CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

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

AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Combo! + The Blues and the Beat

American Jazz Classics 99079




1. Moanin’

2. Sidewalks of Cuba

3. Dream of You

4. Swing Lightly

5. Castle Rock

6. A Powdered Wig

7. Playboy’s Theme

8. Tequila

9. Far East Blues

10. Charleston Alley

11. Scandinavian Shuffle

12. Everybody Blow!


Art Pepper – Alto sax, clarinet

Pete Candoli - Trumpet

Dick Nash – Trombone

Ted Nash - Flute, alto sax

Ronnie Lang – Alto flute, baritone sax

Larry Bunker – Vibes, marimba.

John Williams – Piano, harpsichord

Bob Bain – Guitar, bass guitar

Rollie Bundock – Bass

Shelly Manne – Drums

Ramon “Sonny” Rivera – Percussion


The Blues and the Beat

13. The Blues

14. Smoke Rings

15. Misty

16. Blue Flame

17. After Hours

18. Mood Indigo

19. The Beat

20. Big Noise from Winnetka

21. Alright, Okay, You Win

22. Tippin’ In

23. How Could You Do a Thing Like That to Me?

24. Sing, Sing, Sing


Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Frank Beach, Graham Young – Trumpets

Vince DeRosa, Sinclair Lott, John Graas, Richard Perissi, Herman Lebow, George Price – French horns

Dick Nash, Jimmy Priddy, John Halliburton, Karl DeKarske – Trombones

Ted Nash, Ronnie Lang, Gene Cipriano, Wilbur Schwartz, Harry Klee – Woodwinds, reeds

Victor Feldman – Vibes, maracas

Larry Bunker – Vibes

John Williams – Piano

Bob Bain – Guitar

Rollie Bundock – Bass

Jack Sperling - Drums


Henry Mancini was never exactly a jazzman but he often included elements of jazz in his orchestrations – and he employed plenty of jazz musicians to bring those orchestrations to life. This CD illustrates Mancini’s jazz leanings. It consists of two original LPs from 1960: Combo! and The Blues and the Beat.

Combo! employs an 11-piece group (or combo) to perform a mixture of jazz standards, pop tunes and Mancini originals. The personnel includes such notable jazzers as Art Pepper, Pete Candoli and Shelly Manne. Henry Mancini shows what a first-class arranger he is, giving new slants to familiar (and unfamiliar) songs. For instance, the melody of Moanin’ is stated on the vibraphone, with a new riff in the background. John Williams (yes, the well-known film composer) solos on the harpsichord, and Art Pepper contributes a lucid clarinet solo.

In Castle Rock and Tequila, Mancini manages to make the five-piece frontline sound like a big band. And he uses the harpsichord to good effect in A Powdered Wig, a pastiche of classical gentility which turns into a right little swinger. Far East Blues is a typically atmospheric Mancini composition, with the oriental aura accentuated by Larry Bunker’s vibes.

The Blues and the Beat features a big band - a very big band (25 musicians, including six French-horn players). Again, much of the album’s attraction lies in Mancini’s inventive arrangements. The first six tracks have a bluesy feel, while the last six emphasise the beat. The Blues and Blue Flame use one of his favourite devices: massed flutes fluttering and descending into the depths. Misty is a feature for an emotive trombone solo.

Big Noise from Winnetka uses the flutes again – both in high and low registers. John Williams shows that he’s a fair jazz pianist on Tippin’ In. And the album ends with an interpretation of Sing, Sing, Sing which builds to a fiery climax. The sound quality on all tracks is exemplary.

As Henry Mancini says in the sleeve-notes to The Blues and the Beat: “Above all, we were striving for fresh, new and appealing musical sounds”. He achieved this goal.

Tony Augarde

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: