When Michael Anthony
left home in the late 1950s for the bright lights of Hollywood, one of the resident artists who took him under his wing was fellow guitarist Howard Roberts
, already established as one of the film and television industry's top studio musicians as well as an esteemed jazz virtuoso whose work with the Chico Hamilton
Quintet and other groups led to his earning a DownBeat
magazine New Star Award in 1955. Roberts "took me on as a student," Anthony writes in the introduction to Recollections,
a splendid new CD by his First Take Trio, "and gave me a path but made me walk it." Roberts also introduced Anthony to the industry's musical elite and jump-started his career as a first-call studio craftsman, a livelihood that lasted two decades and included work in film and television. Anthony and Roberts, to whom the album is dedicated, remained close friends until the latter's passing in June 1992.
Even though Anthony long ago traded the glamor of Hollywood for a relatively peaceful life in Albuquerque, NM, he has lost none of the earnestness, dexterity or perception that served him well for so many years in the film and television studios. And while he may have produced a similarly impressive album on his own, Anthony benefits enormously from the unwavering support provided by bassist Michael Glynn
and drummer Cal Haines
who also add persuasive solo voices to the mix. This is a trio in the finest sense of the word; everyone is on the same page, and Glynn and Haines give Anthony ample space in which to roam without once parting company and leaving him to fend for himself.
The playlist is comprised of three (perhaps four) standards, jazz themes by Elliot Lawrence
/ Gerry Mulligan
("Elevation"), Thelonious Monk
("Monk's Dream") and Wes Montgomery
("Monk's Shop," not for Thelonious but for Wes' brother, bassist Monk Montgomery
), a brace of Anthony's enticing compositions ("Union Square," "Recollections of HR") and two lesser-known but no less pleasurable themes, the handsome foxtrot "Sometime Ago" and snappy samba "Flor de Lis." The standards are Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me," Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean" and Frank Loesser's "Slow Boat to China," the near-standard Henry Mancini
's familiar theme from the TV series Mr. Lucky.
Anthony, it should be noted, was honored twice at the 2014 New Mexico Music Awards celebration. The first was a Lifetime Achievement Award, the second a citation for Best Instrumental Performance for the trio's version of "It's All Right with Me."
If you'd care to learn more about Michael Anthony's long and impressive catalogue of film and TV credits, you can look it up online. On the other hand, you may prefer to set that aside for now and simply relish the appetizing music served up by a world-class guitar-led trio on Recollections.