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Record Label Profiles

More Fresh Sounds From Fresh Sound

By Published: January 8, 2013
Enter the album name here Also in the tragic—and legendary—category is Philadelphia guitarist Billy Bean
Billy Bean
b.1933
guitar
, who passed away in February at the age of 79. Today, the name of Bean is one that is almost beyond obscure, but he is still regarded by those in the Philadelphia musical community who remember him, as one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived. Discovered by another Philadelphian in the mid-1950s, saxophonist Charlie Ventura
Charlie Ventura
Charlie Ventura
1916 - 1992
sax, tenor
, Bean was another in a long line of young talents nurtured by Chaz during the years. But Bean was special, kind of a modern day Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
1916 - 1942
guitar, electric
, with clean and clear lines, devoid of clichés or licks. There's some Tal Farlow
Tal Farlow
Tal Farlow
1921 - 1998
guitar
in there, to be sure, but with an edge. Yet another Philadelphian, guitarist Pat Martino
Pat Martino
Pat Martino
b.1944
guitar
, listened closely to Bean, as did Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
b.1943
guitar
, who actually wrote a composition titled "Billy Bean."

These two efforts, recorded on the west coast in 1958 for Decca's Mood Jazz series, are among the few released under Bean's name, in this case, co-billed with fellow guitarist John Pisano
John Pisano
John Pisano
b.1931
guitar
. Makin' It (1957) and Take Your Pick (1958) are tightly arranged period pieces with a cool orientation, sort a "west coast jazz meets the Third Stream" with plenty of violas, cellos, flutes, vibes, and a bass clarinet and oboe in evidence. What makes these sides work and hold up extraordinary well is the playing of Bean and Pisano, which defies labels or categorization. Sadly, alcohol abuse destroyed Bean's career, and he dropped out of sight decades ago. Thankfully, Pisano is still very much with us, and is still wailing, notably at John Pisano's Guitar Night at a club in Toluca Lake, where he's been holding forth on Tuesday nights for 15 years.

There are a number of other newly-released Fresh Sound titles, all with something to recommend. Briefly noted, they include:

Inez Jones, Featuring Oscar Moore
Oscar Moore
Oscar Moore
1912 - 1981
guitar
, from 1956 and 1957, features the delightful vocals of Jones, whose talents were not heard much beyond her native San Francisco, and in a very tasteful accompanying role, the guitar of Moore, heard in a rare setting away from the Nat "King" Cole
Nat
Nat "King" Cole
1919 - 1965
piano
group, where he first made his name.

Trios led by Chicago-based pianist John Young played behind hundreds of name jazz visitors to Chi-Town though the years, and recorded with dozens of them as well, including players like saxophonists Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
1925 - 1985
sax, tenor
and Sonny Stitt
Sonny Stitt
Sonny Stitt
1924 - 1982
saxophone
. The two-CD John Young Trios collects everything the Garner and Jamal-influenced pianist recorded for Argo and Vee-Jay in 1957, 1961 and 1962. Deservedly revered in his home town until his passing in 2008, it's too bad his fame didn't go beyond Chicago. He was a solid, versatile swinger with his own sound.

Opus De Blues, subtitled Frank Wess and Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
Septets
, features the saxophonist/flutist and the trumpeter/arranger/composer on two, wailing dates from 1959 and 1960. Blowing sessions, yes, but these have compactly swinging arrangements that frame solos by the co-leaders, as well as players like trombonists Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
Curtis Fuller
b.1934
trombone
and Al Grey
Al Grey
Al Grey
1925 - 2000
trombone
, and tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell
Billy Mitchell
Billy Mitchell
1926 - 2001
saxophone
. Particularly standing out on the 1959 session is the drumming of Gus Johnson
Gus Johnson
Gus Johnson
b.1913
, who personifies taste and swing.

Trumpeter Richard Williams and alto saxophonist/flutist/arranger Leo Wright
Leo Wright
1933 - 1991
were another pair who never got the recognition due them. New Horn in Town and Blues Shout, both from 1960, represents the duo's first recordings. Wright, who later did gain some fame via his tenure with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
from 1959 to 1962, is the more mature of the pair here with a rather personal style on alto—sounding like a cool Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
, if there is such a thing—and flute. Williams, who in later years was much in demand in Broadway pit bands and in classical ensembles, was still finding himself as a soloist. Not yet 30 years of age here, he often sounds like trumpeter Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
, but with a more pronounced vibrato.


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