C'est Manifique is the latest album traditional trombone player George Masso has cut for the German Nagel-Heyer label which specializes in putting traditional, straight ahead jazz to disk. And tons of kudos to them for doing that! In this live performance, Masso and his distinguished quartet latch on to seven Cole Porter tunes, gives them fresh arrangements and then improvise the devil out of them. Right from "It's D'Lovely", opened with that well known trumpet fan fare so much a part of traditional jazz, to the album's coda, "C'est Manifique", the set has the feeling of an old time jam session. One of the highlights in between is a 10 minute take-no-prisoner "It's Allright with Me". Each member of the quartet gets the chance to stretch out and takes full advantage of the opportunity. Masso exercises his rights as leader by featuring his trombone on "Why Shouldn't I", eventually sharing the stage with Johnny Varro's piano before coming back to take the remaining chorus. Although Harry Allen provides prime time tenor sax soloing on "I Love You, Samantha", not one of Porter's most memorable tunes. However, Allen never seems to overcome a reed problem letting loose with a squeak or two from time to time. Lou Colombo's mellow flugelhorn is heard to excellent effect in the solo spotlight on "Get out of Town".
Special mention must be made of Jake Hanna's drum work. This all-powerful rhythm keeper is the musical glue which keeps this session together. His provides just the right emphasis with ride cymbal, snare whether it be with sticks or brushes, along with his well-timed drum breaks demonstrate why he has been a driving force behind innumerable big bands and small groups for more than 30 years. He gets lots of help from A-one bassist Phil Flanigan. Listen to these artists converse on "What Is This Thing Called Love". Hanna's rim shot, bringing "I Love You, Samantha" to a close is an absolute gem.
Cole Porter's music played by veteran jazz artists makes this album a welcome entry to the recommended category.
Tracks:It's D'Lovely; It's Allright with Me; Why Shouldn't I; What Is This Thing Called Love; I Love You, Samantha; Get out of Town; C'est MagnifiquePersonnelGeorge Masso - trombone/Leader; Lou Colombo - Trumpet/ Flugelhorn; Harry Allen - Tenor Saxophone; Johnny Varro - Piano; Phil Flanigan - Bass; Jake Hanna - Drums