Red Callender

The Lowest

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Although Red Callender spent most of his career as a sideman, he made a few records of his own during the LP era. These sessions feature quite a few of the rising stars of the West Coast jazz scene, including Buddy Collette, Gerald Wiggins, Gerald Wilson and Red Mitchell. As a bassist, Callender was very much in demand and displays his immense talent in a rather subdued way. He sets aside his bass to play tuba on several tracks, proving himself as a convincing soloist on an instrument almost always relegated to rhythm, in addition to being out of favor once the bass came into jazz ensembles. The tuba-led septet tracks feature Collette on flute, with Wilson, Mitchell, Wiggins and guitarist Billy Bean and drummer Bill Douglass, highlighted by the breezy "Autumn in New York" and the loping "Dedicated to the Blues." Callender's octet includes alto saxophonist Hymie Gunkler, baritone saxophonist Marty Berman, pianist Eddie Beal and trombonist John Ewing, with Collette on tenor sax; a blindfold test of their swinging treatment of "They Can't Take That Away From Me" will surprise many jazz fans. Collette also plays piccolo or flute on the quartet selections. Released by Metrojazz in the late 1950s, this is finally available on the Fresh Sound reissue "Speak Low.

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