Buddy DeFranco


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This is the fourth and final recording featuring clarinetist Buddy DeFranco with Tommy Gumina, who plays a Polytone accordion that is closer to an organ even though it is a portable hand-held instrument. Rather than sounding dated, the combination of the two instruments, along with the bass of John Doling and drummer John Guerin, has held up rather well over the several decades since this album's release in 1963. The opening blues, "The Monkey," is a frisky collaboration co-written by the two men; likewise, their interpretation of "Gravy Waltz" (a popular tune from the early '60s penned by Ray Brown and Steve Allen) is a lot of fun. Sensitive but swinging arrangements of standards such as "My Ship," "My Man's Gone Now," "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year," and "When I Fall in Love" (which is forever associated with Nat "King" Cole's memorable vocal version) merit attention, too. Things are at their wildest during DeFranco's frantic "Bus Driver in the Sky," and the album also includes a fascinating bossa nova treatment of Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream," with the added touch of Guerin's overdubbed boo-bams (a set of small tuned drums introduced by Louis Bellson and also used on a recording session by composer George Russell) before the piece picks up in tempo dramatically, featuring some of DeFranco's strongest playing on the date. Any jazz fan with a prejudice against the presence of an accordion on a jazz date needs to give this outstanding session a fair hearing. Unfortunately, it's long out of print, but well worth seeking.

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