Shelly Manne

Concerto for Clarinet and Combo

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This LP has one of drummer Shelly Manne's more obscure Contemporary releases, an album that has not yet been reissued on CD. The main piece on the set is the three-movement "Concerto for Clarinet & Combo" which finds the Shelly Manne Quintet and a few added musicians mostly playing an accompanying role behind clarinetist Bill Smith, the piece's composer. Although most of the parts for the backup group were written out, Smith generally improvises freely, and the swinging suite covers several moods. The flip side of the LP has two selections from 1955 ("My Old Flame" and "Bags' Groove") that feature Stu Williamson (on trumpet or valve trombone) and tenor saxophonist Bill Holman in a quintet, while the 1957 band (with altoist Charlie Mariano in Holman's place) performs the drummer's "Sophisticated Rabbit." All in all, this is a well-balanced and continually interesting set that deserves to be reissued.

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