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July/August 1999

Jack Teagarden
Think Well of Me
Verve

This is a Teagarden album like nothing else in his 40-year discography. Made in 1962, precisely two years before his death, it reflects much that was important about the man and musician; the uncanny precision and languorous passion of his trombone playing, the intimacy of his singing, his blues core, the quality that never declined even in the weariness of his final years.

Except for Jimmy McHugh's and Harold Adamson's "Where Are You," all of the songs are by Willard Robison, a writer who has never been recognized in proportion to his talent. With their freight of nostalgia and down-home wisdom, Robison's pieces are ideal vehicles for Teagarden's warming voice and trombone. The settings by Russ Case and Bob Brookmeyer (in his first recorded string arrangements) provide just the right amount of emphasis and cushioning. They are in keeping with Teagarden's infallible taste. These are definitive versions of "Old Folks," "A Cottage for Sale," "Guess I'll Go Back Home This Summer," the unusual title song and six other Robison compositions. The trombone playing is incomparable.

Teagarden's favorite trumpet sidekick of his latter years, Don Goldie, provides interludes between vocals and trombone solos, as well as occasional obligatos. It is some of Goldie's best proportioned work on record. The only deficit in taste is in occasional skittery accompaniments by an overactive pianist, but Teagarden is so compelling that they matter little. Verve sat on this classic for a long time before putting it on compact disc. It is in their limited Elite Edition series. It won't be long in the bins.

Originally published in July/August 1999
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