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Got a Call on the 'Bone Phone. George Masso may be the Harry Allen of the trombone, only older. Born in 1927, Masso made his living teaching school and playing trombone on the side. In 1973, he managed to become a full-time musician recording for the Arbors, Sackville, Famous Door, and Nagel-Heyer labels. Masso has had three critically acclaimed discs on Nagel-Heyer, C'est Magnifique! being the most recent (he has previously released the Wonderful World of George Gershwin (NH CD 001) and Trombone Artistry (NH CD014). He, like Allen, performs exclusively traditional jazz and does so almost without flaw. There are no originals here, only standards. Standards played to perfection. This is a live recording was made in early 1999 in Hamburg (home of the Nagel-Heyers). It is a collection of Cole Porter tunes. No "Love for Sale" here. These are lesser-performed tunes, making this disc that much more interesting.
Harry Allen, Again! I have just finished reviewing Harry Allen's the King and was pleased to find him here. Allen may be the most perfect tenor player exhaling through his instrument. He (and Masso) is not a groundbreaker. He is a performer with a technique so prodigious it can make one's mouth go dry. On this recording, Allen's tenor almost mimics the sound of the clarinet so clean is Allen's attack. Likewise for Mr. Masso. George Masso is a well known commodity on the trad jazz circuit, but may be less well known universally. He has a beautiful, respectful, and well-informed tone. What a treasure!
Anything Goes. This collection of Cole Porter tunes is bookended by two splendid examples of traditional jazz playing. "It's D'Lovely" and the title cut are definitely played in "the old style". I am not going to go so far and describe this performance as "Dixieland". I would call it post 1930s small combo Chicago jazz at the dawn of the Swing era. No matter, it is super music. Both Masso and Allen, along with pianist Johnny Varro, turn in stellar performances on all cuts but uniquely shine on the ballads. Nagel-Heyer should be commended on their allegiance to traditional (mainstream jazz). Nagel-Heyer is a great repository for this fine music and fine musicians such as George Masso.
Track Listing: It's D'Lovley; It's Alright With Me; Why shouldn't I; what is This Thing Called Love; I Love you, Samantha; Get Out of Town; C'est Magnifique!. (Total Time: 68:53)
Personnel: George Masso: Trombone; Lou Colombo: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Harry Allen: Tenor Saxophone; Johnny Varro: Piano; Phil Flanigan: Bass; Jake Hanna: Drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.