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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Tickle Toe

Delmark DE 583

1. Tickle Toe
2. Centerpiece
3. The Man I Love
4. Allen's Alley
5. Alone Together
6. Secret Love
7. What's New?

Cy Touff - bass trumpet
Sandy Mosse - Tenor sax
John Campbell - Piano
Kelly Sill - Bass
Jerry Coleman - Drums

How do you stand out from the crowd? One way of doing it in jazz is to play an instrument that nobody else (or hardly anyone else) plays - like Roland Kirk with his manzello and stritch, or Rufus Harley with the bagpipes. The name of Cy Touff has stuck in my mind for many years because he is the only exponent of the bass trumpet that I can remember (although there are a few others). Cy Touff studied with Lennie Tristano and (most famously) played in Woody Herman's band.

This album was actually recorded in Cy's home city, Chicago, in 1981, when he co-led a quintet with tenorist Sandy Mosse. Sandy, an old friend of Cy's, was visiting Chicago from Amsterdam, where he had been living for some years, and Cy set up the recording date, which is only now released on CD. Sadly, Sandy died less than a year after this recording was made (Touff survived until 2001). In the late fifties and early sixties, the two men had actually been leaders of an octet called Pieces of Eight, so they knew each other well and their friendship comes through in this recording.

If you have never heard a bass trumpet, it sounds very like a trombone - close to a valve trombone. It blends very well with the tenor sax. Sandy Mosse sounds rather like a cross between Lester Young and Stan Getz - not bad influences! Perhaps the nicest thing about the album is that neither Touff nor Mosse feel obliged to cram in as many notes as possible (as some jazzmen do). On the contrary, they leave space for the music to breathe. Pianist John Campbell is also a spacious player: elegant in solos and discreet in accompaniment.

Most of the music is easygoing swing, with occasional hints of bebop (for example, in Denzil Best's composition Allen's Alley). The blues is well in evidence on Harry Edison's Centerpiece, where Mosse's tenor lopes along in relaxed style, and Touff is equally mellow on bass trumpet. Alone Together has the two frontmen harmonising pleasantly together. Secret Love swings along easily at a fastish tempo.

This is not exactly epoch-making music but it is very agreeable nevertheless.

Tony Augarde





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