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Harry Goldson's Caf: R.S.V.P. for Dancers Only

Jack Bowers By

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Calling Harry Goldson’s ensemble an orchestra is a bit of a stretch; it’s actually an octet with vocalist Jeanne Pisano added on two numbers (“My Foolish Heart,” “I Should Care”). That’s not a knock, merely an observation, and one should hasten to add that no matter the size of the group, Goldson always flies first–class. With him on this colorful excursion are “regulars” John Pisano, Trey Henry, Ralph Razze and Les Benedict and newcomers Ben Di Tosti, Ron King and Ray Reed, all of whom have enjoyed distinguished careers in studios and bands on the West Coast. What they play here is smooth, contemporary dance music with enough rhythmic flair and impromptu blowing to qualify as Jazz. For Goldson, whose musical education and career began during the dance–band era of the ’30s and ’40s, only to be interrupted for half a century while he became a successful businessman, the combination is exactly right, as the album’s title, For Dancers Only, affirms. Goldson wants his audience, whether marshaled around a bandstand or listening in their homes, to dance to the music, a wish made all but irresistible by his enterprising rhythm section (Di Tosti, Henry, Razze) and, above all, by Pisano’s insistent guitar. While each of the soloists (including the leader) is productive, the focal point throughout is the ensemble, with bright (and largely familiar) melodies and danceable rhythms predominating. Jeanne Pisano is a throwback to the age of such marvelous dance–band singers as Helen Forrest, Doris Day, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Dinah Shore, Helen O’Connell and others, enunciating so clearly that every word is readily understood. As for the voice, if Pisano looks as good as she sounds she must be a knockout (as they’d have said in the ’40s). For what it is — tastefully prepared dance music with a soupçon of Jazz — Goldson’s latest album succeeds on every level.

Contact: Weatherbird Productions, P.O. Box 15, Suttons Bay, MI 49682. Phone 231–271–8000; fax 231–271–8500.

Track Listing: On a Clear Day; Black Orpheus; Ellington medley (Take the

Personnel: Harry Goldson, clarinet, alto, tenor sax; Ray Reed, alto, tenor sax, flute; Ron King, trumpet, flugelhorn; Les Benedict, trombone; Ben Di Tosti, piano; John Pisano, guitar; Trey Henry, bass; Ralph Razze, drums; Jeanne Pisano, vocals.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Weatherbird | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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