Alvino Rey (g, dir), Gerry Mulligan (bs), Warren Barker (arr)
Reference: BMCD 907
Bar code: 8427328009072
California-born guitarist, arranger, and bandleader Alvino Rey (1911-2004) emerged as a formidable foe of the stale phrase and a sworn champion of good sound… which usually turns out to be a brave, new sound, as Rey conceives it. His stimulating musical ideas get a vigorous waxing in these tunes, all ready for a fresh sounding dance party.
This rewarding music finds the notes of Alvino's own console guitar interwoven with the profound and colorful tones of the ten brass (five each of trumpets and trombones), an indomitable rhythm section, and Gerry Mulligan on baritone sax as featured soloist.
In fact, all the tunes in this fine, free, wide-open album are illuminated by Rey's solid musicianship and refreshing innovations that create amodern, high-style “Swingin' Fling!”
“Ping-Pong!” is an outstanding Stereo album that —as stereo fans know— is also a term that describes the effects of sound bouncing from one speaker to the other. And never did a gayer, brighter bunch of sounds get bounced about than these. The sound of Alvino's console guitar is heard on the left and on the right, hopping back and forth in a mad turntable tennis match with itself. On half the selections there are rollicking trombones, bouncing to all positions. On the other numbers there are three bright trumpets to the right, with three of the trombones at left, and let Alvino do the bounding about. Throughout the album, the three rhythm instruments —bass, drums, and piano— are centered. Also, there is a electric bass guitar at right and a standard electric guitar on the left. Alvino, besides bearing the brunt of the solo work, managed to conduct.
"It is simply staggering to consider how much fantastic jazz was recorded in the 1950s and early 60s. It makes you wonder why certain albums gained fame and popularity, while others, like this reissued gem from the vaults of Blue Moon Records, wallowed in undeserved obscurity. Well, at least we have it now, and it's worth appreciating and re-assessing.
Guitarist and bandleader Alvino Rey (1908-2004) had a successful career on the radio and recording studios, teaming with Nelson Riddle ,Johnny Mandel and pioneering the steel guitar enough to land him a spot in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. These two albums have him in big band settings, custom made for the capri-slacked generations. 1958’s Swingin’ Fling is a big band affair that includes the warm baritone sax of Gerry Mulligan for a number of the tunes, like the earthy read of the strip-teaser “Night Train” , a sleek “Speak Low” and a warm “I Didn’t Know About You”. Two years later, Rey takes on charts by Warren Barker once again, focusing on the in your face rhythm section, delivering hits from the swing era in the new fangled thing called Hi Fi Stereo with big and bold reads of “Temptation”, “The Peanut Vendor” and “Begin The Beguine”. Music for the martini crowd.
The set includes great liner notes, listing of musicians and informative background detective work. How did we miss this first time around?"
—George W. Harris (February 16, 2023)