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Buddy Collette: Buddy Collette: Four Classic Albums

David Rickert By

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Like many of his fellow West Coast musicians, Buddy Collette was proficient on multiple instruments. He could play alto and tenor sax, but tended toward the clarinet and the flute for most of his recording career. His solo records were as light and effortless as most jam form the West Coast tended to be at the time, and they are very pleasant, if a bit toothless at times. There's no doubt that Collette was a main figure of the West Coast scene and this set collects some fine work.

Calm, Cool, and Collette from 1957 features Collette backed by his working trio of Dick Shreve on piano, John F. Goodman on bass, and Bill Dolney on drums, none of whom became particularly well- known. The album is awash is light-footed tracks that generate congenial warmness without much heat. This feathery approach is fine for skippy numbers like "The Continental" and a melancholy "If She Had Stayed," but too docile for "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and a "Night in Tunisia" handled with kid gloves. Still, this is Collette at his best, playing mild, appealing jazz with more sax that is usual for him.

Marx Makes Broadway is a session led by pianist and arranger Dick Marx which features, predictably, Broadway tunes. Collette is on flute exclusively for this session and joined by either Howard Roberts or Irving C Ashby on guitar in the front line. There are some inspired choices, suck as the unlikely "Cool" from West Side Story delivered with the right mix of detachment and foreboding, and an amped up "Guys and Dolls." The complete session is the happiest of jazz albums, as Marx sticks to the up-tempo crowd pleasers and avoids the dramatic numbers.

A Nice Day With Buddy Collette from 1956 is Collette's finest record. Although there's a lack of consistency due to different rhythm sections on multiple sessions, top-notch playing from the likes of Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne prove that Collette is a tougher customer than we've come to expect. "A Nice Day" and "Buddy Boo" are engaging holdovers from Collette's time with Chico Hamilton, and the unusual arrangement of "Moten Swing" and the lightning tempo of "Change It" show that Collette can go outside the lines and also be fleet fingered. There probably isn't a better song for Collette than "Over the Rainbow," and it's one of Collette's finest performances. The album is evenly balanced among Collette's four instruments, and features captivating performances throughout.

The Polyhedric Buddy Collette was recorded in Italy with local musicians after a jazz festival there afforded him some time to stay in Milan for a few weeks to gig. This record was the result. Predictably none of the Italian musicians become known in the States, but had soaked up enough jazz records from overseas to develop their chops. There's a merry-go-round of musicians on these session, and the presence of a second horn on many tracks makes it sound like a Shelly Manne record from the time. There's some clattering percussion on a few numbers to give a Latin edge to a couple of tracks, but the real focus here is on Collette's compositions, and his finest writing can be seen on lovely tracks like "Paddi" and "Pickford Street." This obscure record is a treat, and it's good to finally get the chance to hear it.

Track Listing: Calm, Cool, and Collette: Winston Walks; If She Had Stayed; They Can’t Take that Away From Me; Undecided; Flute in “D”; The Continental; Three and One; Night in Tunisia; Johnny Walks; Perfidia; Morning Jazz. Marx Makes Broadway: Joey Joey; Why Can’t You Behave; All of You; Cool; Too Close For Comfort; If I Were A Bell; Baubles, Bangles, and Beads; A Sleepin’ Bee; Guys And Dolls; Just In Time. Nice Day With Collette: A Nice Day; There Will Never Be Another You; Minor Deviation; Over the Rainbow; Change It; Moten Swing; I’ll Remember April; Blue For Howard; Fall Winds; Buddy Boo. The Polyhedric Buddy Collette: Orfeo Negro; Blues For Nicola; Mounya Labeli Matatoo; Paddi; A Taste Of Fresh Air; Pickford Street; Skater for Mater; Blues.

Personnel: Calm, Cool and Collette: Buddy Collette: alto and tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Dick Shreve: piano; John Goodman: bass; Bill Dolney: drums. Marx Makes Broadway: Dick Marx: piano; Buddy Collette: flute; Frank Capp: drums; Howard Roberts, Irving Ashby: guitar; Red Mitchell: bass; Carson Smith: bass. Nice Day With Collette: Buddy Collette: alto and tenor sax, clarinet, flute; Calvin Jackson, Dick Shreve, Don Friedman: piano; Leroy Vinnegar, John Goodman: bass; Bill Dolney, Shelly Manne, Joe Peters: drums. The Polyhedric Buddy Collette: Buddy Collette: alto sax, flute, clarinet; Ducko Gojkovic: trumpet; Dino Piana: trombone; Gianni Basso: clarinet; Renato Sellani: piano; Franco Cerri, George Joyner: bass; Norman Shobey: tumba; Armshed Shobey: bongos; Jimmy Pratt: drums.

Title: Buddy Collette: Four Classic Albums | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Avid Records UK

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