Victor Feldman - Part 2: From Cannonball to Russia
Victor returned to Hollywood and was soon experiencing the "out-of-sight, out-of-mind'" dynamic as far as those who hire musicians for studio gigs are concerned. And no sooner had he found some work in the studios and had his trio performing at The Scene on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, than a call came in from Peggy Lee to join her for her first European tour. Since the gig included six weeks in England before heading to the French Riviera for 10 days along with Stan Levey on drums, Victor was back on the road again.
The beginning of 1962 found Victor back in the studios with a flood of calls from both Henry Mancini and Marty Paich, among others, and also increasing his activity with his trio, including making two recordings during the year.
The first of these was the jazz version of Stop the World I Want to Get Off (World Pacific, 1963). As Victor told Howard Lucraft, who authored the liner notes:
"I've been approached about doing a show album many times. However, this is the first time I made one because this is the first show that has had tunes that make good jazz vehicles.
I tried to make the arrangements as interesting as I could without cluttering the three of us, so that we could relax in our improvising."
Bob Whitlock was once again on bass because, as Victor put it very directly: "I always have Bob with my trio; his greatest asset is his extremely broad knowledge of music."
Somewhat of a surprise to some, although not to others who knew Victor's preferences for hard-driving drummers, Lawrence Marable made the date on drums because according to Victor: "Lawrence is one of the finest drummers in the world. I love his time feeling. I love his solos. When he and I play together we reach terrific peaks of excitement. Lawrence has the greatest intuition."
The nearest thing to a Philly Jo Jones style of drumming on the West Coast, Marable, much like Frank Butler (and, of course, Philly Jo), really emphasized the snare drum in his solos. Whether these were fours, eights or entire choruses, everything came off the snare and Lawrence could really get the thing pulsating and crackling, all of which must have resonated well with Victor's sensibilities. This approach to Jazz drums also explains why Victor was so partial to Colin Bailey, who loved to put emphasis on the snare during his solos; Colin also has incredible snare to bass drum coordination.
As show tune recordings go, this is a remarkably good, musical album, no doubt because Victor always put so much thought into arrangements for his trio. The album has the added bonus of Victor playing vibes while accompanying himself on piano, which he does via "over-dub." As Victor comments to Lucraft: "Actually, I like playing vibes this way best, for recording."
Perhaps it is the presence of Marable, but Victor "comes out smoking" on this album and plays throughout with an air of assurance and forceful determination. You can tell that he has reached a point where what he's hearing in his head can immediately be transported to his hands, especially on piano. Howard Lucraft expresses this point similarly:
"In the earlier days of his musical career in America, Feldman was, perforce, somewhat eclectic. Today, he has his own distinctive, driving, agile and assured style. His unique, contrasted chordal work and his compelling, chromatic phrases are arresting features."
Victor altered the trio format ["I wanted to hear another voice"] for another of his 1962 recordings A Taste of Honey and A Taste of Bossa Nova (Infinity)by adding tenor sax and flute to his basic trio (and also Laurindo Almeida on guitar for the bossa nova tunes).
As the title indicates, this recording is an admixture of movie themes and songs associated with movies, although Victor manages to put in another version of his original, "New Delhi." Three different groups each make up four tracks, including Buddy Collette (ts/fl), Victor (v/p), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Ron Jefferson (d), Clifford Scott [ts/fl], Victor [v/p], Laurindo Almeida [g], Al McKibbon (b), Frank Guerrero (percussion); Nino Tempo (ts), Victor (p), Bob Whitlock (b), Colin Bailey (d).
Although the album, with twelve tracks averaging about three minutes each, was primarily aimed at commercial radio play and mass market distribution, there is some very good music on this recording, including Buddy Colette's take on Victor's "New Delhi," the bossa nova version of "Anna," from the movie The Rose Tattoo, for which actress Anna Magnani won the Academy Award, and the Nino Tempo version of another movie song, "Walk on the Wild Side," with the Feldman-Whitlock-Bailey trio.