Picks and Pans Review: Singin'till the Girls Come Home

updated 01/16/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/1984 01:00AM

Various Vocalists

Discovering that Columbia possesses such never-issued nuggets as these in its vaults is exhilarating. How sweet to contemplate the mining of a jazz Comstock Lode, but should it have taken more than two decades to dig out this material? Guitarist Burrell had the disheartening experience of recording parts of four albums for Columbia and seeing only one (in which he attempted vocals) released. Bluesin' Around collects the rest, done in 1961 and 1962, with swinging cascades from Burrell and burly-voiced, roller-coaster tenor sax from Illinois Jacquet. Burrell's sharkskin-slick slide through the spare chords of Moten Swing (backed by Jack McDuff on organ) underscores the point that great jazz themes (say C Jam Blues) are often built of the simplest melodic bits. The magic is in the rhythm and feeling, qualities that abound on Struttin' and Shoutin', a 1976 large-group date by the trombonist Al Grey. Grey is an exuberant hambone, and his mastery of wah-wah plunger and mute techniques gives his playing the expressiveness of speech. The features of the last two discs are too bountiful to enumerate. Clark Terry lends his natty, Louis Armstrong-derived trumpet sound to three groups on Almost Forgotten. One is a sextet led by tenor sax titan Coleman Hawkins, playing Ain't Misbehavin' in a slippers-and-pipe mood. Eric Dolphy performs one of his patented roof-to-basement acrobatic acts on alto sax in a bluesy 1962 setting with the Pony Poindexter Nonet. The vocal disc contains three examples of Tony Bennett confidently swinging (but high notes seem to strain him) and one of Mose Allison doing a slow-as-molasses blues. Then Lambert, Hendricks and Ross scamper through a bebop minefield in A Night in Tunisia, and Jon Hendricks, in the next cut, mimics the solo styles of leading bass players, from the conversational walk of Percy Heath to the slap-and-snap of Charles Mingus. In a witty novelty, Good Reviews, Carmen McRae confides, "Although reviews can't faze us/It really does amaze us/When we don't face rejection/In the music section." Be amazed, then, Carmen.

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