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Ronnie Mathews' first session as a leader appeared in the jazz racks in the '60s, it would have been logical to assume that he was providing funky, down-home, R&B-drenched soul-jazz. Doin' the Thang sounds like the title of a soul-jazz release; also, one of the tracks is titled "Let's Get Down." And when jazz improvisers used that much African-American slang in the '60s, it often meant that they were going after the soul-jazz/organ combo market (which was relatively lucrative at a time when commercially, jazz had lost a lot of ground to rock and R&B).

But this 1963 session is more than soul-jazz. Rather, the LP's focus is modal post-bop and hard bop. But even though the material isn't soul-jazz, Mathews' quintet is certainly soulful. That is true on "The Thang" (a blues) as well as two Asian-influenced post-bop offerings that Mathews wrote: "The Orient" and "Ichi-Ban."

There's no shortage of soulfulness on the acoustic pianist's interpretation of Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss." The cohesive, hard-swinging quintet that Mathews leads on this LP employs Charles Davis on baritone sax, Eddie Kahn on bass, Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums, and a young Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. Hubbard, who was only 25, brings not only fire, guts, and passion, but also a big, highly appealing tone. One that owed a lot to Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro, but still quite distinct and original.

With Doin' the Thang, Mathews' recording career as a leader was off to an impressive start.

Tracklisting

  • The Thang
  • Ihci Ban
  • The Orient
  • Let's Get Down
  • Prelude To A Kiss
  • 1239-A
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