Search Manic Mark's Blog

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Delightfully Light - Red Norvo - Cal Tjader

What Is This Thing Called Love
Delightfully Light
Red Norvo Trio
The Cal Tjader Quartet
Jazztone Society J1277

Side One

Red Norvo, vibes; Tal Barlow or Jimmy Raney (*), guitar, Red Mitchell, bass

From the back cover: Red Norvo has been making musical jazz for close to thirty years. They have been jazz sounds of different sorts, for Kenneth "Red" Norvo began his career as a xylophonist, playing for Paul Ash, Victor Young and Paul Whitman, before he formed one of the great all-time jazz groups in the mid-thirties. At first it was a sextet (without a piano – and long before Mulligan, too!), then it became a septet, then a ten piece and finally a fourteen piece orchestra. In addition to Red's wonderful, light, always swinging xylophone, his groups boasted the modern arrangements (modern even by today's standards) of young Eddie Sauter, plus the ever-superb singing of Red's first wife, the late Mildred Bailey.

Always a musician with a keen ear for changes of every sort, Norvo switched to vibes in the forties, played in Benny Goodman's Quartet, in the first and most famous of Woody Herman's several Herds, and finally settled on the West Coast, where, with his brother-in-law, Shorty Rodgers, he has acted as one of the leaders of the modern jazz movement.

In 1950 he formed the first of several trios, whose recordings, according to Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia Of Jazz, "were acclaimed as the most striking example of subtlety and finesse in modern, chamber-music style jazz." Charlie Mingus was his bassist; Tal Farrow, the Lincoln-faced guitarist from North Carolina whose superb-sounding strumming is featured on two of the selections of this disc, was its third member. Tal was later replaced by Jimmy Raney, an especially inventive modernist who played in the Herman Herd and later for two years on this disc. Featured throughout all five selections is one of the most exciting and dextrous of today's bassists, Red Mitchell, another Herman alumnus, who has made so many fine records with other top West Coast jazz stars.

What's Is This Thing Called Love
Let's Fall In Love
Preluded To A Kiss (*)
Bernie's Tune (*)
Just One Of Those Things (*)

Side Two

Cal Tjader, vibes; Gerry Wiggins or Vince Guaraldi (*) piano; Gene Wright, bass; Bill Douglass or Al Torre (*), drums

From the back cover: Cal Tjader was born in St. Louis, Mo., seventeen years after Red Norvo had been born less than a hundred miles away in Beardstown, Ill. A graduate in music and education of San Francisco State College, he was drummer and vibist in Dave Brubeck's trio and octet in the late forties and early fifties, after which he played vibes in George Shearing's Quintet, then formed his own groups which have alternated between swinging, modern jazz and jazz versions of the mambo and other Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Tjader's avowed favorites are Milt Jackson and Lionel Hampton, though there's delicacy in his style that could only stem from Norvo's original influence. On the first two of the selections on this disc, recorded in Hollywood during May of 1956 he plays with three out-and-out swingers" the very groovy Gerry Wiggins, who has served with Benny Carter, Louis Armstrong and Les Hate, and whose tasty accompaniments have backed several top singers" Gene Wright, who has passed for Basie, Buddy DeFranco and Norvo, and drummer, Art Tatum and DeFranco.

On the remaining three selections, cut at the Blackhawk in San Francisco during January of 1957, Cal's Quartet consists of the same Gene Wright on bass, a comparative newcomer, Al Torre, on drums and Vince Guaraldi, once a member of the Third Herd, whose love for playing and swinging (I'm just a reformed boogie-woogie pianist!") is evident throughout all his passages.

Battle Hymn Of The Republic
For All We Know
Thinking Of You, MJQ(*)
Blues In The Night (*)
Lover, Come Back To Me (*)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Howdy! Thanks for leaving your thoughts!