PW: egroj

viernes, 20 de mayo de 2016

Jerry Fuller Sextet • Clarinet Portrait

"Scott Yanow"
When one looks at the lineup of musicians featured on Clarinet Portrait, a few names will jump out to jazz collectors, particularly those fans familiar with the Los Angeles scene. Pianist Bob Florence is today quite famous as a big bandleader, a masterful arranger and a fine pianist. The late Howard Roberts, a major bop guitarist, was an important force in the Hollywood studios for a couple of decades and an important educator. Gene Estes, who is also gone but not forgotten, was best known as a beloved drummer but always loved playing vibes whenever he had the opportunity. Drummer Frank Capp, who has been on a countless number of rewarding jazz sessions and dates, co-founded and co-led the Juggernaut since 1977 and has been its sole leader since pianist Nat Pierce's death in 1992. Much more obscure is bassist Mel Pollan who was very busy in the studios during the second half of the 1950s, playing with Les Brown and the Dave Pell Octet for brief periods and appearing on many television and motion picture soundtracks.
But what about Jerry Fuller, the main star of Clarinet Portrait? Although still with us and occasionally active, Fuller never became a household name despite his talents and a couple of high profile associations.
He was born September 15, 1929 in Santa Maria, California. Fuller grew up loving the music of Benny Goodman and throughout his career he has had a similar tone on clarinet although at times a slightly more modern style. Since the swing era was all finished by the time he matured, Fuller's first important musical job was in Los Angeles with trumpeter Jimmy Zito's dixieland band in 1949. After having a stint with Will Osborne's big band, he served in the Army, being discharged in 1953. Back in Los Angeles, he spent a year as a member of Pete Daily's Chicagoans (four titles recorded for an obscure MCA album survive from this period) and worked in the studios. During 1955-59, Fuller was the clarinetist with Jack Teagarden's band, appearing on several records in 1958 and being with Mr. T. on a long U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Asia.
At the time that he made Clarinet Portrait, his recording debut as a leader (March 17, 19 and 20, 1959), Jerry Fuller had just left Teagarden and was a month away from joining the Dukes Of Dixieland. Although he was closely associated with dixieland groups, Fuller does not play dixieland on Clarinet Portrait, even with the inclusion of "That's A Plenty." Fuller instead displays his roots in Benny Goodman and performs melodic swing in a West Coast jazz setting.
While most jazz combo dates begin with an uptempo number. Fuller confounds expectations by taking Tommy Dorsey's theme song "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" very slow. Fuller, paying tribute to the recently deceased trombonist (who would have enjoyed this version), takes the first chorus and splits the second one with vibraphonist Estes.
"That's A Plenty" is quite a bit faster and has Fuller, Estes and the rhythm section romping in a similar fashion as the Benny Goodman Sextet from the mid-1940s. Most vibraphonists of the time emulated either Lionel Hampton or Milt Jackson but Estes is closer to Red Norvo. Howard Roberts hints at Charlie Christian during his boppish spot before Fuller creates a heated four-chorus solo which, after a transition, is followed by three more hot choruses, a rare dixieland drum break by Frank Capp and a tag.
"Minor Epic" is quite a bit different. Straddling the boundary between 1950s hard bop and cool jazz, the piece is modern for the period. Fuller fits in well, sharing a chorus with Estes before Roberts constructs a fine statement. "On Green Dolphin Street" is one of those songs (such as "Stella By Starlight" and "'Round Midnight" that have been recorded way too many times through the years. However in 1959 the song was still fresh, having been recently popularized in the jazz world by Miles Davis. Jerry Fuller's rendition is lively, cooking and has excellent solos by Fuller, Estes, Roberts and Bob Florence, being superior to most of the 10.000 versions to follow.
"Judy" is one of Hoagy Carmichael's lesser-known originals. Fuller lovingly caresses the charming melody while Florence plays a lyrical half-chorus worthy of Teddy Wilson. "Somebody Loves Me" is given a seamless performance with each solo flowing naturally into the next one. and the key change near the performance's conclusion sounding not only logical but inevitable. "Makin' Whoopee" is taken at a relaxed pace with the melody always kept close by.
From its title, one might expect "Raz-Ma-Tazz" to be a satire of 1920s jazz, but in reality this is a surprisingly modern West Coast jazz piece that could have been played during the time by clarinetist Buddy DeFranco or perhaps the Red Norvo Trio. Although well disguised its chord structure is similar to Fats Waller's "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling."
"Benny's Idea," an uptempo riff blues, disguises nothing, being a happy romp in the style of Benny Goodman. It gives all of the key soloists an opportunity to stretch out and they excel, showing the similarities between swing and cool jazz. A tasteful rendition of "Georgia On My Mind" concludes this enjoyable outing.
As a member of the Dukes Of Dixieland during much of 1959-65, Jerry Fuller had a fairly high visibility in the jazz world appearing on many records and holding his own next to trumpeter Frank Assunto and trombonist Fred Assunto. Fuller also worked in the studios (especially in the orchestras employed for television variety shows) and along the way he performed with cornetist Bobby Hackett. pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton and drummer Gene Krupa.
Surprisingly the clarinetist Fuller has made relatively few records in the years since he left the Dukes. He co-led the Jerry Fuller-Don DeMicheal Swingtet. a group with vibraphonist DeMichael during 1975-76 that made one album for an obscure label, and in 2004 he recorded a Christmas CD with the nostalgic-swing group Style Is Back In Style
76 at this writing. Jerry Fuller lives in Boston and is occasionally active. His classic Benny Goodman swing style remains timeless and a joy to hear.

2. THAT'S A PLENTY (L. Pollack, R. Gilbert)
3. MINOR EPIC (Gene Estes)
4. ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (B. Kaper, N. Washington)
5. JUDY (H. Carmichael, S. Lerner)
6. SOMEBODY LOVES ME (Gershwin, Mac Donald, De Silva)
7. MAKIN' WHOOPEE (Donaldson, Kahn)
8. RAZ-MA-TAZ (Bob Florence)
9. BENNY'S IDEA (Jerry Fuller)
10. GEORGIA ON MY MIND (H. Carmichael, S, Gorrell)

Personel info:
Jerry Fuller Roberts- clarinet
Howards Roberts - guitar
Bob Florence - piano
Frank Capp - drums
Gene Estes - vibes
Mel Pollan - bass

Genre: Dixieland, swing
Recording Date & Place: Recorded on March 17,19 and 20, 1959, at Third Street Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Release Date: 2008
Total time: 41:37

111 MB / mp3-320Kbps

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