Manny Albam

West Side Story

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AllMusic Review by

Arranger Manny Albam was a logical choice to lead a large ensemble performing excerpts from the huge Broadway hit West Side Story. With an all-star band that includes Gene Quill, Ernie Royal, Joe Newman, Jimmy Cleveland, Al Cohn, Hank Jones, Bob Brookmeyer, Milt Hinton, Eddie Costa, and far too many others to list, Albam successfully transforms Leonard Bernstein's imaginative score into cool jazz. Since there are multiple musicians for most instruments, it is unclear who is soloing much of the time, though Gene Quill's laughing alto sax and Hank Jones' piano stand out in the opening "Prologue and Jet Song." Of particular interest is Albam's method of combining several different themes in the "Finale." Originally issued on Coral, with later reissues on Vocalion and Decca, this is easily one of the best of many jazz LPs saluting West Side Story, though it may be tougher to find than most of the others.

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