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

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Urbane Jazz




  1. I still love him so
  2. The moon is low
  3. I missed my hat
  4. Ballad Melody
  5. Polite Blues
  6. Close your eyes
  7. Where's Art
  8. I don't know
  9. Striding
  10. Wailing
  11. Les Tricheurs *
  12. Phil's Tune *

4 Alternative takes included and one 78 version

Roy Eldridge (trumpet): Benny Carter (alto saxophone); Bruce McDonald (piano); John Simmons (bass); Alvin Stoller (drums)
Roy Eldridge (trumpet): Stan Getz (tenor saxophone, on Les Tricheurs only): Oscar Peterson (piano); Herb Ellis (guitar); Ray Brown (bass); Gus Johnson (drums) *
Rec. March 1955 LA, CA and May 1958, Paris, France (Les Tricheurs and Phil's Tune)


This is a welcome release, containing the original Urbane Jazz LP and adding material recorded at the sessions. This extra music was derives from a projected Eldridge-Tatum meeting, with Alvin Stoller slotted in at the drums, and a bass player whose identity remains unknown. When Tatum failed to appear Eldridge and Stoller set to work on some on-the-spot duets. More of those in a moment.

Carter and Eldridge were old colleagues and sparring partners. The elegance of the altoist's playing on I still love him so is only to be expected but the subsequent tempo doubling attests to the careful attention to detail that lay behind the session. Bruce McDonald is the fine pianist and his work behind Eldridge's muted playing foreshadows the rest of the date where he acquits himself with sterling musicianship. The trumpeter alternates between brassy insouciance and more clement directions in The moon is low with Stoller's clever playing egging him on. Carter meanwhile is pristine and quite unruffled - even, perhaps especially, when they trade eights the two front liners retain their own rights of way; Eldridge's fiery declamations failing to find a response in Carter's serene lyricism.

During McDonald's solo in I missed my hat, an Eldridge original, I thought of Teddy Wilson. The pianist's touch and his elegant, fluid lines owe a certain debt to his eminent colleague but the firefly hints at quotations is all McDonald's and unlike many a jazz musician he is content to hint, not to pummel. Polite Blues is a straight ahead number with good solos all round, where the pianist stretches out quite allusively, his runs quite Tatumesque, and John Simmons essays a bowed bass solo with a down home feeling. Very different is the shuffle beat on Close your eyes. There are alternatives from this session, including a 78 version of The Moon is low, which lasts half the time of the LP one.

The Eldridge-Stoller tracks are consistently invigorating. Whereas there was some coasting in the band session, here there's none. The thrill of the new is palpable. In these tracks we find some fabulous flourishes from the trumpeter - not least on I don't know - and plenty of bluesy swing. Stoller gets plenty of opportunities to display his versatile, provoking wares and even when Eldridge slips into familiar patterns, as he does in Striding, we find Stoller's off beat playing both commanding and rhythmically virile. On Wailing we have an overdub, with the trumpeter playing some pretty decent piano as well. To bulk out the disc we have two numbers from a French film. In the first, a blues, we hear Stan Getz, and on the second the trumpeter plays with sustained expression. Hawkins and Gillespie were also on the soundtrack but they don't appear on either of these numbers.

Production values are high in this release. The duo sides are a real highlight. Try them if you're unacquainted with them.

Jonathan Woolf

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