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Bebop Spoken There

Dave Puddy: "Eventually we paid our entrance money [to Eel Pie Island] and fought our way to one of the many bars where we could buy our Newcastle Brown and retire to the back of the heaving dancefloor. There must have been lights somewhere, but my memory remains of being in some dark cavernous wonderland." - (Just Jazz July 2020)

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11,618 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 753 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (July 5).

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Album review: The Mark Masters Ensemble - Night Talk: The Alec Wilder Songbook featuring Gary Smulyan

Alec Wilder is sometimes overlooked when the average Joe/Jo list their favourite composers. Gershwin, Kern, Berlin etc. roll easily off the tongue. Wilder doesn't, even though he was well admired by such as Sinatra, Bennett, Lee and others. Possibly because his popular song output was interspersed with operas, symphonies and other classical works. In fact, if you were to ask me to name three of his best known songs, I'd be struggling after While We're Young and I'll Be Around - two songs that can hold their own against the complete works of any other composer.

Only the latter song is included in this, and I use the word advisedly, masterful album which is worthy of more stars than there are in the Galaxy.


Leader, arranger, producer, chief cook and bottle washer Masters has crafted nine tremendous settings reminiscent of the work of such creative minds as Marty Paich, Bill Russo, Gil Evans  and, say,  Gerry Mulligan - Masters is in that league or maybe I should rephrase that and say that they are in his league!

Mentioning Mulligan is apt as, just as Gerry was the defining modern jazz voice on baritone back in the 1950/60s,  so is Gary Smulyan the voice of the big horn today. Big sound, not as big as Harry Carney's but close and faster, more modern.

Yes Smulyan is tops but, there are other horn-players who run him close - no need to mention names, they are listed in the album's personnel details.

I wonder what Wilder would have made of  the uptempo version of I'll Be Around?

After hearing Peggy Lee singing While We're Young he sent her a note saying that the next time she sang it, when she came to the bridge, she should jump off it! Maybe he may have said the same to Mark Masters? Maybe not - to my ears it works beautifully.

If I don't hear a better album this year I'll not complain - virus? What virus?
Lance.


You're Free; Don't Deny; Ellen; Moon and Sand; Baggage Room Blues; I Like it Here; Night Talk; Lovers and Losers; I'll be Around.

Gary Smulyan (baritone sax); Bob Summers (trumpet); Don Shelton (alto sax/alto flute); Jerry Pinter (tenor sax/soprano sax); Dave Woodley (trombone); Ed Czach (piano); Putter Smith (bass); Kendall Kay (drums); Mark Masters (MD/arranger).

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