New album by bassist Leon Lee Dorsey is final recording of Harold Mabern

Bassist and producer Leon Lee Dorsey celebrates the late, great jazz luminary Harold Mabern with his latest album.

Released on Jan. 20, Thank You, Mr. Mabern was recorded at Dorsey’s home studio in New York in July, 2019, two months prior to Mabern’s death.

The new record features Dorsey and Mabern along with drummer Mike Clark, making it Mabern’s final recording — a “swan song” for the Memphis-born hard-bop pianist.

“I had been working with Harold in George Coleman’s octet and we did some quartet gigs together, but I just had not really done a recording with him,” Dorsey says. “I really wanted Harold to come in, have a good time, and not have to think about anything. No reading, no nothing. We just hit — it was a tremendous experience. I feel like I got the best from both these legends in this session.”

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Thank You, Mr. Mabern begins with one of Mabern’s own compositions, Rakin’ and Scrapin’, and includes seven other trio arrangements of quintessential tunes by Ray Henderson, Errol Garner, the Gershwins, John Coltrane and more.

The posthumous release is not only Dorsey’s personal farewell to the jazz icon, “it also echoes the sentiments of jazz fans everywhere in appreciation for Mabern’s prolific 60 years,” reads a press release for the album.

Throughout his long career, Mabern was known for his skill, energy and sense of humour. He had a long and storied career playing with big names like Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis, J. J. Johnson, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, Wes Montgomery and Sarah Vaughan, among many others.

Dorsey, meanwhile, is known for his work with Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers and Cassandra Wilson. He has previously released two albums as a leader. He also teaches at the Berklee School of Music.

Thank You, Mr. Mabern is available now.