In an ideal world, Gus Mancuso would have become a major name in the jazz world and built a huge catalog. Fantasy should have documented him extensively but, regrettably, he only provided two albums for the label -- and neither of them are well-known. Recorded in 1958, Music From New Faces was the second and last LP that the baritone horn player (as opposed to baritone saxophonist) provided for Fantasy. The focus of this excellent sophomore effort is eight songs from the Broadway hit New Faces. Being a jazz musician, Mancuso doesn't approach the material as theater music -- he interprets it, and songs like "The Boston Beguine" and "I'm in Love With Miss Logan" are transformed into instrumental hard bop. People who know these tunes from New Faces normally don't associate them with jazz, but Mancuso is imaginative enough to demonstrate that they can, in fact, lend themselves to improvisatory bop makeovers. And, thankfully, he has insightful, talented sidemen to help him make the LP a creative success -- on Music From New Faces, Mancuso leads a rock-solid quintet that employs Joe Romano on tenor sax, Pete Jolly on piano, Red Mitchell on bass, and Buddy Greve on drums. For many years, these performances were unavailable on CD. But in 2001, they finally came back into print when Fantasy reissued Music From New Faces and 1956's Introducing Gus Mancuso back to back on a CD titled Gus Mancuso and Special Friends.
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