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Dick Cary: Dick Cary and His Tuesday Night Friends

Given multi-instrumentalist and composer/arranger Dick Cary’s long career as a sideman with Louis Armstrong, Bobby Hackett, Bud Freeman, and Eddie Condon, it is interesting to learn of his more recent activities as a rehearsal band leader. Beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing through 1994, the year of his death, Cary wrote some 1500 original compositions and arranged them specifically for a select group of Los Angeles’ busiest jazz studio musicians, who would in turn gather at his home every Tuesday to run through the latest scores. Each one a new reading and blowing experience, the arrangements would be checked for accuracy of notation, rehearsed to a state of perfection, and then put aside to make room for the next batch. There was seemingly no limit to Cary’s productivity.

In addition to writing all of the 14 swinging originals for the several 1993 recording dates that comprise this release, Cary also plays electric piano and section trumpet, leaving the solo spots to trumpeters Betty O’Hara, Bob Summers, and Dick Forrest, trombonist Dick Hamilton, clarinetist Abe Most, and saxmen Fred Cooper, Tommy Newsom, and Terry Harrington. Besides Cary, the always kicking rhythm section includes guitarist Dave Koonse, bassist Herb Mickman, and drummers Jerry McKenzie and the late Gene Estes. For the most part, Cary’s charts leave generous space for improvisation, while the through-composed sections sometimes recall the harmonic and rhythmic signatures of Beiderbecke, Ellington, and Basie. Although not an experimentalist in terms of structure, meter, or harmony, Cary did have an excellent ear for voicing and a flawless grasp of swinging time notation. – Jack Sohmer

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