Bob Brookmeyer - Valve trombone, piano
Jimmy Giuffre - Clarinet, tenor sax, baritone sax
Jim Hall - Guitar
Joe Benjamin - Bass (tracks 1, 2, 4-7, 11)
Ralph Pena - Bass (tracks 3, 8-10)
Dave Bailey - Drums (excl. tracks 12, 13)
Brookmeyer fans - and I am definitely one! - will
be familiar with most of these tracks as they were originally issued
on an LP on World Pacific in the late 50s. This welcome reissue contains
three tunes not on the original LP (Brook's Blues, Slow Freight
and The Sheik of Araby) as well as two tracks - the
last two - from a TV session in 1958 by the trio of Brookmeyer, Giuffre
All the tunes on the original LP are Dixieland/Swing
classics, given a modern twist but firmly underscored with four beats
in the bar, Basie-style. Several of the tracks feature Brookmeyer
on piano, sounding remarkably Basie-like at times, especially on Truckin'.
One can visualise him with a big grin on his face as he tinkles
away. On Honeysuckle Rose, Hall contributes some Charlie
Christian-influenced licks while Brookmeyer appears to play piano
and trombone simultaneously! Giuffre switches between breathy tenor
and reedy clarinet, being particularly effective on the latter on
the slow blues, Sweet Like This. On Don't Be That Way,
taken at a much more leisurely pace than in the famous Goodman
recording, he rumbles away on baritone with Brookmeyer again on piano.
Of the three additional tracks recorded at the same
sessions, two sound largely like an unrehearsed bit of fun but The
Sheik of Araby is given a high-spirited makeover with Giuffre
sounding as if he could have outblown Paul Gonsalves given more time!
I have a slight problem with the two trio tracks.
I always want this line-up to play The Train and the River and
am slightly disappointed when they don't!
Brookmeyer described the recording some years afterwards
as `a labour of love'. From the first few bars of Louisiana, the
music precisely and happily reflects that comment.