Hot Track: A Fifth for Frank


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Bassist Curtis Counce recorded his first leadership album in October 1956. Counce was a major West Coast jazz talent who had assembled a muscular quintet for his premier Contemporary Records session. The album, The Curtis Counce Group, consisted of Jack Sheldon (tp), Harold Land (ts) Carl Perkins (p) Curtis Counce (b) and Frank Butler (d). All of the tracks are killer, but A Fifth for Frank stands out because of the extended drum solo by Butler.

A Fifth for Frank was composed by pianist Gerald Wiggins and vibraphonist Cal Tjader and was first recorded on Tjader's Cal Tjader Quartet album for Fantasy five months earlier in May 1956. The quartet featured Tjader (vib), Wiggins (p), Eugene Wright (b) and Bill Douglass (d). I couldn't find any evidence in the liner notes of these albums or others that A Fifth for Frank was written for Frank Butler. Even if it wasn't, it should have been. Butler delivers a terrific extended solo with sticks and his knuckles that follows solos by Land and Sheldon. 

Here's A Fifth for Frank by the Curtis Counce Group in October 1956...

And here's the original five months earlier, with Cal Tjader and Gerald Wiggins in May 1956...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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