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These two albums, under the leadership of trombonist Al Grey, were recorded while he was a member of Count Basies band. With the exception of the pianists, the men assembled to play in these sessions were all well known Basie-ites. All the charts share a spare, functional approach ideal for the three brass-two saxes instrumentation. The arrangements delve cleanly and right to the heart of swinging. Grey, famed for his plunger mute work, plays vigorously and inventively.
Both groupsan octet and a nonetdisplay that warm, moving blues feeling that characterized the Basie band, with all the soloists blowing with sure-footed intensity alongside the tastefully swinging leader.
01. Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Ellington-Persons) 3:46
02. Open Wider, Please (Al Grey) 4:49
03. I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good (Ellington-Webster) 3:18
04. Don't Get Around Much Anymore (Ellington-Russell) 3:06
05. How Come You Do Me Like You Do (Austin-Bergere) 2:31
06. Bluish Grey (Thad Jones) 3:49
07. The Elder (Thad Jones) 5:15
08. Bewitched (Rodgers-Hart) 3:36
09. Kenie-Konie (Frank Foster) 6:05
10. Salty Papa (Al Grey) 5:50
11. Dont Cry Baby (Johnson-Bernie-Unger) 2:22
12. Stranded (Frank Foster) 5:28
13. Tenderly (Gross-Lawrence) 2:04
14. Rompin' (Frank Foster) 3:44
15. King Bee (Al Grey) 5:38
16. When I Fall in Love (Victor Young) 2:32
17. Al-Lamo (Thad Jones) 4:52
Tracks #1-9, from the album "The Last Of The Big Plungers" (Argo LPS 653)
Tracks #10-17, from the album "The Thinking Man's Trombone" (Argo LPS 677)
Personnel on "The Last Of The Big Plungers":
Al Grey Octet
Joe Newman (trumpet), Al Grey, Benny Powell (trombones), Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Floyd Morris (piano), Eddie Jones (bass), Sonny Payne (drums).
Recorded at Ter-Mar Recording Studios, Chicago, September 25 & 28, 1959
Personnel on "The Thinking Man's Trombone"
Al Grey Nonet
Joe Newman (trumpet), Al Grey, Benny Powell (trombones), Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax), Freddie Green (guitar), Billy Higgins (piano), Eddie Jones (bass), Sonny Payne (drums).
Recorded at Ter-Mar Recording Studios, Chicago, August 23,24 & 25, 1960
Arrangements by Frank Foster (#1-5,8,9,12,14), Thad Jones (#6,7,11,17), Al Grey (#10, 15), Nat Pierce (#16) and Clare Fischer (#13)
Recordings engineers: Malcom Chisholm (#1-9) and Ron Malo (#9-17)
Liner notes: Barbara Gardner / Jon Hendricks
Original recordings supervised by Jack Tracy
This compilation produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Stereo · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.
Note: The four-bar trombone exchanges on 'Open Wider, Please' between Al Gray and Benny Powell are initiated by the former. The second trombone solos on 'Rompin' and 'Al-Amo' are by Powell.
—The Thinking Man's Trombone
"A great if little-known LP, this set by trombonist Al Grey features him with other Count Basie sidemen (Eddie Higgins fills in on piano) playing three standards and tunes by Frank Foster, Thad Jones, and Grey himself. A boppish trombonist who was a master at using the plunger mute (crossing over into swing), Grey holds his own on this set with trumpeter Joe Newman, tenor saxophonist Billy Mitchell, and fellow trombonist Benny Powell. Among the high points of this enjoyable set are "Salty Papa," "Don't Cry Baby," "King Bee," and a very pretty version of "Tenderly" that is taken by the horns a cappella. Swinging and witty music."