Harold Mabern is one of several excellent hard bop pianists from the Memphis area and has always attracted total respect from his contemporaries. He played in Chicago with MJT + 3 in the late '50s and then moved to New York in 1959. Mabern has worked with the greats in the jazz world: Jimmy Forrest, Lionel Hampton, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson , Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams and Sarah Vaughan among a host of others in his career.
On his latest album, ‘To Love and Be Loved’, Harold Mabern is joined by a multi-generational band that brings together one of his legendary peers with some of his most acclaimed former students. On the drum stool is the 88-year-old legend Jimmy Cobb, with whom Mabern first played in Miles Davis's band during a brief but memorable stint in 1963. Cobb is joined in the rhythm section by the impeccably swinging bassist Nat Reeves, while the frontline features Mabern's prize student and frequent collaborator Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone and, on three tracks, another Mabern protégé, trumpeter Freddie Hendrix. Master percussionist Cyro Baptista completes the line-up with a performance on the opening track.
In discussing his reimagining of classic tunes and the inspiration for the album, Mabern quotes an unlikely mentor for a jazz musician: Albert Einstein. The famed physicist once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Mabern took that message to heart, letting his own imagination run free on his new release.
The songs include works by Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner and Gene Ammons alongside a bunch of evergreen standards and Alexander’s stomper The Iron Man.