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Friday, June 22, 2012

Charlie Ventura Plays Hi-Fi Jazz

Charlie Ventura Plays Hi-Fi Jazz
Tops L1528

Available from online vendors so I will not be posting a sample. Presented here to share the cover art.

Tops printed some creative, but unusually dark art on jackets in the late 50s. The arrangements (I'm not a jazz buff) seems advanced for the late 50s. I also found a nice clean pressing and can say the engineering is top shelf.

From the back cover: Ventura is the fourth of thirteen children. As a youngster, when his father was teaching him the hat-making trade, Charlie bought a tenor sax and spent every spare moment practicing his horn and developing the intricate fingering technique that enable him to rip off difficult tunes and passages at terrific tempos with ease and assurance.

After graduating from South Philadelphia High School in 1935, he spent as much spare time as he could jamming with jazz men at various Philadelphia clubs.

At one time or another in his varied and colorful career, Charlie has worked with some of the greatest names in contemporary jazz... men like Gene Krupa, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Harris, Buddy DeFranco, Teddy Powell, to mention just a few.

Eventually Ventura formed his own group and their fresh approach to jazz won them first place in Down Beat, Metronome and Orchestra World polls. Charlie's imaginative and swinging tenor playing also won him the Metronome Saxophone Soloist award.

About his music, Charlie Ventura says, "Our music is composed, arranged and performed for both the listening and dancing audience, and, while using original ideas incorporating new sounds into the music, we do not lose the general structure of a melody line, or rhythm. We follow through with this method on all of our number and, in this way, we do not alienate the many, who have not yet come to completely accept the rapid change being made in popular music and jazz these days.

The quintet consists of Dave McKenna at the piano; Mousey Alexander (Benny Goodman, Raymond Scott, Marion McPartland, Sauter Finnegan) drums; Richard Davis (Slim Galliard, Don Shirley Trio) bass; Billy Bean, guitar – four of the most superb rhythm men in jazz – and of course Clarlie Ventura himself.

From Billboard - March 2, 1957: Maybe more meaningful title for this LP would have been "Ventura Plays High Protein Jazz." At any rate, Ventura alternately wields tenor, alto and baritone saxes against a strong rhythm section that consists of Mousey Alexander, Dave McKenna, Richard Davis and Bill Beam. This is dynamic, extrovert music-making that for all its coming on like "Gang Busters" most of the time, is very danceable – and of above average interest musically. For a dull party, this would make a good shot in the arm. Retail tag is $1.49.

Runnin' Wild
Honeysuckle Rose
When The Saints Go Marching In
It's Only A Paper Moon
Sweet Sue, Just You
Dark Eyes
Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home
Sweet Lorraine
Harvest Moon
Exactly Like You
I've Got You Under My Skin

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