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Oscar Pettiford: The New Oscar Pettiford Sextet

Derek Taylor By

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Pettiford and Mingus together, reason enough alone to rush out and purchase this disc. A chance to hear these two string giants on the same session is a rare occasion and should not be passed up. Previously only available in part on the exhaustive Complete Mingus Debut Recordings box set these recordings have been long overdue for reissue in their original form. The fact that the rest of the players along with the music they tackle are of equally high caliber makes this release indispensable.

Arguably the first bassist to successfully adapt the cello to jazz-based improvisation Pettiford is in top form throughout the eleven tracks collected on the disc. He divides his time almost evenly between cello and bass over the course of the disc, which features work by two of his most renowned ensembles. The first seven compositions revolve around a sextet fueled by the flexible front line of Urso and Watkins. Both men shape a complimentary sound particularly on the lopingly morose ballad “Tamalpais Love Song” and Urso repeatedly exhibits his ability to blow both hot and cool without compromising an ounce of swing. For their parts, Mingus and Pettiford take the space afforded by the flexible drums of Brice and Bishop’s unobtrusive piano to converse in numerous exchanges. Pettiford consistently vouches for his pizzicato command of the lighter bodied cello while Mingus maintains a steady pulse underneath. The mentor and pupil make a winning team.

All-star distinction definitely fits the bill on the second session too where Pettiford gathers together a nonet comprised of some of the finest players of the late 40s. Unfortunately the group is only featured on the final four tunes but they still manage to fly out of the gates exhorting an agile swinging group sound that belies their size. The fidelity is a little rougher with some surface noise and the rhythm section further back in the mix, but Pettiford’s speedy plucks are always audible laying down a firm anchor for the group. Chaloff’s foghorn baritone is an especially welcome addition to the group sound particularly on his own “Bop Scotch” where he trades phrases with a youthful Al Cohn. Anyone on the lookout for expertly rendered, hard swinging jazz need search no further than this historic album for a generous slice of the kind of magic that was Pettiford’s regular day’s work.

Collective

Track Listing: Pendulum At Falcon

Personnel: Collective Oscar Pettiford- cello, double bass; Phil Urso- tenor saxophone; Julius Watkins- french horn; Walter Bishop- piano, Charles Mingus- double bass; Percy Brice- drums; Louis Hjulmand- vibes; Jan Johansson- piano; Red Rodney- trumpet; Earl Swope- trombone; Al Cohn- tenor saxophone; Serge Chaloff- baritone saxophone; Barbara Carroll- piano; Terry Gibbs- vibes; Denzil Best- drums; Shorty Rogers- arranger.

Title: The New Oscar Pettiford Sextet | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Debut


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