Booker Ervin, Pony Poindexter, Larry Young Gumbo!

Everything about the appearance of this reissue screams "cheap knockoff," although one could say that the original soul-jazz by-the-numbers Fantasy/Prestige releases of the '60s and '70s were cheap knockoffs to start with. For starters, the graphics are strictly budget-minded. As well, although celebrated Mingus sideman Booker Ervin is given top billing, these are Pony Poindexter's sessions. Poindexter, an alto and soprano saxophonist, is hardly a celebrated figure in jazz. Perhaps he should be better known because Gumbo! is an excellent album from 1963. Poindexter originally hailed from New Orleans, and polyrhythms abound on this eight-song suite. Poindexter's lyrical, melodic style combines well with Ervin's gutbucket soul wailing. The songwriting, too, is very strong - aspects of New Orleans collective improvisation are balanced with punchy, African-tinged riffs, recalling Randy Weston. The latter tracks on this CD feature a quartet with Ervin and Larry Young as sidemen. These songs are mostly covers of standards, but Young, at the age of 23, is already staking a claim to being the most original organist of the '60s. His unique timbres and approaches to composing bass parts with Poindexter's melodic sense elevates the mellowness of these selections to fine, laid-back soulfulness in the Stanley Turrentine mode. (Prestige)