Don Lamond, Osie Johnson, Ted Sommer, Gus Johnson (d), Conte Candoli, Joe Newman, Ernie Royal, (tp), Urbie Green (tb), Hal McKusick, Gene Quill, Al Cohn (reeds), Hank Jones, Eddie Costa (p), Freddie Green (d), George Duvivier (b)
Reference: FSRCD 837
Bar code: 8427328608374
When RCA producer Jack Lewis conceived the album The Drum Suite in 1956, he probably didnt imagine it would sell nearly 100,000 copies, particularly as it was a jazz album. The music, composed by Manny Albam and Ernie Wilkins, is a six-part suite for four drummers Osie Johnson, Gus Johnson, Ted Sommers, and Don Lamond whose solos are written, with no one allocated more than eight bars at a time. As a suite and as a performance, it is entirely successful. The writing is fine, flexible (both the large band and the small group passages) and the playing is flawless. The drums, craftily integrated, never overwhelm the bands swinging.
Four years later, in the age of stereo, RCA released Son of Drum Suite with the idea of capitalizing on their past commercial success. During recording, the five drummers were assembled in a wide semicircle to enhance the stereo sound. There are no self-indulgent, long drum solos, no banging, no machine-gun fire. Every once in a while an exciting ensemble emergesAl Cohn contributed the chartsand there are good solos by Clark Terry, Nick Travis and Bob Brookmeyer.
"This is the most disciplined drum album you'll ever find. It's also the most enjoyable I've heard. All the drummers involved are as skilled as any you could wish for. Because it is written and controlled by Manny Albam, Ernie Wilkins and Al Cohn it also contains some most inspiring big band music. It's also, I hurry to add, packed with good solos from the horns to the extent that everyone you're looking for gets some space - Conte Candoli, Joe Newman, Clark Terry, Jimmy Cleveland, Urbie Green Frank Rehak, Cohn, Quill and Zoot and a touch of Bob Brookmeyer - you get the idea.
To avoid anarchy, the passages for the drummers are written for them, and no drum solo lasts longer than eight bars, except in Drum Smoke where the breaks last roughly 10 seconds.
Manny Albam was one of the finest arrangers for big band. In recent years he has become a back number, but surely history will correct this. Despite being in the company of Ernie Wilkins and Al Cohn, the tracks that he wrote stand out from the rest. His imaginative Chant is perfect Albam, whilst Skinning The Valves is a simple idea to feature the trumpets. It also, like most of the other tracks, includes good tenor from Al Cohn.
Wilkins and Albam wrote three each for the first suite, whilst Al Cohn composed all of Son Of. It's invidious (and for me difficult) to choose between the fine drummers, but Lamond is particularly impressive on Brushmanship, which has a fetching duet between Terry and Travis and wailing alto from Quill. Zoot floats eloquently over Dr Skin, where Cohn's writing takes on an Albamesque precision, and Brookmeyer sashays after the ensemble. Incidentally, the two fine bass players are used to help spread the beat because the time occasionally passed from one drummer to another who could be 30 feet away."
-Steve Voce (Jazz Journal, November 2014)
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