We begin with two trumpeters. Pittsburgh native Roy Eldridge is one of the greatest swing trumpeters of all time, having graced countless records by McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Teddy Hill, Fletcher Henderson, and Gene Krupa, among many others. The Dutch import, Live at the Three Deuces Club (Archives of Jazz), captures Eldridge at his peak in the winter and spring of 1937 via some fairly good-sounding material taken from transcriptions and airchecks cut at New York's Three Deuces Club. Eldridge sounds as exciting and swinging as ever in an octet setting alongside saxophonists Dave Young, Joe Eldridge, and Scoops Carey (who doubles on clarinet), pianist Teddy Cole, guitarist John Collins, bassist Truck Parham, and drummer Zutty Singleton. The song selection, as would be expected from performances of this period, leans heavily on uptempo numbers and includes standards such as "After You've Gone," "Basin Street Blues," "I Never Knew," "Exactly Like You," and "Chinatown, My Chinatown," as well as such Eldridge-associated tunes as "Little Jazz" and "Minor Jive." One of the tracks, presented as "Deuces Medley," pieces together several incomplete airchecks that are notable both for their rarity and for their musical quality, although the sound inevitably falters here and there. This is a very interesting find, a collection of energetic live cuts that deserve a listen.
"Brill's Blues" is a very engaging blues tune that makes reference to the Brill Building, where the sessions were cut, and Smith proves himself at a breakneck tempo as a worthy Dizzy Gillespie-influenced trumpeter on "Ande." The album opens with Duke Pearson's "Tribute to Brownie," which alludes to another one of Smith's models, Clifford Brown, and the only standard included, Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust," is a perfect vehicle to illustrate Smith's highly lyrical approach to ballads. In the liner notes, written by Leonard Feather, Smith cites Fats Navarro and Charlie Parker as major influences, and on the strength of this album alone, it is really too bad that he did not get to lead many more dates in the '50s and '60s. The public school system's gain was, in this particular case, the jazz world's loss!
"Straight, No Chaser," followed by a lovely ballad version of "Darn That Dream." Ably supported by Scully's piano, Farlow takes George Gershwin's "Summertime" at a quick pace, which does not waver on "I'll Remember April" either. The ballad treatment of Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance," introduced by Farlow's solo guitar, is one of the highlights of an album that also provides some Latin flavor on "Sometime Ago" and closes on a high note with "Crazy, She Calls Me." Despite his long '60s recording hiatus, Farlow was clearly still in top form in 1969.
"If It's the Last Thing I Do" and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" to surprising choices like "Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead" to more contemporary songs like "I Know a Place," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "What Now My Love," and "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Davis taps the Alan Jay Lerner songbook with "Come Back to Me" and "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" and does a fantastic swinging version of Frank Loesser's "Once in Love with Amy." There is no doubt that Sammy Davis, Jr. and Buddy Rich are a match made in heaven, and they definitely do not disappoint on this record, to such an extent that one wishes that this had been planned as a double-album set.
|Ace drummer Buddy Rich|