Joe Newman (tp), Al Cohn (ts, cl, b-cl, arr), Thad Jones, Joe Wilder, Bernie Glow, Phil Sunkel (tp), Nick Travis (tp, v-tb), Frank Rehak, Billy Byers, Urbie Green, Henry Coker (tb), Hal McKusick, Gene Quill (as), Ernie Wilkins (as, arr), Sol Schlinger (ts, bs), Sanford Gold, Nat Pierce, Dick Katz, Hank Jones (p), Freddie Green (g), Billy Bauer, Jimmy Raney (g), Buddy Jones, Milt Hinton (b), Osie Johnson, 'Shadow' Wilson, Jo Jones (d), Manny Albam, Johnny Carisi, Ralph Burns (arr)
Bar code: 8427328611084
6 LP on a 3-CD Box Set, including:
* Al Cohn —Mr. Music (RCA Victor LJM-1024) 1955
* Al Cohn —The Natural Seven (RCA Victor LPM-1116) 1955
* Joe Newman —All I Wanna Do is Swing (RCA Victor LPM-1118) 1955
* The Jazz Workshop —Four Brass, One Tenor (RCA Victor LPM-1161) 1955
* Joe Newman —I'm Still Swinging (RCA Victor LPM-1198) 1956
* Freddie Green —Mr. Rhythm (RCA Victor LPM-1210) 1956
From December 1954 to December 1955, jazz producer Jack Lewis recorded a series of outstanding albums at RCA Victor’s famous Webster Hall Studios in New York City with Al Cohn and Joe Newman, each leading several small swinging bands, and as sidemen on Freddie Green’s only album as a leader.
By then, Al Cohn was one the hardest working and most sought-after tenor saxophonists and arrangers in New York. His playing was in some way reminiscent of Lester Young, but above all, it was personal, both in sound and concept. The originality and strength of his work are evidenced by these sessions, for which he joined forces with his friend, trumpeter Joe Newman, as well as some of the best jazzmen on the New York scene.
It was in 1952, after becoming amain trumpet soloist for the Count Basie Orchestra, that Joe Newman rose to fame. Basically, Newman’s style stayed close to that of his mentor Harry Edison. His playing was a mixture of simplicity and spontaneity with just the right amount of originality of his own but without ever neglecting the contribution of the bop school.
The unamplified guitar of Freddie Green, long a mainstay of the bright and relaxed rhythm section of the Count Basie Orchestra, also brought a swing touch to these recordings. “Mr. Rhythm”, the first and only album recorded under his leadership, completes and closes this amazing set of swinging sessions that sustain a high level of musicianship, and a constantly pulsating rhythmic drive.
“The big thing around here these days is the Count Basie band. I think it’s having more and more of an influence on our musicians and arrangers all the time,” said Al Cohn in 1955. “We all want to swing, because swing, I think, is still the most important element in jazz.”
"The name Al Cohn broke through during his commitment to reed player Woody Herman's 'Second Herd', who at the time were regarded as one of the most progressive Big Bands of its time. Today, his name is frequently mentioned as the grandfather of trumpeter Shaye Cohn of New Orleans band Tuba Skinny. Joe Newman is mainly associated with his long-standing associations with the Count Basie big band and to a lesser extent his work for vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.
In the case of Cohn, there has been some discussion whether his style belongs in the Eastcoast drawer or whether he is more an adept of the Westcoast way of playing. He himself found it complicated, it is certain that he was born in New York. He mainly drew his inspiration from greats from the swing era: Armstrong, Hawkins and Lester Young. There is no trace of bebop on these albums. It seems as if the genre never existed or perhaps even deliberately avoided. Blues, ballads and killer dillers are rare, if at all. Blues then only as a twelve-part structure to solo over in a medium tempo, as in the Basie classic: Swingin' The Blues, but not blues in the sense as that expression was originally intended.
The music that can be heard here mainly consists of nice medium swinging classics such as 9:20 Special, Topsy, Rosetta, Dream A Little Dream With Me and You Can Depend On Me. Everything is performed at a very high level, timing and intonation are easy to manage. The players are extremely reliable sidemen for professional big bands, you can hear that in everything. A few titles that stand out are Sweethearts On Parade, from the repertoire and pen of the Lombardo's, bandleader Guy and service brother, composer Carmen Lombardo. In addition, A Kiss To Built A Dreams On, best known for numerous versions by Louis Armstrong.
Mr. Rhythm is actually a session under the name of the phenomenal rhythm guitarist Freddie Green, who hoped to provide for his retirement by contributing no fewer than eight original compositions. From this only record under Green's name comes the most striking musical moment: drummer Jo Jones who suddenly goes completely crazy out of nowhere and shakes everyone up with a rousing drum solo! As an encore, the loose title Swingin' The Blues has been given. It actually comes from another album: That Old Feeling, under the name of Al Cohn. A fresh sound."
—Bert Brandsma (June, 2022)
Doctor Jazz Magazine
CHOC Jazz Magazine
"Cette nouvelle réédition du label Fresh Sound Records est une plongée au cœur même de l’élaboration du cool jazz.
Si le label de Jordi Pujol n’en est pas à son coup d’essai tant son rôle continue d’être majeur dans l’exploration de l’histoire du jazz, ce coffret revêt une importance particulière. Nombre de musiciens venus d’horizons divers et comptant parmi les créateurs les plus éminents de l’époque se trouvent rassemblés autour d’Al Cohn et de Joe Newman, les Thad Jones, Nat Pierce, Billy Bauer, Dick Katz, Jimmy Raney, Jo Jones et quelques autres conjuguant leurs talents au sein de formations à géométrie variable, du septette au nonette. Jusqu’au guitariste Freddie Green, inamovible cheville ouvrière de l’orchestre de Count Basie. Il figure dans toutes les formations et on retrouve en outre dans ce superbe coffret le seul disque qu’il ait enregistré en leader, “Mr. Rhythm” dont le titre rend hommage à son rôle de pilier rythmique sans pareil. Inutile de préciser que chacun des morceaux de ces sessions recèle des trésors, chacun des solistes rivalisant de swing et d’inventivité. Encore convient-il de rendre hommage aux arrangeurs, à commencer par Al Cohn lui-même. Manny Albam, Ernie Wilkins, John Carisi et Ralph Burns, experts dans l’art des alliances de sons et des contrastes de timbres, prennent une part non négligeable dans la réussite de l’ensemble. Outre le plaisir constant que procure celui-ci, il constitue un jalon important et un témoignage précieux sur ce style nouveau et héréroclite, alors en cours d’élaboration, qui trouvera sa consécration avec “Birth Of The Cool” de Miles Davis. Irremplaçable, à ce seul titre."
—Jacques Aboucaya (Mars, 2022)
Ringer of the Week *****
"I’ve you’ve only experienced jazz from the hard and raucous beats and intricate time signatures of technical acuity with now heart, you’re in for a treat with this 3 disc set from Fresh Sound Records.
Initially, jazz was defined by the pulse called “swing”, that lighter than air pulse that gloriously moves the songs forward. One of the proponents of what was called “Kansas City Swing” was Count Basie, with a gloriously easy 4 to the bar beat that was so distinguishable, that even my eight year old daughter could tell when a Basie record was playing. How, “It’s that ‘zoom, zoom, zoom, feel, dad” was her simple reply. It stands the test of time.
This album features six albums from Basie sidemen from the years 1954-55, a time when Basie was between big bands, slowly changing from his original band to the “Atomic Band” that would define his subsequent years. Alumni, charter members and Basie-inspired musicians are mixed and matched here, and the music is simply the definition of what we call “Swing”.
The first disc has a couple of sessions from December, 1954 to February 1955 led by Lester Young-inspired tenor saxist Al Cohn. The first session is a mix and match affair that includes Basie-ites Joe Newman/tp, Osie Johnson/dr as well as Gene Quill/as, Milt Hinton/b, Billy Byers/tb and Jimmy Raney/g among others. The cool breeze of swing is evident with the leader’s tenor cruising through “Cohn My Way” and the team digging in to “Move”. Cohn’s septet which includes Newman, Basie-inspired Nat Pierce/p, Frank Rehak/tb, Hinton and Johnson also brings in the heartbeat of Basie, guitarist Freddie Green, who is both heard and felt on classic KC sounds for “9:20 Special”, “Doggin Around” and the glorious “Jump The Blues Away”.
Disc two has trumpeter Joe Newman mixing four brass (including Thad Jones) and Al Cohn’s tenor and Dick Katz’s piano for peppy pieces like “Rosetta” and “Cohn Not Cohen”. Newman co-leads with Cohn for an octet session that is bubbling over with Basie gents. Ernie Wilkins plays alto sax and arranges along with Pierce, Green, Hinton, Rehak and Shadow Wilson/dr on Green’s classic “Corner Pocket” and the drummer classic “Topsy” are included here, as well as a velvety read of “Lullaby of Birdland”.
The third disc includes Newman’s octet with Urbie Green/tb, Quill/as, Cohn/ts, Katz/p, Wilson/dr, Green/g and Eddie Jones/b for a revisit of the Basie classics “You Can Depend On Me” and “Exactly Like You” while Newman’s own “Slats!” and “The Daughter of Miss Thing” get the toes tapping. Freddie Green is the leader for the last session, appropriately titled “Mr. Rhythm” which reunites him with drummer Joe Jones. This last session captures the jogger’s pulse of vintage Basie, particularly the vintage 1930s Kansas City Session days, with pieces like “Free and Easy”, “Easy Does It” and “Back and Forth” defining the groove as Newman, Cohn and trombonist Henry Coker riding the current like a Class IV whitewater rafter.
The booklet of liner notes and session musicians are an excellent addendum to this 3 disc anthology of what is right and good about modern music. If this music doesn’t get you excited about the feel of jazz, may I suggest you take up another hobby like macrame."
—George W. Harris (February 17, 2022)
"Al Cohn & Joe Newman’s The Swingin’ Sessions 1954-55 is a four-CD set that reissues all of the music that was originally put out on six RCA Victor LPs. Two were originally released under Al Cohn’s name (Mr. Music and The Natural Seven), two were led by Newman (All I Wanna Do Is Swing and I’m Still Swinging), one was listed as being by The Jazz Workshop (Four Brass, One Tenor), and also included is rhythm guitarist Freddie Green’s Mr. Rhythm along with one additional bonus cut.
What these sessions have in common is that trumpeter Joe Newman and tenor saxophonist/arranger Al Cohn are on each album, and all of the music swings like a Count Basie date. The medium-size groups (which range from 7-11 pieces) also include such notables as altoist Gene Quill, trombonists Frank Rehak, Urbie Green and Henry Coker, and pianists Nat Pierce and Fred Katz. Cohn contributed the majority of the arrangements although there are also many by Manny Albam and Ernie Wilkins. Newman and Cohn are both heard in consistently inspired form, the arrangements and songs are uncomplicated and swinging, and the 65-year old music has dated very well. This is very easy music to enjoy and the packaging is quite attractive."
—Scott Yanow (January, 2022)
Los Angeles Jazz Scene