This concert date from August ’99 by tenor saxophonist Gianni Basso’s spit–shined 20–something Italian big band does feature the marvelous trombonist / arranger Slide Hampton, but there’s much more to the album than that. First, this is a well–rehearsed ensemble that can hold its head high in any company; second, it is reading superlative charts not only by Hampton (three) but also by Dusko Goykovich (five); and third, there are resourceful soloists aplenty to keep Hampton on his toes (he solos on the last three numbers, “Cotton Tail,” “With a Song in My Heart,” “A Night in Tunisia”). Basso, a smooth and articulate monologist who reminds one of such neo–swingers as Scott Hamilton or Harry Allen (with a pinch of Zoot Sims for added spice), is showcased on his own lyrical composition, “Miss Bo,” pianist Andrea Pozza on Junior Mance’s gospel–flavored “Jubilation.” Others making strong statements include altos Claudio Chiara and Claudio Capurro, trumpeter Fulvio Chiarra, baritone Fulvio Albano, trombonist Luca Begonia and drummer Gian Piero Prina. The various sections — saxophones, trumpets, trombones, rhythm — are front and center on Hampton’s clever arrangement of Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings.” Another highlight is Goykovich’s handsomely framed “Snap Shot,” which provides convincing evidence of the band’s ability to navigate at high speeds. “Cotton Tail,” on the other hand, lopes along more leisurely than usual, but Hampton spurs him on with a “hare–raising” solo (complete with a terse reference to “Laura”), then shows his more romantic nature on the enchanting ballad “With a Song in My Heart” (quoting this time from Gershwin’s “There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York”). Basso, Pozza and Prina are Hampton’s solo–mates on “Tunisia,” which closes the concert on an ascendent note. Hampton’s trenchant ad–lib begins with a waggish bow to Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and includes a few bars from “When Lights Are Low.” There’s one split–second anomaly (on my copy of the disc) at the 3:20 mark on “Tunisia” when it sounds as if someone’s cell phone rings, but only for an instant. I’ve listened several times, and it’s always there, but a more accurate identification is impossible. However, it’s no more than a second or so amid more than fifty–six minutes of scintillating big–band Jazz, and hardly worth troubling oneself over. In every other respect, this is an excellent album and is easily recommended.
Track Listing: Moby Dick; Shiny Stockings; Miss Bo; Snap Shot; Jubilation; Cotton Tail; With a Song in My Heart; A Night in Tunisia (56:07).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.