Over Horace Parlan
Even if he hadn't recorded stellar solo albums, including the excellent Happy State of Mind, Parlan would enjoy a firm place in jazz history due to his playing on Charles Mingus' classics Blues and Roots and Mingus Ah Um as well as his work with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Dexter Gordon. Parlan is first of all a soulful, bluesy Hard Bop player with a distinct touch on sensitive ballads, but he also knows how to stretch out a solo and take a chance. His '60s albums are probably his best, featuring musical conversations with Soul Jazz stalwarts like saxophonists Stanley Turrentine and Booker Ervin as well as guitarist Grant Green. Amazingly, Parlan began his career as a pianist to help overcome the polio that had partially paralyzed his right hand as a child -- turns out his therapy helped out many more people than just himself.