The pairing-up of jazz personalities often fails to live up to the hype, falling short of listener expectations. Musical camaraderie is not something that can simply be conjured up by outside sourcesdespite the ongoing efforts of record labels and festival promoters. Successful musical partnerships are more often than not the result of experiential similarities between artists, with regard to a particular era or style. A fine example of this can be heard on Tickle Toe, a long-lost Chicago session from 1981 featuring bass trumpeter Cy Touff and tenor saxophonist Sandy Mosse.
With a fiery rhythm section and a set of familiar standards, Touff (1927-2003) and Mosse (1929-1983) gracefully swing along throughout the recording with intuitive ease. Both musicians float effortlessly over the minor-key title track, demonstrating patiently-lyrical, yet buoyant phrasing. Straight-ahead readings of "Alone Together" and "Secret Love" highlight the disc with inspired improvising and good-natured exchanges between the two leaders.
The rhythm section, comprised of pianist John Campbell, bassist Kelly Sill and drummer Jerry Coleman, lay down a warm, cushy foundation. Both Coleman and Sill are given ample solo space, demonstrating well- developed, inventive lines. Coleman's crisp ride cymbal is unfaltering, even during the challenging slow-tempo blues of "Keester Parade."
Touff and Mosse built-up impressive resumes by playing with big stars like Woody Herman and Django Reinhardt in the 1950s, but for the most part have become forgotten names in jazz history. Hopefully, with the release of Tickle Toe, some light will be shed on the legacy of these two under-appreciated heavyweights.
Personnel: Cy Touff: bass trumpet; Sandy Mosse: tenor sax; John Campbell: piano; Kelly Sill: bass; Jerry Coleman: drums.