John Pisano, Billy Bean (g), Pete Candoli, Melvin Moore, Irving Goodman (tp), Si Zentner (tb), William Green, Paul Horn, Chuck Gentry (fl, saxes), Abe Most (cl), Calvin Jackson, Paul Moer, Fred Katz (p), Gene Estes (vib), Hal Gaylor (b), Red Callender (b, tuba), Chico Hamilton, Larry Bunker (d)
Reference: FSRCD 736
Bar code: 8427328607360
The John Pisano-Billy Bean Recordings on Decca
Duetting beautifully in a variety of settings, West Coast based guitarists John Pisano and Billy Bean display their versatility on Makin It and Take Your Pick, two late-1950s albums they made for Deccas Mood Jazz in Hi-Fi series. Both albums were marked by some excellent supporting groups and a well-balanced, expertly played set of tunes with a predominantly jazz feeling.
Standards like Ill Wind are coloured by the pastel shades of arranger Fred Katz; others, such as Linger Awhile and Little Old Lady, by the brassily forthright hand of arranger Calvin Jackson. But they also include simple blowing things like Pixie and Billys Beanery, featuring the flowing vibes of Gene Estes, or The Song Is You, in which Pisano and Bean mesh with inventive fluency over the bass support of Hal Gaylor. Bill Potts, the talented Washington, D.C. arranger/composer, contributes three tunes, including the remarkable Pottsville U.S.A.. The sole departure from the jazz approach is Pastorale, by Fred Katz, a study in neo-modern, moody impressionism, where the musical values stressed are collective rather than individual.
"John Pisano is a living legend here in LA, but for some reason, hes never become a household name. For the past few decades, hes had a Tuesday Guitar Night at local venues where guest 6 stringers come to jam, but before that he was a member of Sergio Mendes Brazil 66 as well as the go-to studio guy for the likes of Tony Bennett. Here, youve got two 1958 sessions with fellow guitarist Billy Bean and they mix and match with various Angelenos such as Chico Hamilton-Larry Bunker/dr, Paul Horn-Abe Most/reeds, Gene Estes/vibes and Calvin Jackson/p along with cameo appearances by others. The two axes mix it up on some nice jamming material like Billys Beanery and Pixie, as well showing some gorgeous taste on material like Ill Wind which features marvelous strings and flute. Some brass adds heft on Linger Awhile and Little Old Lady and Mozartian moods climb into the studio on Pastorale. The songs all clock in around 3-4 minutes; simple succinct bundles of joy that has aged like a French wine. Stunning!"
George W. Harris -April 25, 2013
"Both Pisano and Bean began recording in 1956, Pisano in the restrained environment of Chico Hamiltons group, Bean with the more extrovert Charlie Ventura. Their two Decca albums together are combined here as Fresh Sound continue to rescue from obscurity music which has been unavailable for years. Its fortunate that the original notes are included as they help to identify which guitarist plays when, and it soon becomes clear that Bean used more forceful accents than Pisano and swung more aggressively.
Fred Katz, the cellist from Hamiltons group, produced and arranged the first album which Pisano later described as more a mood jazz record and which on a few tracks had obvious links with the contemporary Third Stream movement. Apart from two tracks with brass there were mostly subtle sounds from the two guitars and the vibes of Gene Estes with occasional assistance from flute and strings, which all chimed more with Pisanos background than with Beans. (The highly competent Estes was still recording on vibes in 1993, with Annie Ross, but in the meantime had built an alternative career as a percussionist with rock musicians. Pisano is still in action but Bean, although he didnt die until last year, seems to have made no recordings after the 60s for reasons Ive been unable to discover.)
The guitarists second album together (tracks 11 to 22) promised to be livelier and indeed it was. Larry Bunkers brushes propel the title tune and several of those which follow. Katzs Pastorale temporarily places mood before jazz but the jazz soon takes over again. Considerable care was taken over variety of tempos and structure in terms of solos and exchanges and Fresh Sound have taken equal care in the provision of discographical details and reproduction of the original covers. In view of Billy Beans talent and the sadly small number of his recordings this is a valuable release."
Graham Colombé -February, 2013
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