Buddy Collette (as, fl, cl), Dusko Goykovich, Oscar Valdambrini (tp), Dino Piana (tb), Gianni Basso (ts, cl), Jacques Pelzer (fl), Renato Sellan, Amadeo Tommasi (p), Franco Cerri (b, g), George Joyner, Giorgio Azzolini (b), Jimmy Pratt, Gianni Cazzola, Buster Smith (d), Norman Shobey, Armshed Shobey (perc), String Quartet
Reference: FSRCD 990
Bar code: 8427328609906
In March 1961, Buddy Collette came to Italy to play at the 6th Sanremo Jazz Festival. His presence aroused much interest among Italian fans and promoters, and after the festival followed several concerts in Milan and Florence.
Buddy's first stay in Europe is, fortunately, well-documented by his frequent visits to the recording studios in Milan. Ten sessions made between March 10 and March 25, 1961, present him in a number of different settings, featuring some of the pillars of the Italian jazz scene of the sixties, such as Gianni Basso, Oscar Valdambrini, Renato Sellani, Amadeo Tommasi, Sergio Fanni, as well as other well-known jazzmen, including Serbian Dusco Gojkovic, Belgian Jacques Pelzer, and Americans George Joyner and Jimmy Pratt.
These sessions resulted in three albums, initially released in Italy by the labels Music and Ricordi. The unissued tracks here were recorded in two sessions from March 23 and 25, organised by Collette's friend George Moran, and except for Kelly and Jake, which appeared on two Ampex 8-track stereo cartridges, this is the first time they have been released.
"Buddy Collette deserves greater recognition. That he hasn’t had it is probably because he fell off the radar slightly for some years during the 60s and also he was seen as a multi-instrumentalist, rather than a specialist. Unfairly so, as these recordings show.
A leading light in post-war West Coast Jazz, playing with Mingus, Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson and others, he came to prominence with Chico Hamilton in the mid 50s. In 1961 he went to Italy to appear at the Sanremo Jazz Festival, stayed several weeks and recorded with top European players.
This set is well arranged, chronologically, starting with Slavic Mood, an attractive number by Serbian Dusko Gojkovic, with the composer playing tightly muted trumpet and Collette joining on flute. Several Collette originals follow, including the atmospheric Pickford Street (Sellani’s piano quietly understated) and the ballad Paddi (the leader on alto), before the Dennis/Adair standard Everything Happens To Me. Gojkovic excels on these, both muted and open, romping through A Taste Of Fresh Air, Collette’s alto in close attendance.
This album is worth getting for these sides alone, but there’s more to follow, as the solos from Valdambrini, Basso and Collette on Inverness, Santa Tecla and Buddy Boo demonstrate. Basso tips a (pork-pie?) hat to Lester Young on I Forgot, and follows Sellani’s block-chord and single-note run on Miss Helen with strong-toned tenor.
American bassist George Joyner (Jamil Nasser) gives rhythmic guidance throughout, but notably on Skater For Mater, Blues and Speak Low. His walking bass directs Softly, in which the quality of playing shines through from Sellani and Collette, and he duets with the leader on a sensitive reading of That’s All, piano and brushes joining.
There’s plenty for flute fans when Collette and Pelzer combine and there are four tracks with La Scala String Quartet – an acquired taste but it conjures up Italy of that period, Antonioni and Monica Vitti wandering into Milan’s Jamaica bar. There are even a couple of Latin numbers – conga drum and bongos with Dino Piana’s lively trombone. All very enjoyable with some gems.
In an interview in the booklet Collette said “What a great, great trip it was. It was all music for a month, me learning the different pacing of the Italian people and the musicians”. Poignant, in the current climate of uncertainty. All hopes for a return to safety, borders reopened and links with a warm and friendly people soon re-established. [If Brexit catches Covid-19 – Ed.]"
Matthew Wright (May 5, 2020)
"One of the true masters of jazz that never quite got his due (outside of his hometown of Los Angeles) has to be Buddy Collette (1921-2010). Jazz fans “in the know” knew about him from his classic work as a sideman with Charles Mingus and Chico Hamilton, but he also was the first black to break into the all white Hollywood studio scene of the 1950s, eschewing the fame of touring and living in New York to be in the band for the popular Groucho Marx “You Bet Your Life” TV show, among others.
This two disc set finds him on a rare European tour, recording in Milan, Italy, for a handful of typically classy sessions. He plays flute, clarinet and alto sax throughout, with Italian all stars that you may not be familiar with such as Gianni basso/ts-cl, Renato Sellani/p, Franco Cerri-irogio Azzolini/b as well as Americans Buster Smith-Gianni Cazzola/dr and George Joyner/b. He’s mostly heard on flute, and he sounds bluesy on the bopping “Slavic Mood” and “Kelly” while fluffy on “Hannah’s Dream” and giving a wonderful solo aria during “Lonely Flute”. His alto is warm for “Paddi” and digs into the Afro Cuban” Eh! Oh!” and gives rich hues for “Blues”. Is clarinet shines on “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” and swings to “Skater For Mater”. This is one to search for, as these rare recordings deserve ears for appreciation.
The multipage book gives a great synopsis of the woodwind master, and the studio session info is invaluable for historians. Check it out!"
George W. Harris (April 6, 2020)