Phil Urso (1925-2008) was an excellent tenor saxophonist mainly known through his various recordings with Chet Baker. Before their first album together in 1956, jazz fans first noticed Urso in 1949 after his solos on Elevation and Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea with Elliot Lawrence’s orchestra. By 1953, he merited serious consideration as one of the most consistently rewarding of the younger tenors. His tone and approach was in the Lester Young-and-second-line tradition, but he had his own identifiable voice. He also was one of the few white musicians Miles Davis could accept, and a swinger who could adapt imaginatively to all tempos. In his own words, “I played a little more dark, and Miles liked that.”
This CD collection contains all his recordings from 1953 to 1959, as a leader or featured guest—point in case, his work on baritone, in addition to his usual tenor—with the Jomar Dagron quintet. You will hear Urso playing with such musicians as Walter Bishop Jr, Bob Brookmeyer, Horace Silver, Kenny Clarke,Bobby Timmons, Ron Washington, Bobby Banks, and as a bonus his album with the Oscar Pettiford new jazz sextet. They show a player of real stature—enough for Chet Baker to tell him (in a letter in 1971) “I have always felt you were and are the most underrated of America’s jazz players and composers.”
01. Little Pres (Phil Urso) 2:42
02. Three Little Words (Ruby-Kalmar) 2:45
03. Don’t Take Your Love from Me (Nemo-Whitmark) 3:08
04. She’s Funny That Way (Moret-Washington-Robbins) 3:09
05. Chiketa (Phil Urso) 2:58
06. Stop Watch (Phil Urso) 3:49
07. Wizzard’s Gizzards (Phil Urso) 2:52
08. Ozzie’s Ode (Phil Urso) 3:28
09. It’s Only a Paper Moon (Arlen-Harburg-Rose) 4:44
10. Too Marvelous for Words (Whiting-Mercer) 3:44
11. Extra Mild (Phil Urso) 5:29
12. Squeeze Me (Duke Ellington) 3:35
13. Blues #One (Washington-Walton) 3:49
14. Satin Doll (Duke Ellington) 4:39
15. Pent-Up House (Sonny Rollins) 4:12
16. Line for Lyons (Gerry Mulligan) 5:02
17. Star Eyes (DePaul-Raye) 4:30
18. Dag’s Scene (Dagwood Walton) 2:50
01. My Heart Stood Still (Rodgers-Hart) 2:32
02. Easy Out (Ozzie Cadena) 2:18
03. This Can’t Be Love (Rodgers-Hart) 2:13
04. Lush Tush (Ozzie Cadena) 2:28
05. Where or When (Rodgers-Hart) 2:56
06. My Heart Tells Me (Warren-Gordon) 2:58
07. Blues to Remember Her By (Ozzie Cadena) 2:42
08. They Can’t Take That Away from Me (G.& I. Gershwin) 2:16
09. Moonlight Serenade (Miller-Parish) 2:57
10. A Woman In Love (Frank Loesser) 2:21
11. Sentimental Journey (Brown-Green) 1:59
12. 11th Hour Melody (Palmer-Sigman) 3:06
13. Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You (Fisher-Segal) 3:48
14. Diane (Rappe-Pollock) 2:51
15. Memories of You (Blake-Razaf) 3:46
16. The Pendulum at Falcon’s Lair (Oscar Pettiford) 4:43 *
17. Tamalpais [Song of Love to the Winds] (Oscar Pettiford) 3:53 *
18. Jack the Fieldstalker (Oscar Pettiford) 4:32 *
19. Stockholm Sweetnin’ (Quincy Jones) 4:13 *
20. Low and Behold (Oscar Pettiford) 3:27 *
(*) Bonus Tracks
Sources CD 1:
Tracks #1-4, from the 7” EP “New Trends of Jazz – Vol.12” (Savoy XP-8059)
[Also issued on the 10” LP “Phil Urso and Bob Brookmeyer” (Savoy MG 15041)]
Tracks #5-8, from the 10” LP “Phil Urso and Bob Brookmeyer” (Savoy MG 15041)
Tracks #1-8, also issued on the 12” LP “The Philosophy of Urso” (Savoy MG 12056)
Track #9, from the 10” LP “Solo Flight” (Jazz West Coast JWC-505)
Track #10, from “An Anthology of California Music, Vol. 3” (Jazz West Coast JWC-507)
Tracks #11-18, from “The Jomar Dagron Quartet Featuring Phil Urso” (Legacy MK 1050)
Sources CD 2:
Tracks #1-5, from the LP “The Philosophy of Urso” (Savoy MG 12056)
Tracks #6-15, from the LP “Sentimental Journey” (Regent MG 6003)
Tracks #16-20, from the 10” LP “The New Oscar Pettiford Sextet” (Debut DLP 8)
Personnel on CD 1:
Tracks #1-4: PHIL URSO QUARTET
Phil Urso, tenor sax; Walter Bishop Jr., piano; Clyde Lombardi, bass; Howie Man, drums.
Recorded at Van Gelder’s Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, April 14, 1953
Tracks #5-8: PHIL URSO-BOB BROOKMEYER QUINTET
Bob Brookmeyer, trombone; Phil Urso, tenor sax; Horace Silver, piano; Percy Heath, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums.
Recorded at Van Gelder’s Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, April 30, 1954
Tracks #9-10: PHIL URSO QUARTET & QUINTET
Phil Urso, tenor sax; Bob Burgess, trombone (only on #9); Bobby Timmons, piano; Jimmy Bond, bass; Peter Littman, drums.
Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, October 18, 1956
Tracks #11-18: PHIL URSO QUARTET & QUINTET
Phil Urso, tenor sax & baritone sax; Ron Washington, tenor sax; Dagwood Walton, Hammond organ; Gene Klingman, bass; Jo Jo Williams, drums.
Recorded in Louisville, Colorado, 1959
Personnel on CD 2:
Tracks #1-5: PHIL URSO accompanied by BOBBY BANKS
Phil Urso, tenor sax; Bobby Banks, organ.
Recorded at Van Gelder’s Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, February 18, 1954
Tracks #6-15: Same personnel as above but Rodney “Red” Alcott, drums, added.
Recorded at Van Gelder’s Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey, March 27, 1956
Bonus Tracks #16-20: THE NEW OSCAR PETTIFORD SEXTET
Julius Watkins, French horn; Phil Urso, tenor sax; Walter Bishop, Jr, piano Oscar Pettiford, cello or bass (only on #17); Charles Mingus, bass (except on #17); Percy Brice, drums on #20. The only soloists are Pettiford and Bishop.
Recorded in New York, December 29, 1953
Recording engineers: Rudy Van Gelder (CD1 #1-8 & CD2 #1-15), Dick Bock (CD1 #9 & 10), Lloyd Tune (CD1 #11-18), and Bob Guy (CD2 #16-20)
Original recordings produced by Fred Mendelsohn (CD1 #1-4), Ozzie Cadena (CD1 #5-8 & CD2 #1-15), Dick Bock (CD1 #9 & 10), Bill Aldridge (CD1 #11-18), Leonard Feather (CD2 #16-20)
Compiled for CD release by Jordi Pujol
Hi Fi · 24-Bit Digitally Remastered
Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas S.L.
"Once upon a time, the tenor sound was supposed to sound mellifluous. Warm, airy and yet still melodically swinging, this sound and style was a change in direction from the gruff and arpeggio’d style originated by Selmer’s progenitor Coleman Hawkins. Lester Young was the first to change the sound, and then scores of disciples came under his canopy, most notably Stan Getz. One of the overlooked artists under Prez’s spell was Phil Urso, who made his name for a short spell over 50 years ago with the likes of Horace Silver and Chet Baker. Here, you get two cds of him in a variety of settings, and to tell you that it is tenor heaven is to downplay the celestial.
His horn glows with orange embers in a ’53 session which includes Walter Bishop on lithe gems like “Little Pres” and “Three Little Words.” A year later he’s with a team of all stars including Bob Brookmeyer/tb, Horace Silver/p, Percy Heath/b and Kenny Clarke/for a handful of bopping originals with rich harmonies of the horns on “ Stop Watch.” He skates like Sonja Henie in a 56 recording of “Too Marvelous For Words” that rivals anything Young ever did, while in 1954 he’s a sideman with B3er Dagwood Walton (now THAT’S a jazz name!) for some bluesy bop as “Pent-Up House” and an ebullient “Star Eyes.” This guy’s got the tone!!
The second disc mostly consists of a pair of mid 50 meetings with organ-meister Bobby Banks. The duets are after hours casual and intimate, with the fog rolling in from both shores on “My Heart Stood Still” and a sly “Where Or When.” With the addition of Rodney Alcott’s drums, you get some amazing pulses on”Blues to Remember Her By” as well as an ecstatically sighing collection of breaths on “Moonlight Serenade” while “Sentimental Journey” has Alcott creating ominous nimbus clouds before Urso breaks through the clouds like a last minute glow from the sun at sunset.
A handful of tracks from Oscar Pettiford’s sextet in 1953 have the leader picking away on cello during “The Pendulum at Falcon’s Lair” and “Jack the Fieldstalker” while Urso and French Hornist Julius Watkins create some hip moods, and neophyte bassist Charles Mingus lays down the bass work. The notes included in the package put the tenorist in proper perspective. Trust me on this one-these are the kind of undiscovered gems that make labels like this earn their salt!"
George W. Harris (May 19, 2016) http://www.jazzweekly.com