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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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QUINCY JONES

Explores the Music of Henry Mancini

Verve 0602517995741

 

 

1. Baby Elephant Walk
2. Charade
3. Dreamsville
4. Bird Brain
5. Days of Wine and Roses
6. Mr. Lucky
7. The Pink Panther
8. (I Love You) And Don't You Forget It
9. Soldier In The Rain
10. Odd Ball
11. Moon River
12. Peter Gunn

Collective personnel
Jerome Richardson, Roland Kirk, Stan Webb, Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Walter Kane, Seldon Powell, Romeo Panque, George Berg - Reeds
Richard Hixson, Urbie Green, Billy Byers, Quentin Jackson, Tony Studd - Trombones
Clark Terry, Ernie Royal, Snooky Young, Jimmy Maxwell, John Bello - Trumpets
Harvey Phillips - Tuba
Jimmy Buffington, Tony Miranda, Bob Northern, Ray Alonge - French horns
Margaret Ross - Harp
Gary Burton - Vibes
Bobby Scott - Piano
Mundell Lowe, Vincent Bell - Guitar
Toots Thielemans - Guitar, harmonica, whistle
Milt Hinton, Major Holley - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums
Martin Grupp, Philip Kraus - Percussion

 

Quincy Jones is a man of so many talents that it is difficult to remember them all - let alone to list them. Starting off his career as a trumpeter with Lionel Hampton's band in the early 1950s, he began writing arrangements for lots of different bands. His arranging led to producing and conducting and being chosen as the A & R man for various record companies. He also became a prolific composer of film music, as well as producing albums for everyone from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin (and, of course, Michael Jackson, which made Quincy very much in demand).

Having started out as a jazz trumpeter, much of his work retains a jazz feeling, and this is particularly notable in his big-band recordings of the fifties and sixties. They are no routine big-band sessions, as Quincy had an individual style which set his arrangements apart from the crowd. What is especially noticeable on this 1964 album is his liking for unusual sounds - like the humming double bass of Major Holley, the honky-tonk piano effects created by Bobby Scott, and the whistling of Toots Thielemans. Things like these give this album a special quality which was also present in Quincy's score for the film In the Heat of the Night, where he used such unique instrumental sounds as those made by Roland Kirk, who is also present on this album.

The twelve tracks were recorded at three different sessions with three different bands, although using many of the same musicians. Baby Elephant Walk opens with a fuzzy electric guitar and retains Henry Mancini's portrayal of elephants stomping along. There is also a bowed double-bass passage and the track closes with Bobby Scott's down-home piano. Charade hurries along like the theme from a spy movie, but parts of the arrangement sound like vintage Count Basie, and Roland Kirk adds some typically outlandish sounds towards the end.

The mood quietens down for a richly-scored version of Dreamsville, which has the warmth of the arrangement of For You which Thad Jones (no relation) wrote for Count Basie. Bird Brain is typical 1960s, with twittering flutes and a groovy alto-sax solo (probably by Phil Woods) but it still has those unique touches which signal a Quincy Jones concept (e.g. Thielemans swapping whistling fours with Major Holley's bass).

French horns and tuba add depth to the poignant Days of Wine and Roses (after all, the theme from a film about alcoholism) with added punch from Roland Kirk on tenor sax. Mr Lucky is appropriately easy-going, with the sort of perfect tempo I remember from Quincy's album Golden Boy (an LP that really deserves a CD reissue). The Pink Panther retains the tongue-in-cheek mood of Mancini's original theme, with Major Holley growling like a panther, drummer Osie Johnson slapping his knees and Quincy Jones clicking his fingers.

(I Love You) And Don't You Forget It is taken as a fast, gutsy bossa nova that nobody will forget, while Soldier in the Rain has the requisite sadness expressed by Toots Thielemans' yearning harmonica and lonely whistling. Odd Ball sounds like a big band even though there are only a dozen musicians playing. Thielemans again whistles along with his guitar.

Quincy Jones gives Moon River a complete make-over. It is usually performed as a slow, sensual ballad but he turns it into a fastish jazz-waltz with unusual voicings for added piquancy. The album ends with Peter Gunn, with the right sort of slow-burning menace and a capricious flute solo which must be the one-and-only Roland Kirk.

The only fault with this reissue is that reducing the sleeve note to CD format renders the personnel details visible only to someone who is used to reading the Bible on the head of a pin. Yet I am willing to forgive even this shortcoming, as the album makes such brilliant listening that I can't be bothered to read while it is playing.

Tony Augarde 



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