Reference: FSRCD 1647
Bar code: 8427328616478
Mr. Rhythm was the only album recorded under the leadership of Freddie Green, the jazz worlds greatest rhythm guitarist, and Count Basies heartbeat in the rhythm section. Green composed eight of the twelve tunes on this reissue CD, an enjoyably grooving set. His lean, built-riff ideas are engaging and sustaining, and the arrangements by Al Cohn, Ernie Wilkins, and Manny Albam, remain loose and swinging.
The music is graced by some superb colleagues, with Joe Newman and Al Cohn, in particular, outstanding, and the rhythm section, with Freddies mastery of the rhythm wave, Nat Pierces authoritative piano, Milt Hintons full sound on bass, and the flowingly musical jazz drumming of Jo Joneswho alternates with Osie Johnsonis something special.
"Freddie Green seldom led sessions and seldom played lead. Instead, he formed part of the classic rhythm section that gave the Count Basie band its steady pulse. This rare date finds Green with tenor Al Cohn, trumpeter Joe Newman, trombonist Henry Coker, pianist Nat Pierce, bassist Milt Hinton, and either Jo Jones or Osie Johnson on drums. Mr. Rhythm, in fact, will remind many of a good Basie set. The steady drums, bass, and guitar on "Back and Forth" and "Something's Gotta Give" push the music forward, swinging ever so lightly. Nat Pierce's minimalist piano work also owes something to Basie. He adds small flourishes to the rhythm of pieces like "Easy Does It," and only a scattering of tastefully chosen notes on his solo. Coker and Cohn deliver nice solos on "When You Wish Upon a Star," with the trombone's lovely tone and the tenor's deep, mellow pitch complimenting the romanticism of the piece. Newman offers a concise, discerning solos on "Free and Easy" and "Learnin' the Blues." He uses a mute for both solos, perfectly capturing a calm, bluesy mood. Of course Green doesn't solo, and while his guitar is often barely audible, his presence is always felt. This album shows him to be a fine leader who is happy to remain in his role as rhythm guitarist. For fans of Green, and for those who enjoy swinging jazz with great soloists, Mr. Rhythm is a fine release."
Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. -All Music Guide