How Hi the Fi/Jumpin at the Woodside

Buck Clayton

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How Hi the Fi/Jumpin at the Woodside Review

by Michael G. Nastos

For whatever odd reason, trumpeter Buck Clayton took a back seat to many other swing to big-band brass soloists, and undeservedly so. This combination of two of his albums for the Columbia label represents Clayton and his many all-star friends in an amenable jam session format, able to discourse at length post-melody. The first four extended tracks from 1953 and 1954 are with Woody Herman's big band, the feature being the opener, a just short of 14-minute take on Clayton's adaptation of "How High the Moon" that he titled "How Hi the Fi." Astute listeners will be able to pick up on the individualistic sound of not only Clayton, but fellow brass blowers Joe Wilder and Joe Thomas. The remaining tracks from 1954-1955 feature repertoire from the Count Basie book, in particular the under 11-minute flag-waver "Jumpin' at the Woodside." The rest of the Jumpin' selections are a bit shorter, but no less vital. This recording is fully loaded with many of the greatest jazz players of the era, with hardly a single obscure artist -- although probably alto saxophonist Lem Davis and pianist Al Waslohn qualify. Clayton is widely revered for his small-group sessions, but these big bands roar, inspired by Clayton's witty, brash, precise tones. This is a great find for vintage, mainstream, and traditional jazz listeners, and comes very highly recommended.

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