The BOB CORWIN Quartet featuring the trumpet of DON ELLIOT
Don Elliott (tp) Bob Corwin (p) Ernie Furtado b) Jim Campbell (drs)
(omit trumpet on I’ll Remember April and I’ll Take Romance) New York; June, 1956
1. My Shining Hour (4:02) (Mercer – Arlen)
2. Isn't It Romantic (4:07) (Hart – Rodgers)
3. I'll Remember April (trio) (3:43) (Raye – DePaul)
4. I Remember You (4:16) (Mercer – Schertzinger)
5. Rico-Jico-Joe (4:12) (Don Elliott)
1. It Might As Well Be Spring (3:27) (Hammerstein – Rodger)
2. I'll Take Romance (trio) (5:16) (Hammerstein – Oakland)
3. Gone With the Wind (4:45) (Wrubel – Magidson)
4. It Could Happen To You (3:56) (Burke – Van Heusen)
5. Pony Tail (4:20) (Bob Corwin)
This LP offers two recording "firsts" which, we suspect, are of much more than a little jazz importance:
(1) The debut of young BOB CORWIN in a featured role.
(2) DON ELLIOTT's first album as a blowing trumpet soloist.
The album could claim a full share of attention simply as good jazz: swinging, highly cohesive performances by a group of imaginative modern musicians. Their ability to integrate so smoothly (which is, in itself, hardly commonplace) is no accident. It stems very directly from the quartet's having worked together steadily for some time now - under Don Elliott's leadership - in most top jazz spots in the East and Midwest.
But, in addition, there are those two first-time extras: a couple of Elliott LPs, makes much of his first real opportunity to demonstrate what he has to say on piano. Bob has been a regular member of the Elliott quartet since mid-1955. Born in Hollis, Long Island, in October, 1933, he began on piano quite early, devoted much time to it, but generally considered it a sideline - useful for things like working his way through college (where, in 1955, he was involved in a pre-dental course). Elliott happened to hear him playing a one-shot club date. Greatly impressed, he asked Corwin to join the quartet Don was then forming. Bob agreed - but for one week only, he said, and only because he needed rent money. The one week became two, and then three; and then, Bob notes, he decided to stop kidding himself and admit that what he really wanted was not dentistry, but piano.
Corwin who feels that considerable development as a jazz artist still lies ahead of him, declines to single out any primary influence on his work (although Dodo Marmarosa brilliant pianist of the early bop period, is the first Bob remembers consciously listening at). Instead, he emphasizes the importance of keeping an open ear: "I'm apt to find something of value to me in anyone from Brubeck to Powell" - something that can be put into personal perspective and, in one way or another, absorbed into his own maturing style.
His work on this album - in ensembles, solos, and in the contrapuntal exchanges with Elliott that are a feature of the quartet members; the extended solo choruses on the two trio selections; and the indication, in Pony Tail, of his abilities as a jazz writer - all this makes it clear that his development has already reached a substantially high level of skill and taste. Bob Corwin is obviously well on his way, and he'll bear watching from here on.
Don Elliott has been a jazzman to watch and listen to for a half-dozen years now, ever since he first attracted attention, on vibes, with the George Shearing Quintet. Don was born in Somerville, New Jersey, in October, 1926; he was playing piano before he was six, and then progressed to accordion, baritone horn, trumpet and on to mellophone and vibes, on which he has scored his major successes to date. Elliott has worked with Benny Goodman, Terry Gibbs, Teddy Wilson; he has been a consistent Down Beat and Metronome poll-winner in recent years; his quartet has headlined at such top clubs as The Composer and Basin Street in New York; and he has made several TV appearances.
All this might make it difficult to believe that Don, who also has something like ten LPs to his credit, had until now been gnawing on a frustrated musical ambition. But that was the case. In the past couple of years, Don has been paying increasing attention to the trumpet, which was among the first instruments he had mastered. He has been playing it quite a bit in clubs, has recorded trumpet members at times, and even played nothing but that horn throughout one previous LP (forming a unique two-trumpet team with Rusty Dedrick on special Dick Hyman arrangements in Riverside's "Six Valves" album). But he had never been able to devote a full album just to being a swinging, relaxed lead horn and featured trumpet player. To some extent, apparently, this was because Don hadn't felt quite ready; also no record company had asked for it. But, more and more, Don was getting anxious to have such an album happen.
In January, 1956, while doing a mostly-vibes session for Riverside, Elliott took off on a trumpet number. There was an immediate conference, followed by a handshake. The selection (it was Gone with the Wind) disappeared from that album and, just as soon as Don next found himself in town with in town with enough time and a tough-enough lip, it reappeared, along with a group of others, to from this album. This is what the man had been wanting: no doubling or tripling on various instruments this time; no gimmicks whatsover. Simply a very liberal dose of firm and moving trumpet work. It strikes us as having been worth waiting for.
Don's 'blowing' trumpet style turns out to be an unusual and highly satisfying mixture of delicacy and guts. You might not want to go along completely with the language of a recent Time magazine article on Elliott, which described his treatment of It Might as Well Be Spring thusly: "... a soft, low, fuzzy tone and a stammering swing that was as intimate as if he were whispering into a pretty ear." But that writer does seem to have the idea in part. There's also much here that drives brightly (as on My Shining Hour), and there are effectively lilting medium-tempo pieces like Isn't It Romantic and Rico-Jico-Joe (an original that Don has dedicated to an outstanding disc jockey, Joe Rico of WHLD in Buffalo, N.Y.).
Even before this album, some critics (including Nat Hentoff of Down Beat) and musicians had been suggesting rather strongly that Elliott's varied and restless creative talents might possibly best be served by his concentrating on trumpet. The odds are greatly against Don's ever actually turning away from his genuine versatility. But the inventiveness and distinctive tone he displays here are bound to make things harder for him - a great many more people are now likely to be trying to talk him into staying more and more with trumpet.
Bob Corwin and Don Elliott appear together on another 12-inch Riverside LP:
The Voice of MARTY BELL/ The Quartet of DON ELLIOTT (RLP12-206)
Other outstanding modern music in the Riverside “Contemporary Series” of HI-FI 12-inch albums includes:
Six Valves: DON ELLIOTT and RUSTY DEDRICK play the modern jazz arrangements of Dick
New music of ALEC WILDER composed for MUNDELL LOWE and his orchestra (RLP12-219)
MUNDELL LOWE Quartet; with Trigger Alpert, Ed Shaughenessy, Dick Hyman (RLP12-204)
Guitar Moods by MUNDELL LOWE (RLP12-208)
THELONIOUS MONK plays Duke Ellington; with Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Clarke (RLP12-201)
The Unique THEONIOUS MONK; with Oscar Pettiford, Art Blakey (RLP12-209)
Get Happy with the RANDY WESTON Trio – Down Beat “New Star” award-winning pianist
RANDY WESTON Trio plus Cecil Payne (RLP12-214)
Jazz by Gee!: MATTHEW GEE All-stars, with Frank Foster, Kenny Dorham, etc. (RLP12-221)
Presenting ERNIE HENRY – sensational alto sax discovery (RLP12-222)
A High Fidelity recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve).
Produced by Bill Grauer and Orrin Keepnews.
Notes by Orrin Keepnews.
Cover designed by Fran Scott; photograph by Hank parker; typography: Paul Bacon.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
418 West 49th Street New York 19, N.Y.