Then and Now: The Soft Winds, 1946-1996

The Soft Winds

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Then and Now: The Soft Winds, 1946-1996 Review

by Scott Yanow

The Soft Winds, a trio consisting of pianist Lou Carter, guitarist Herb Ellis, and bassist Johnny Frigo, were originally members of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. From 1946-1950, they struggled along as an independent group, recording 16 selections for Majestic and Mercury that have yet to be reissued, as well as writing two hits ("Detour Ahead" and "I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out"), before breaking up. They had a reunion during the 1995 Floating Jazz Festival, and with Frigo on violin and Keeter Betts on bass, they proved that the musical magic was still very much there. This two-CD set consists of previously unreleased radio transcriptions by the Soft Winds from 1947-1948 and 11 songs from their 1995 reunion. In addition, there is an informative and entertaining 16-minute "Jazz Speak," in which the three musicians talk colorfully and with humor about the group's history. This highly recommended set shows that the Soft Winds had developed their own sound out of the instrumentation of the Nat King Cole Trio, with Carter's powerful, versatile, and creative playing being the biggest revelation. Now, if only some label would reissue the Soft Winds' original studio sides, too.

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