Bennie Green

Trombone by Three

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This bebop era trombone sampler provides a perfect way to hear early sides by J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding, and Bennie Green. Johnson appropriately kicks thing off, demonstrating his innovative adaptation of Charlie Parker's bop language to the trombone. Joined by tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist John Lewis, and drummer Max Roach, Johnson works through four up-tempo cuts, including the self-penned "Fox Hunt" and "Opus V." Lewis and Dorham contribute a cut apiece and join the rest of the group in turning in many fine and fluid solos. Winding, who at first took cues from Johnson, avails himself admirably on four tracks here as well, keeping with the up-tempo groove on his original number "A Night on Bop Mountain" and Gerry Mulligan's "Waterworks." Along with Mulligan on baritone, Winding is supported by tenor saxophonist Brew Moore, pianist George Wallington, and drummer Roy Haynes, whose depth-charge bass drum accents particularly standout. In contrast to the bebop mold both Johnson and Winding fitted into, Green stuck mostly to a big band and R&B vein, sidestepping many of Parker and Dizzy Gillespie's innovations in favor of a more traditional, yet no less swinging sound. Sparked by the honking intensity of Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' tenor solos and Art Blakey's busy, yet tight drumming, Green blazes through four cuts as well, mixing intense, grainy solos with more fluid and rounded statements. Both his duel with Davis on "Whirl-A-Licks" and the fine rendition of "Pennies From Heaven" deserve particular recognition. While the sound here is not top-notch, these recordings from 1949-'51 offer more than enough engaging moments to make this a great jazz title. The CD offers a handful of bonus tracks, including alternate takes and a title not found on the original LP.