TIMELESS TONES…Henry “Skipper” Franklin: Showers of Blessings
(Published: June 07, 2021)
By George W. Harris
At 80 years young, bassist Henry “Skipper” Franklin is one of LA’s historical jazz figures. And, best of all, he’s still playing and sounding great, as this recent album with like minded all stars will attest. He mixes and matches his core team of Theo Saunders/p and Willie Jones III/dr with Yaokov Levy/fl, Najite Agindotan/perc, Benn Clatworthy/fl, Ryan Porter/tb, Nolan Shaheed/tp-fh and Teodross Avery/ts-ss on this collection of timeless gems.
Tropical flute flavors and percussion start things off on the tasty “Message to Marjorie” before The Skipper shifts into Comfort Food mode along with Avery on the leader’s blues shuffle “The Return of the Skipper” while Porter follows the leader’s lead on the hard driving modal “Coconut Island.” Clatworthy is misty on “Valley of Search” and the horn front line is shiny and sleek glides along on “Ballad for Aisha.” The sparks fly with some exciting tenor work on Benn Clatworthy’s “Skipper Meets Pharoah” and sweet soprano sounds along with Shaheed’s rich horn make you beg for more by the time the album closes with “Little Miss Laurie.” They make it sound so easy; so why can’t anyone else do it like this?