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Classic Swing of BUCK CLAYTO

Jazz Archives #100(12”) 

RLP-117 118 A
RLP-117 118 front
RLP-117 118 back.jpg
RLP-117 118 A.jpg
RLP-117 118 B.jpg

BUCK CLAYTON’S BIG EIGHT (Side 1, #1 and 2; Side 2, #1 and 6):

Buck Clayton (tp) Trummy Young (tb) Dicky Wells (tb) George Johnson (as) Billy Taylor (p) Brick Fleagle (g) Al McKibbon (b) Jimmy Crawford (dts)      New York; July 24, 1946


Buck Clayton (tp) Scoville Brown (cl) Tiny Grimes (g) Sid Weiss (b)  New York; June 26, 1946


Buck Clayton (tp) Trummy Young (tb) Buster Bailey (cl) George Johnson (as) Jimmy Jones (p) John Levy (b) Cozy Cole (drs)         New York; Fall, 1946


Buck Clayton’s Big Eight:

  1. Harlem Gradle Song (2:37)

  2. Sentimental Summer (3:20)

Buck Clayton’s Big Four:

  1. Dawn Dance (3:10)

  2. It’s Dizzy (3:04)

  3. Well-a-Poppin’ (3:11)

  4. Basie’s Morning Bluesicale (3:18)


Buck Clayton’s Big Eight:

  1. I Want a Little Girl (2:49)

Trummy Young’s Big Seven:

  1. Blues Triste (3:00)

  2. Fruitie Cuties (3:05)

  3. Johnson Rock (3:14)

  4. Lucky Draw (2:42)

Buck Clayton’s Big Eight:

  1. My good Man Sam (2:37)

   In a phrase most frequently used to describe professional athletes, but which can be and often is applied to musicians as well, BUCK CLAYTON has always been a man who “came to play.” The compliment intended is an obvious one and – if you stop to think about it – a rare one. For there has never been and undoubtedly never will be anything like enough of such men: no-nonsense, thoroughly consistent performers, capable of producing a constant flow of moving, swinging, highly effective and usually superior music.

   Clayton is one of the very best examples of this type. And so in the title of this reissue album, the word “classic” is quite deliberately applied to his music. In jazz, that word is customarily reserved for early, traditional forms, but it takes only a very slight broadening of meaning to have it mean the finest of any form. (Also, by including Swing Era material, recorded not too long ago, within the scope of Riverside’s “Jazz Archives” series, we mean to indicate that this ‘mainstream’ music warrants preservation and reissuance in much the same way as do samples of the very earliest types of jazz.)

   Clayton, of course, reached his peak of fame as the most celebrated member of the trumpet section of the great Count Basie band in the heyday of the Swing period. Born in Kansas (in November, 1911), Buck had begun his jazz career in Los Angeles in the early ‘30s, and had returned to the United States after two years with a Teddy Weatherford band in Shanghai, China, in time to join the Basie band for its first trip to New York and into the big time. His tenure with Basie lasted until he entered the wartime Army in 1943. During that period, however, Buck was far from restricted to big-band activity. He was incessantly in demand for the multitude of pick-up small group record dates that were so important a part of that era (among other things, he was very much present on a number of the notable Billie Holiday-Teddy Wilson sides).

   In a small-band setting every bit as much as in the Basie orchestra, Clayton’s drive, his biting tone and the highly personalized sound of his vibrato have a way of taking charge immediately. His customary role with Basie required from him unusual power and clarity, in order to ride high (but never raucously) over the big, surging sound of that band, and perhaps the habit pattern born of that background is what gives his work a feeling of somewhat larger-than-life-sized strength when heard in smaller units like the four-horn groups that play on eight of the selections reissued here. But it is also to be noted that on the four oddly-instrumented quartet numbers he apparently had no trouble in playing with the necessary restraint, producing what is in effect a sort of chamber-music variation of the Kansas City-Basie idiom.

   All three of the recording sessions represented here took place within a few months of each other, shortly after Clayton was discharged from the Army in 1946. At that comparatively late date, they were almost anachronisms: small-band Swing of this type was just about ready to be buried by the coming of “modern” jazz (note the presence in these sections of men like Billy Taylor, Jimmy Jones and al McKibbon, who were to be prominent modernists). But of the key musicians here, it should be noted that Dicky Wells was still very much in a Basie groove (he was with Count most of the time from 1938 to ’50), Tiny Grimes was working with Art Tatum, Trummy Young was only recently away from the Jimmy Lunceford band, and drummers Cozy Cole and Jimmy Crawford had been shaped by their stints with, respectively, Cab Calloway and Lunceford. In a very real sense, you could say that these men belonged musically so much to Swing that it really didn’t matter on these dates that the time was not actually the late ‘30s.

   The music played here is (much like that on the Small-Band Swing anthologies noted below: RLP 143 and 145) a very good representation of many of the virtues, and of the shortcoming too, of this type of music. These were casually organized dated, and often sounded that way. But most of the musicians knew each well, had hammed together and/or worked in the sama bands, and had a solid feeling for and respect for each other’s music that enabled them to swing easily and cohesively together. IN addition, of course, this album offers several excellent examples of why and how Buck Clayotn was one of the real giants of this period: a jazzman whose graceful sound and solo ideas were always well worth listening to, his blues and ballads truly and deeply sad, his up-tempo outings filled with zest and good spirits.

   All of these selections were originally issued on the H.R.S. LABEL.

As additions to the Riverside “Jazz Archives” series, they form part of a panorama of the history and development of recorded jazz that begins with the earliest efforts of artists like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbecke, Fats Waller, and many others available on Riverside re-issue albums. These latest additions serve to continue this jazz story through the Swing Era.

   Other albums derived From the H.R.S. catalogue include –


GIANTS of Small-Band SWING; Volume 1 (RLP 12-143) and Volume 2 (RLP 12-145)

The Swinging Horn of REX STEWART (RLP 12-144)



Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF. Back-liner photos by ROVERT PARENT

Remastered, 1960, by JACK MATTHEWS (components Corp.)


235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.

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