Junior Mance:Tin Tin Deo
From The Junior Mance Touch (Polydor, 1973)

Morris Nanton: Soul Fingers
From Soul Fingers (Prestige, 1967)

Yes, we’re going theme (and icon) crazy over here at Soul Sides (heads ain’t ready for the stuff we got). The latest? Hammer Drops, dedicated to the multiple forms of the keyboard: acoustic, electric, organ, etc.

We like many sounds – the soulful cries of the sax, the boom bap of the drums, the thick richness of a bassline – but the dancing melodies and rhythms of the keys win hands-down (pun intended). I’d try to articulate why but the words elude me at present. Also, maybe it’s because we never perfected our Suzuki Method as a child, but we still marvel at those who can sit down in front of a piano and just play.

Junior Mance’s “Tin Tin Deo” is simply sublime and thought I tend to toss that term around loosely, in this case, I think it’s deserved. This is such a remarkably soulful rendition of Gil Fuller’s composition – Mance apparently covered the song earlier, in 1962 and while I haven’t heard that rendition, I can’t imagine it being superior to the arrangement on this ’73 LP. The album, overall, is fantastic – one of my faves by him – but alas, it’s not available on reissue as far as I know. Not his hardest album to find OG, but not his easiest either.

Same goes for Morris Nanton – an under-sung pianist who recorded with Warner Bros. and Prestige. His “Soulful Fingers” reminds a lot of some of McCoy Tyner’s work, especially in the early ’60s but with just a slight, funky edge, like a dash of Bobby Timmons sprinkled on. Love this composition: it just swings with such verve and sparkle and just makes you feel so damn good.

Not to jock my own shit but I’m excited at what future Hammer Drops installments might bring…this whole Soul Sides exercise has been a great excuse to go back and listen to many an album that’s been shelved and forgotten. If I don’t say this enough, thanks to all the kind comments you guys leave for me on the site and via email. ‘Tis a pleasure.

Nick Francis, over at Quiet Music was kind enough to direct me to another cover of “Tin Tin Deo,”, done by Japan’s Soul Bossa Trio. See? Soul Sides = a family affair.