Hal Schaefer & Manny Albam (p, arr, dir), with Nick Travis, Joe Newman, Clark Terry (tp), Frank Rehak, Urbie Green (tb), Phil Woods, Oliver Nelson, Frank Socolow (saxes), Eddie Costa (p, vib), Jim Hall, Jimmy Raney, Chet Amsterdam (b), Osie Johnson (d)
Reference: FSRCD 855
Bar code: 8427328608558
UA Showcase was the first recording by the newly created United Artists Records in 1958. The set of songs from great UA movies was given bright, fresh scores by Hal Schaefer and a brisk, bristling reading by a large, star-studded orchestra. Among the excellent soloists featured are Gene Quill on alto sax, Nick Travis, on trumpet, Frank Rehak, trombone, and Schaefer on piano. The approach throughout is interesting and innovative, and the full sound the band gets suggests impressive power kept carefully under control.
Likewise, Jazz Goes to the Movies is a first rate album that reached the pop as well the jazz market in 1962. Skillfully arranged by Manny Albam, his jazz settings of familiar movie songs and themes were zestfully delivered to build and sustain a variety of moods. The three orchestras used, comprising 12, 14, and 17 men respectively, included some of the most dependable soloists and section men in New York City. There are strong solo contributions by such stars as Clark Terry, Joe Newman, Johnny Coles, Bob Brookmeyer, Willie Dennis, Urbie Green, Phil Woods, Gene Quill, Oliver Nelson, Eddie Costa, Jim Hall, Jimmy Raney and Bill Crow. Overall, each orchestra does complete justice to Albams scores, blending well, and building to effective climaxes on a superior album.
"The five stars are for the much-revered Manny Albam tracks (the final eight). Mr Schaeffer would be awarded three for his music. But I would willingly unbend to give him at least five for the fact that he used to have it away with Marilyn Monroe. His charts are bright and accomplished, and it is perhaps his misfortune that they sit next to such a classic grouping as those by the sainted Dominican.
Some people do not share my enthusiasm for Albams skills, and I have to own that he didnt have the jazz inspiration of a Gil Evans, an Ellington or an Ernie Wilkins. But the music that he recorded excelled in another dimension with its polish and precision perhaps asking for it to be compared to Kenton or Billy May-style orchestras. Manny knew his jazz and where to get his soloists, which is why people like Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Hall, Phil Woods, Nick Travis and Joe Newman were so keen to play for him, as they demonstrated here.
I find that music that is written for films usually drops down a notch from that written to go direct to the ear and the titles included here are not intrinsically admirable, with the possible exception of the unusual Green Leaves. This track features Brookmeyer at his languid best, along with his (later) musical partner Jim Hall. Albam had an understandable penchant for the valve trombonist, and Bob pops up all over the place. Clark Terry and Johnny Coles also score lots of points, with the latter particularly effective in on El Cid and in partnership with Phil Woods on Exodus. Willie Dennis was always good to listen to and he uses Joe Newmans buzz mute in the trombone solo on Majority. The storming of Navarone is undertaken by Oliver Nelson and Brookmeter, whilst Eddie Costa and Bill Crow are exceptionally good in solo and in the section.
Mr Schaefers natural home was his trio, but he shows hes skilled at big band writing. The material wasnt the best but soloists Frank Rehak and Gene Quill were unremittingly excellent."
-Steve Voce (Jazz Journal, April 2015)
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