The Jazzpickers

Harry Babasin & the Jazzpickers

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The Jazzpickers Review

by Eugene Chadbourne

Who are the Jazzpickers, and why do they keeping running words together? What do they mean when they say their music is "for moderns only"? The members of this small combo from the late '50s are near masters at playing a type of cool, light, and swinging jazz that is best described in terms of opposites -- as in the opposite of the type of jazz characterized by guys in dashikis screaming. Jazz such as this usually features the vibraphone, played here by Bob Harrington, who is also one of the main writers in the group. The other is cellist Harry Babasin, frequently overlooked when it comes to the story of jazz players on this instrument best known in classical music. The best soloist on this album is flutist Buddy Collette, an old high school chum of Charles Mingus, and who is no slouch at all. Just the presence of flute might turn off those who want a certain amount of muscle in their jazz, but if not, this might be a good choice. Although pack a wallet if found through a record collector and consider oneself extremely lucky if found under any other sort of circumstance. The cover is one of those combo shots that could stimulate jeers or tears; the vibraphonist has the haircut of a Marine recruiter while guitarist Don Overburg looks young enough to still go trick or treating. Who is this guy? He plays very well, although these are hardly extended improvised statements. One of the group's special abilities seems to be kicking every tune down around the length of a Top 40 single.

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