Monday, September 11, 2017

Frank Wess - Seven Classic Albums I.

Jazz for Playboys:
This CD reissue has three songs apiece from two similar sessions. One half of the set features Frank Wess (doubling on flute and tenor) accompanied by both Kenny Burrell and Freddy Green on guitars, bassist Eddie Jones and drummer Gus Johnson; the other three titles add trumpeter Joe Newman and have Ed Thigpen in Johnson's place. The music is essentially cool-toned swing/bop very much in a Count Basie vein and is easily recommended to straightahead jazz fans despite the so-so packaging and LP-length playing time.- by Scott Yanow, AMG

Trombones & Flute:
One of my favorite small-group jazz albums of the mid-1950s is Frank Wess's Trombones & Flute. The album, recorded for Savoy in July 1956, paired Wess on flute with four trombonists—Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker, Benny Powell and Bill Hughes. They were backed by Ronnell Bright (p), Freddie Green (g), Eddie Jones (b) and Kenny Clarke (d). The swinging, lyrical arrangements were by Frank Foster.At the time, Wess, Foster, Coker, Powell, Hughes, Green and Jones were all members of Count Basie's New Testament band while Ronnell Bright would periodically sub for Basie into the 1980s. In 1956, to hold his band together at the dawn of the 12-inch LP era, Basie let his musicians make extra money recording as leaders during the band's down time. What we hear on this album is Foster setting Wess aloft on flute while unrolling a thick rubbery trombone cushion underneath. In effect, these are Basie arrangements in miniature. Two of the songs are Foster originals—Lo-Fi and You'll Do—while Wanting You and Don't Blame Me are standards, and Crackerjack is by Coker. The creative album was conceived and produced by Ozzie Cadena (above) and recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Hackensack, N.J., which happened to be his parents' house. Wess was one of the first musicians to play jazz flute, and his sense of swing on the instrument here is intoxicating. The addition of Green was a nice touch, since he not only adds dimensional time-keeping but also a Basie flavor. What's more, we get to hear sensational trombones as a section and as individual soloists.
And Ronnell is flawless as an accompanist and soloist—providing tasteful chords and provocative punctuation. - Jazz.FM

Artist: Frank Wess
Album: Seven Classic Albums (Disc 1)
Year: 1956-1957 (Savoy Records)
Label: Real Gone Jazz (Digitally Remastered, 2013)
Runtime: 67:02

Tracks:
Jazz for Playboys (1957)
1.  Playboy (Ernie Wilkins) 5:27
2.  Miss Blues (Joe Newman) 9:40
3.  Baubles, Bangles and Beads (George Forrest / Robert Wright) 4:16
4.  Low Life (Johnny Mandel) 5:02
5.  Pin Up (Frank Wess) 4:07
6.  Blues For A Playmate (Kenny Burrell) 11:00
Trombones & Flute (1956)
7.  Lo-Fi (Frank Foster) 9:14
8.  Wanting You (Oscar Hammerstein II / Sigmund Romberg) 4:28
9.  Don't Blame Me (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh) 3:23
10.  Cracker Jack (Henry Coker) 9:59
11.  You'll Do (Frank Foster) 5:23

Personnel:
Frank Wess (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Eddie Jones (Double Bass)
Freddie Green (Rhythm Guitar, Guitar)
Kenny Burrell (Guitar) - 1-6
Joe Newman (Trumpet) - 1,2,4
Ed Thigpen (Drums) - 1,2,4
Gus Johnson (Drums) - 3,5,6
Kenny Clarke (Drums) - 7-11
Ronnell Bright (Piano) - 7-11
Benny Powell (Trombone) - 7-11
Bill Hughes (Trombone) - 7-11
Henry Coker (Trombone) - 7-11
Jimmy Cleveland (Trombone) - 7-11

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