WBGO Radar

Jerry Weldon: On The Move!

Jerry Weldon on the move

Jerry Weldon talks with excitement about that night that makes you think it was last night. His jazz fan father had taken him to see Stan Getz at The Village Vanguard. It made an indelible impression on the young saxophone playing New Yorker to have a life in music.

In a think thin culture Weldon developed a fat sound, putting him on the move in the bands of Lionel Hampton and Harry Connick, Jr., recording and playing with Roy Haynes, George Benson, Cedar Walton and singer Mel Torme. But Jerry's true traction came in the wall sweatin' group of organ great Bobby Forrester, and on to work with Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff and Joey Defrancesco. To this day Weldon's a regular at Showman's in Harlem with his own organ group.

Jerry got the call to come to the West Coast to take part in a tribute to Papa John Defrancesco. While there, producer Pete Fallico organized the session here, partnering Weldon with organist Bobby Pierce, a burner in the bands of Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, James Moody and Eddie Harris. Guitarist Steve Homan has worked with Jimmy Smith, Joe Williams and Oakland rhythm master and former Herbie Hancock Headhunter, drummer Mike Clark, who's hands on for the date.
"Do You Know A Good Thing When You See One" gets the fire lit. Shirley Scott's tune gets a head turn as you can't believe these four have never played together before!

Illinois Jacquet's "Black Velvet" was a hit in 1949. With lyrics, "Don' Cha Go 'Way Mad" was a Sinatra favorite of Weldon's mother. Here Jerry and mates rough up the velvet for a soulful turn.

Organist Don Patterson wrote "Donald Duck", a groover featured with Sonny Stitt.

Pierce lays down some nasty organ licks for Weldon to smoke over, Clark's in the pocket rhythms making this one a keeper.

Gene Ammons' 1950's tune "Stringin' The Jug" was a furious cutting contest played out between Ammons and Sonny Stitt. Clark sets the bar for these four to cut to the heart of this one, Weldon shouting and screaming a joyful noise answered in kind by Homan's quick guitar lines and Pierce's vitamin B-3.

Weldon was at The Village Vanguard when Dexter Gordon returned to the States in 1976. His rendition of "You've Changed" brings a Gordon sense memory to Jerry's fresh expression. This one's a primer on how to deliver any ballad.
Weldon's growing up with his mother's love for Sinatra sparked a return visit for "There Are Such Things". Jerry's lyrical sense provides further investigation of this nugget he also played when touring with Freddy Cole.

From The Music Man, "Till There Was You" was a favorite of Lennon & McCartney, and a look see for Sonny Rollins on his "Freedom Suite" recording. Pierce, Homan and Clark paint a relaxed palette for Weldon's flowing lines.

On the title cut, a Weldon original, this minor blues smolders, speaking to the  listener that this was a blind date given the hope of a further musical relationship. The spirit here demands it.

Jerry - WELL DONE!

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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