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Sunday, January 28, 2024

Experiments In Sound - Johnny Richards


Concerto To End All Concertos

Experiments In Sound
Johnny Richards
Recorded January 14-15, 1958
Capitol Records T981

From the back cover: The two characteristics of Johnny Richards that usually come first to my mind when his name is mentioned or his music is played are fever and tenacity.

There is a consuming passion for music as self-expression in Johnny, and so precise is this obsession that Johnny will expend on his music and on the training of his musicians huge amounts of energy, patience and his own money. He is a perfectionist who will not allow himself to be represented by work that he considers below his own fierce standards. Accordingly he hires the most expert musicians he can find and rehearse until they and he are satisfied that they understand each other.

Johnny's tenacity becomes contagious if you're as music-struck as he is. As Down Beat joined out during a review of their band's first date in April, 1957: "The band had spirit, and plenty of it. The trombones and other members of the sections took the book home during rehearsal. It was obvious the members were working heard on the book but also obviously enjoying their work... This is a band whose impact is not easily forgotten. It is not only a personal triumph for Richards, who wrote the very end in the book, but also for the men on the band, who blew the very end because they had been challenged and had the drive to answer."

Since that April landing at the Red Hill Inn in Camden, New Jersey, the Richard ensemble has played Birdland several times, some one-nighters, the New York Jazz Festival at Randall's Island, and concerts, including on a at Town Hall. There has also been an aptly titled album, Wide Range (Capitol T885) and considerable hosannas in the music press.

John summarizes his perspective concerning the band by stating that, "within the framework of 17 men, I have a complete gamut of musical possibilities, and it's up to me to utilize it. I feel all the fellows should have plenty of room for blowing so that they can integrate their own music and feeling into the greater whole that each arrangement tries to be." Although Richards has a reputation for his ability to write in complex forms and with massive effect, he also indicates in this set his respect for comparative  simplicity. "I believe," he says, "that you can play something simple with as much enthusiasm and care as something wild. And the scope of this band does range from the simple to the wild"

All of the writing is by Johnny, who also conducts. The personnel consists of: Al Stewart, Johnny Bello, Burt Collins, Ray Copeland, trumpets; Billy Byers, Jimmy Cleveland, Jim Dahl, trombones; Gene Quill, alto; Frank Socolow, tenor; Bill Slapin, baritone saxophone and piccolo; Shelly Gold, bass saxophone; Jay McAllister, tuba; Joe Venuto, percussion; Chet Amsterdam, bass; Bobby Pancoast, piano; Jimmy Campbell, drums. Julius Watkins is on French horn except for Neolore, No Moon At All, This Time and Theme From The Concerto To End All Concertos were the French horn is Paul Ingraham. – Nat Hentoff

From Billboard - November 17, 1958: This is a most interesting and intriguing album by the Johnny Richards Ork that will interest both hi-fi and jazz fans. The leader himself, has been responsible for a lot of excitement with his band and this new album should keep up that excitement. If features attractive sounds, rhythms and fine blowing by the swinging Richard Ork. Some of the tunes are standards, other originals, like "Theme From The Concerto To End All Concertos," penned by Richard himself. A stimulating set.

Omo Ado
What Is There To Say
Estoy Cansado
Theme From The Concerto To End All Concertos
How Are Things In Glocca Morra
Je Vous Adore
This Time
No Moon At All

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