“Great Ideas of Western Mann”
HERBIE MANN'S Californians featuring JACK SHELDON, JIMMY ROWLES
Herbie Mann (bass clarinet) Jack Sheldon (tp) Jimmy Rowles (p) Buddy Clark (b) Mel Lewis (drs)
Los Angeles; July 3, 1957
1. The Theme (6:37) (Miles Davis)
2. Lady Bird (8:52) (Tadd Dameron)
3. Get Out of Town (5:29) (Cole Porter)
1. Is It True What They Say About Dixie? (5:27) (Caesar – Lerner – Marks)
2. A Handful of Stars (7:27) (Lawrence – Shapiro)
3. A Stella Performance (8:39) (Herbie Mann)
This album had its start, you might say, on the final number recorded for another LP. Not to be unnecessarily cryptic about it, that other LP is "Sultry Serenade," HERBIE MANN's previous effort for Riverside; the selection noted is a version of Lazybones on which Mann wails most impressively on bass clarinet. But, as Down Beat critic Don Gold pointed out in a four-star review of the album, Herbie's success indicated that "he will have much to say on the bass clarinet . . . in the immediate future.
Actually, by the time the review could be written, that immediate future had already arrived. Before Herbie had left the recording studio following completion of "Sultry Serenade," the idea of an LP on which he would perform strictly as a bass clarinetist had been brought up and agreed to. As a further thought, it was suggested that the LP be recorded during Mann's approaching trip to Los Angeles, thus being into bringing what must be the first bass-clarinet jazz album ever and giving Riverside its first West Coast LP at one and the same time.
Both ideas - the full-scale use of an off trail instrument, and the melding of Mann's talents with those of a highly-rated group of Californians - were highly intriguing concepts. Furthermore, certain staff members of this record company (who might as well remain nameless, just to play it safe) are hopelessly addicted to puns. Therefore, almost inevitably, the well-known slogan of a container company's series of ads was adapted to serve as fitting title for the present album.
Most of all, "Great Ideas of Western Mann" should suggest the proper sort of light-hearted approach to this session, which emphasizes relaxed, spirited and free-wheeling 'blowing.' Herbie contributes one swinging original, and arranged, for this quintet, re-shapings of the Cole Porter standard, Get Out of Town, and of Is It True What They Say About Dixie?(which is not only an unusual tune for jazz treatment but also a rather heretical thought to express in California, even for a visitor). The other three selections - one standard ballad and two of the better modern-jazz compositions of the past decade - are basically free-flowing. All six run to lengths that allow Mann, trumpeter Jack Sheldon and pianist Jimmy Rowles plenty of solo room. Thus, Mann's Eastern influence on the proceedings seems reflected in much less than is usually the case in Los Angeles studios. The indications are that the Westerners enjoyed the change of pace.
Mann's focusing on the bass clarinet is relatively recent, but should not be unexpected. Herbie has of course gained considerable reputation as a flutist (he is rated Number One on that instrument in the 1957 Down Beat Poll). He is also one of the few to consider that his main instrument: most of today's flute players are saxophonists 'doubling' on flute. Herbie's doubling had been on tenor sax, but it was never a choice that satisfied him fully. Originally a clarinetist, he finally concluded that the bass clarinet was his most suitable second horn, with its unique tonal qualities: closer to the flute in general feeling than a sax could be, but fuller-sounding and permitting a good deal more earthy swinging. This buoyant LP seems to prove that his unusual choice was a very valid one.
The supporting cast appears to dig their 'guest' very much. Sheldon's firm tones blend particularly well with the bass clarinet in ensembles, and his solo approach strikes the ears of this Eastern as having more force and warmth than most California horn men offer. Rowles, pianist who has worked with Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, and in small groups with a vast member of top names, is a highly fluent performer whose roots clearly go back to Art Tatum (which is hardly a bad place to have one's roots). The bass-and-drums team of Buddy Clark and Mel Lewis has worked together quite often, in such groups as Dave Pell's; they have achieved a unity that is of consistently major assistance in creating an overall feeling of cohesiveness here. Herbie had made up his mind on personnel before he went West; he was able to get the men he wanted, and they turn out to be (among other things) musicians highly capable of helping Mann to bridge that real or imagined gap between East and West Coast jazz.
Mann can also be heard on Riverside on –
Sultry Serenade: HERBIE MANN Sextet/ Quartet; with Urbie Green, Joe Puma, Oscar Pettiford, Jack Nimitz, Charlie Smith (RLP 12-234)
One additional selection by the “Californians” quintet forms part of –
Blues for Tomorrow: previously unreleased versions of the blues by top modern jazzmen; including Sonny Rollins, Herbie Mann, Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, Bobby Jaspar, Mundell Lowe, etc. (RLP 12-243)
Other outstanding modern jazz on 12-inch HIGH FIDELITY Riverside LPs includes –
Mulligan Meets Monk: GERRY MULLIGAN and THELONIOUS MONK (RLP 12-247)
The Sound of Sonny: SONNY ROLLINS (RLP 12-241)
Jazz Contrasts: KENNY DORHAM, with Sonny Rollins (RLP 12-239)
“Pal Joey”: jazz impressions of the Rodgers & Hart classic, by the KENNY DREW Trio; with Philly Joe Jones, Wilbur Ware (RLP 12-249)
That’s Him!: ABBEY LINCOLN sings, with the Riverside Jazz Stars; featuring Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham,
Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-251)
Monk’s Music: THELINIOUS MONK Septet; with Coleman Hawkins, Art Blakey, Gigi Gryce (RLP 12-242)
Thelonious Himself: solo piano by THELONIOUS MONK (RLP 12-235)
Brilliant Corners: THELNIOUS MONK with Sonny Rollins, Ernie Henry, Clark Terry (RLP 12-226)
A Grand Night for Swinging: MUNDELL LOWE, with Billy Taylor, Gene Quill (RLP 12-238)
Serenade to a Bus Seat: CLARK TERRY Quintet; with Johnny Griffin, Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-237)
The Hawk Flies High: COLEMAN HAWKINS, with J. J. Johnson, Idrees Suieman (RLP 12-233)
GIGI GRYCE and the Jazz Lab Quintet, with Donald Byrd (RLP 12-229)
Zoot!: The ZOOT SIMS Quintet (RLP 12-228)
Trigger Happy!: TRIGGER ALPERT’s All-Star Seven; with Tony Scott, Zoot Sims, Urbie Green, Al Cohn,
Joe Wilder, Ed Shaughnessy (RLP 12-225)
BOBBY JASPAR, tenor and flute; with George Wallington, Idrees Sulieman (RLP 12-240)
Jazz a la Bohemia: RANDY WESTON Trio and Cecil Payne – recorded at New York’s Café Bohemia (RLP 12-232)
Seven Standards and a Blues: ERNIE HENRY Quartet; with Wynton Kelly, Wilbur Ware, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-248)
Jazz for Lovers: top jazzmen play tender ballads; featuring Kenny Dorham, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Don Elliott,
Herbie Mann, Mundell Lowe, etc. (RLP 12-244)
A HIGH FIDELITY Recording (Audio Compensation: RIAA Curve)
Recording supervised by Herbie Mann
Notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover by Paul Weller (photography) and Paul Bacon (design).
Recorded at Capitol Tower
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.