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Phil Urso


Subtlety and restraint defined the playing of Phil Urso, a member of the 1950s' cool school who owed a strong artistic debt to Lester "Pres" Young but never came across as a clone of him. Urso started out on clarinet, but the tenor sax became his primary instrument after he studied it in high school. Though not that well-known, Urso was a solid and expressive jazzman who played with Woody Herman, Jimmy Dorsey, Miles Davis, Terry Gibbs, Oscar Pettiford and others in the 1950s. In 1954, he co-led a quintet with trombonist Bob Brookmeyer that recorded for Savoy, but Urso's best-known association came in 1955 and 1956, when he was a sideman for Chet Baker. Urso was prominently featured on some of the trumpeter's Pacific Jazz recordings of 1956, which make one wish he had become more visible instead of less so


Article: Building a Jazz Library

Chet Baker: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Get Lost In

Read "Chet Baker: An Alternative Top Ten Albums To Get Lost In" reviewed by Chris May

Chet Baker was born to a farmer's daughter and a hard-drinking, weed-smoking singer and guitarist in a Western Swing band in Yale, Oklahoma in 1929. Like many Okies, the family fared badly during the Great Depression but did a little better after moving to Glendale, California in 1939. Largely self-taught as a trumpeter, Baker honed his ...

News: Video / DVD

Carl Saunders: New Standards

Carl Saunders: New Standards

Carl Saunders is one of jazz's best-kept secrets, and he kind of likes it that way. Born in 1942, Saunders is a trumpeter, composer and educator of the highest order who has worked with a long list of jazz giants, from Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson. Many factors set Saunders ...

News: Recording

Phil Urso & the Jomar Dagron 4

Phil Urso & the Jomar Dagron 4

In 1959, tenor saxophonist Phil Urso recorded a terrific album for the Legacy label with the Jomar Dagron Quartet in Louisville, Colo. Jomar Dagron wasn't a transplanted Scandinavian jazz musician. In fact, there was no such person named Jomar Dagron. It was a first-name amalgam of drummer Jo Jo Williams, baritone saxophonist Marvin Halliday, organist Dag ...


Article: Profile

James Clay: Texas Tenor, Second Generation

Read "James Clay: Texas Tenor, Second Generation" reviewed by David Perrine

The term “Texas tenor" was originally coined to describe the sound and style of such swing era players as Herschel Evans, Illinois Jacquet, Buddy Tate, Budd Johnson, Arnett Cobb and others, and has subsequently been applied to second generation players from Texas that included James Clay, David “Fathead" Newman and Marchel Ivery. What these players had ...


Article: Big Band Report

It's the Economy, Man!

Read "It's the Economy, Man!" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Even though the present (and future) state of the economy here in the States is no laughing matter, there has been at least one tongue-in-cheek article about jazz musicians seeking bailout money from Congress and the Bush administration (still in power when it was written last December). It's presented as a straight “news" story, but musicians' ...


At The Forum Theatre: Complete Recordings

Label: Jazz Images
Released: 2007
Track listing: Tabu; Halema; To Mickey's Memory; Down; I Can't Get Started; Revelation; Lucius Lou; Worryin' The Life Out Of Me; Something For Liza; Medium Rock; Pawnee Junction; Extra Mild; Chippyin'; It's Only A Paper Moon; Music To Dance By; Autumn In New York; A Night On Bop Mountain; Slightly Above Moderate; Jumpin' Off A Clef; Line For Lyons; Mickey's Memory (Alternate Take);


Phil Urso and Carl Saunders Salute Chet Baker

Label: Jazzed Media
Released: 2004
Track listing: Jumpin? Off A Clef; For Minors Only; Halema; Mister B; Funk In A Deep Freeze; My Funny Valentine; Baby Breeze; Way To Go; Worryin? The Life Out Of Me; Line For Lyons.


Salute to Chet Baker

Label: Jazzed Media
Released: 2004
Track listing: Jumpin' Off A Clef; For Minors Only; Halema; Mister B.; This Is The Thing ; Funk In Deep Freeze; My Funny Valentine; Baby Breeze; Way To Go; Worryin' The Life Out Of Me; Line For Lyons.


Article: Album Review

Phil Urso/Carl Saunders: Salute to Chet Baker

Read "Salute to Chet Baker" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Phil Urso won’t remember this, but many years ago—nearly half a century, in fact—I heard him playing in a small club in Washington, DC, and was so impressed that I approached him after the gig and said he sounded to me like Zoot Sims. I made his day then, and now I’d like to give it ...


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