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

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Three Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1067



Peter Gunn
1. Peter Gunn
2. The Floater
3. Sorta Blue
4. The Brothers Go To Mother's
5. Soft Sounds
6. Fallout
7. Slow And Easy
8. Brief And Breezy
9. Dreamville
10. A Profound Gass
Shelly Manne - Drums
Victor Feldman - Vibes, marimba
Conte Condoli - Trumpet
Herb Geller - Alto sax
Russ Freeman - Piano
Monty Budwig - Bass
Son Of Gunn
11. Odd Ball
12. Blue Steel
13. Joanna
14. Goofin' At The Coffee House
15. Walkin' Bass
16. My Manne Shelly
17. Blues For Mother's
18. A Quiet Gass
19. Lightly
Shelly Manne - Drums
Victor Feldman - Vibes, marimba
Joe Gordon - Trumpet
Richie Kamuca - Tenor sax
Russ Freeman - Piano
Monty Budwig - Bass
Son Of Gunn
1. Spook!
Personnel as for CD1, tracks 11-19
Bells Are Ringing
2. I Met A Girl
3. Just In Time
4. Independent (On My Own)
5. The Party's Over (ballad version)
6. It's A Perfect Relationship
7. Is It A Crime?
8. Better Than A Dream
9. Mu-Cha-Cha
10. Long Before I Knew You
11. The Party's Over (up-tempo version)
Shelly Manne - Drums
André Previn - Piano
Red Mitchell - Bass
Li'l Abner
12. Jubilation T. Cornpone
13. The Country's In The Very Best Of Hands
14. If I Had My Druthers
15. Unnecessary Town
16. Matrimonial Stomp
17. Oh, Happy Day
18. Namely You
Shelly Manne - Drums
André Previn - Piano
Leroy Vinnegar - Bass

The same year that My Fair Lady was first performed on stage (1956), drummer Shelly Manne and pianist André Previn got together with bassist Leroy Vinnegar to record jazz versions of some tunes from that show. It was an unusual thing to do but the album was such a success that, for the next few years, many jazz musicians released albums of music from various shows.

As Shelly Manne was named as the leader on that pioneering My Fair Lady album, it is perhaps no surprise that he continued masterminding similar albums, four of which are sampled here. All are complete except for Li'l Abner, which has lost two of its original tracks.

Peter Gunn was a TV series which first aired in 1958. It featured a smart, suave detective who liked jazz. The background music was composed by Henry Mancini. Shelly Manne, a friend of Mancini's, was the regular drummer for the Peter Gunn music, so he knew it well. In 1959 he assembled two sextets to record the two albums of music from the show. As you'd expect in a show about a macho detective, the music is quite muscular - a mood which is matched by Conte Candoli's forthright trumpet and Shelly Manne's thrilling drum fills. Gentler sophistication is provided by the saxist, vibist (Britain's export Victor Feldman) and pianist (the reliable Russ Freeman). Feldman supplies an unusual timbre by switching occasionally to the marimba.

On the second "Gunn" LP, Joe Gordon's trumpet is more restrained than Candoli's but Richie Kamuca has a pleasantly furry tone on the tenor sax. In fact all the playing on these two LPs is top-class, although 20 tracks of music from the Peter Gunn series is hardly calculated to retain one's attention, as most people will only know the theme-tune.

Many people will know some of the songs from Bells Are Ringing, the 1956 stage musical which starred Judy Holliday when it was adapted as a 1960 film. Tunes like Just In Time, The Party's Over and Long Before I Knew You give Shelly Manne's album an agreeable familiarity. This and the Li'l Abner LP return to the trio format which made the My Fair Lady album such a success. Li'l Abner has the same trio as on the My Fair Lady disc, but Red Mitchell replaces Leroy Vinnegar as bassist on Bells Are Ringing.

André Previn's expertise at the piano makes both albums worth hearing and keeping. His colleagues back him up splendidly. The only problem with the Li'l Abner score is that few people will know the songs, especially in Britain, which I don't believe the stage show ever reached and where the film was not widely seen. These reservations can be put aside where this double CD is concerned, as Shelly, André and the bassists make every number interesting. Highlights are the two contrasted versions of The Party's Over, Previn's remarkable arpeggios at the start of I Met A Girl, and the dislocated rhythms of Jubilation T. Cornpone.

Another winner from the Avid label, which is managing to dig out some really fascinating discs from the archives.

Tony Augarde

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