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

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Best Coast Jazz




1. Coronado

2. You Go to My Head

3. Caravan

4. Autumn in New York

5. Caravan (Edited version)

Clifford Brown – Trumpet

Herb Geller, Joe Maini – Alto saxes

Walter Benton – Tenor sax

Kenny Drew - Piano

Curtis Counce – Bass

Max Roach – Drums

I acquired this CD in the hope that it would contain music of the type that I had heard on previous albums by Clifford Brown and Max Roach. They had turned in some superb performances of such tunes as Parisian Thoroughfare and Jordu. But this album, recorded in Hollywood in 1954, is a bit of a mixed bag.

It opens with an up-tempo number called Coronado, which lasts for 20 minutes. Each of the hornmen get to solo in bebop style. After an ensemble passage, the bass plays a solo and then Max Roach delivers a long and fairly uninteresting drum solo – more complex but less shapely than the ones he used to do. The track ends with the rising excitement of the saxes and trumpet swapping fours, twos and then ones.

You Go to My Head lasts for 17 minutes and is slower. It is therefore well suited to thoughtful soloing from Kenny Drew and then the front-line musicians. Brownie’s solo is majestic. Yet the opening of Caravan is, frankly, a mess, with an unsuitable drum rhythm. It leads into a 15-minute blast in which the frantic tempo lures the musicians to resort to bebop clichés such as long strings of semiquavers. There is a long, formless drum solo leading to a big finish.

Clifford Brown states the theme of Autumn in New York elegantly and then solos equally elegantly. Kenny Drew’s piano solo is well thought out, and Herb Geller closes the tune with an appropriate cadenza. The CD ends with a three-minute abridgement of Caravan, presumably devised for a single disc.

Apart from the disorderly beginning of Caravan and a few other minor flaws, this is a worthwhile album, although the music lacks the concision of the Brown-Roach Quintet recordings

Tony Augarde

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