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One of the finest jazz and studio trombonists to make a name for himself in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Jimmy Cleveland has recorded with just about anyone who is anyone in the history of the music. To name just a few of those lucky enough to have had Cleveland on hand at various gigs or sessions, a small list would have to include Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody, Art Farmer, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The first of three sets that Cleveland would record for Mercury and EmArcy during the late ‘50s, Introducing Jimmy Cleveland and His All Stars is just now making its debut on compact disc as part of the limited Verve Elite Edition series.
A favorite of arranger and Mercury talent scout Quincy Jones, Cleveland assembled three different seven-piece groups that made three separate sessions in August and November of 1955. With charts provided by Jones and a healthy share of Cleveland originals, these little big bands swing with the kind of vitality and joie de vivre that marks much of the finest jazz of the ‘50s. It doesn’t hurt that the invited crew includes such name players as Max Roach, Lucky Thompson, Cecil Payne, Hank Jones, Jerome Richardson, and Oscar Pettiford. As an added bonus we get to hear just a bit more from the neglected and sadly underrecorded guitarist Barry Galbraith.
Cleveland plays throughout with the kind of nimbleness and burnished tone that would later make him such a valued studio musician. Jones’ writing is functional but undeniably catchy, especially the first incarnation of “Count ‘Em” which would later be a regular number in the Basie book. An alternate take of “Our Love Is Here To Stay” completes an alluring package which not only testifies to Cleveland’s talents but also to the great wealth of quality jazz that was being produced back in the heydays.
Track Listing: Hear Ye! Hear Ye!, You Don't Know What Love Is, Vixen, My One and Only Love, Little Beaver, Love Is Here to Stay, Count 'Em, Bone Brother, I Hadn't Anyone Till You, See Minor, Love Is Here to Stay (alternate take)
Personnel: Jimmy Cleveland(trombone), Ernie Royal(trumpet), Lucky Thompson(tenor saxophone), Jerome Richardson(tenor saxophone), Cecil Payne(baritone saxophone), John Williams(piano) Wade Legge(piano), Hank Jones(piano), Barry Galbraith(guitar), Paul Chambers(bass), Oscar Pettiford(bass), Max Roach(drums), Osie Johnson(drums), Joe Harris(drums), Quincy Jones (arranger)
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.