Claude Thornhill

In Disco Order, Vol. 9

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This album is the ninth in a series of a project to put to vinyl a significant portion of Claude Thornhill's recordings in chronological order. Few big bands performed with more grace, elegance, musicality, and wit than groups headed by Claude Thornhill. His special one-finger piano playing added to the group's musical charm. With those French horns placed behind clarinets, Thornhill produced one of the most distinctive and pleasant sounds in the business. This version of the Thornhill was one of his very best. The dreamy voice of Fran Warren, who appears on six of the cuts, is a perfect match with the songs she performs and their arrangements. But Thornhill went beyond "dreamy." Thanks to the arranger Gil Evans, his was one of the few big bands that could credibly play the "new music," bop, represented on this disc by Charlie Parker's "Yardbird Suite." His bands were also the incubators for what was to become cool jazz as practiced by Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, and their confreres. Gil Evans was sharing arranging duties with the less daring Bill Borden, and Gerry Mulligan was also contributing charts during a good part of 1947. Lee Konitz and Bill Barber -- both on the original The Birth of the Cool album -- Barry Galbraith and Danny Polo were among the first-rank jazz musicians who gave Thornhill that special sound. Konitz and Galbraith contribute impassioned solos on "Yardbird Suite." The music on this LP is priceless. It would be a significant contribution to big-band jazz if a record company took it upon itself to clean up the masters and repackag this series for release on CD. Until then, try and find this hard to get vinyl.

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