There’s far more Cohn than Kahn on these studio / live dates from the ’50s by the Elliot Lawrence Big Band, but that’s not a criticism, merely an observation, as both Tiny and Al were superlative big–band writer / arrangers and this generously timed release includes topnotch material from both as well as several handsome charts by Johnny Mandel. Add solos by Cohn, trombonists Eddie Bert and Urbie Green, trumpeter Nick Travis, alto Hal McKusick and the incomparable Zoot Sims on tenor and you’ve got an unchallenged winner. Alas, Zoot only appears on tracks 1–5 (first issued as Elliot Lawrence Plays Tiny Kahn and Johnny Mandel Arragements
), but his marvelous solos are by themselves enough to make the album worth one’s serious consideration. While the charts do sound slightly dated, they are, after all, nearly half a century old, and in spite of that, most have withstood the rigors of time quite well. Tracks 6–17, originally released as The Elliot Lawrence Band Swinging at the Steel Pier,
were recorded during an engagement at that Atlantic City venue, but the engineers have rendered the audience so nearly inaudible that it sounds almost like another studio gig. Cohn is especially assertive on these numbers, half a dozen of which are his own compositions including the flag–waving “Snapped Cap” and “Handmade.” Cohn also wrote “Hackin’ Around” and the charming “Music for Swingin’ Dancers” (released on Elliot Lawrence Plays Music for
[fill in the blank]) and the soft–flowing “Mood Midnight,” “Nightfall” and “Jazz Lullaby” (from the album Dream On . . . Dance on
). Kahn, meanwhile, is represented by the explosive “TNT” and “Who Fard That Shot?” and his arrangements of the standards “Blue Room,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “Jeepers Creepers” and “Maybe.” A delightful package that takes us back to those halcyon days when Jazz / dance bands commanded a loyal and enthusiastic audience.
Contact:Fantasy Records, 10th and Parker, Berkeley, CA 94710. Web site, www.fantasyjazz.com
Personnel: Elliot Lawrence, leader, piano; Nick Travis, Bernie Glow, Stan Fishelson, Al DeRisi, Ernie Royal (1