Eddie Bert: Kaleidoscope


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In the early 1950s, with the 10-inch LP format on the rise, New York had a crew of jazz musicians who were superb studio swingers. They were dependable, driven and could really get feet tapping. Their watering hole was Charlie's Tavern on the west side of Seventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd St., in the Roseland Building. Since Charlie's banned known junkies to limit the theft of horns and fights that often followed, producers used the tavern as a place to recruit top studio musicians for recording sessions.

The regulars who bided their time between record dates at Charlie's Tavern included Oscar Pettiford, Hal McKusick, Hank Jones, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Bill Crow, Teddy Charles, Barry Galbraith, Osie Johnson, Joe Puma, Dave Lambert and many others.

Trombonist Eddie Bert was among them. From 1942 on, Eddie recorded relentlessly with virtually every major band and group. He's with Red Norvo at the famed Town Hall Concert of 1945 recorded live by Commodore Records. And that's Eddie’s trombone solo on Stan Kenton’s How High the Moon with June Christy in 1947.

In June 1953, Eddie recorded Kaleidoscope, his first leadership 10-inch album. Recorded for the New York arm of the Discovery label, the first four tracks featured Eddie Bert (tb), Duke Jordan (p), Sal Salvador (g), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Mel Zelnick (d). The second four tracks were recorded a month later in July and included Eddie Bert (tb), Vinnie Dean (as), Duke Jordan (p), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Art Mardigan (d).

The first four songs were Love Me or Leave Me, Little Train, Prelude to a Kiss and Conversation Piece. The second set were Interwoven, Around Town, Kaleidoscope and Broadway.

Eddie was a full-throttle player. A bebopper who admired Charlie Parker, Eddie was a lyrical but forceful soloist. Swing was everything to Eddie, as he told me when we had drinks, and he brought a commitment and passion to the music that exceeded many other trombonists. He also knew his way around the slide. The first four tracks feature wonderful interplay between Eddie and guitarist Sal Savador. The second set showcase Eddie and alto saxophonist Vinnie Dean. Interestingly, both musicians were with Stan Kenton's band at the time and likely were in between New York gigs with the orchestra. For example, on June 6, 1953, Kenton was on an NBC broadcast. On the 10th, Salvador and Dean recorded wth Eddie. And on July 8, Kenton was recorded on the road in Chicago. Pianist Duke Jordan on all tracks is stupendous.

Eddie Bert died in 2012.

JazzWax clips: Here's Kaleidoscope...

Here's Little Train...

And here's Conversation Piece...

Bonus: Here's He Ain't Got Rhythm, on the Kaleidoscope reissue. That's Eddie playing and singing...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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