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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke




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The Great BIG BAND Collection

Kenny Baker, Art Pepper, Benny Carter, Gene Krupa & Lionel Hampton

Sabam CRESCENDO Joan Records No 7165

 

 

This is one of a set of four collections of 5CDís each that I have received for review. As the reader will find from the reviews that follow, the music is not always Big Band music. The music from this group of artistes is however representative of their work and the majority of it I had not heard before.

Kenny Baker

  1. Sugar Blues (Clyde McCoy)
  2. Tenderly (Randy Brooks)
  3. Georgia (Nat Gonella)
  4. Davenport Blues (Bix Beiderbecke)
  5. Morning Glory (Rex Stewart)
  6. Echoes of Harlem (Cootie Williams)
  7. Our love is Here to Stay (Bobby Hackett)
  8. Memories of You (Sonny Durham)
  9. Music Goes Round and Round (All Trumpet Players)
  10. Carnival Time (Ray Anthony)
  11. And the Angels Sing (Ziggy Elman)
  12. I Canít Get Started (Bunny Berigan)
  13. Wonít You Come Home Bill Bailey (Jonah Jones)
  14. You Made me love You (Harry James)
  15. Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)
  16. Whatís New (Billy Butterfield)
  17. How Long has this Been Going On (Doc Severonsen)
  18. Little Jazz (Roy Eldridge)

I think that few would take issue with me if I say that Kenny Baker was the finest all round trumpet player that the UK has produced. Whether as section man in the Ted Heath Band, leading his own band or playing in a small jazz group, Kenny was always the star. This album has him playing his impressions of some of the finest jazz trumpet players in the world, playing their favourite solos. Such is his versatility that he carries off this task with consummate ease, he sounds relaxed throughout playing with a backing band whose personnel sounds like a whose who of all the top UK Big Band musicians. Names like Don Lusher, Tommy Whittle, Derek Watkins, Jack Parnell and Pete Warner are just a sample from this all star band. For trumpet players or people who like trumpet playing, this is definitely for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Pepper

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Thyme Time
  3. The Way You Look Tonight
  4. Nutmeg
  5. Artís Oregano
  6. Over the Rainbow
  7. Popo
  8. Didi
  9. Sam & the Lady
  10. Apropos
  11. Art Pepper
  12. The Count on Rush St.
  13. Pooch Mc Gooch
  14. Brown Gold
  15. Holiday Flight
  16. Surf Ride
  17. Tickle Toe
  18. Chili Pepper
  19. Susie the Poodle
  20. Straight Life

There is only one big band track on this disc, but it does contain some excellent small group jazz from one of the finest alto sax players ever to appear on the jazz scene. Like many of his contemporaries, Art Pepper acquired a narcotics habit that resulted in him spending time in jail, when he was available to play he turned in breathtaking performances however as this record illustrates. These tracks were recorded in the period 1950m to 1953 and he was certainly on good form then. Strangely his unfortunate life style never seemed to affect his playing. I heard him on his last tour of the UK in the 70ís, he died in 1981, but he was still playing brilliantly.

The first five tracks find him in the company of a great unsung hero of the Tenor Sax, Jack Monterose, they play extremely well together and some of the counterpoint they produce in ensemble passages is equal to that of the original Gerry Mulligan Quartet with Chet Baker. Larry Bunker incidentally was the drummer for both groups.

Tracks 6 to 10 have Pepper in the company of Shorty Rogers and not surprisingly the group now starts to sound like the ĎGiantsí such was Rogerís influence as an arranger. The one and only Big Band track called Art Pepper probably came from his time with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Stan plays piano on this one.

The remaining tracks feature Art in various small group settings and each track is well worth listening to. Not much Big Band playing, but plenty of quality music!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benny Carter

  1. Re-Bop Boogie
  2. Prelude to a Kiss
  3. Baby Your Mine for Keeps
  4. Twelve OíClock Jump
  5. Your Conscience tells You So
  6. June Comes Around Every Year
  7. Mexican hat dance
  8. Love for Sale
  9. Malibu
  10. Iím Lost
  11. Melodrama in a V-Disc Record Room
  12. I Canít Get Started
  13. Back bay Boogie
  14. Forever Blue
  15. Cadillac Slim
  16. Deep Purple

Benny Carter is still alive at 96 and this year the BBC is broadcasting a tribute to him, which is very well deserved. During his musical life he has played Saxophone, Trumpet & Clarinet as a top jazz soloist and has written arrangements for many of the leading Big Bands as well as film scores and popular songs. In the UK he has never really had the recognition he deserves which is strange because he spent a period just after the war as a staff arranger for the BBC.

Several famous musicians are present on these tracks, Al Grey who spent many years with Count Basie is on many of them, and Max Roach is also heard along with Ben Webster. It is also said that Miles Davies had a minor role on track 17.

Carterís own playing is superb throughout, no wonder he could easily hold his own with the heavyweights of Jazz at The Philharmonic. My favourite is his rendition of I Canít Get Started, it was good to hear someone play it on alto for a change.

The tracks were recorded between 1943 and 1949 but the sound quality is good, for anyone who would like to become more familiar with Benny Carterís work I recommend both the recording and the work itself.

Gene Krupa

  1. Let Me Off Uptown
  2. Before the Savoy
  3. Ball of Fire
  4. Harlem on Parade
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Murder He Says
  7. Thatís Drummerís Band
  8. Drumminí Man
  9. Jeepers Creepers
  10. Symphony in Riffs
  11. Tuxedo Junction
  12. Tutti Frutti
  13. Drum Boogie
  14. Apurksody
  15. Georgia On My Mind
  16. Rockiní Chair

The prevailing images of Gene Krupa was of the demonic drummer, hair down over his eyes, sweating profusely and full of energy. Some Big band drummers imitate the look even today! Gene Krupa however was much more than an image, he set the style of drumming that big bands would continue to pursue. He really knew how to make a band swing and as well as that great attribute, this disc demonstrates his arranging abilities that were also considerable. Many of the stars of the 1940ís jazz scene passed through Crupperís bands, on this disc Roy Eldridge is heavily featured as is superb jazz vocalist Anita OíDay. Krupaís bands are also about precision playing and excellence in ensemble work that is also demonstrated here.

The music is classic swing band era stuff, much of it was intended for the Ďpopí music charts of the day, but the quality of musicianship is always present.

There is a link with another disc in this set because Benny Carter is the arranger for Tuxedo Junction and Symphony in Riffs

Drum Boogie was re-titled by Ronnie Scott as ĎIím Sick and Tired of Waking Up Tired and Sickí. There is a nice Trumpet solo on RockiníChair but the sleeve notes give no one credit. They do credit Irene Day with the vocal, but there isnít one!

The disc certainly catches the essence of the Krupa Band well and I enjoyed it.

Lionel Hampton

  1. Sleepy Time Down South
  2. Mr PC
  3. Moments Notice
  4. Giant Steps
  5. Buddyís Cherokee
  6. Take the A Train
  7. Iíll Never Be the Same
  8. Buddyís Rock
  9. My Funny Valentine
  10. Latin Silk
  11. Ainít Misbehaviní

This disc really does go for broke because there is not a Big Band track on it anywhere. This is strange because Lionel Hampton has fronted many of them.

There is also a complete lack of information about the recordings making this a real mystery album.

It is fortunate then that Hamp is the greatest exponent of the Vibraphone that the world has ever produced. The quality of his playing is of the very best, he never fails to swing or run out of ideas fore his improvisations. The only track I have managed to find any reference to is Giant Steps, the John Coltrane tune which seems to have been released before on a CD called ĎVibrationsí. There are two Tenor players on this set and both sound like John Coltrane, but I donít think either of them were. The drumming is crisp enough to be Buddy Rich, but is it. The Bass player and pianist are also excellent, but who are they? Coming from a record company that releases quality classical music, I would have thought it was not beyond the ability of Joan Records BV to find out what they have bought when they took over these recordings. This is great music from a jazz Ďmonsterí, but it would be so much nicer if we knew more about it.

Overall I Give This Collection Four Stars, even though the title is misleading, the music throughout is of good quality and well worth hearing.

Don Mather

 

 

 
 
 
 



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