This 1999 reissue, which was simultaneously released as a two-record set and a single CD by the Italian label Rearward, compiles music from four separate studio sessions between 1967 and 1972 by the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band. In spite of the title, only a few of the tracks have a connection to the music of either Johann Strauss or Richard Strauss. Oddly enough, Boland refused to do the arrangements of these timeless waltzes, as he didn't want to change their melodies, so Yugoslav composer Bora Rokovic did the job, marking the only time the band played arrangements by someone other than Boland. The charts consistently swing and prove to be excellent catalysts for individual solos, particularly "Rosenkavalier," although the frequent premature fadeouts are a bit of a disappointment. "My Favorite Things," the famous waltz from The Sound of Music, follows John Coltrane's lead by not resolving itself right away, instead featuring a series of solos by baritone saxophonist Sahib Shihab, vibraphonist Fats Sadi, and trumpeter Benny Bailey, all of whom are energized by the potent sounds of the full band. Shihab composed "Peter's Waltz" as a vehicle for alto saxophonist Derek Humble, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, and himself. Bassist Jimmy Woode contributed the bittersweet "Keep On Keeping On," whose haunting melody is underscored by Clarke's brushwork. Since seven of the album's 16 tracks are previously unreleased, even collectors with the complete original records from which this set was assembled will want to pick up this beautifully remastered compilation.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden