Various Artists

Be Bop

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Covering recording sessions held between 1948 and 1952, this bargain-priced album compiles the best efforts by British musicians to join their American jazz cousins in proselytizing the new music, bebop. The album includes tracks by several British players of that era, but concentrates on the work of sax players John Dankworth (then known by the less mature "Johnny"), Ronnie Scott, and fine bop trumpeter, Jimmy Deucher, all in various small group combinations. Dankworth shows his youthful exuberance and the influence of Charlie Parker, on a 1949 "Lover Man" and on a real bop gem, "Buzzy (Parts I and II)," where he finds himself trading off with Ronnie Scott à la Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, or at least as close to that as anyone is likely to come. Ronnie Scott, of course, was to go on to have one of the most popular jazz clubs not only in London, but in the world. Deucher's trumpet comes across with a classic bop piece, "Little Willie Leaps," where a young Spike Robinson is present playing alto. The album includes cuts by other players who were to make names for themselves later in their careers; Vic Lewis gives a hint of his arresting orchestrations he was to someday write for his and other West Coast Groups with "Why Do I Love You." Vic Feldman, whose career took off after he emigrated to the U.S., heads a quartet on one track, and Tony Bennett's musical director to be, Ralph Sharon, shows up on a couple of tracks. A superior track is "Fallonology," variations on "Body and Soul" with a very Oscar Pettiford-like bowed bass by Jack Fallon. On the vocal side, Alan Dean does some Babs Gonzales scatting on "Gone With the Windmill." And like Gonzales, his effervescence rather than any special skill carries the day. This track is also enhanced by Reg Arnold's trumpet, one of the few cuts spotlighting that instrument. While there are no Charlie Parkers, Dizzy Gillespies, or Bud Powells on this disk, and while the music never quite reaches the excitement or sophistication attained by the Americans, nonetheless, this disk is a respectable survey of some good British jazzmen trying to pick up the tools of bop.

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