December 2002


Various - "Cal Tjader - Plays Harold Arlen and West Side Story"

RealAudio Sample

Two 1960's LPs combined to one CD, by vibraphone player Cal Tjader, who later was one of the early forces in Latin jazz is playing straight ahead compositions by two of America's greatest composers. The first half dozen Arlen tunes are with a quartet featuring Buddy Motsinger - piano, Al McKibbon - bass, and Willie Bobo - drums. The next five Arlen compositions have Motsinger with Red Mitchell - bass and Johnny Rae - drums plus a string section with harp.

Very listenable "safe" music including "Come Rain or Come Shine", "Over the Rainbow", "Ill Wind" and "Blues in the Night". The West Side Story album makes up the latter half of the CD. A twenty-five-piece orchestra arranged and conducted by Clare Fischer with the exciting show music composed by Leonard Bernstein, is for me, the highlight of the CD.

Fischer has created a kind of West Coast sound with Tjader's vibes in the foreground throughout. There are a number of jazz interpretations of this landmark musical; in the early 1960's Dave Brubeck, Stan Kenton, Manny Albam and Oscar Peterson all provided their personal touches. The Tjader-Fischer combination is marvelous. R.F.

Fantasy FCD 24775-2

Various - "Jazz in Paris - Chet Baker Plays Standards"

RealAudio Sample

Another in the wonderful Gitanes series from Paris. These tunes were recorded in 1955 and were fraught with problems, Dick Twardzik Chet's regular pianist died of an overdose just three days before they were due in the studio. A young French musician Gerard Gustin was brought into replace Dick and drummer Nils Bert Dahlander replaced Peter Littman after the latter had a run in with Chet. Jimmy Bond was the bassist. No vocals this day, but eight wonderful standards "Summertime", "You Go to my Head", "Tenderly", "Loverman", "There's a Small Hotel", "Autumn in New York", "These Foolish Things" and "I'll Remember April".

The mood of the recording is generally mellow with only "Hotel" and"April" on the upbeat. As always, fluid, lyrical playing by Mr.B. R.F.

Gitanes 4400143782

Various - "Lori Bell - One of a Kind"

RealAudio Sample

Lori Bell is a new name to me; her flute mastery is that of a seasoned pro with good clear voicing. The nine selections are for the most part originals by Ms Bell or her guitarist Ron Satterfield. A jazz standard, John Coltrane's "Equinox" with an enjoyable solo by trombonist Arturo Velasco and Vernon Duke's "Autumn in New York", the latter given a Latin feeling with the flautist sticking to the melody and Satterfield improvising around her straight ahead approach are two of my favourites on the recording. Dave MacKay's acoustic piano hits the spot. The entire recording is pleasant enough for the new jazz listener but also has enough of an edge to appeal to the more discerning fan.

Duncan Moore and Kevin Koch on drums and percussion and Kevin Hennessy's bass fit right in creating a most enjoyable atmosphere. R.F.

Beezwax One of a Kind 8W6676A

Various - "Stan Getz and the 'Cool' Sounds"

RealAudio Sample

The first half of the 1950's brought about what became known as the "Cool Jazz" era. The coolest of the cool was sax man Stan Getz, although influenced by Lester Young he became his own man always producing a well-rounded repertoire and the best in sidemen. The recently departed Lou Levy shows up on four selections on piano, John Williams, later an orchestrator of note also provides his piano styling to four and the underrated Jimmy Rowles hits the ivories on the little known ballad "Down by the Sycamore Tree", and a favourite of mine, used in some productions of"Show Boat" "Nobody Else But Me". Two horn men, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer and trumpet player Tony Fruscella, who only recorded a handful of tunes in his career, can be heard with Getz twice.

Some top of the line "Cool" Stan Getz re-issued with its original LP cover. R.F.

Verve MGV-8200

Various - "Betty Scott sings with Lennie Tristano"

RealAudio Sample

This is a rare one. Drummers and bassists always had a difficult time following pianist Lennie Tristano, whose timing tended to be something that gave accompanying musicians nightmares. I'm not familiar with vocalist Betty Scott and the liner notes on the CD are almost non-existent. The twelve tracks by the duo were recorded between 1965 and 1974 leading us to believe that Tristano had some feeling for the songster's style.

I can't say that I was impressed with her vocalizing; she has a clean voice without any affectations, but very little resonance. Tristano seems somewhat uncomfortable in his role backing her and it appears that she was singing in his key rather than vice versa. The play list is the great American songbook "If I Should Lose You", "It Could Happen To You", "Embraceable You", "You Don't Know What Love Is", "Don't Worry About Me", "All the Things You Are" and five others.

Historically this is one to add to any Tristano follower's collection, otherwise give it a pass. R.F.

Jazz Records JR13 CD

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