Russ Freeman/Shellly Manne: One on One (2002)
Besides his abilities as a pianist Freeman was (is?) also an accomplished composer with five tunes included on this record. All but one ("Name that Tune", a jazzing up of "Brahms' Lullaby") are worthy. The session has a percussive feel not because Manne or Freeman hammer on their instruments (The opposite is true.), but because their playing often takes the form of question and answer. Also the absence of a time-keeping bassist means it was left to Freeman to state or imply the time. (Manne plays accents or fills around the time.) Two tunes, "How about That" and "One on One," are partly in free time. The ballads "I'm Old Fashioned" and "Green Dolphin Street" sound more straight-ahead with Freeman playing melodic lead throughout.
Manne's playing in general was easy to take for granted. Even with his own bands he seldom soloed or mixed it up with the horns, preferring to stay in the background and allowing his influence to be felt more as musical director than drummer. This session with his subtle, intelligent, and musical drumming in bold relief captures his mature style more completely than his other records. (He died in 1984.) He and Freeman have come a long way as musicians since 1954. They were best friends and often played together. Above all their egoless rapport makes this music as valuable as it is.
Track Listing: Getting Sentimental over You; How about That; I'm Old Fashioned; Green Dolphin Street; Take the "A" Train; Prime Time; Loose as a Goose; Lullaby of the Leaves; Blue Monk; One on One; Name that Tune; Blue Monk (alternate); Loose as a Goose (alternate); Green Dolphin Street (alternate); Lullaby of the Leaves (alternate).
Personnel: Russ Freeman - piano; Shelly Manne - drums.
Record Label: Contemporary