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Tony Scott: At Last (2002)

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These interesting, perhaps historic August 1959 performances first appeared in the 1980s as two Muse LPs, Golden Moments and I'll Remember. Combined here on two CDs in an attractive set from 32 Jazz, it makes for a formidable presentation of clarinetist Tony Scott, then a New York fixture and now a European émigré, in an exceptional quartet with pianist Bill Evans, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Pete (LaRoca) Simms. The sound quality is probably as good as it can be, given that Scott had just let the recorder run during the performances. LaRoca's bass drum is often quite a bit overwhelming, while Scott's clarinet sounds a bit too over-modulated. Typical knocks and pings are present as are occasional fades and detracting audience clatter. But the music is exceptional.

The program consists of mostly aggressive, up-tempo standards. Scott is a revelation, setting a swinging pace and rocking hard on an instrument that's never been taken as seriously as it deserves in jazz outside of Benny Goodman and Dixieland. The quartet plants itself firmly in hard bop mode, led by Scott's imaginative, Bird-like playing. The other four players, coaxed by Scott, are equally as challenging and as up front in the mix as they are in their abilities.

Evans is especially pronounced and inspired in what amounts to a star role, or featured accompanist. The pianist gets "Like Someone In Love" all to himself and carries major portions of "I Can't Get Started" and Scott's "Free and Easy Blues," which finds him in a refreshingly bluesy mood. But Garrison is also quite appealing, helming a number of fine solos and penning the date's finest tune, ""Garrison's Raiders."

At Last samples top-shelf New York jazz from the 1950s and makes for a necessary addition to Tony Scott's too-thin available catalog. For Bill Evans fans, this fascinating document is required listening.

Songs:Like Someone In Love; Walkin'; I Can't Get Started; Free And Easy Blues; My Melancholy Baby; Stella By Starlight; I'll Remember April; Night In Tunisia; Garrison's Raiders.

Players:Tony Scott: clarinet; Bill Evans: piano; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Pete LaRoca: drums.

Record Label: 32 Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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