Tracks 1-9: ‘Mr Music’
1. Something For Lisa
2. Count Every Star
3. Cabin In The Sky
5. Never Never Land
6. La Ronde
7. This Reminds Me Of You
8. Breakfast With Joe
9. Cohn My Way
Tracks 10-21: ‘Al Cohn Quintet Featuring Bob Brookmeyer’
10. The Lady Is A Tramp
11. Good Spirits
12. A Blues Serenade
13. Lazy Man Stomp
14. Ill Wind
17. Back To Back
18. So Far So Good
20. I Should Care
21. Bunny Hunch
Tracks 1-8: ‘Al & Zoot’
1. It’s A Wonderful World
2. Brandy And Beer
3. Two Funky People
4. Chasing The Blues
5. Halley’s Comet
6. You’re A Lucky Guy
7. The Wailing Boat
8. Just You, Just Me
Tracks 9-13: ‘Bob Brokmeyer Featuring Al Cohn’
9. Open Country
10. Jive At Five
12. In the Mode
13. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
Tracks 14-15: ‘Winner’s Circle’
14. Not So Sleepy
15. Love And The Weather
Al Cohn is most familiar from his collaborations with
fellow-reedman Zoot Sims and for his stint with Woody Herman's band
in the late 1940s, where he was part of the famous "Four Brothers"
saxophone team. These two involvements were connected, because Zoot
Sims was another member of the "Four Brothers" group.
This generous package of two CDs comprises four original
LPs plus a couple of extra tracks. The first LP, recorded in December
1954, was called Mr Music and featured Al Cohn leading a largish
group which included trumpeter Joe Newman, altoist Gene Quill and
guitarist Jimmy Raney. Cohn arranged six of the nine numbers, ranging
widely in style from the neoclassical La Ronde (not the MJQ
tune) to the beboppish Move. Al Cohn's fluent tenor sax gets
lots of solo space in this very pleasant session.
The second LP, from December 1956, was called The
Al Cohn Quintet featuring Bob Brookmeyer. Trombonist Brookmeyer
shared the arranging duties with Al Cohn and they each wrote three
of the tunes. The sound is reminiscent of the West Coast, even though
the album was recorded in New York. Cohn's clean-lined tenor sax impresses
again, and Brookmeyer's valve trombone adds to the interest - although
the session lacks some of the excitement of Bob's collaborations with
Clark Terry. Drummer Nick Stabulas helps to drive things along but
the biggest surprise is the presence of a young pianist called Mose
Allison, better known in later years for his quirky songs. Allison
had recently moved to New York and this is one of the sessions that
established his name. He contributes some excellent solos, creating
distinct right-hand lines.
The third LP dates from March 1957 and was one of many
on which Al Cohn collaborated with Zoot Sims, leading their own quintet.
The togetherness of the two is so close that they are often difficult
to distinguish from one another, especially as their saxophone tones
were so similar: smooth and swinging, without any kind of excess.
Tenor duets often turn into "tenor battles" but their mutual
respect allowed them to play together without any sense of competition.
They might well have been twins, separated at birth. The two men switch
to clarinets for the tasty Two Funky People, a Cohn original
with an attractively loping rhythm.
The fourth LP reunited Al Cohn with Bob Brookmeyer
for a 1954 session called Bob Brookmeyer featuring Al Cohn.
The two final bonus tracks come from an album entitled Winner's
Circle, featuring the winners and runners-up in the fifth Down
Beat Critics' Poll - undated but probably from the mid-sixties.
Al Cohn gets to solo alongside other favoured musicians who include
Donald Byrd, Eddie Costa and an up-and-coming tenorist named John
Like most similar Avid albums, this is a bargain: more
than 150 minutes of high-quality music at budget price. I wish the
Avid company would sort out its sleeve information so that all the
facts about each album are available on the same page. This would
prevent the user continually turning the pages back and forth. Otherwise
I have nothing but praise for these Avid compilations.