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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

West Coast All Stars

JazzOpen Stuttgart 2001

EuroArts DVD 10 5149 9 DV-JWCAS

Amazon UK

  1. Four
  2. Bernie’s Tune
  3. Secret Passion
  4. Diablo’s Dance
  5. Lover Man
  6. One for Howard
  7. If I Only Had a Brain
  8. Old Folks
  9. Oleo
  10. Walkin’

Conte Condoli – Trumpet Carl Fontana – Trombone Teddy Edwards – Tenor Pete Jolly – Piano Chuck Berghofer – Bass Joe LaBarbara – Drums

I must confess to not having enjoyed some of the previous offerings from JazzOpen Stuttgart too much, but this one is superb, it has in plenty what most of the others lacked, a swinging rhythm section and some good straight-ahead improvisation.

Right from the opening number ‘Four’ by Miles Davies, Condoli and Fontana play excellent relaxed and innovative solos. Pete Jolly who is one of my favourite keyboard players, is in his usual sparkling form and though Teddy Edwards seems a bit out of sorts on this first number, he more than makes up for it later on. Joe Berghofer on Bass and Joe LaBarbera on Drums are the ideal men for this kind of session.

Why do I like this sort of music so much? As a musician I like to understand what is going on and to always be able to hear the changes. Once these basics disappear jazz to me is in ‘never never’ land.

Bernie’s Tune is the next track and Fontana is the first to solo, throughout the piece his work is a masterpiece of controlled invention and a joy to the ears. Teddy Edwards has by this time warmed to the task and Condoli plays another fine solo.

The rhythm section is the kind that every front line player dreams of, never obtrusive but always attentive.

Secret Passion is a Condoli original, played as a fast bossa; it has a strong melody line and is used as a solo feature for his trumpet playing. Conte Condoli has been around from the early days of bebop; I have an LP of him with Charlie Ventura in 1947. During that period he lost none of his enthusiasm for the trumpet and he has always been a top performer.

The West Coast title of course refers to the time when the West Coast of America was the trend setting jazz place. Shorty Rogers and the Giants and Howard Rumsey and the Lighthouse All stars were leading the pack! Teddy Edward’s ‘One for Howard’ is in fact dedicated to Howard, a former bass player with the Stan Kenton Band.

Pete Jolly has the next solo and he plays Shorty Rogers Diablo’s Dance. Pete is the complete jazz pianist; he supports the other soloists with accurate chord work and plays unhurried but exciting and inventive solos. When you watch him play you would think that playing the piano is the easiest and most natural thing in the world.

When I mentioned excellent things to follow from Teddy Edwards, his solo on Lover Man is a gem. Teddy was born in 1924 that makes him 77 on this session, he doesn’t look like a man of that age, nor does he sound like one.

Chuck Berghofer is a ‘monster’ double bass player, he has a lovely big fat tone and the most accurate intonation you are likely to hear. His contribution to the whole session is superb and on his solo Old Folks, he excels himself.

Carl Fontana has graced many bands and recording sessions and has always been regarded as one of the world’s top trombone players. It is easy to see why on this session and his solo on If I Only had a Brain stops the show.

A Sonny Rollins’ composition called Oleo based on the changes of I Got Rhythm is the feature vehicle for drummer Joe LaBarbara. In the USA you often here drummers who ‘swing like mad’ without making a lot of noise and listen to the people they are supposed to be accompanying. Unfortunately they are a rare commodity most place else. Joe is one of the best of the best!

If you like you’re jazz straight ahead, uncomplicated and superbly played by brilliant musicians, go out and buy this DVD. If you are more into contemporary jazz go and buy it anyway, after all it’s where your music came from!

Don Mather

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