The Four Freshmen were extraordinarily popular during the 1950's and 60's when they worked with Woody Herman and were part of those elaborate Stan Kenton road shows. Not only did they feature extra close harmony, but they were unique in that they were also pretty good instrumentalists as well.
The occasion for this performance was a massive jazz concert in Clearwater, FL in 1971 which had Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, as well as other jazz artists on the bill. This iteration of the vocal group had three of the original members plus Bill Comstock who had replaced Don Barbour a few years after the group was formed.
would be so nice to report that they sounded just like they used to and the listen will be swamped with waves of happy nostalgia. The fact, however, is they are off form in this concert and actually wander from the pitch from time to time as on "Misty Roses" and on "Girl Talk." That harmony that used to enthrall, now sounds more like four middle-aged men trying to stay in tune and together. In fairness, they apparently had a long trip from LA and just made the Clearwater gig which may have thrown them off. Also, the session is marred by exaggerated self congratulation antics after each tune. There are still some good instrumental solos, like Bob Flanigan's trombone on "Day by Day" and Ken Albers' trumpet on "Route 66". But most of the time the singing sounds as if they are doing a parody of themselves.
The warm memories Four Freshmen fans have of this group as well as the esteem of the group itself, would have been better served if the tape of this concert stayed in the can.
Personnel: Ross Barbour - Vocals/Drums/Trumpet; Bob Flanagan - Bass/Trombone; Ken Albers - Bass/Trumpet/Flugelhorn/Tambourine; Bill Comstock - Guitar