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Herb Geller: Plays the Al Cohn Songbook

An even greater tenorman in the ’70s and ’80s than he was in the ’50s and early ’60s, when he was at the height of his fame in the jazz world, Al Cohn is probably best remembered today for the swinging combo he co-led with Zoot Sims. But, behind all of the bandstand and recording activity of those days, what really paid the rent during the ’60s was Al’s around-the-clock efforts as a studio arranger for commercial recordings, TV, and films. For kicks, he wrote jazz tunes, the sort of lines and harmonies that seemed to flow effortlessly out of his horn. With the purpose in mind of showcasing of some of those tunes, veteran altoman/sopranist Herb Geller enlisted the aid of Tom Rainer on piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor, bassist John Leitham, drummer Paul Kreibich, and, on Geller’s “Mr. Music” and “Al’s “High On You” and “The Underdog” (with lyrics by Dave Frishberg), singer Ruth Price. With the exception of Johnny Mandel’s “Mr. George,” “Danielle,” “Halley’s Comet,” “Pensive,” “The Flugelbird” (a.k.a. “Frosty” and “Battleground”), “You ‘n’ Me,” “Woody’s Lament,” “Tasty Pudding,” “‘Tain’t No Use,” and “Infinity.” While the warm-toned and swinging Geller is expectedly triumphant throughout, surprise pleasures are afforded by Rainer’s proficiency on the clarinet and his other reeds.

Originally Published