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

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The ABC's of Jazz

Avid ARCD 19371



  1. Pick Yourself Up
  2. My One and Only Love
  3. All Through the Night
  4. I Believe in Miracles
  5. Anita
  6. Some of these Days
  7. First Song
  8. Just One of those Things
  9. Medley: Puttin' on the Ritz / Bernie's Tune
  10. In the Still of the Night
  11. Medley: Jitterbug Waltz / Valse Hot
  12. You Must Be Losin' Your Mind
  13. There's a Gal in my Life
  14. High Society
John Allred - Trombone
Jeff Barnhart - Piano
Danny Coots - Drums
Dave Stone - Bass


A small band led by a trumpeter or saxophonist seems natural but somehow a trombone-led group feels rather odd. I played in such a group years ago, and it certainly felt strange, but perhaps that was just me! At any rate, John Allred is such a good trombonist that he makes this album sound entirely natural. John is the son of another trombonist - Bill Allred - and they are both virtuosi on the instrument. John has a smooth but sparky tone which is easy to listen to, although he sounds slightly out of tune at the start of All Through the Night.

Despite the three musicians listed as the heading, this is actually a quartet, as bassist Dave Stone is unfairly demoted to the small print because he doesn't fit the "ABC" title (although the wrongly-apostrophised "s" might represent him). The band's repertoire includes some old warhorses, like Pick Yourself Up and Some of these Days but there is also a fair sprinkling of little-known material. There are four Fats Waller compositions - Anita, You Must Be Losin' Your Mind, Jitterbug Waltz and There's a Gal in my Life, plus another song which Fats didn't write but popularised: I Believe in Miracles. This last (like You Must Be Losin' Your Mind) includes a fairly ordinary vocal by Jeff Barnhart, although Jeff's piano style is well suited to Wallerisms, as he has a firm grasp of stride.

Such old tunes are balanced with more modern compositions by Charlie Haden (First Song) and Sonny Rollins' Valse Hot, which is unexpectedly teamed with Jitterbug Waltz. In fact the two tunes work well side-by-side: both are in waltz time and raise a thought-provoking comparison between Waller and Rollins, who both took an often iconoclastic approach to jazz. Another surprising medley melds Bernie's Tune with Puttin' on the Ritz.

Some tracks slim down the quartet to feature particular musicians. Barnhart strides through Anita with only Danny Coots' drums in support. Just One of those Things is played without Allred and is introduced by the tuneful verse on the piano. And There's a Gal in my Life is a reflective trombone-piano duet.

Some of these Days features expressive trombone from Allred. In the Still of the Night is not the well-known Cole Porter song but a Hoagy Carmichael invention which is almost classical in its formality. The CD ends in Dixieland: High Society, with John Allred essaying the classic but tortuous solo which Alphonse Picou originally devised on the clarinet. Allred succeeds admirably, although it may remind you of The Flight of the Bumblebee.

Tony Augarde 

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