NEW RELEASE – WEST COAST IN AMSTERDAM
After releases of Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan performances the Dutch Jazz Archive completes the visits of West Coast-based musicians to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in the 1950s/60s with West Coast In Amsterdam, a compilation of concerts by Stan Kenton, Bob Cooper & Bud Shank, June Christy, Jimmy Giuffre and Shelly Manne. Gorgeous production.
Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone, oboe) & Bud Shank (alto saxophone, flute), Claude Williamson (piano), Don Prell (bass), Jimmy Pratt (drums); June Christy (vocals); Stan Kenton Orchestra featuring Stan Kenton (piano), Lennie Niehaus (alto saxophone), Carl Fontana (trombone), Bill Perkins (tenor saxophone), Sam Noto (trumpet), Curtis Counce (bass), Mel Lewis (drums), Bill Holman (arranger) a.o.; Shelly Manne (drums), Joe Gordon (trumpet), Richie Kamuca (tenor saxophone), Russ Freeman (piano), Monty Budwig (bass); Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet, tenor saxophone), Jim Hall (guitar), Buddy Clark (bass) or Wilfred Middlebrooks (bass)
from 1956-60 at Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
as NJA 2202 in 2022
There’s a joke in Dutch jazz circles. If everybody who said that he was present at the legendary midnight shows of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and other giants at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam really was there, it would have required the Olympic Stadium to house the complete audience. Of course, after so many fine releases of Concertgebouw concerts by the Dutch Jazz Archive, which feature beautiful pictures of artists and audiences, plenty old-timers have evidence at the tip of their fingers and might be stating, “look over there, that’s me closely watching Monk doing his crazy pirouettes.”
New release West Coast In Amsterdam, fiftheenth (!) installment of Concertgebouw releases by the Dutch Jazz Archive, as usual the outcome of restored tapes that impresario Lou van Rees made from all concerts, takes up quite some space in the bag of Santa Claus. Bulky package of three CD’s, booklet with insightful liner notes, stunning photography. And an army of West Coast cats. The earliest performances are by the Stan Kenton band in 1956. His trademark classically inspired ensembles are striking, lot of dissonance, booming symphonic accents, courtesy also of arranger Bill Holman. Fabulous solos by trombonist Carl Fontana catch our attention. While Latin tune The Peanut Vendor comes across as rather old-fashioned, silly even, Cherokee is fresh as a daisy, a heavy swinger generated by bassist Curtis Counce and drummer Mel Lewis, negating the lore that Kenton refused to swing. Or was it a question of disobedience?
As far as bop anthems go, tenor saxophonist and oboe player Bob Cooper and alto saxophonist and flutist Bud Shank picked out a few warhorses for their 1958 concert, notably Bird’s Scrapple From The Apple, which also is a showcase for pianist Claude Williamson, who is like a cook that dares to mix haute cuisine with hot street food spices. After all, regardless of continuous endeavors in the ‘cool’ music scene on the sunny coast, these guys learned their trade on Central Avenue in Los Angeles, where Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon and Teddy Edwards reigned supreme.
Williamson also accompanies singer June Christy the same night. Oh what a night, mid-March back in ’58, what a lady what a night… Christy, Ella-ish but very much her own woman, makes full use of her satin timbre, sassy phrasing, flawless long and slightly bended notes and, not least, her storytelling abilities. In this respect, Billy Barnes’s Something Cool stands out, a great example of her ability to transform sentiment into realism. Down-and-out dame at the bar is is ordering something cool, asks if a gent likes her dress… it’s a bit worn but she saves the mink coat for wintertime… that was when she still had her man… he was so tall and handsome… Blah blah. But you can hear a pin drop.
A year later, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre animated the crowd with his ‘chamber jazz’ trio featuring guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Buddy Clark. Certainly, the contrapuntal empathy of his trio is inspired by outside sources. But Giuffre never loses sight of jazz home base. Case in point Tickle Toe is partly an homage to composer Lester Young, with its sweet legato phrasing on tenor and softly pulsating intensity. Too, homage seems to pervade Giuffre’s ballad Princess, perhaps, better said, pure love, imagined by light sandpaper clarinet sounds. Touching lyricism and understatement pervades Giuffre’s playing style. Giuffre’s companion Jim Hall is equally averse to spectacle and full of ideas, already quite original at that early stage of his career. Great show, and the best sounding concert of the album.
Shelly Manne & His Men’s performance from February 27, 1960 sounds more bootleg-y (wisely the Dutch Jazz Archive hasn’t made use of all Van Rees tapes) but it’s perfectly audible that they kick ass half a year after their Blackhawk date in San Francisco, which was released on the much-admired Live At The Blackhawk Volume 1-5 albums. Trumpeter Joe Gordon and tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca are in fine form. Replacement (for Victor Feldman) Russ Freeman incorporates apt stride motives in Monk’s Straight No Chaser, which was niftily introduced by the rolling and tumbling bandleader. Prime West Coast hard bop.
Hopefully, though the contrary seems likely, West Coast In Amsterdam will not be the last Jazz At The Concertgebouw album. If so, one couldn’t have wished for a better climax.
West Coast In Amsterdam
Cooper/Shank: Scrapple From The Apple; Tickle Toe; ‘Round Midnight; The Way You Look Tonight; A Night In Tunesia; Nature Boy; I’ll Remember April
Christy: I Want To Be Happy; That’s All; The Midnight Sun; I’ll Take Romance; It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing); Something Cool; How High The Moon
Kenton Orchestra: Intermission Riff; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Carl; The Peanut Vendor; Stella By Starlight; Cherokee; Young Blood; Artistry In Rhythm
Manne: Nightingale; Yesterdays; Poinciana; Straight No Chaser
Giuffre 3: Happy Man; Tickle Toe; Princess; Time Machine; My Funny Valentine; Fascinating Rhythm
Find West Coast In Amsterdam on the website of the Dutch Jazz Archive here.