As part of Jazzman’s ongoing series of Holy Grail LP reissues comes this incredibly rare album from Minneapolis jazz hero Bobby Jackson. The stories surrounding Jackson are just as riveting as the album itself – a local evangelist of the power and glory of jazz music, he seemingly put his life on the line in a variety of ways to bring luminaries such as Freddie “Red Clay” Hubbard, Roland Kirk and Elvin Jones to Minneapolis and play. Despite all the travails, he managed to record a single album that didn’t even see a release until eight years after its recording. Given all this history, it’s perhaps fitting that Jazzman have reissued it.
Not that Cafe Extra-Ordinaire is a charity case – indeed far from it, the tunes absolutely leap out at you as soon as the needle drops. The frantic, red-raw pace of “Bobby’s Blues” is one of the most unruly yet together jazz vamps you’re likely to hear – essentially a duel between Bobby Lyle’s piano and the drummer conducted at lightening speed. Slower, modal mapping comes through on “Ya Kum Ba” though, which features elegant trumpet and Jackson’s own basswork. “Understanding” is even slower and heartbreakingly beautiful, the slow pace allowing Jackson’s bass to cut through the mix a little more. Though he was only a spirited amateur, he could clearly hold his own among professional company. “Peepin” allows Lyle a chance to shine, while the natural echo that comes off the trumpet during “Fluck Flick” is possibly one of the highlights of the whole record. It’s little things like this that make it clear why Jazzman decided to excavate this LP from the archive – the recordings sound incredibly unique, with a lo-fi quality that gives the drums especially a distinctive edge. For the history, the tunes and the sound, this is a very worthy reissue indeed.Oliver Keens