3

Dave Pell: Remembers John Kirby and Big Small Bands

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Dave Pell: Remembers John Kirby and Big Small Bands Historical recreations of music are nothing new. Every tribute recording ever released is one. In the 1980s and '90s, classical music went through its "period instrument-performance practice" phase, where the entire Baroque, Classical and early Romantic repertoires were recreated using instruments and metronomic markings from the 18th and 19th Centuries. In the late 1950s, jazz was going through an interesting transition that had its genesis a decade earlier in Miles Davis' famous Birth of the Cool (Capitol, 1957). In 1949, Davis, bored with be bop, assembled his famous nonet and with the help of arrangers Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan and John Lewis, brought the bebop small combo back closer to the swing era big band, using the brass voicings (including French Horns) from Claude Thornhill's popular and successful band.

West Coast multi-reedist Dave Pell has recorded a string of well-received octet albums based on Davis' nonet model. He extended this "big small band" philosophy to a project he recorded early in 1959 that was eventually released as The Big Small Bands (Capitol). What Pell did with the music chosen for this project—that comprises a dozen compositions recorded over the previous 30-year period (typically on 78 RPM discs)—was to have Jimmy Priddy and Bob Enevoldsen transcribe the charts note-for-note.

Pell termed these new recordings "musical recreations." The participants were all West Coast Jazz royalty—pianists Marty Paich and Andre Previn, trumpeter Jack Sheldon, and drummers Mel Lewis and Shelly Manne were all on hand. Alto saxophonist Art Pepper appears on Shorty Rogers "Popo," Miles Davis' "Boplicity" and Gerry Mulligan's "Walking Shoes." Pepper was to rerecord the latter of these with a Paich-led ensemble that would become his famous Art Pepper + Eleven: Modern Jazz Classics (Contemporary, 1959).

Regardless of the recording proximity, The Big Small Bands could not sound more different from + Eleven. "Quaint" would best describe Pell's efforts and that is no slight. Pell is attempting to faithfully recreate music, almost making a historic document. Pell's touch is a soft one, treating all of this disparate music as, perhaps, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has with the music of Louis Armstrong and Thelonious Monk. Projects like this have their place and should appeal to a broad number of jazz fans.

Track Listing: Big Small Bands - Then I'll Be Happy; Smo-O-O-Oth One; In an 18th Century Drawing Room; Summit Ridge Drive; At the Codfish Ball; Jumpin With Symphony Sid; Popo; Boplicity; Dark Eyes; Viva Zapata; Walking Shoes; Mountain Greenery Dave Pell Remembers John Kirby - Rose Room; Royal Garden Blues; Anitra's Dance; It Feels Good; Tootsie Roll; Double Walk; Undecided; Blue Skies; Coquette; Opus #5; 20th Century Closet.

Personnel: Big Small Bands - Then I'll Be Happy; Smo-O-O-Oth One; In an 18th Century Drawing Room; Summit Ridge Drive; At the Codfish Ball; Jumpin With Symphony Sid; Popo; Boplicity; Dark Eyes; Viva Zapata; Walking Shoes; Mountain Greenery Dave Pell Remembers John Kirby - Rose Room; Royal Garden Blues; Anitra's Dance; It Feels Good; Tootsie Roll; Double Walk; Undecided; Blue Skies; Coquette; Opus #5; 20th Century Closet.

Title: Remembers John Kirby and Big Small Bands | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Fresh Sound Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Very Early" CD/LP/Track Review Very Early
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "The Voice of Robert Desnos" CD/LP/Track Review The Voice of Robert Desnos
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Collider" CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Wisdom Of Elders" CD/LP/Track Review Wisdom Of Elders
by James Nadal
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Inside The Moment" CD/LP/Track Review Inside The Moment
by James Nadal
Published: June 21, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.