George Wein - Is Alive And Well (MCD-1018)

Mosaic Singles

 

George Wein - Is Alive And Well (MCD-1018)

"The Newport All Stars on this occasion are Pee Wee Russell, clarinet; Bud Freeman, tenor sax; Jack Lesberg, bass; Don Lamond, drums, and George Wein on piano."

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In 1967, George Wein took his passion, the Newport All-Stars, on a tour of Mexico. He assembled Ruby Braff, Bud Freeman and Pee Wee Russell, each one the leading exponent of mainstream jazz on his instrument and fueled the fire with bassist Jack Lesberg and drummer Don Lamond. The result was a loose, jaunty band that played its ass off. In preparation for reissuing the album, we reviewed the tapes of all three recorded concerts and came up with another 25 minutes of great jazz by these giants. These men came to play and their joy is infectious and their artistry awesome.



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  Pee Wee Fans: Rejoice
If you love Pee Wee Russell, you must have this; his final recordings before his health failed. While he's a bit short of wind, he seems joyful and brimming with uniquely expressed ideas. Here's the context where he really thrives; respected by his band mates and freed of the Nixieland restraints. His old Austin High pal Bud Freeman is also in fine fettle, blowing his Hawk inspired tenor sax but with a mellower, Pres inspired tone. Add a young but musically mature Ruby Braff on powerful trumpet and a amazingly solid rhythm section and you've got some solid gold mainstream jazz seasoned with just a touch of Chicago flavor. The big surprise for me was the piano playing of George Wein, the famed festival organizer. He manages a light, nimble rhythm while still hitting the keys hard: bop meets honky-tonk. Serious music that's still fun; I giggle on occasion. Kudos to Michael Cuscuna for rescuing this delight from obscurity, and to Mark Wilder for the impeccable remastering. Don't be put off by the ugly cover (there's a hilarious apologia in the notes) or obscure rhythm section, this one goes in the desert island box.
 

George Wein - Is Alive And Well (MCD-1018)
George Wein - Is Alive And Well (MCD-1018)
Limited Edition: copies
1 CD - $15.00


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