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David “Bubba” Brooks: Polka Dots and Moonbeams

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Tenor saxophonist David “Bubba” Brooks, born in Fayetteville, N.C., in 1922, is the older brother of tenor saxophonist Tina Brooks. While Tina, who died in 1974, recorded as a leader and sideman for Blue Note in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Bubba followed a more obscure jazz path. He performed with Sonny Thompson’s R & B band in the ’50s, pop singers Dee Clark and Clyde McPhatter in the ’60s and organist Jimmy McGriff in the early ’70s. In 1976, he began playing regularly with organist Bill Doggett, a gig that lasted almost 20 years. In the ’80s, he joined the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, a group of veterans who tour the festival circuit from time to time.

Brooks is a rhapsodic, extroverted tenor man in the tradition of Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. This album, with guitarist Jack Wilkins, organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and drummer Charlie Persip, is a gem. It should be required listening for any young saxophonist who wants to study jazz phrasing, soulful expression in the grand tradition and how to treat a ballad with melodic and harmonic respect. Besides the title ballad, there are “Blue and Sentimental,” “A Ghost of a Chance” and “Don’t Blame Me” as examples of how to play slow and lovely tunes.

The album also contains plenty of blues-rooted material: “Perpetual Motion,” “Dutch Kitchen Bounce,” “Lonnie’s Blues” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.” Actually, the term “perpetual motion” aptly describes Brooks’ feeling of swing, and on the tune with this name his slurs, alternate fingerings and shouting phrases especially resemble Lockjaw.

The rhythm section delivers exemplary support and solos. As an accompanist, Smith stays out of the way and nudges the beat along economically. Wilkins cooks in the Wes Montgomery style. Persip is Mr. Taste.

Get this album and treat yourself to some fine old school jazz.