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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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URBIE GREEN

5 Classic Albums

AVID JAZZ AMSC1075

 

 


CD1

All About Urbie Green & His Big Band (Paramount 1956)

Cherokee [2:38], I Ain't Got Nobody [3:27], Stella By Starlight [3:02], Little John [3:04],

With The Wind And The Rain In Your Hair [3:08], 'Round Midnight [3:19], Sleep[2:50], Soft Winds [6:25]

S S Springsville [3:15], Plain Bill From Bluesville [4:10], Home [3:19]

Blues & Other Shades Of Green (Blue Note 1955)

Reminiscent Blues [3:16], Thou Swell [3:19], You Are Too Beautiful [4:20], Paradise [3:00], Warm Valley [2:47], Frankie And Johnny [1:49], One For Dee [2:45], Limehouse Blues [2:03], Am I Blue [3:03], Dirty Dan [2:45], It's Too Late Now [3:10], Urbie Green & His Band (Vanguard 1955) Old Time Modern [5:58]

CD 2

Urbie Green & His Band (Vanguard 1955) cont’d.

I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good [6:05], Lullaby Of Birdland [6:34], Med's Tune [6:01]

Urbie Green Septet (Blue Note 1954)

Incubator [4:45], Skylark [3:25], La Salle [3:27], Dansero [3:18], Stairway To The Stars [3:02], Johnbo Mambo [5:08]

Urbie: East Coast Jazz (vol.6) (Bethlehem 1955)

Mutation [3:08], On Green Dolphin Street [3:31], Just One Of Those Things [4:17], How About You? [2:45], When Your Lover Has Gone [3:23], Three Little Words [3:59], Sneaky Pete [3:52], Melody In Bb [2:17], Sassafras [3:54], Love Locked Out [2:53]

Featuring: Doug Mettome, Ruby Braff, Joe Wilder, Frank Wess, Al Cohn, Dave McKenna, Jimmy Lyon, Sir Charles Thompson, Jimmy Raney, Freddie Green, Vinnie Burke, Jack Lesberg, Oscar Pettiford, Aaron Bell, Percy Heath, Kenny Clarke, Osie Johnson and others.

AVID JAZZ AMSC1075 [78:17] [76:57]

 

Avid Jazz continues to do a fantastic service to jazz lovers everywhere in releasing wonderful jazz from its golden age at highly competitive prices and described as “Digitally remastered for probably the finest ever sound quality”, a claim with more than a little justification for you’ll hear no clicks or pops on these discs or any others of theirs that I’ve come across. This time it’s trombonist Urbie Green who’s under the spotlight. Urbie can be put alongside other greats of the instrument such as J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, 'Kid' Ory, Jack Teagarden, Kai Winding, Jimmy Knepper, Slide Hampton, Frank Rosolino, Bob Brookmeyer, JC Higinbotham and many more. From his first disc, New Faces, New Sounds (Blue Note) cut in 1953 to his last, Sea Jam Blues (Chiaroscuro) released in 1995, Urbie has featured on over 250 recordings which is surely some kind of record. What strikes you immediately is his fabulously warm, fat sound on Cherokee from his 1956 album All About Urbie Green & His Big Band that he made for Paramount, and which is a feature of his playing that pertains throughout every one of the 42 tracks on this double cd covering 5 classic albums. There are many highlights including a beautiful rendition of Stella By Starlight and Monk’s ever popular 'Round Midnight, featuring Al Cohn who is just one of the many big names who Urbie had play with him, a measure of the esteem such greats held him in. Soft Winds has a marvellous solo from Joe Wilder on trumpet with plunger while Urbie’s brilliance is particularly in evidence on tracks such as Springsville and Home. Moving on to Blues & Other Shades Of Green the first offering of Reminiscent Blues is a really bluesy blues and Urbie is backed in his wonderful rich sound by a dream quartet in the shape of Jimmy Raney on guitar, Dave McKenna on piano, and those two wizards of the rhythm section, MJQ stalwarts, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. Pleasures abound including a gorgeously dreamy solo from Raney on You Are Too Beautiful, a wonderful piano solo from Dave McKenna on Warm Valley and Urbie’s valve trombone contribution on the all too short Frankie & Johnny in a duet with McKenna. Another fine solo from McKenna, a truly magnificent pianist, comes along in Limehouse Blues in a bubbly honky- tonk style. Dirty Dan is a bouncy up-tempo number which puts Urbie, Jimmy Raney and McKenna through their paces without a problem and the pace slows right down as the album signs off with a lovely rendition ofIt’s Too Late Now with Urbie’s laid back sound just perfect, coupled with Raney’s sleepy sounding guitar. The first of these two discs ends with Old Time Modern, a taster from Urbie Green & His Band, which kicks off disc 2, and is a nice longer tune to finish with. Disc 2 opens with that all time great I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good and the band on this album is another dream team cleverly assembled by canny Urbie including the marvellous Ruby Braff on trumpet, Frank Wess on tenor sax and flute and the interestingly named Sir Charles Thompson on piano, whose “knighthood” was bestowed on him by Lester Young (who, after all was the “Prez”). It’s fantastic to read that “Sir” Charles is still alive and well at the ripe old age of 95 (on 21st March) and who even toured Tokyo in recent years. Just listen to him playing on Lullaby of Broadway – magic! There’s more magic on Med’s Tune, the title referring to Med Flory who plays alto sax on the album and who penned this brilliant little tune on which all musicians give their all. Moving on to the album Urbie Green Septet recorded in December 1953,which makes it the oldest recording on the set, we have some more great jazz and sounds that belie their age reinforcing Avid’s claim. I’ve heard plenty of classical music from the 1950s that sounded dated while these tracks sound as fresh as if they’d been recorded last week. Skylark is a particularly impressive offering and Dansero a nice little Latin number with some lovely sax and percussion sounds. Incidentally it is very sad to read that the album’s baritone sax player and member of Woody Herman’s Band died only ten days after recording this album from Hodgkins’disease at the cruelly young age of just 24! This album’s last offering is a tribute to his marvellously fulsome sounds as he plays his way out on Johnbo Mambo and showing that, had he lived, he’d have been regarded as being on a par with that other baritone sax ace Gerry Mulligan. The final of the 5 classic albums on this oh so enjoyable set is Urbie: East Coast Jazz from 1955 and listed here as volume 6 and Urbie is joined, among others, by the fabulous Oscar Pettiford on bass and Osie Johnson on drums with the incredibly tuneful sounding Jimmy Lyon on piano, who was also on the previously featured album. On Green Dolphin Street makes an imaginatively welcome appearance (I can never hear that one too often) and it got me thinking that these great musicians never tired of playing the ‘Great American Songbook’ while many of today’s players seem to insist on an ego trip that has to encompass a majority of their own originals, many of which can’t hold a candle to any here. Melody In Bb is lovingly treated with Doug Mettome’s playing his trumpet poignantly on this wistfully sounding little tune which is an original by Urbie and arranger Marion Evans whose Sassafras is the penultimate number of the set and providing the exceptions that prove the above stated rule. Love Locked Out the final song altogether is a fitting end as it showcases Urbie’s gentle sounding trombone to perfection and it is a hard wrench to leave this great instrumentalist to return to other discs that don’t feature this amazing piece of kit. The trombone poses many difficulties along the road to complete mastery but it is quite obvious that Urbie had none and these discs show all the many facets of his art and is a set to enjoy over and over again.

Steve Arloff



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