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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Basses Loaded - Milt Hinton, Wendell Marshall, Bull Ruther


I Poured My Heart Into A Song

Basses Loaded!
Milt Hinton, Wendell Marshall, Bull Ruther
Photos by David B. Heche
RCA Victor LPM-1107

From the back cover: If the goings-on in this album seem to bear little resemblance to those of the national pastime, they are at least alike in this respect – each has its quota of truly remarkable practitioners who have reached the status of latter-day heroes. It is a well-known fact that on the sporting diamond the stratagem of loading the bases may often prove abortive – without someone to propel the sphere beyond the park's boundaries, all is naught. But the magic of the physical and musical proceedings under consideration here is that, with exactly this same situation, Milt Hinton, Wendell Marshall and Bull Ruther are all able to come to bat four times each and deliver accordingly – in baseball parlance, of course, they clear the sacks, hit a homer, belt one over the left-field fence.

Even in baseball's annual all-star affair there has seldom been such a collection of swingers as those assembled here – men who have made it their business to propel band after band, men who have given many an aggregation that extra surge of power with which every last musical object is hurdled, men who are here given the opportunity to demonstrate the artistry that has too often been hidden under massive, big-band arrangements in which their only contribution is one of rhythm. 

Perhaps because it is so cumbersome, the bass fiddle is never really considered a musical instrument – merely a necessary adjunct to the usual array of trumpets, trombones and saxophones. But the bass, like every other stringed instrument, is one of the most deeply expressive of music makers – we do not often think of it in this sense because, unlike the other members of its family, we are rarely offered an opportunity to hear what it can do. Happily for us, today's jazz scene has bred a new type of arranger, one who writes, in many instances, for individual musical voices rather than for massed instruments, and in the present instance, with three of the most proficient and exciting practitioners of the instrument on hand. Manny Albam, Billy Byers and Al Cohn have written arrangements which utilize every facet of the instrument's capabilities. They, with the musicians involved, make it talk – and in no uncertain terms.

To anyone who has been around the jazz world for the past couple of decades, Milt Hinton needs no introduction – starting with the great Cab Calloway band of the thirties. Mile has added his personable touch to a great variety of musical units, both large and small, recording with just about every name in the field. But despite the length of time that Milt has spent in the musical game, it has only been recently that he has come before a wide, popular audience – musicians have always admired his skill and dexterity, but it is safe to say that today he is known far and wide as a bass player who digs down deep and swings. His bow work, too, is of delicate and highly imaginative proportions, making of him a rounded personality such as jazz seldom sees.

Wendell Marshall, of course, has been Duke Ellington's bassist for a considerable period – it is easily understood that in the midst of such a polished aggregation he would have to be great, especially to be filling a spot once held by Jimmy Blanton. His technique is amazingly varied, his tone firm and supple – he is, in short, another of the versatile performers who have helped the instrument to its present exalted position.

Bull Ruther, it will be remembered, made his debut with one of Dave Brubeck's groups and is now bassist for Erroll Garner – to all who have every listened to one of those fantastic and exciting chases in which Erroll and Bull often indulge, there can be no question of the latter's musicality or amazing reflexes. It is impossible to lose him in no matter what musical thought – he is, like both Hinton and Marshall, in there to stay, plucking a fantastic variety of notes form what is often seemingly thin air, offering the most vital proof of the instrument's place in the jazz family – Bill Zeitung

Prelude To A Kiss, I Hear A Rhapsody, Moon Over Miami (Arranged by Al Cohn)
Milt Hinton, solo bass; Al Cohn, tenor sax; Danny Banks, baritone sax; Billy Byers, trombone; Joe Newman, trumpet; Barry Galbraith, guitar; Osie Johnson, drums

How Blue Was By Bass, Tenderly, The Continental, Careless (Arranged by Billy Byers)
Wendell Marshall, solo bass; Hal Mckusick, soprano saxophone; Danny Banks, baritone sax; Jimmy Nottingham, trumpet; Barry Galbraith, guitar: Bull Ruther, bass

Bull In A China Shop, I Poured My Heart Into A Song, Crazy She Calls Me (Arranged by Manny Albam) 
Bull Ruther, bass; Hal McKusick, alto sax and flute; Danny Banks, baritone sax; Billy Byers, trombone; Gene de Novi, piano, Al Hall, bass; Osie Johnson, drums

From Billboard - September 10, 1955: The idea of a 12-inch LP devoted to string bass playing is unlikely to prove appealing except to earnest devotees of the instrument, even tho virtuoso jazz bass men abound today in remarkable numbers. Each of the three men represented here is thoroly competent, tho only Hinton offers truly distinquished and absorbing music. All three, however, have been showcased very neatly in swinging colorful arrangements by Al Chon, Billy Byers and Manny Albam.

Moon Over Miami
I Hear A Rhapsody
Prelude To A Kiss
The Continental 
How Blue Was My Bass
Crazy She Calls Me
I Poured My Heart Into A Song
Bull In A China Show
Begin The Beguine

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