"Frank Minion was born January 3, 1929 in Baltimore. He attended that city's schools until the Army called him to its ranks. Just for kicks he bagn singing with a group of fellow MPs, and rather rapidly wound up being a member of ther 15th Army Band. Because of his showing great promise, the Army was responsible for his entrance to the University of Minnesota, where he was a math-major and, of course, a music student. Upon leaving school at the age of 19, he returned home, where he joined the Lou Bennett Quartet, which at the time was one of the East Coast's finest groups. Working with Bennett proved to be an interseting and invaluable training period. being aggressive and restless, Frank soon formed his owxn group and enjoyed a great deal of success and recognition along the East Coast. When the oppotunity came to enter a dramatic school in New York City, he disbanded his trio and attended and finished his dramatic course. Music, however, is his first love and staying in new York, he worked the better night clubs, including Birdland, where he sang with Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Ed Thigpen and Jimmy Jones. They all agree - as I do - that thios is a man with all the tools to make it big in singing or writing. I'm betting, that once you hear this tremendous LP, you'll be a FRank Minion convert for life.
Side One is an original suite, done with the superlative backing of Tommy Flanagan, George Tucker, Roland Alexander, and Dannie Richmond.
In this odyssey Frank delivers his message in his usual modern idiom of how Main Street in a town can become like a drug to some cats. Hence the title "Black opium Street". How they just have to be on the scene, to be a part of the joy, misery, hate and love that makes "Black Opium Street" an irresistible magnet with its gals, queers, the woeful musicians, the jazz, and all of the phases of life, exposed to the habitués of the Main Street. Frank paints a starkly realistic picture, that will hold you riveted to your chair from his introduction to "Black opium Street" untill he rolls up the sidewalk with his narration of the closing theme "Later".
On side two Frank is joined by two all star rhythm sections, that he has known and worked with on many occasions. It is no wonder, therefore, that the set coms off in an easy, relaxed and compelling sound.
The first three tracks were done with the famous Miles Davis anchor men, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy cobb, who play Frank's vocal adaptations of Miles', "Flamenco Sketches" beautifully. For the first time I hear a vocalist sing the tune in 6/8 time and in minor, certainly no easy way to execute a melody.
"So What" by Miles Davis and "Round Midnight" by Monk round out this group's work, as Frank demonstrates his inventiveness with multi-voicing on "Flamenco" and "Midnight". The lyrics are his, except on "Midnight". Closing the set, Frank is joined on the last two tracks by an equally talented group, consisting of Jimmy Jones, Kenny Burrell, Ed Thigpen, and Joe Benjamin. The tunes are originals by Frank. "Watermelon" and "You I Love" are a further demoinstration of Frank Minion's forward sound. As a radio announcer, I'll guarantee, you will dig this record the most - and then some."
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