Cool Man Cool + Jazz From the North Coast, Vol.2 (2 LP on 1 CD)
  • Golden Crest CR 3014
    Golden Crest CR 3014
  • Zephyr ZP12013G
    Zephyr ZP12013G
  • John Plonsky
    John Plonsky
  • Herb Pilhofer
    Herb Pilhofer

John Plonsky & Herb Pilhofer

Cool Man Cool + Jazz From the North Coast, Vol.2 (2 LP on 1 CD)

Rare and Obscure Jazz Albums

John Plonsky (tp), Herb Pilhofer (p), Jack Coan (tp), Paul Binstock (Frh), Stan Haugesag (tb), Bob Crea (as, cl), Dave Karr (ts, bs, fl), Carl Janelli (bs), Dominic Cortese (accordion), Chet Amsterdam, Ted Hughart (b), Mel Zelnick, Russ Moore (d), Betty Blake (vcl)

Reference: FSRCD 1064

Bar code: 8427328610643

Fresh Sound Records presents:
Rare and Obscure Jazz Albums
A CD series created for the most discerning jazz collectors

· Hard to find albums in Collector's Edition
· 2 Original LPs on 1 CD
· Original Cover Art, Liner Notes
· Complete Personnel Details
· Hi Fi Recordings
· Newly Remastered in 24-Bit

Cool Man Cool
This quintet under the direction of composer-arranger-trumpeter John Plonsky (born in 1926) offers an interesting listening experience in the smooth jazz style of Dave Pell butwith a twist, its unusual instrumentation composed of baritone, amplified accordion and trumpet with bass and drums. Recorded in 1957, Cool Man Cool was his only album as a leader, and it revealed Plonsky as a talented and imaginative soloist with a warmand open tone, who also managed to carry out extremely laborious ensemble work. All players are excellent in harmony, and the use of amplified accordion provides an orchestral texture to support the trumpet and baritone saxophone, adding much appreciated depth to the overall sound. Plonsky's five tastefully conceived originals plus the six fresh, well-arranged standards —two of theman excellent frame to showcase the talent and the vocal facets of singer Betty Ann Blake— do much to enhance the album's appeal.

Jazz From the North Coast, Volume 2
Pianist Herb Pilhofer was born in Nurenberg, Germany, in 1931. He was not overly interested in music until he began studying piano at the age of seventeen. After WWII, he was introduced to jazz by the American soldiers who stayed in Germany, and decided to form his own group and play for the Army Special Service and the USO in Europe. He traveled to the United States in 1954, where he learned arranging and orchestration from Bill Russo. Not wanting to waste time, that same year Pilhofer organized his octet, choosing from some of the best musicians the Twin City jazz scene had to offer. For him, it became a kind of workshop to test his own compositions. His album debut was 'Jazz from the North Coast, Volume 2,' recorded in 1956. Much of his writing and sound of Herb Pilhofer's octet walked the groove between the endeavors of the Dave Pell and Shorty Rogers groups, which were so in vogue at the time.

01. Laurel and Hardy (John Plonsky) 3:27
02. The Lady is a Tramp (Rodgers-Hart) 3:15
03. But Not For Me (G. & I. Gershwin) 2:27
04. Putting on the Ritz (Irving Berlin) 2:32
05. Just in Time (Styne-Comden-Green) 3:05
06. Calico Shoes (John Plonsky) 3:13
07. Angel Hair (John Plonsky) 3:24
08. How About You? (Lane-Freed) 1:55
09. Funkier Than You (John Plonsky) 2:43
10. I'll Take Romance (Ben Oakland) 2:57
11. Blonde Caboose (John Plonsky) 2:28
12. Elora (J.J. Johnson) 3:45
13. Django (John Lewis) 3:54
14. Nicollet Avenue Breakdown (Herb Pilhofer) 3:17
15. Give Me the Simple Life (Bloom-Ruby) 3:07
16. Solo Scenes (Herb Pilhofer) 2:21
17. Bach's Lunch (Herb Pilhofer) 3:39
18. Spring is Here (Rodgers-Hart) 3:32
19. Topsy (Durham-Battle) 2:01
20. Stop and Go (Herb Pilhofer) 3:11
21. Ill Wind (Arlen-Koehler) 3:59

Album details

Tracks #1-11, from the album “Cool Man Cool” (Golden Crest CR 3014)
Tracks #12-21, from the album “Jazz from the North Coast, Vol. 2” (Zephyr ZP 12013 G)

Personnel on "Cool Man Cool":
John Plonsky, trumpet; Carl Janelli, baritone sax; Dominic Cortese, accordion; Chet Amsterdam, bass; Mel Zelnick, drums; Betty Ann Blake, vocals (only on #3, 8)
Recorded in New York City, March 5, 1957

Personnel on "Jazz from the North Coast, Vol. 2":
Jack Coan, trumpet; Paul Binstock, French horn; Stan Haugesag, trombone; Bob Crea, alto sax & clarinet; Dave Karr, tenor & baritone sax, and flute; Herb Pilhofer, piano; Ted Hughart, bass; Russ Moore, drums.
Recorded in Minneapolis, 1956

Original liner notes: Dick Maw & Herb Pilhofer
New liner notes by Jordi Pujol
Original recordings produced by Clark Galehouse and Dick Maw
This CD compilation produced for release by Jordi Pujol

Hi Fi · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.

Press reviews

"This is another release from Fresh Sound’s “Rare and Obscure Jazz Albums” series, which provides two hard-to find LPs on each CD.

Cool Man Cool is John Plonsky’s only LP as leader. He composed five of the numbers and the remaining six are standards rearranged by him. Two of these feature Cincinnati singer Betty Blake. The music is largely West Coast / cool but with a individual slant – the lineup comprises amplified accordion. It’s played unobtrusively by Dominic Cortese, his muted reedy effects adding texture and depth to the band’s overall sound.

Plonsky’s talent on trumpet is considerable and members of his quintet are clearly adept at playing in close harmony, having worked with some the best band leaders of the time: Carl Janelli with Jimmy Dorsey, Chet Amsterdam with Neil Hefti and Mel Zelnick with Benny Goodman. It’s a slick, top-quality outfit and I’m surprised it hasn’t come to wider attention.

Pianist Herb Pilhofer was born in Germany and emigrated to the US when he was 23. Jazz From The North Coast Vol 2 was his recording debut. (Vol 1 was by the Bob Davis Quartet and issued the year before on Zephyr Records.) He selected his band members from the leading jazz musicians in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St Paul with Bob Crea, Dave Karr, Jack Coan and Stan Haugesag being accomplished soloists in their own right.

Pilhofer formed the octet for the purpose of experimenting with his own arrangements and with the intention of not following any particular style or sound. This is reflected on the album: Bach’s Lunch is written in the form of a canon, Nicollet Avenue Breakdown is a blues, some numbers fall into Shorty Rogers cool territory and others vary between mainstream and the positively orchestral with Pilhofer’s sumptuous arrangement of Django. His assorted use of instrumentation such as French horn, clarinet, flute, baritone sax, etc helps bring about this tapestry of sound and style. I found the whole performance totally absorbing.

Both LPs on the CD have been expertly remastered and the resulting sound quality is superb. The album comes with a booklet containing photos of both band leaders and the original liner notes."

—Brian Payne (February 2, 2022)

How did we miss all of these? Rare and Obscure Jazz Albums...

"Fresh Sound Records, the label that has given us collection of music from B movies and undeservedly overlooked vocalists, has now expanded their horizons with a brand new mouth watering category of recordings. This latest set consists of albums made by musicians that made a living in the studio and got one or two chances on their own, or for some strange reason were simply overlooked.

There isn't a single album here that isn't essential for jazz fans. Each packet comes with (usually) a list of all of the musicians and some fantastic liner notes to give you some background to the featured artist.  Sure, I'm going to review them, but the subtitle under each summary is “Go get it... NOW!”

Trumpeter John Plonsky leads a NYC team through a mix of standards and originals in the California Cool style of Shorty Rogers and Dave Pell. The 1957 session includes a Chris Connor'd husky “But Not For Me” and a cozy “How About You”, with the team chicka booming on the hotcha “Blond Caboose”. Plonsky's muted horn works on some Mulliganish charts with baritone saxist Carl Janelli on “The Lady Is a Tramp” and blows sweet open blues on “Laurel and Hardy”. Way Out East.

Pianist Herb Pilhofer records in the Nordic jazz crossroads of Minneapolis, MN, on richly textured session from 1956 with a five member horn section teamed with Ted Hughart/b and Russ Moore/dr. The flutes give out a rich thoughtful bop on “Nicollet Avenue Breakdown” with cool reeds blowing in the wind for “Give Me The Simple Life”. French horns and trombones meld well on a misty take of “Django” and Dave Karr's baritone sax swings well for “Topsy”, with Pilhofer and Hughart giving a sleek pulse to “Bach's Lunch”. Clear charts to follow."

—George W. Harris (January 10, 2022)

"Le trompette John Plonsky (1920-2010) est mieux connu. Il a enregistré pour Charlie Mingus (1946), Ray Bauduc et Nappy Lamare. Après ce premier album dont l'instrumentation est particulière (accordéon amplifié à la place du piano), il réalisera Dixieland Goes Progressive(1957, chez Golden Crest) et une collaboration avec Lou McGarity sous le pseudonyme John Parker (1964). Son arrangement «Laurel and Hardy» balance bien. Plonsky, qui a une qualité de son, joue de façon incisive, véloce avec une solide technique, supérieure, à mon sens, à celle de Shorty Rogers et de Conte Candoli. Il est aussi un bon auteur de thèmes. Bonne alternative avec Carl Janelli (1927-2018). Cette version de «The Lady Is a Tramp» est très marquée par le style de Gerry Mulligan (passages fugués, sax baryton). La sonorité de Plonsky avec la sourdine bol est superbe, le phrasé est bop. Il est plus impressionnant sur les tempos vifs («Putting on the Ritz»). L'accordéon est discret, sauf dans «Angel Hair» et le bluesy «Blonde Caboose» (bonnes lignes de basse de Chet Amsterdam). Ce Dominic Cortese (1921-2001) obtient une sonorité originale. En prime, la chanteuse de Cincinnati Betty Ann Blake (née en 1937) qui a débuté à 16 ans et qui, à cette époque, était employée chez Buddy Morrow (1956-58): «But Not for Me» et «How About You?». Elle est de loin, pour le jazz, plus talentueuse qu'une Norma Mendoza ou une Terry Morel.

Ce plaisant album est couplé avec le premier disque sous son nom du pianiste allemand Herb Pilhofer (né en 1931) à la tête d'un octet qui s'inspire des groupes de Dave Pell et Shorty Rogers. Il a étudié l'arrangement et l'orchestration auprès de Bill Russo (1954). La sonorité orchestrale est très plaisante avec la présence du cor (il y a longtemps qu'on ne parle plus de french horn sauf dans les discographies de jazz, mais de cor/horn tout simplement). Dave Karr (né en 1931) a un son épais au sax ténor. Il swingue aussi bien qu'un Zoot Sims tandis qu'au baryton, il n'évite pas la marque de Mulligan («Elora», où Ted Hughart prend un très bon solo de basse). Dans «Topsy», Dave Karr swingue avec détermination. Son jeu de flûte est mis en avant dans «Ill Wind» (le chef est au celesta). Jack Coan a une approche similaire à celle de John Plonsky. Le timbre est clair, le phrasé tranchant. L'arrangement sur «Django» de John Lewis est raffiné, compatible avec le toucher classique de Pilhofer. Dans «Bach's Lunch», Pilhofer est proche de John Lewis. Il est plus swing dans son «Nicollet Avenue Breakdown» sur tempo vif qui vaut aussi pour Karr (fl), Bob Crea (as), Coan (bon registre aigu en coda) et Haugesag (style Bill Harris musclé). Dans «Spring is Here» et «Ill Wind», Haugesag plagie franchement Bill Harris. L'influence du genre Woody Herman est nette dans le travail alto-ténor sur «Give Me the Simple Life» et «Solo Scenes».

 Tous les albums de cette collection sont bons, dans un style cool, sans être amorphe, assez caractéristique des années 1950. Ceux qui ne supportent plus la prétention des créatifs du XXIe siècle, se reporteront sur ces découvertes, dépourvues non-sens actuel, puisque ces plages sont passées inaperçues, donc des «nouveautés», et méritent, au nom du swing, une attention particulière."

—Michel Laplace
© Jazz Hot, 2022


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