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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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CHARLIE SHAVERS

Four Classic Albums Plus

Avid AMSC 1085

 

 

CD1
Tribute to Andy Razaf
1. Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now
2. Massachusetts
3. How Can You Face Me?
4. S'posin'
5. My Fate Is In Your Hands
6. Stompin' At The Savoy
7. Honeysuckle Rose
8. Memories Of You
9. Ain't Misbehavin'
10. Mound Bayou
11. Christopher Columbus
12. Blue Turning Grey Over You
 
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Maxine Sullivan - Vocals
Buster Bailey - Clarinet
Jerome Richardson - Saxes, flute
Dick Hyman - Piano
Milt Hinton, Wendell Marshall - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums
 
Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm
13. Rose Room
14. Molly Malone
15. If I Had A Ribbon Bow
16. Loch Lomond
17. Oh No, John
18. Windy
19. Wraggle Taggle Gipsies
20. Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm
 
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Maxine Sullivan - Vocals (tracks 13-17, 19)
Buster Bailey - Clarinet
Russell Procope - Alto sax (tracks 13-15, 18, 20)
Hilton Jefferson - Alto sax (tracks 16, 17, 19)
Billy Kyle - Piano (tracks 13-15, 18, 20)
Dick Hyman - Piano (tracks 17, 19)
Leonard Feather - Piano (track 16)
Aaron Bell - Bass
Specs Powell - Drums (tracks 13-15, 18, 20)
Louis Barnum - Drums (tracks 16, 17, 19)
 
Horn O'Plenty
21. Dark Eyes
22. Moten Swing
 
CD2
Horn O'Plenty
1. Dawn On The Desert
2. Story Of The Jazz Trumpet: Young Man With A Horn/When It's Sleepy Time Down South/After You've Gone/Echoes Of Harlem/And The Angels Sing/Ciribiribin/Salt Peanuts
 
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Hank D'Amico - Clarinet
Benny Morton - Trombone
Ken Kersey - Piano
Aaron Bell - Bass
Panama Francis - Drums
Al "Jazzbo" Collins - Narration
 
The Most Intimate
3. Ill Wind
4. Stormy Weather
5. Let's Fall In Love
6. I Cover The Waterfront
7. You're Mine You
8. Out Of Nowhere
 
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Orchestra conducted by Sy Oliver
 
Blue Stompin'
9. Blue Stompin'
10. Windy
11. With A Song In My Heart
12. Midnight
13. Fancy Pants
14. The Blast Off
 
Charlie Shavers - Trumpet
Hal Singer - Tenor sax
Ray Bryant - Piano
Wendell Marshall - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums
 
Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm
15. Jackie Boy
16. Barbara Allen
17. A Brown Bird Singing
 
Maxine Sullivan - Vocals
Dick Hyman - Piano, harpsichord, organ
Oscar Pettiford - Bass
Osie Johnson - Drums
 

There are several highly-feted trumpeters less brilliant than Charlie Shavers, so why has Shavers been under-rated, almost ignored by some critics? He had a fine tone and remarkable range, hardly ever made a mistake, and improvised with astonishing ease - often with humour, especially in the interpolation of tunes from classical music. He was also a talented arranger and composer, being the main arranger for John Kirby's sextet, which he joined in 1937 when he was only 19.

This double CD seems to include the best part of five original LPs, although a commentary has been excluded from Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm. The compilation features Shavers on all except the last three tracks, and singer Maxine Sullivan (John Kirby's wife) on most of the first two LPs.

Andy Razaf deserves this Tribute to Andy Razaf, because he wrote the lyrics to many famous songs, including many for which Fats Waller wrote the music. Maxine Sullivan allows us to enjoy many seldom-heard parts of Razaf's lyrics, as she sings the verses of most of these songs. She delivers the lyrics clearly, with a pleasantly unaffected voice. In some tracks such as Massachusetts and Stompin' At The Savoy she sounds very like Ella Fitzgerald.

Although this LP was originally released under Maxine's name, Charlie Shavers is strongly featured, supplying excellent solos on most tracks. He sounds particularly good in his muted solos on S'posin' and Stompin' At The Savoy. Clarinettist Buster Bailey does a fine solo on How Can You Face Me?, and pianist Dick Hyman is his usual efficient, versatile self. The songs are wrongly listed on the sleeve but I have corrected them in the list above.

That LP was recorded in 1956. A year or two earlier, Maxine Sullivan and Charlie Shavers had got together for the next LP, Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm. That title might describe the sound of John Kirby's famous sextet in the late thirties and early forties: a sweetly gentle ensemble which played subtle chamber jazz. For some tracks of this LP (tracks 13-15, 18, 20), part of the Kirby sextet was assembled, although the sextet's original bassist and drummer had died by this time and were replaced by Aaron Bell and Specs Powell. The resulting ensemble does a good job of replicating the Kirby sound.

Another distinctive feature of this LP was that most of the tracks were traditional folk songs. Maxine Sullivan was already noted for this kind of material, as her 1937 recording of Loch Lomond had been a great success. The folk songs suit Maxine's voice admirably, although she doesn't sing on every track, and it is good to hear the original Kirby front line again, along with pianist Billy Kyle.

Maxine Sullivan was not present on the remaining LPs, which all feature Charlie Shavers. The LP Horn O'Plenty starts with Shavers' klezmer-style trumpet plaing Dark Eyes dramatically. Hank D'Amico's clarinet gives echoing mystery to Dawn On The Desert. Shavers' versatility shines brightly in Story Of The Jazz Trumpet, where he imitates Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Cootie Williams, Ziggy Elman, Harry James and Dizzy Gillespie for not more than a chorus each.

The Most Intimate is a 1955 album in which Charlie Shavers is accompanied by a string orchestra conducted (and presumably arranged) by Sy Oliver. The repertoire consists of three songs each by Harold Arlen and Johnny Green. Some sources suggest that four tracks have been omitted from the original LP but this release is silent on the subject. At any rate, this is the weakest of all the LPs here, with Shavers playing down the more extrovert side of his playing. He performs with a warm tone but these tracks could be filed under "easy listening" rather than "jazz". One strange aspect of the arrangements is that each tune starts with an introduction which leads you to expect entirely different songs. For instance, I Cover The Waterfront is introduced by part of Body and Soul.

The Blue Stompin' LP is close to rhythm-and-blues because of the bluesy tendencies of tenorist Hal Singer, who was listed as the leader for this session. These tendencies are clear in the title-track, where Hal supplies a gutsy sax solo. But Charlie Shavers gets plenty of solo opportunity and is allowed to let himself go, which makes an uplifting change from the previous LP. Ray Bryant also contributes some bluesy piano solos, and Osie Johnson is more prominent than he has sometimes been.

Although this double CD is a bit of a curate's egg, it contains enough from Charlie Shavers to make it well worth buying. And it proves that Charlie deserves to be more famous than he is.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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