January 4, 2012

Baby Face Willette - unknown to a lot of people.

I guess the word enigmatic might be best used to describe the almost totally unknown/completely underrated Hammond B3 Maestro Roosevelt "Baby Face" Willette.

From an auspicious start playing piano behind such greats as King Kolax and Big Jay McNeely, Willette switched to Organ and entered the realm of Jazz/Funk/Soul/hard-Bop. He teamed up with Jazz greats Grant Green and Lou Donaldson, before forming his own trio and recording two albums for Blue Note and later switching to Argo, recording two more albums and then fading from the scene. He was rumored to have died in 1971, but it's up for dispute from several sources (I have no opinion). Suffice to say, he hasn't recorded anything since his last Argo album Behind The 8 Ball in 1965.

Tonight it's a track from his 1964 Argo release Mo-Roc. Sight In Darkness ends the second side of the album and it gives every indication what a great talent Willette was.

Joining him on this track is the trio consisting of Ben White on Guitar and Eugene Bass and drums.

Like every other genre of music, Jazz has more than its fair share of unsung heroes.

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