Shelly Manne

The Three and the Two

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These two sets for the Contemporary label (reissued on CD by the OJC label) are a couple of the more unusual sessions led by drummer Shelly Manne in the 1950s. "The Three" feature trumpeter Shorty Rogers; Jimmy Giuffre alternating on clarinet, tenor, and baritone; and Manne -- there is no piano or bass. Some of the six performances (particularly the four originals) are quite free, particularly the completely improvised "Abstract No. 1." Although these selections were not influential, they rank second in chronological order (behind Lennie Tristano's performances of 1949) among free jazz records. The remainder of this set is a duet between pianist Russ Freeman and Manne ("the Two"), and is also quite advanced in spots, although in general it is a more swinging session while still being unpredictable. Overall, a very interesting reissue.

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