Gene Krupa

1953-1954

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Released in 2007 as number 1433 in the Classics Chronological catalog, the 17th installment in the complete works of drummer and bandleader Gene Krupa consists of intimate trio and sextet recordings produced by Norman Granz and issued on his Clef and Verve labels. Tracks one through six amount to all but the first two titles from The Exciting Gene Krupa, an album recorded on September 10, 1953, with trumpeter Charlie Shavers, trombonist Bill Harris, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, pianist Teddy Wilson, guitarist Herb Ellis, and bassist Ray Brown. Shavers, who composed four of the six tunes heard here, was almost certainly inspired to use the title "Midget" by Lester Young, who is known to have jokingly employed the word in reference to Shavers and fellow trumpeter Roy Eldridge (both men were short, rambunctious, and loved to tease Lester Young). Recorded on February 1, 1954, tracks seven through 14 comprised the trio album Sing, Sing, Sing. Here Krupa interacted with pianist Teddy Napoleon and versatile multi-instrumentalist Eddie Shu, who plays trumpet, clarinet, alto, and tenor saxes as well as a mouth organ on "Harmonica Shu Boogie." (Although Shu was also a trained ventriloquist, that skill does not seem to have been employed on this occasion.) This highly satisfying compilation closes with the first three titles from the sextet album The Driving Gene Krupa, recorded on February 2, 1954, with Charlie Shavers, Bill Harris, tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Teddy Wilson, and bassist Ray Brown. Like its immediate predecessor in the series, this core sample of Krupa's post-big-band career contains some of the very best mainstream jazz sessions that he ever got a chance to participate in. Highly recommended as accessible jazz suitable for almost any occasion.

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