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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

At The Varsity Drag - The Australian Jazz Quintet

At The Varsity Drag
The Australian Jazz Quintet
Illustration by Burt Goldblatt
Recorded July, 1956 in Hollywood, California
Bethlehem Records BCP-6012

Available from online vendors so I will not be posting a sample. Presented here to share jacket notes excerpts.


Dick Healey - Alto, Flute
Errol Buddle - Tenor, Bassoon
Jack Brokensha - Vibes
Bryce Rohde - Piano
Jimmy Gannon - Bass
Frankie Capp - Drums

From the back cover: The title of this album, besides being the name of one of the tunes, is in honor of the success of the group with the younger, college set. Even though the costumes of the collegian crowd isn't as depicted on the cover, the spirit is still with us in their appreciation and support of jazz of all kinds. The Australian Jazz Quintet's success is naturally partly due to this kind of youthful support of their appearances in clubs, at "Varsity Drags" and on records.

This is the Quintet's first complete twelve inch record. The others in the Bethlehem catalog are all or partly by the earlier quartet.

The group is heard here is a well rounded sampling of their current product: jazz, within the framework of swinging arrangements, interpreted on their many instruments.

The Quintet, with the addition of an extra man for this recording, here has a full rhythm section of piano, bass and drums (not including vibes). Perhaps because of the added rhythm, on the out-and-out "swingers" like That Old Feeling, New South Wail or Koala, the group swings harder than on their earlier records. – Joseph P. Muranyi

From Billboard - December 22, 1956: The title emphasizes the great appeal that this group has for the college set and for young people, generally. The AJQ strives for a sound and musical approach that lies somewhere between the Modern Jazz Quartet and that of the Shearing combos. Typically, it's soft, "cool," impressionistic – and accessible. Rather commercial, perhaps, but certainly not devoid of serious musical interest. Jack Brokensha's work on vibes is particularly worthy of note. Dick Healy contributes a fine flute solo in "Lover Man." To show off the swingy, extrovert side of the AJQ, demonstrate "The Lady Is A Tramp."
Alone Together
That Old Feeling
Affaire d'Amour
The Lady Is A Tramp
Lover Man
The Thrill Is Gone
New South Wail
Few Get It
So Nice
Varsity Drag
It Might As Well Be Spring

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