Lew Tabackin

Trackin'

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Few jazz records were ever made under as unusual and punishing conditions as this vinyl Japanese import, one that plays at the weird speed of 45 RPM. For one thing, it is a direct-to-disc album, meaning that the Tabackin Quartet had to get everything right in one take; a mistake at the end of the side meant doing it all over. For another, Toshiko Akiyoshi had to fill in at the very last minute when the original pianist, Mike Wofford, couldn't make the session, adding to the tension of the date. Luckily, the material was well-rehearsed, and Tabackin had the precise, painter-like drums of Shelly Manne and Bob Dougherty's solid bass at hand, so there is only a slight feeling of inhibition, which may well be an illusion. Tabackin is in fine, smoking form on tenor, sounding much like Don Byas on "I'm All Smiles" and tearing through the title track with unflagging ideas at top speed; he also sails brilliantly through "Summertime" on flute. "Cotton Tail" switches back and forth between a medium-tempo lope and the usual uptempo interpretation, which must have been a bear to get right on one take. These are the only four tunes, consuming a mere 23 minutes of playing time, yet the faster speed and D-to-D recording technique on this collector's item results in a brighter, crisper sound than your average 33 1/3 RPM LP.

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