December 2000

Harold Ousley
Grit-Gittin' Feelin'
Delmark Records

A veteran of the Chicago jazz and R&B lounge scene of the 1950s and later, tenorman Ousley has worked with dozens of big names over the years, but, for some reason, he never escalated to the same level of prominence as his contemporaries Gene Ammons and Johnny Griffin. Now 71, Ousley still has the broad, deep tone of yore, but his digital dexterity seems at times somewhat unresponsive and his reliance on short, choppy phrasing on rhythmic tunes perhaps indicates other problems of articulation as well. Accompanied by well-known Chicago pianist Jodie Christian, bassist John Whitfield, drummer Robert Shy and on one track, "El Senioree," trumpeter Art Hoyle, Ousley presents nine tunes, of which "Lush Life," "Grit-Gittin' Feelin'," "Now that I Am So in Love" (a good up-tempo original seemingly based on the changes of Jerome Kern's "Look for the Silver Lining"), and "A Troubled Soul," a minor-keyed "St. James Infirmary"-like blues, are the most successful.

Originally published in December 2000
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