Sal Salvador is best known as Stan Kenton's guitarist from 1953 to 1955, at which point he left the band to work as a freelance small-group leader and studio musician. In the late 1950s, with the advent of stereo, Decca signed him for a pair of big-band albums that took advantage of the new format's sound separation and wide, dynamic presentation. The Dauntless label tapped Salvador for a third album. Dauntless was a subsidiary of Audio Fidelity Records and managed by Tom Wilson, one of the few African-American producers working in popular music. All three were recorded in New York. [Photo above of Stan Kenton, left, and Sal Salvador at Capitol recording session, courtesy of University of North Texas]
All are solid albums, but I'd give the edge to the first, Colors in Sound. Recorded over three sessions in April 1958, the arrangements were handled by George Roumanis, who also played bass on the date. On the first session, the band recorded What Is There to Say?, You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To and Yesterdays. The musicians were Maynard Ferguson, Doc Severinsen, Ernie Royal and Jimmy Maxwell (tp); Frank Rehak and Eddie Bert (tb); Ray Starling (mellophone); David Amram (fhr); Bill Barber (tu); Sal Salvador (g); George Roumanis (b,arr) and Osie Johnson (d).
On the second session, the band recorded Deep Down, Easy Living, Walkin' Time and For You, For Me, For Evermore. Joe Ferrante (tp) and Jimmy Campbell (d) replaced Jimmy Maxwell and Osie Johnson.
The band recorded Periwinkle Blues, Dessert Fever, You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me and Spring Will Be a Little Late Next Year on the third session. The personnel was the same as on the first.
The other two big-band albums—The Beat for This Generation (1961) and You Ain't Heart Nothin' Yet (1963) were billed as Sal Salvador and his Colors in Sound Orchestra. Salvador, Hank Levy, Larry Wilcox and George Roumanis arranged The Beat for This Generation while Larry Wilcox arranged the third.
Salvador's gift was an up-tempo swing style that captivated your imagination. Often relying on a singular picking style, he was always ready to go. While Salvador was pretty on ballads, he was exceptional when the tempo was fast, unleashing improvisational lines without missing a beat.
Sal Salvador died in 1999.
JazzWax clips: Here's Sal Salvador with Stan Kenton in 1952 playing Invention for Guitar and Trumpet with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. The arrangement is by Bill Holman...