The close-up shot of Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell that adorns the cover of this disc is exemplary of the music contained inside. Tame by the furious standards set by 1960s free jazz the Sandole’s forward-thinking experiments with time signatures and harmonic emancipations easily fell into the Avant-Garde camp of 1950s jazz. LaPorta’s trio excursions which round out the two-fer were less overtly adventurous, but still harbored a healthy respect for experimentation.
Dennis Sandole, older brother to Adolph, was in fact one of Coltrane’s early teachers, a claim to fame that is easily eclipsed by his brilliant skills as an arranger and soloist. Favoring fruitful improvisation over tightly scripted charts the majority of pieces here are mere frameworks for the spontaneous creations of individual players. “Drums” is a fine example of this preference as De Rosa’s bombastic salvos punctuate individual interludes by soloists. Sandole, Farmer and Barrow each turn in beauties, but while there is a well-discernable theme it seems almost secondary in it’s terseness. The tune is caps off by a thrilling chase section between the horns. “Perhaps a Touch Of” highlights Dennis’ tubular strings, which radiate shimmering single note time bombs. “Grenadine” and “The Tameret” are clipped fragments that practice economy to a fault as they leave listeners wishing for a reprieve from temporal restraints. Particularly on the former were glorious snatches of atonality begin to creep in at the close. “Arabu” sounds like an Noirish cop-show theme conjuring the image of an intrepid gumshoe pounding the pavement. Closing with the exotic titled “Magic Carpet” that matches baritone with murky percussion, thrumming bass and a string of solid solos.
Annexing the disc’s second half is half of an LP by John LaPorta’s trio. Paralleling the instrumentation of Benny Goodman’s 1930s trio with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa LaPorta’s outfit is just as intriguing. LaPorta’s reed has a gorgeous woody tone mixed a full range of melodic colors that actually sounds more akin to Edmund Hall than Goodman. And best of all each tune is at least four minutes in length allowing the leader and his associates ample room to improvise. Keller and De Rosa, often on agile brushes, provide stunning support and the uniformly relaxed tunes offer an interesting contrast to the more velocious earlier fare. “Dirge For Dorsey” is a notable standout and it’s almost funeral moroseness is a bold rebuttal to previous and proceeding lightheartedness. The flipside to these four pieces on the original album was a series of Classical meditations, another of LaPorta’s musical passions. Why they weren’t included is something of a mystery although they may have not been deemed compatible with the jazz program that dominates the LP. Anyone with an interest in creatively rendered 1950s jazz that sounds as fresh today as the day it was waxed is strongly advised to check this two-fer out.
Fantasy on the web: http://www.fantasyjazz.com
Track Listing: Wings Over Persia/ Way Down/ Drums/ Perhaps One Touch Of/ Grenadine/ The Boys From Istanbul/ The Tamaret/ Arabu/ Pieces of Eight/ Magic Carpet/ Darn That Dream/ Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams/ Dirge For Dorsey Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.
Personnel: Dennis Sandole- guitar; Adolph Sandole- baritone saxophone; George Barrow- baritone saxophone; Art Farmer- trumpet; Teo Macero- tenor saxophone; John LaPorta-alto saxophone; Al Del Governatore- piano; Wendell Marshall-bass; Milt Hinton- bass; Blem De Rosa- drums. John LaPorta- clarinet; Jack Keller- piano; Clem De Rosa- drums. Recorded: July, 1955 & September 24, 1956.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!