100

Lennie Niehaus: Volume 5: The Sextet

Craig Jolley By

Sign in to view read count
Lennie Niehaus is best known these days for his Hollywood film scores. He came up on the 1950's California scene and joined the Kenton band, replacing Lee Konitz as the primary alto soloist. After establishing himself as a player he began writing for the band as well. Simultaneously he led a series of fondly-remembered small band (5 to 8 pieces) recordings with other Kenton band members of the era.

These recordings were built around Niehaus' writing. His style was typical of the time: lightly swinging sound, horns playing clever harmonies, simple thematic material extensively orchestrated, short solos. (Marty Paich, Gerry Mulligan, and Shorty Rogers also wrote with a similar light feel.) Niehaus usually voiced the four horns to approximate a big band, but as a change of pace he lightly parodied a chamber music feel: "Three of a Kind" (a three-sax fugue), and "Belle of the Ball" (converted from a waltz to 4/4 to hammer home the wit). The best tune was "Elbow Room", a 44-bar AABA construction of blues with a bridge.

Forty-five years later it is Niehaus' soloing that stands up. (More than on the other records in the series he takes extended solos here.) His spontaneously composed lines are almost always more interesting than his writing. For one thing he was rhythmically advanced—when he soloed he didn't have to restrict his accents to the less modern sensibilities of the other players. He has a sense of adventure and freshness. Niehaus sometimes adds a hint of tension by momentarily playing in a different key. His occasional wide intervals (suddenly going from a high note to a low note or vice-versa) also have a subtly unsettling effect. The other horns often play written lines behind him, but he is freer and more creative accompanied only by bass and drums. Bill Perkins and Jimmy Giuffre solo competently, but at nowhere near the depth of their later playing.


Track Listing: Thou Swell; I Wished On the Moon; Knee Deep; Fond Memories; Take It From Me; Belle of the Ball; As Long as I Live; Ill Wind; Three of a Kind; Elbow Room.

Personnel: Lennie Niehaus-alto saxophone; Bill Perkins-tenor saxophone, flute; Jimmy Giuffre-baritone saxophone; Stu Williamson-trumpet, valve trombone; Buddy Clark-bass; Shelly Manne-drums.

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


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Intuitus" CD/LP/Track Review Intuitus
by John Eyles
Published: April 23, 2016
Read "Love For Sale" CD/LP/Track Review Love For Sale
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 23, 2016
Read "Work Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Work Songs
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 1, 2016
Read "Alto Manhattan" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Manhattan
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Real Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Real Talk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Ready Take One" CD/LP/Track Review Ready Take One
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 13, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!