Melba Liston, Slide Hampton, Bennie Green, Al Grey, Benny Powell, Jimmy Cleveland, Frank Rehak (tb), Marty Flax (bs), Ray Bryant, Walter Davis Jr. (p), Kenny Burrell (g), George Joyner, George Tucker (b), Charles Persip, Frank Dunlop (d)
Reference: FSRCD 408
Bar code: 8427328604086
Most people in jazz circles first came to hear of trombonist Melba Liston when in 1944, she began a long association with trumpeter and bandleader Gerald Wilson. He was probably the most important person in helping me develop as a writer. Melba never cared too much about solo work: I cant say I like writing more than playing. Lets just say they are both very rewarding and challenging and all that.
Later, in 1956, she joined the Gillespie band as arranger and featured soloist. That tall, dark, graceful young girl with a thousand-watt smile quickly stole the hearts of the East Coast jazz audiences, as well as the hearts of the band members. The guys in the band paid her the highest of compliments by saying Shes just like one of us. We hope these, her first recordings as a leader, will serve as a reminder that on the instrumental level, for many of her contemporaries, Melba Liston was the first lady of jazz.
"Finding an obscure recording, especially one of quality, can be exciting for jazz enthusiasts. This reissue of Melba Liston's only recording as a leader, originally released by the short-lived Metro Jazz label half a century ago, is cause for celebration. The reissued Melba Liston and Her Bones also includes four tracks from another session which was originally released under Frank Rehaks name.
Melba Liston is best known as an arranger and composer, thanks to her associations with Dizzy Gillespie and subsequently Randy Weston. But she was a virtuoso trombone player as well. On this recording she joins a variety of other trombonists, including Bennie Green, Al Grey, and Benny Powell (three tracks); Jimmy Cleveland, Frank Rehak and Slide Hampton (five tracks); and Frank Rehak (the four bonus tracks). The leader's interplay with the other trombone players adds to the musical richness of the recording.
Even in the company of high-quality, accomplished master musicians like these, her musical skills stand out. Her lyrical improvisations are melodic, clear and gay when she plays unmuted, and mysterious and warm when muted. This recording is one of the few places to hear Melba Liston solo, in addition to two tracks on Ernie Henry's Last Chorus (Riverside, 1958) and a beautiful solo on My Reverie with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra.
This hard-swinging music is firmly planted in the bop tradition, enhanced by the playing of Marti Flax (baritone sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) on specific tracks. Melba Listons playing matches her compositional skills; she wrote four of the twelve pieces, and they shine with originality. Liston has long been ignored as a composer and horn player, in large part due to gender bias, and so this reissue is long overduenot just because of its historical value, but also the quality of the music."
Hrayr Attarian -All About Jazz
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