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Various Artists: Circa 1960 (2005)

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Various Artists: Circa 1960 How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This is an interesting album, historically speaking, as the first five tracks are taken from Gene Hall's final concert as director of what was then the Laboratory Dance Band A at North Texas State College (now the One O'Clock Lab Band at the University of North Texas). The date was April 27, 1959, and the admission price was fifty cents. The (almost indiscernible) emcee is Dick Martin, then host of WWL Radio-New Orleans' "Moonglow with Martin. Among those in the band's starting lineup are trumpeters Marvin Stamm and Tom Wirtel (a.k.a. Thomas Shabda Noor), tenor saxophonist Ed Summerlin and trombonists Dee Barton and Dave Wheeler.

The album's last four selections feature Ann Richards, the vocalist with Stan Kenton's orchestra in the mid-'50s and Kenton's wife from 1955-61, with an unnamed trio (save for drummer Tony Morillo) recorded at the Blue Mist nightclub in Dallas, Texas. The date isn't given, but as the album is titled "Circa 1960, one can assume it was somewhere around that time. Though I was never a big fan, I must concede that Richards sings and scats quite well on the standards "Pennies from Heaven, "You Go to My Head, "Gone with the Wind (a foretaste, perhaps, of her career and marriage?) and "Lover.

After opening with a brace of standards, the North Texas ensemble plays Barton's "Vino for Doris (solos by Dee and Stamm) and closes with two more from the Great American Songbook, "Too Marvelous for Words and "Hey There (Stamm and Summerlin solo on the first, Barton and Summerlin on the second). The sound is uneven and sometimes muddy, but I've heard worse. Drummer Tony Pondant leads a fine rhythm section (Gene Gandy, piano; Don Ratteree, bass).

The rest of the album is devoted to studio sessions by groups that were probably well-known in the Dallas area but much less so elsewhere. They include pianist Dick Harp's quartet, drummer Paul Guerrero's quintet, vocalist Jane Ames with Guerrero's trio, and a couple by alto saxophonist Harvey Anderson's quartet, the last recorded live at "The Floor. As noted, an interesting record of notable performances that might otherwise have been lost forever.


Track Listing: There Will Never Be Another You; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Vino for Doris; Too Marvelous for Words; Hey There; Porgy and Bess medley; Louies Lament; Easy to Love; The Lady Is a Tramp; Harveys Tune; Pennies from Heaven; You Go to My Head; Gone with the Wind; Lover (67:36).

Personnel: Tracks 1-5: North Texas State College Lab Band A, Gene Hall, director. Bob Foutz, Marvin Stamm, Bob Pickering, Tom Wirtel, Bucky Milam, trumpet; Bob Biegler, Dee Barton, Dave Wheeler, trombone; Bubba Kolb, bass trombone; Bob Thomas, alto sax, clarinet; John Scarborough, alto, tenor sax; Ed Summerlin, Earl Dhus, tenor sax; Herb Porter, baritone sax; Gene Gandy, piano; Don Ratteree, bass; Tony Pondant, drums. Track 6: Dick Harp, piano; Ben Hill, vibes; Pete Warren, cello; Banks Dimon, drums. Track 7: Paul Guerrero, drums; Jack Peterson, guitar, piano; Al Wesar, bass; Marv Shaw, trumpet. Track 8: Same personnel; add Jane Ames, vocal. Track 9: Harvey Anderson, alto sax; Alan Snodgrass, piano; Reinie Press, bass; Ronnie Tutt, drums. Track 10: Harvey Anderson, alto sax; Alan Snodgrass, piano; Reinie Press (?), bass; Ralph Pittman (?), drums; unknown horn. Tracks 11-14: Dee Barton (?), piano, bass; Tony Morillo, drums; Ann Richards, vocals.

Record Label: 90th Floor Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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