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September 2005

Various Artists
Modern Sounds from California 1954-1957
Fresh Sound Records

From the ’50s to the ’70s, Hollywood session work was plentiful for jazzers who could read music. During the beginning of that lucrative era, some of the cream of the crop got together in various-sized combos, and in 10 Hollywood sessions between ’54 and ’57 made what’s collected on this 38-track, two-CD sampler. It should have been collectively called Jazz Muzak, but to be honest, it’s a kick listening to the dearly departed again. Who wouldn’t want to hear Conte Candoli and Frank Rosolino in their prime? Or others like Buddy Collette, Art Pepper, Bob Cooper? How about Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne? And is that Pete Jolly on accordion?

Regarding the highlights, as brief as they are, saxophonist Herb Geller proves he can squeeze more ideas into a short solo than most of his colleagues. And Andre Previn had such incredible chops, it’s a pity he went highbrow on us. Arrangers, as usual, get short shrift. The only one explicity listed as “arranger” in the notes is Pete Rugolo, and his contribution is a sardonic chart on “The Sidewalks of New York,” with humorous time shifts. Talk about time: Pianist Marty Paich, who did most of the composing along with Shorty Rogers, came up with the funniest track, “Skip to Me Loot,” containing cartoonish cues that many of these guys had to play in their day gigs. If you’re into nostalgia, buy it, but beware: There are faulty listings, missing names and inaccurate timings.

Originally published in September 2005
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