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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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LESTER YOUNG,
BEN WEBSTER,
ROY ELDRIDGE,
DIZZY GILLESPIE

J.A.T.P. Live at Carnegie Hall

Phono 870241

 

 

CD1

1. Blues #1

2. I Found A New Baby

3. Lester Leaps In

4. Blues #2 [aka The Slow Blues]

5. Ballad Medley #1 - I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Lover Man, The Man I Love, Tenderly, My Old Flame

6. Ballad Medley #2 - Body And Soul, A Ghost Of A Chance, Imagination, I’ll Never Be The Same, Stardust

7. Birks’ Works [aka The Modern Set]

8. Ow!

CD2

1. I Got Rhythm

2. Willow, Weep For Me

3. Jam Session

4. Now’s The Time

5. Ballad Medley #3 - Willow, Weep For Me, I Don’t Know Why, Imagination, My Old Flame

6. Cherokee [incomplete]

7. Perdido

8. How High The Moon

9. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm


Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge – Trumpet (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Ben Webster – Tenor sax (CDI/ CDII 1, 2)

Lester Young – Tenor sax (CDI/ CDII 1, 2)

Flip Phillips - Tenor sax

Sonny Stitt - Alto sax (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Bill Harris –Trombone (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Oscar Peterson – Piano (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Herb Ellis – Guitar (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Ray Brown – Bass

Louie Bellson – Drums (CDI/ CDII 1-5)

Buddy De Franco – Clarinet (track CDII/4)

Fats Navarro - Trumpet (CDII/6-9)

Sonny Criss – Alto sax (CDII/6-9)

Tommy Turk – Trombone (CDII/6-9)

Hank Jones – Piano (CDII/6-9)

Shelly Manne – Drums (CDII/6-9)

Ella Fitzgerald - Vocals (CDII/7, 9)

(It is difficult to tell which musicians are present on which tracks, as the personnel listing is unclear.)


Norman Granz’s “Jazz at the Philharmonic” concerts had their pros and cons. They presented many top-rank musicians and let them play in a free jam session atmosphere. This naturally encouraged some competition between musicians, which both made them play at the top of their game but often in too competitive or exhibitionist a manner. But the fact that JATP used first-class musicians ensured that the music was often swinging and inventive, although clichés sometimes reared their ugly heads.

This double album of a complete 1955 concert at Carnegie Hall opens with one of JATP’s pros: the first track swings from the very start. This is thanks mainly to Oscar Peterson and his impeccable rhythm section. However, the audience most enjoys those musicians who play the same note loudly over and over again. Heaven knows why, but it’s a long-standing JATP tradition. Trombonist Bill Harris is the outstanding soloist in this segment.

Breakneck versions of I Found A New Baby and Lester Leaps In precede a couple of ballad medleys, Norman Granz’s brilliant notion to put all the slow numbers together. The audience quietens and the instrumentalists concentrate on the emotion in their solos. Highlights include Ben Webster’s deep-toned version of Tenderly and Flip Phillips’ interpretation of I’ll Never Be The Same.

Birk’s Works features Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie. It is a comparatively restrained performance, although the crowd threatens to go berserk when Lester plays the same note several times. Ow! has a long drum solo by Louie Bellson which is reminiscent of his earlier, shorter display in Skin Deep.

Over to the second disc, which begins with I Got Rhythm which is actually one of the many alterations of the tune. Again, Bill Harris is the best soloist. Roy Eldridge’s feature in Willow Weep For Me seems to have fallen out of a ballad medley. In fact, there are several tracks here which are “bonus tracks”, using some of the same artists in similar concerts in 1955 (tracks 3 to 5) and 1949 (tracks 6 to 9). Jam Session is introduced by Norman Granz as though it’s the first item in a concert. And Now’s The Time spotlights clarinettist Buddy De Franco, who is not present in any other track.

The third ballad medley has Roy Eldridge repeating his solo on Willow, Weep For Me. There are also repeats of Imagination (by Bill Harris) and My Old Flame (by Dizzy Gillespie) from the first disc. Flip Phillips shines in I Don’t Know Why. The incomplete version of Cherokee highlights Sonny Criss and Hank Jones in a blurred recording. The sound is also far from perfect in Perdido, with a distractingly noisy audience. But the criminally under-rated Fats Navarro works musical wonders. Ella Fitzgerald contributes a rather distant vocal.

How High The Moon (the beboppers’ favourite jam number) puts the musicians into their comfort zone, with more good work from Navarro and trombonist Tommy Turk. Shelly Manne’s bomb dropping on the bass drum is far too frequent. The sound is thankfully clearer in the final I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, featuring a classy vocal by Ella Fitzgerald.

So this is a curate’s egg of a double album: generous admittedly but containing too much crowd-rousing and variable sound quality. Nonetheless, there are plenty of moments here for jazz fans to enjoy.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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