You know those guys on Sirius Satellite radio that play obscure tunes by equally obscure artist that you love so much and wonder “how come I never heard of this stuff before”? Well, they’ve got NOTHING on the people of the Avid Group. Avid releases 2 cd sets of either rarely heard material by guys that you’re familiar with or unheard material by guys you’ve maybe heard of once or twice in passing. Here are three juicy examples of reissues of things that will whet your palate.
Pianist/ composer Joe Bushkin made his name playing for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra back when Frank Sinatra was in the band. Among other songs, he composed the classic “Ah, Look at Me Now”; I saw him in the 90s with a trio and he blew me away with his piano talents and moxie. As you’ll see on this set of albums from the 40s and 50s, he’s got a touch very similar to Nat “King” Coles-spry and swinging and hip. A handful of 1940 piano solos on material like “I Can’t Get Started” and his own “Joey’s Blues” display a deftness and dexterity. He leads an unorthodox trio with Hot Lips Page and Al Morgan on clever takes of “I’ll Never Be The Same” and a hot little “Sweet Georgia Brown.” A post war small group that includes Dave Tough/dr, Billy Butterfield/tp and Art Rollini/ts has the band swinging assertively on “I’m Coming Virginia” and “Jazz Me Blues,” while a trio session from 1950 with Sid Weiss/b and Morey Feld spotlight his classy stylings on “They Say It’s Wonderful” and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” A hip quartet from ’51 with Jo Jones/dr, Buck Clayton/tp and Eddie Safranski/bs delvers delightful takes of “Dinah” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” Vintage small group post swing era!
Soulful tenor saxist Jimmy Forrest had a hit with his version of “Night Train, but besides that he is known for having a smoking tone in the line of Gene Ammons, Arnett Cobb and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. Here are four wonderfully grooving sessions from 61-62, with enough variety between them to pick a favorite. A quartet session with bopper Tommy Potter/b, Joe Zawinul/p and Clarence Johnston/dr has him fogging up the room with “Yesterdays” and “I’ve Got A Right To Cry.” Exchanging Zawinul for Hugh Lawson, and adding Calvin Newborn/g, you get a molten lava of a saxophone on “Tuxedo Junction,” Moonglow” and an unbelievably thick “Tin Tin Teo” that will knock your socks off. Exchange Newborn for ray Barretto/conga for the last ’61 session and you’re gonna hear a version of “Robbin’s Nest” that will warm your cockles, while a slinkily hip “Soft Winds” will blow you away. In ’61 and ’62 Forrest put together a pair of big bands lead by Oliver Nelson and stuffed with all stars like Pepper Adams, King Curtis, Art Farmer and Mundell Lowe. Forrest goes bel canto on “Yesterdays” that makes Pagliacci’s “Vesti La Giubba” sound mundane while “Just a Sittin’ and A Rockin” hits just the right spots. The band opens up on the 9 minute “Soul Street” that lets Forrest, Curtis and Nelson growl like lions, with Forrest entering the smooth intro with an explosive depth charge of a sound. This is what a tenor is supposed to sound like!
Along with Buddy DeFranco, Tony Scott was just about the only clarinet player to embrace the technical challenges employed by bebop. He later jumped ship and went into New Age recordings, but these delights from the 50s will fulfill every expectation you demand from modern jazz. A recording from 1953 with Dick Katz/p, Milt Hinton-Percy Heath and Osie Johnson-Philly Joe Jones/dr features the cool toned reed on a wonderfully agonizing “Yesterdays” and “Goodbye,” while “Sweet Lorraine” smiles wide. In 1956 he recorded in a trio with Bill Evans/p and produced a wonderful “Round About Midnight”, then expanded the band with some horns with some Al Cohn arrangements on “The Jitterbug Waltz” and “My Old Flame.” A big band charted by the intellectual Eddie Sauter deiver clever takes of “You, You’re Driving Me Crazy” and “Poinciana.” In 1958, he lands on two sessions. The first which includes Oscar Pettiford/b and Pee Wee Russell delivers a hoot of “Love is Just Around the Corner,” and then with Coleman Hawkins/ts and Tommy Flanagan, he grabs the baritone lays down some bop chops on “Ornithology” and finger snapping takes of “Lester Leaps In “ and “Woody ‘N’ You” with Al Cohn/ts, Red Rodney/tp, Pettiford, Roy Haynes/dr and Mundell Lowe/g that will make you wonder what could have happened if he didn’t abandon jazz. To show his intestinal fortitude, he takes his stick and trades choruses with the guy who invented “Body and Soul,” Coleman Hawkins, and challenges him to see who can sound the most rococo. A trio of tunes from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with Jimmy Knepper/tb, Kenny Burrell/g, Henry Grimes/b and Eddie Levinson will further get your head scratching, particularly when they stretch out on “Blues For An African Friend.” Whew!
Avid Group Records