In 1963, a young Keith Emerson who would later find recognition with his work with The Nice, ELP, and as a solo artist. He’s the bee’s knees of the founders of the Progressive Rock genre. But this rare and unearthed recording which was taken place at Emerson’s parents living room as a teenager. It shows his Jazz roots featuring him on piano along with Godfrey Sheppard on Bass and David Keene on Drums.
This rare recording was released previously in early of this year by Record Collection as a limited vinyl release. Now released in early November of this year on CD and on download, you can get to experience the young Emerson at his Jazzier sound resembling Vince Guaraldi, Oscar Peterson, and Thelonious Monk at his earlier prime. The recording which was done on an acetate, it’s not in the best condition, but you can imagine being in awe of what he will about to become.
The trio really take it down into the roots of Jazz and the Blues genre. For example, Winkle Picker Stamp in which it was based loosely on Earl Guest’s Honky Tonk Train Blues (which Keith later cover the track on Works Volume 2 in 1977) B-side, Winkle Picker Stomp is an homage to Earl’s music, but with a touch of B. Bumble and the Stingers Bumble Boogie with a shuffling groove.
Godfrey plays a walking bass line that gives it a wonderful 12-bar blues line as if you are driving in the Mojave Desert set in the ‘50s that you can imagine Keith giving him a chance to shine. He is playing the styles of Paul Chambers (Miles Davis) and Jimmy Garrison (John Coltrane) with Teenies Blues. There’s a bit of Freddie Freeloader and the Ramsey Lewis trio thrown in there.
Elsewhere, the Monk inspirations and Wynton Kelly, are thrown in there which I’ve mentioned earlier, he would later show those pieces with The Nice’s Five Bridges Suite. And it’s evidential on the Hank Mobley composition, Soul Station. The trio really bring the Blues to work and between the improvisations of Keith and Godfrey along with David Keene’s drumming, shows teamwork and having a great time.
Emerson brings his classical chops into the whole of 56 Blues. Not only the classical sound but he goes into town on the piano with the soul sounds thrown in there. And I can hear some essence of The Nice thrown in there which he would later bring the flaming fire on the Hammond Organ. He’s shows no sign of stopping on his composition as if he’s nailing the instrument down with a thunderous roar and with the romantic turned beautiful driven wonders of There Will Never Be Another You.
His attempt on Floyd Cramer, who was the architect of the “Nashville sound”, shows a lot of the thumping and essences of Charlie Parker in there, is a cooking combination between the two with You’ve Came a Long Way from Saint Louis. It’s a downtown rhythm that you can dance to for this short little number that I wish there was more of the improv’s of the trio.
This is my third time listening to The Keith Emerson Trio. And I have to admit, I’m very impressed of hearing an early Keith going into the Jazz roots before finding the recognition's with The Nice and ELP. It shows that listening to these unearthed recordings that he was about to set both the Jazz, Psychedelic, and Progressive Rock world by storm in the late ’60s and the golden-era of the 1970s. Again, even though it’s not in the best condition of the acetates, it’s a great discovery to go back and digging more.
I would highly recommend it for the essence of Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Vince Guaraldi, Miles Davis, and The Ramsey Lewis Trio.