CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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

Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 969




Tracks 1-9: ‘Mr Music’
1. Something For Lisa
2. Count Every Star
3. Cabin In The Sky
4. Move
5. Never Never Land
6. La Ronde
7. This Reminds Me Of You
8. Breakfast With Joe
9. Cohn My Way
Tracks 10-21: ‘Al Cohn Quintet Featuring Bob Brookmeyer’
10. The Lady Is A Tramp
11. Good Spirits
12. A Blues Serenade
13. Lazy Man Stomp
14. Ill Wind
15. Chloe
16. Shine
17. Back To Back
18. So Far So Good
19. Winter
20. I Should Care
21. Bunny Hunch
Tracks 1-8: ‘Al & Zoot’
1. It’s A Wonderful World
2. Brandy And Beer
3. Two Funky People
4. Chasing The Blues
5. Halley’s Comet
6. You’re A Lucky Guy
7. The Wailing Boat
8. Just You, Just Me
Tracks 9-13: ‘Bob Brokmeyer Featuring Al Cohn’
9. Open Country
10. Jive At Five
11. Skylark
12. In the Mode
13. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
Tracks 14-15: ‘Winner’s Circle’
14. Not So Sleepy
15. Love And The Weather


Al Cohn is most familiar from his collaborations with fellow-reedman Zoot Sims and for his stint with Woody Herman's band in the late 1940s, where he was part of the famous "Four Brothers" saxophone team. These two involvements were connected, because Zoot Sims was another member of the "Four Brothers" group.

This generous package of two CDs comprises four original LPs plus a couple of extra tracks. The first LP, recorded in December 1954, was called Mr Music and featured Al Cohn leading a largish group which included trumpeter Joe Newman, altoist Gene Quill and guitarist Jimmy Raney. Cohn arranged six of the nine numbers, ranging widely in style from the neoclassical La Ronde (not the MJQ tune) to the beboppish Move. Al Cohn's fluent tenor sax gets lots of solo space in this very pleasant session.

The second LP, from December 1956, was called The Al Cohn Quintet featuring Bob Brookmeyer. Trombonist Brookmeyer shared the arranging duties with Al Cohn and they each wrote three of the tunes. The sound is reminiscent of the West Coast, even though the album was recorded in New York. Cohn's clean-lined tenor sax impresses again, and Brookmeyer's valve trombone adds to the interest - although the session lacks some of the excitement of Bob's collaborations with Clark Terry. Drummer Nick Stabulas helps to drive things along but the biggest surprise is the presence of a young pianist called Mose Allison, better known in later years for his quirky songs. Allison had recently moved to New York and this is one of the sessions that established his name. He contributes some excellent solos, creating distinct right-hand lines.

The third LP dates from March 1957 and was one of many on which Al Cohn collaborated with Zoot Sims, leading their own quintet.  The togetherness of the two is so close that they are often difficult to distinguish from one another, especially as their saxophone tones were so similar: smooth and swinging, without any kind of excess. Tenor duets often turn into "tenor battles" but their mutual respect allowed them to play together without any sense of competition. They might well have been twins, separated at birth. The two men switch to clarinets for the tasty Two Funky People, a Cohn original with an attractively loping rhythm.

The fourth LP reunited Al Cohn with Bob Brookmeyer for a 1954 session called Bob Brookmeyer featuring Al Cohn. The two final bonus tracks come from an album entitled Winner's Circle, featuring the winners and runners-up in the fifth Down Beat Critics' Poll - undated but probably from the mid-sixties. Al Cohn gets to solo alongside other favoured musicians who include Donald Byrd, Eddie Costa and an up-and-coming tenorist named John Coltrane.

Like most similar Avid albums, this is a bargain: more than 150 minutes of high-quality music at budget price. I wish the Avid company would sort out its sleeve information so that all the facts about each album are available on the same page. This would prevent the user continually turning the pages back and forth. Otherwise I have nothing but praise for these Avid compilations.

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

Reviews from previous months

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