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Shelly Manne & His Men: Jazz From The Pacific Northwest

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Shelly Manne & His Men: Jazz From The Pacific Northwest
Shelly Manne & His Men are presented in two iterations in never-before-released live recordings from the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival and from a 1966 date at The Penthouse in Seattle entitled Jazz From The Pacific Northwest. In this deluxe limited edition 180-gram 2LP set, co-produced for release by the estimable Zev Feldman and Cory Weeds, the band captivated the audience with intricate melodies and vibrant improvisations driven by Manne's virtuosic drumming.

The band on LP1 from the Monterey Jazz Festival features Shelly Manne on drums, Monty Budwig bass, Russ Freeman piano, Herb Geller on alto saxophone and Stu Williamson trumpet. Side A opens with "Stop, Look and Listen," with Manne's hi-hat beat setting the pace. Geller and Williamson build their solos from the underlying harmonic framework, with Freeman showing a pleasing angularity. Alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano wrote, "The Vamp's Blues." The tune has a swinging groove that builds a frame that each musician understands and upon which they construct their solos with fluency and continuity. Side B is completely taken by tenor saxophonist and arranger Bill Holman's extended composition "Quartet (Suite in Four Movements)," written specifically for Manne's group. Each section allows the players to showcase their versatility, whether Freeman's scintillating piano in the opening swinging blues or Geller's cool-toned alto in the second. In the third section, Manne gives a master class in drumming, especially in using mallets on the toms along with the kick drum. The final section is kicked off at a blistering tempo shored up by Manne's drumming, with Geller, Freeman and Williamson performing with expressive energy and bravado.

In the two sets of recordings from The Penthouse in Seattle in 1966, the band holdovers were Manne (of course) and Budwig, with newcomers Conte Candoli on trumpet, Hampton Hawes on piano and Frank Strozier on flute and alto saxophone. This new grouping played with the same unparalleled artistry and versatility as the previous configuration exemplified by the opening track, "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise." The band charges out of the gate with fiery solos from Strozier and Candoli as Manne keeps the groove going. Budwig is given space for an extended walking bass line and some intricate runs from Hawes. In an unusual turn, Manne invited vocalist Ruth Price to deliver a couple of numbers, including "Dearly Beloved" and "Surrey With The Fringe On Top." There was a musical relationship between the two, as Price had recorded an album in 1961 with the band entitled Ruth Price with Shelly Manne & His Men at the Manne Hole (Concord Records). Price swings along brightly in both tracks in her inimitable intimate style with a good range and phrasing.

Hampton Hawes was a pianist with a great sense of swing and a unique approach to time and harmony. He had previously recorded with Manne in the 1958 release Four! (Contemporary Records), with Hawes in the leader slot and guitarist Barney Kessel and bassist Red Mitchell. He contributed an original composition, "Funny," to this session, which opens with a lengthy solo from Candoli filled early with blues changes but moves into a more straight-ahead form as Manne changes the groove. Hawes takes advantage of the Manne's drumming for an excursion filled with new engagement angles. Regardless of the band's members or performing location, their music remained vibrant and relevant.

Track Listing

Side A: Stop, Look and Listen; The Vamp's Blues. Side B: Quartet (Suite in Four Movements). Side C: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; Summertime; Dearly Beloved. Side D: Funny; Secret Love; Surrey With The Fringe On Top.

Personnel

Monty Budwig
bass, acoustic
Herb Geller
saxophone
Frank Strozier
saxophone, alto
Ruth Price
vocals

Album information

Title: Jazz From The Pacific Northwest | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Reel to Real


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