Sunday, August 19, 2012

StLJN Audio Archive:
Quartette Tres Bien - Stepping Out

For this week's Audio Archive post, we revisit Stepping Out!, a 1966 release by the popular St. Louis group Quartette Trés Bien.

A groove-oriented piano-trio-plus-percussionist, the QTB rose to fame during the Gaslight Square era, right around the same time that Ramsey Lewis and Young-Holt Unlimited were successfully purveying similar sounds up in Chicago.

The band's fifth album to get national distribution as part of their deal with Decca Records, Stepping Out! has been out of print for decades and apparently never has been reissued on CD.

The personnel is the familiar QTB lineup of Jeter Thompson on piano, Richard Simmons on bass, Albert St. James on drums and Percy James on bongos & congas. The album's tracks include "Watusi Warrior," "Summertime," "Stay, My Love," "A Taste Of Honey," "More (Theme from "Mondo Cane")," "Sheryl Likes Bananas" and "Brazil (Aquarela Do Brazil)"

From the original liner notes by Stanley Dance:
"'Emotion' is a word that Jeter Thompson returns to in conversation, for it is a quality he and the others seek to project on original compositions as well as in their playing, and this determines the playing of their most characteristic effects. The astonishing 'Watusi Warrior', for instance, is another example of Thompson's gift for descriptive writing with an African motif, its predecessors including 'Kilimanjaro' and 'Rhodesian Chant' on Decca DL 4548 and DL 4547 respectively.

He insists that this evocative piece, which seems so wild, exciting, barbaric and abandoned, was 'all worked out' beforehand. Such a performance is made possible by the Quartette's élan, and by the intuitive understanding each musician has - after playing together for seven years - of the others' ways of thought and expression."
The 320K .mp3 rip of Stepping Out! comes from the now-inactive music sharing blog Arkadin's Ark, and you can download a copy of it for free here. You can see the Quartette's successor Trio Tres Bien, which features Jeter Thompason along with his brothers Harold and Howard on bass and drums, perform live at this year's U City Jazz Festival on Saturday, September 22 in Heman Park.

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