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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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5 For Freddie

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19344




1. Groovin´ High
2. Bustin´ Suds
3. For Lena and Lennie
4. Up in the Blues
5. Down for Double
6. High Tide
7. Dreamsville
8. Shiny Stockings
9. Centerpiece
10. Corner Pocket
11. All of Me
12. Sophisticated Swing
13. Lester Leaps In
Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar
Warren Vaché - Cornet
John Bunch - Piano
Jay Leonhardt - Bass
Mickey Roker - Drums

The Freddie in the title is Freddie Green, a mainstay of Count Basie's rhythm section for nearly five decades. If anybody could be said to "Do by stealth, and blush to find it fame", it's Freddie Green, whose rhythm guitar added so much so discreetly to the Basie band.

The album starts unexpectedly with Groovin' High, a tune never associated with Freddie Green. The sleeve-note says that Bucky Pizzarelli included it here because Bucky was once employed by its co-composer, Dizzy Gillespie. In fact it makes a fine vehicle for a bouncy jaunt which opens in typical Basie style with sparing piano against chugging rhythm. Warren Vaché's solo cleverly combines touches of bebop with echoes of the style of Basie trumpeter Harry Edison, whose sound is recalled by Warren on many of the tracks here.

Bustin' Suds is the first of five Freddie Greene compositions on the CD, with Bucky supplying not only rhythm guitar but also a subtle solo. For Lena and Lennie was written by Quincy Jones for the Basie band in 1958 as a tribute to Lena Horne and her husband, Lennie Hayton. Warren plays this slowish ballad with expert taste and John Bunch adds some equally tasteful piano. Up in the Blues was composed by Freddie Green for his only album as leader - the appropriately-titled Mr Rhythm. Warren Vaché's muted cornet presents the simple theme, then John Bunch takes over, sounding here and elsewhere on the album more extrovert than he has sometimes appeared.

Down for Double and Corner Pocket are among Freddie Green's best-known compositions. The former has provided a useful vehicle for several jazzmen and here gives Jay Leonhart a chance for a bass solo. The latter was written for one of Basie's finest albums, April in Paris (1955), and gives Leonhart another solo. Drummer Mickey Roker makes his presence felt slightly more on this track than on others, playing throughout with admirable restraint. The seductive Shiny Stockings also dates from the mid-fifties. Bucky again supplies some splendid Greenish guitar and solos acoustically, while John Bunch reproduces the Basie piano style convincingly.
I won't deal with every track separately, because a certain sameness sets in with this sequence of tunes at gentle tempos with fairly understated performances. But for those seeking some gently satisfying music without too many fireworks, this is an ideal album.

Tony Augarde


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