Jazz Professional               

Disc Discussion

Session conducted by Les Tomkins 


 The following blindfold test was carried out in 1962, but time would hardly change the opinions expressed here. They could well have been uttered today - or even tomorrow. Jazz lives on!

“Swing It”—Benny Golson Sextet (Benny Golson—tenor, Freddie Hubbard—trumpet, Curtis Fuller—trombone, Cedar Walton—piano, Tommy Williams—bass, Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath—drums). Composed by Benny Golson. From “Take A Number From One To Ten”, Pye Jazz.

Mance: I think that’s Lucky Thompson.

Pena: Lucky doesn’t usually go like this until about the third chorus.

Mance: Yeah, but this doesn’t sound like the beginning of the tune, anyway.It’s a continuation from another part of the tune, isn’t it?

Tomkins: No, the track started like that.

Cranshaw: I didn’t even hear any kind of melody. Ah—those horns. That’s Benny Golson.

Roker: There’s Curtis Fuller.

Mance: That’s not Curtis.

Roker: You sure?

Mance: Wait a minute—I take that back.

Cranshaw: It sounded like the one where Benny started with one piece and went on up.

Mance: Oh—“ Take A Number From One To Ten.”

Cranshaw: Yes, that’s it.

Roker: Art Farmer on trumpet?

Mance: Yeah, that’s Art.

Cranshaw: Is that Lex Humphries playing the drums?

Roker: No, it’s Tootie Heath—and Tommy Williams. And there’s Cedar Walton.

Mance: Cedar sure holds the section together.

Cranshaw: He’s a good accompanist and soloist.

Mance: There’s not too many cats around who can do both. They can either do one well or the other.

Pena: Yeah, there’s very few cats who’ve got that facility.

Mance: A lot of soloists can’t camp.

Pena: That’s the truth.

Mance: Cedar’s one of the few who does both well.

Pena: He came out to the coast with Art Blakey, didn’t he? Their charts were real nice, man.

Mance: Yeah, he’s still with Art.

(Full personnel details were given here)

Mance: Freddie Hubbard? Are you sure?

Cranshaw: And yet it didn’t sound like Art Farmer.

Mance: Well, that fooled me. Freddie usually goes way upstairs. But that just proves he’s a man of many moods. He can play high if he feels like it, then he can get down and settle into a more lyrical and melodic thing.

Pena: I liked the sound of it. It’s really a cooking record. The feeling of playing together was obviously there.

Cranshaw: Did we hear it right from the first note? Pena: The tenor chorus was the first thing we heard.

Mance: And after Benny soloed it was the first time we heard any other horns.

Tomkins: You heard the whole track. That must have been the way they wanted to do it.

Roker: Well, it’s different.

Pena: Oh—I get it. I see what they’re doing. They’re playing the jazz first and then stating the theme.

Mance: Tootie is very flexible and can play with anybody. He’s one of the steadiest of the younger cats. He doesn’t get over-busy. You can always feel the pulsation and the beat—and some bass drum.

Roker: He’s got good facility and he can swing. What else can you ask? He comes from a family of good musicians.

Pena: Yeah, his brothers are Percy Heath and Jimmy Heath, who plays tenor, doesn’t he? I like the way Jimmy writes, too.

Tomkins: Do you think Benny’s writing has overshadowed his playing? Possibly people don’t think of him so much as a soloist.

Mance: They should. He’s a terrible cat.

Cranshaw: I guess there’s evidence from what we said when we first started. We thought it was Lucky Thompson.

Pena: Yeah, Lucky in his third chorus. He doesn’t get cooking until the third or fourth chorus.

Mance: That’s right—and Benny was in there already.

Roker: Yeah, Benny starts out bashing, man.

Mance: Most cats who are noted as writers started that way and then became soloists. But Benny was a soloist for a long time before he actually settled down to just writing. He knew how all the time—he’s been studying—but he concentrated more on playing. Although he did writing when he was with Art Blakey and when he was with Dizzy. Now he’s writing much more—but he’s still playing.

Pena: People have a tendency to say : “This guy does this,” not taking into account any of the other things he does.

It’s a matter of trying to over-simplify everything—to pigeon-hole everybody into his one little category.

 “Moanin’ “—Johnny Dankworth and his Orchestra. (Composed by Bobby Timmons, arranged by Johnny Dankworth. From “African Waltz” EP, Columbia).

Mance: I don’t know who it is, but they sure are swinging.

Pena: I’d be willing to bet that was made here in London. I may be wrong, but I think so.

Cranshaw: Ha, ha—is that Tricky Sam on trombone?

Pena: l’ll take a guess. I think that was Johnny Dankworth’s band.

Mance: I do too. You know why? That ending. They used that ending on something else. I think it was that “African Waltz”.

Pena: It’s just a gas. I like the band very much. But if I’m right, I have to make a confession. If not I’ll back out.

Tomkins: Well, you are right.

Pena: Okay—well, I should have recognised it because when I was here in June with Frank Sinatra, I had the good luck of working opposite them and they played that very tune. I recognised the tempo more than anything—and the tuba was kind of a give–away, too.

Cranshaw: I was gassed. I didn’t know who it was, but the tuba—this is something I enjoy. Bass and tuba together—that’s a mean sound.

Pena: I know some of the guys in the band. Who was the tenor player?

Tomkins: That was Danny Moss.

Mance: I heard Johnny’s band when they came to the States—at the Newport Jazz Festival. I was with Dizzy then. They sounded good then, too.

Cranshaw: Ralph, you mentioned something about you knew by the tempo. What did you mean?

Pena: Well, they attacked the tune in a certain tempo and that gave it away. It really rang a bell because I knew where I’d heard that tempo before. Which brings me to a criticism—I don’t think that’s the right tempo for that tune.

Cranshaw: It seemed a little faster than I’ve heard it. I couldn’t say it was bad, but it was the first time I’ve heard that tune at that tempo.

Roker: I’ve heard a big band version of “Moanin’ ” by Quincy Jones and he did it slower. I don’t know if he’s recorded it. It has to do with whoever arranges it—whatever tempo he wants it to be in. It’s the individual feeling, depending on what’s happening at that moment. I liked that track very much. It was nice and mellow, smooth—no bumps!

Pena: It had a lot of spirit—a lot of fire, too.

Cranshaw: The solos, particularly the trombone and trumpet, were different from the way I was expecting them to sound.

 “Yaknik’‘—Al Fairweather and Sandy Brown’s All Stars (AZ Fairweather—trumpet, Sandy Brown—clarinet, Tony Milliner—trombone, Brian Lemon—piano, Brian Prudence—bass, Benny Goodman—drums). Composed by Al Fairweather. From “Study In Brown” El’, Columbia).

Mance: You know who that is, don’t you?

Roker: I’m not sure.

Mance: I would say it was a small group from Ray Charles’ band.

Roker: Could be.

Mance: If there’s an alto solo I can tell.

Pena: Oh, that’s wild, isn’t it?

Mance: Yeah.

Cranshaw: I was trying to hear if that was Jimmy Knepper on trombone, but he didn’t play long enough.

Fournier: ( during trumpet solo ) There’s some oldtimers on that.

Roker: (during clarinet solo) What instrument is that?

Mance: Alto? Is it Hank Crawford?

Pena: Or a soprano?

Mance: It doesn’t sound like Hank now.

Pena: Who is it?

Mance: I thought it was Hank Crawford at first—you know, the alto player with Ray Charles.

Cranshaw: I thought it was Mingus.

Pena: If there was hollering it’d be Mingus.

Roker: I don’t know who this is.

Fournier: It’s some young cats playing some old music.

Mance: Playing an old rhythm.

Roker: Yeah—old feeling—that’s what it is.

Fournier: No, the rhythm was modem. It’s the way they were jamming in the background that sounded antique.

Mance: No, the rhythm was that old Sanctified Church style. That’s what they’re trying to get.

Pena: It could very easily be Mingus.

Cranshaw: He often does things like that. But having heard the whole tune, the bass player didn’t sound like Mingus would play as leader. Maybe I would play those notes if I was playing bass with Mingus. This guy seemed like he was just playing for the date.

Mance: Mingus doesn’t always play bass but that wasn’t him on piano either.

Fournier: Was that a British band? What they were trying to do was not quite authentic. It’s almost—but it’s a collaboration of two things. That’s why I ask. If it was oldtimers they would have had another thing going.

Pena: The soloists played a little too modern for them to be real oldtime musicians.

Fournier: The trumpet solo sounded like it was written.

(Details of personnel were given here).

Fournier: All young fellows? They’re on a Dixie gig.

Pena: Generally speaking, is that what you consider a traditional group?

Tomkins: Well, no—it’s what is classified more or less as a mainstream group.

Pena: Mainstream? What’s that?

Fournier: You mean like Al Hirt style?

Mance: Oh, it’s a little more modern than Al Hirt. It’s the type of tune Hank Crawford would play. But they didn’t get deep enough into it—the way Hank would have done.

Roker: There would have been much longer solos.

Fournier: The thing that made me realise it wasn’t oldtimers was that if it had been there would have been a little more syncopation on the bass drum.

Tomkins: That particular track, incidentally, has had some commercial success in this country.

Pena: Oh, I can see why. I don’t think the solos were what made it a success. It was that ‘bag’ that they were into. Because that’s very exciting. At that tempo, two–beat is really exciting.

Roker: Yeah, that beat—that rhythm in the background—that’s what sold the record.

Pena: Yeah, that swung right along. Getting back to where that came from Vernel, what would you call that?

Fournier: It all comes from my home town—New Orleans.

Pena: I know. That’s why I’m asking you.

Fournier: I’ll tell you what you would call that. That’s like cakewalk music. It’s a little too fast for a real parade. It’s a faster cakewalk—like what we would call a show tune.

Pena: Cakewalk. That’s what I wanted to hear.

“Moments Like This” — Peggy Lee (with Joe Hamell—piano, Max Bennett—bass, Dennis Budimir—guitar, Stan Levey—drums). From “Peggy Lee At Basin Street East”, Capitol.

Pena: Peggy Lee. Right?

Mance: This has got me fooled.

Roker: Who’s this singing here?

Fournier: He says Peggy. I can only tell Billie Holliday.

Mance: I’m terrible at identifying singers, too.

Fournier: She sounds like Billie, too.

Cranshaw: Yeah—that’s “Peggy Lee At Basin Street East”.

Mance: Is that Lou Levy on piano?

Pena: No. I think it’s Jimmy Rowles.

Fournier: Lou was with her last time in there.

Pena: Lou Levy plays much busier.

Mance: He does, yeah.

Pena: That’s Max Bennett on bass.

Cranshaw: You know, Lou sure has a pretty left hand.

Pena: He’s the Jeff Chandler of jazz.

Roker: Who’s that, man?

Pena: Lou Levy. But I’m pretty sure this is Jimmy Rowles.

Mance: I’m pretty sure it is, too. Lou has a little lighter touch.

Pena: I think that’s Stan Levey on drums. The guitar could be either Dennis Budimir or Al Hendrickson.

Fournier: If that’s Basin Street it’s Mel Lewis on drums.

(The sleeve was shown here)

Tomkins: You found that a pleasing sound?

Roker: Oh yeah.

Pena: I’ll tell you. Peggy’s ‘bag’ is in that real subdued mood. Her thing is underplaying a thing—which, of course, Billie was the instigator of. But Peggy has an ability to project enormously at a very subdued level. In other words, her intensity isn’t dependent on the volume. And what she projects isn’t so much a feeling of intense swing as it is a real intimate thing. She’s an enormously talented girl. She can write lyrics. And in addition to writing lyrics and singing she’s got a book out on Italian cooking. She’s got a lot of things going on.

Mance: I don’t like to hear her go into that Ray Charles ‘bag’, though. She sounds real stiff when she gets into that.

Tomkins: Of course, she needs a particular kind of rhythm section behind her.

Pena: I never saw a singer that didn’t, and they’re very choosey about them. In that ‘bag’ it becomes even more critical, I think.

Mance: She usually has a very good rhythm section.

Pena: I worked with Billie for a while in Hollywood, and I’ll never forget the piano player who was with her.

Mance: Mal Waldron?

Pena: That’s it. Beautiful. He writes great.

“A Thrill From The Blues” Milt Jackson Quartet (Milt Jackson—vibes, Hank Jones—piano, Paul Chambers—bass, Connie Kay—drums). Composed by Milt Jackson. From “Statements”, HMV.

Fournier: Who’s playing them sock–cymbals?

Roker: That might be Tubby Hayes on vibes.

Cranshaw: It’s somebody who likes Milt.

Roker: Yeah, definitely. Somebody who’s in love with Milt Jackson.

Cranshaw: Was that made in the States? I don’t think it was.

Mance: Somebody likes Hank Jones on piano.

Cranshaw: That bass‑player don’t ring no bell.

Pena: It’s the piano player’s group. Right?

Tomkins: No, it isn’t, actually.

Roker: Probably the vibes player’s.

Mance: Definitely isn’t Sam Jones on bass—playing those lines.

Cranshaw: It’s somebody who likes Paul Chambers.

Roker: The drummer’s somebody who likes Kenny Clarke. It might be Kenny Clarke—the way he plays that sock‑cymbal. You dig?

Fournier: The last sock‑cymbals I heard were on a recording of “Salt Peanuts”. Except Philly Joe’s thing.

Cranshaw: It’s the drummer’s record?

Tomkins: Well, I’d better let you all into the secret. Milt Jackson was on vibes.

Mance: He was? It sure didn’t sound like him.

Pena: It’s an old record, then. Huh?

Mance: It must be, because Bags doesn’t usually play that heavy. He has a much lighter touch.

Fournier: I guess that was Connie Kay on drums. But it didn’t sound like him.

(The sleeve was then shown)

Pena: Recorded December, 196l? That’s hard to believe.

Mance: Hank Jones! I said it was somebody that liked Hank—and it is Hank.

Fournier: Connie has a more distinct, lighter sound than that.

Mance: It didn’t sound like what is usual for those cats. I really didn’t think it was Bags.

Fournier: Who recorded that—Riverside?

Tomkins: ABC Paramount.

Cranshaw: I don’t know if the record was warped or something, because the tempo seemed to go down after they started.

Fournier: I’ll have to tell Connie about that. He ought to take that one off the market! But he is a good sock‑cymbal player—like Osie Johnson and Philly Joe.

Pena: I think it was sub‑standard Milt Jackson. It wasn’t his best at all. I can’t say that I was too impressed by Hank Jones either, because he sounded a lot like he’d been listening to Red Garland too much lately—and that’s unusual for him.

  “Chase And Capture” The Tubby Hayes Orchestra (with Jack Costanzo—bongos). Composed and arranged by Tubby Hayes. From “Costanzo Plus Tubbs —Equation In Rhythm”, Fontana.

Roker: If Peraza was here he’d know right away who that bongo player was.

Mance: This second tenor player here is really into something. The first guy could play, too. Ah, here’s the first one again.

Pena: Yeah—marvellous, man. Swinging.

Mance: I’ve no idea whose band this is. I think it’s just a record date for the two tenor players, whoever they are.

Fournier: That’s what it sounds like—a studio band. You think there’s two tenor players? They both sound alike to me.

Mance: There’s definitely two. You can hear the difference. That tenor player sounds like Al Cohn a little bit.

Pena: That one did.

Mance: It’s not Al and Zoot, is it? That second one definitely wasn’t Zoot.

Pena: It could be Al, but I’m sure Zoot isn’t on it.

Mance: It was a very good arrangement.

Roker: Is it Ted Heath?

Fournier: You might be right.

Pena: No, Ted isn’t making that kind of record now.

Tomkins: But you definitely thought there was more than one tenor player.

Mance: There was. Wasn’t there?

Fournier: It sounded like a forceful cat. It might have been Tubby Hayes. He can play changes a little differently.

Pena: No, it wasn’t him. He’s an excellent tenor player, but he doesn’t play this way.

Fournier: I know the conga drummer wasn’t Peraza.

Pena: It’s one thing to have a conga drummer, but to play bongos, you gotta have the right cat—and that cat was.

Fournier: Who was on tenor?

Tomkins: Tubby Hayes.

Pena: Beautiful. I didn’t think that was him.

Fournier: Like I say—Tubby’s forceful.

Mance: Who was the other tenor player?

Tomkins: Well, that was—Tubby Hayes!

Mance: Oh, wait a minute. No—it couldn’t be!

Roker: It had to be two tenors.

Mance: Yeah, there were two different sounds.

(There were three tenor soloists on the recording, Tubby Hayes, Tommy Whittle and Ronnie Scott. Webmaster)

Pena: Well, I’m sorry. I only heard Tubby once before, but he wasn’t cooking like that, man.

Roker: Yeah, he really took care of the business on this album. And the band was really together, too.

Pena: I wonder who wrote the arrangement?

Tomkins: It was Tubby’s writing—the second part of his “Southern Suite”. The record was made in this country and, apart from Costanzo, it was all British. Listening to that you wouldn’t have said “This is a British band?”

Mance: No, I wouldn’t. I really couldn’t tell.

Roker: Especially with all those bongos going on.

Fournier: I couldn’t hear the bass player. In the States the bass is always strictly out in front.

Pena: The definition of individual voices is particularly hard on a big band date like this. With so many individuals there, plus the Latin instruments, it makes it very difficult to really hear everything. It sounded like an early Dizzy date. Remember those things—“Manteca” and so on? It had that flavour.

Copyright © 1964 Les Tomkins. All Rights Reserved