Joe Morello

The Joe Morello Sextet

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Joe Morello was virtually unknown when he recorded this date for the Intro label in January of 1956. While he did have a handful of gigs with both Stan Kenton and Marian McPartland under his belt, it would be several months before his association with Dave Brubeck's classic quartet. Perhaps this fact was on the minds of the folks at Intro, because initial pressings of the album gave very little indication that Morello was, in fact, the session's leader. Instead, it was packaged rather like a jam session date in that Red Norvo, Art Pepper, Gerry Wiggins, and Morello all received equal billing on the front cover. Add to this a different title (Collections) printed on both the jacket and spine and it's a wonder people refer to it as The Joe Morello Sextet at all. Regardless, the most interesting performances on this record are by the similarly young Pepper, who appears on five of the album's ten tracks. Pepper sticks to alto sax on all but the appropriately titled original "Tenor Blooz," and delivers a meatier-than-expected tone for an alto player. Fine performances by both Norvo and Wiggins help make this a timeless West Coast jazz release. No real surprises here, but every track is a gem. Easily recommended for fans of the genre. [Five of these tracks, the ones featuring Pepper, were included in the 1976 Blue Note reissue Early Art, available on LP only.]

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