from all his players.

A key element of Soul Talk's success is restraint. Wright is a fantastic soloist with an expressively smooth and prolonged attack that jumps out and takes command without bowling over the other instruments. When his combo gets their moment to step up, they do it gracefully and with flair. Witness Coleman's organ vamps within their take on "Skylark," how she percolates in the background before jumping up for eight bars of wonderful before descending back into the track's natural warmth. Hear her impressively swelling sounds on Wright's upbeat arrangement of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" - the original liners state that she must have spent long hours in a church to play with that feeling, and I can't argue with that. Her bass phrasing beneath Wright's bright alto on the title track sums up everything these folks were going for on this release, very much up there with the best work of Jimmy Smith or John Patton but with classier, less showy appeal.

By Doug Mosurock

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