Buck Clayton

Buck Clayton All-Stars, 1961

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    6
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In 1961, trumpeter Buck Clayton led an all-star mainstream octet during a European tour that resulted in a few records (mostly of live concerts) and a surviving television special. Clayton and four fellow Basie alumni (trumpeter Emmett Berry, trombonist Dickie Wells, altoist Earl Warren and tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate) teamed up with a complementary rhythm section (pianist Sir Charles Thompson, bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Oliver Jackson) to perform a variety of riff-filled swing tunes. This 1996 CD contains previously unissued performances from a concert in Brussels, Belgium. Since the music is excellent, it would have received a higher rating if the recording quality were a bit better (although it is certainly listenable). There are some individual features (Berry singing and playing "St. James Infirmary," Thompson stretching out on "Don't Blame Me" and Clayton romping through a quartet rendition of "Stompin' at the Savoy"), but it is the seven numbers for the full ensemble that are of greatest interest. Although Wells is a bit erratic in spots, his chance-taking solos are consistently exciting. In reality, all of the veteran musicians are in fine form, and the highlights include "Swinging at the Copper Rail," "Perdido," "Swingin' the Blues" and "Night Train."

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