Don Elliott (tp, vib, vcl, perc), Bob Corwin (p), Ernie Furtado (b), Jim Campbell (d)
Reference: FSRCD 986
Bar code: 8427328609869
Don Elliott’s collaboration with Bob Corwin was considered the East coast answer to the famous Chet Baker-Russ Freeman quartet.
Pianist Corwin was 23, when he made his recording debut as a leader with this NY studio session from June 1956 (#1-10). He was backed by bassist Ernie Furtado, drummer Jimmy Campbell, and had Don Elliott playing trumpet in all but two trio numbers. And although he was credited as a sideman in the album, the featured quartet was actually Elliott’s own unit, which he had been leading in clubs since mid-1955, and which can also be heard on the sides recorded live at Chicago’s Modern Jazz Room in July 1956, a mere month later (#11-17).
Elliott’s collaboration with Corwin was considered the East coast answer to the famous Chet Baker-Russ Freeman quartet. Elliott was best known for his work as vibraphonist and as mellophone player, but in these recordings we find him on trumpet, which he played with lyric warmth, authority and his usual sense of humor. You will also hear him on vibes in three of the numbers, and bongos and vocals on two—one each. At his side, Corwin plays with drive, fertile imagination, and generally interesting —if eclectic— conception; Campbell is crisp and steady, particularly his brushes, which are full of jumping strength; and they have a strong asset in Furtado, who plays tastefully throughout.
As is, there’s a wealth of musical satisfaction coming from both sessions, in good part because this quartet format allowed Elliott more freedom as a soloist, and proved to be the best framework for him to fully develop his talents as instrumentalist and singer.
"I bet you didn’t know that back in the 1950s, Don Elliott was a consistent winner in Downbeat’s polls, under the category of “Miscellaneous Instruments” as he played the obscure mellophone along with vibes, trumpet and bongos. He also worked as a sideman for Paul Desmond and Quincy Jones for awhile, so he got the jazz pedigree. Before he became a successful producer, in the 1950s he teamed up with pianist Bob Corwin, bassist Ernie Furtado and drummer Jim Campbell, with this collection of studio and live recordings an impressive testimony.
On horn, Elliott is as warm and lyrical as vintage Chet Baker on the lovely “My Shining Hour” and able to show his muscles on the swinging “ I’ll Remember April”. The band does a number of tunes associated with Baker, so it’s fun to compare readings her of “I Remember You”, “Isn’t It Romantic”, and “Gone With The Wind” with Elliott in a photo finish with the better known Baker. His vibes on “But Not For Me” and “I’ll Remember April” are a crisp delight. Corwin is magnificent on piano, slinky on “Rico-Jico-Joe” and “It Could Happen To You”. Their concert sound is quite the hip thing, bouncing on “I Remember You” and ebullient on “ Moonlight In Vermont”. This band is going to make West Coast jazz fans think they found the Rosetta Stone."
George W. Harris (February 10, 2020)