Makin' it + Take Your Pick (2 LP on 1 CD)
  • Decca DL9206 Decca DL9206
  • Decca DL9212 Decca DL9212
  • John Pisano John Pisano
  • Billy Bean Billy Bean

John Pisano & Billy Bean

Makin' it + Take Your Pick (2 LP on 1 CD)

Fresh Sound Records

John Pisano, Billy Bean (g), Pete Candoli, Melvin Moore, Irving Goodman (tp), Si Zentner (tb), William Green, Paul Horn, Chuck Gentry (fl, saxes), Abe Most (cl), Calvin Jackson, Paul Moer, Fred Katz (p), Gene Estes (vib), Hal Gaylor (b), Red Callender (b, tuba), Chico Hamilton, Larry Bunker (d)

Reference: FSRCD 736

Bar code: 8427328607360

The John Pisano-Billy Bean Recordings on Decca

Duetting beautifully in a variety of settings, West Coast based guitarists John Pisano and Billy Bean display their versatility on Makin It and Take Your Pick, two late-1950s albums they made for Deccas Mood Jazz in Hi-Fi series. Both albums were marked by some excellent supporting groups and a well-balanced, expertly played set of tunes with a predominantly jazz feeling.

Standards like Ill Wind are coloured by the pastel shades of arranger Fred Katz; others, such as Linger Awhile and Little Old Lady, by the brassily forthright hand of arranger Calvin Jackson. But they also include simple blowing things like Pixie and Billys Beanery, featuring the flowing vibes of Gene Estes, or The Song Is You, in which Pisano and Bean mesh with inventive fluency over the bass support of Hal Gaylor. Bill Potts, the talented Washington, D.C. arranger/composer, contributes three tunes, including the remarkable Pottsville U.S.A.. The sole departure from the jazz approach is Pastorale, by Fred Katz, a study in neo-modern, moody impressionism, where the musical values stressed are collective rather than individual.

01. Ill Wind (Arlen-Koehler; arr. Fred Katz) 3:48
02. Cirrus (Paul Horn) 3:38
03. Indian Summer (Victor Herbert) 3:52
04. Little Old Lady (Adams-Carmichael; arr. Calvin Jackson) 3:40
05. When I Fall In Love (Albert Selden) 4:09
06. Our Waltz (David Rose; arr. Fred Katz) 2:16
07. Flute Cocktail (Bill Potts) 3:43
08. The Song Is You (Kern-Hammerstein II) 3:55
09. I See Your Face Before Me (Schwartz-Dietz; arr. Calvin Jackson) 3:29
10. Crazy Head (Bill Potts) 4:19
11. Take Your Pick (John J. Pisano) 4:00
12. Evry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter; arr. Carson Smith) 3:01
13. Pixie (John J. Pisano) 2:25
14. Pastorale (Fred Katz) 4:09
15. Fat Feet (Billy Bean) 2:50
16. Dingle Bird (Bill Potts) 3:45
17. Billys Beanery (Billy Bean) 3:26
18. Pottsville, U.S.A. (Bill Potts) 4:42
19. Half Breed (Bill Potts) 4:04
20. Memento (John J. Pisano) 3:59
21. Motivation (Billy Bean) 3:11
22. Linger Awhile (Rose-Owens; arr. C. Jackson) 2:45

Tracks #1-10, from the album "Makin' It" (Decca DL 9206)
Tracks #11-22, from the album "Take Your Pick" (Decca DL 9212)

John Pisano & Billy Bean, guitar duets, with:

Tracks #2,3,5,11,12,13,15,17,20 & 21: Gene Estes, vibes; Hal Gaylor, bass; Chico Hamilton (#3); Larry Bunker, drums; Paul Horn, flute (#2).
Recorded in January 24 (#3 & 5), January 30 (#2), March 14 (#11, 12, 13 & 17) & March 21 (#15, 20 & 21), 1958

Tracks #1 & 6: Paul Horn, flute; Gene Estes, vibes; Calvin Jackson, piano; Hal Gaylor, bass; Chico Hamilton, drums; Alexander Neiman, Irving Manning, violas; Raphael Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten, cellos.
Recorded in January 30, 1958

Personnel on tracks #7 & 10: Paul Horn, William Green, flute & clarinet; Hal Gaylor, bass; Gene Estes, drums
Recorded in February 3, 1958

Tracks #4,9 & 22: Pete Candoli, Kendall Bright, Melvin Moore, Irving Goodman, trumpets; Si Zentner, Karl DeKarske, Hoyt Bohannon, trombones; Fred Katz, piano; Hal Gaylor, bass; Red Callender, tuba; Gene Estes, drums.
Recorded in February 3, 1958

Personnel on track #8: Hal Gaylor, bass.
Recorded in February 3, 1958

Tracks #14,16,18 & 19: Paul Horn, William Green, Chuck Gentry, flutes & reeds; George Smith, Abe Most, clarinets; Jules Jacobs, oboe; Justin Gordon, bass clarinet; Calvin Jackson, piano; Hal Gaylor, bass; Larry Bunker, drums.
Recorded in February 25, 1958

All recording sessions took place at the Decca Records Studio in Hollywood, 5505 Melrose Avenue

Original Decca sessions supervised by Charles Dant

Compiled for CD release by Jordi Pujol

24-Bit Digitally Remastered

Note: Two tracks from the album Makin It (While the Music Plays On and Symphony, arranged by cellist Fred Katz), have not been included in this compilation due to the time limitations of the CD format. Both tracks will be included in a future CD release dedicated to Fred Katz (FSRCD 744).


"John Pisano is a living legend here in LA, but for some reason, hes never become a household name. For the past few decades, hes had a Tuesday Guitar Night at local venues where guest 6 stringers come to jam, but before that he was a member of Sergio Mendes Brazil 66 as well as the go-to studio guy for the likes of Tony Bennett. Here, youve got two 1958 sessions with fellow guitarist Billy Bean and they mix and match with various Angelenos such as Chico Hamilton-Larry Bunker/dr, Paul Horn-Abe Most/reeds, Gene Estes/vibes and Calvin Jackson/p along with cameo appearances by others. The two axes mix it up on some nice jamming material like Billys Beanery and Pixie, as well showing some gorgeous taste on material like Ill Wind which features marvelous strings and flute. Some brass adds heft on Linger Awhile and Little Old Lady and Mozartian moods climb into the studio on Pastorale. The songs all clock in around 3-4 minutes; simple succinct bundles of joy that has aged like a French wine. Stunning!"

George W. Harris -April 25, 2013

"Both Pisano and Bean began recording in 1956, Pisano in the restrained environment of Chico Hamiltons group, Bean with the more extrovert Charlie Ventura. Their two Decca albums together are combined here as Fresh Sound continue to rescue from obscurity music which has been unavailable for years. Its fortunate that the original notes are included as they help to identify which guitarist plays when, and it soon becomes clear that Bean used more forceful accents than Pisano and swung more aggressively.

Fred Katz, the cellist from Hamiltons group, produced and arranged the first album which Pisano later described as more a mood jazz record and which on a few tracks had obvious links with the contemporary Third Stream movement. Apart from two tracks with brass there were mostly subtle sounds from the two guitars and the vibes of Gene Estes with occasional assistance from flute and strings, which all chimed more with Pisanos background than with Beans. (The highly competent Estes was still recording on vibes in 1993, with Annie Ross, but in the meantime had built an alternative career as a percussionist with rock musicians. Pisano is still in action but Bean, although he didnt die until last year, seems to have made no recordings after the 60s for reasons Ive been unable to discover.)

The guitarists second album together (tracks 11 to 22) promised to be livelier and indeed it was. Larry Bunkers brushes propel the title tune and several of those which follow. Katzs Pastorale temporarily places mood before jazz but the jazz soon takes over again. Considerable care was taken over variety of tempos and structure in terms of solos and exchanges and Fresh Sound have taken equal care in the provision of discographical details and reproduction of the original covers. In view of Billy Beans talent and the sadly small number of his recordings this is a valuable release."

Graham Colombé -February, 2013
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