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Buddy Tate with the Torsten Zwingenberger Swingtet: Tate Live

Big-toned Texas tenor Buddy Tate took over Herschel Evans’ chair in the Count Basie Orchestra in 1939, where he remained until 1948. After leaving Basie, performed and recorded with his own bands and with others into the 1990s. He died in 2001.

Tate Live, recorded in Berlin in 1986 when Tate was in his early 70s, finds the venerable tenorist still in excellent form as a featured soloist, alongside Dutch vibist Hendrik Meurkens, with the German drummer Torsten Zwingenberger’s trio, Swingtet. Tate negotiates the breakneck tempos of “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” like a Young Lion, but shifts easily to the breathy low-register reading of “Summertime” that precedes his swinging, lyrical improvisation. On “Tangerine” he growls and shouts. And on his own R&B-like “She’s Got It,” he honks and stomps and explores his altissimo register over a heavy backbeat. Throughout, Tate’s playing exhibits the confidence and surefootedness of his prime.

The rhythm section provides a solid foundation at the various tempos and finds an especially infectious groove on Frank Foster’s “Shiny Stockings.” Each member also contributes some nice solos. But the other outstanding soloist is Meurkens. Although he has concentrated on harmonica in recent years, his modern mainstream vibes work here is consistently engaging.

Originally Published