Rey DeMichel (lead & cond), Marvin Brown, Ollie Mitchell, Irv Bush, John Anderson, Johnny Audino (tp), Dave Wells, Ed Freudenberg (tb), Lanny Morgan (as), Jay Corre, Jack Kernan, Teddy Edwards (ts), Dave Madden, Modesto Briseno, Ted Parker (bs), Dick Grove, Joyce Collins (p), Buddy Matlock (g), Jack Smalley (b), Roy Roten (d), John De Foor, Kenny Farrar (arr)
Reference: FSRCD 970
Bar code: 8427328609708
WEST COAST SERIES · Jazz & Swing Orchestras
Rare & Collectible Albums by Unsung Bandleaders
When the dust from the collapse of the Swing Era settled, there were few big bands left that had survived. Yet, because they loved the swinging drive of a full-on jazz orchestra, a series of adventurous and unsung bandleaders optimistically organized some fine, but short-lived, new orchestras that were packed with jazz and studio musicians, holding the flag of Swing high.
Reynold A. DeMichel knew how to instill his youthful enthusiasm and excitement into just about any big band. He started as a trumpet player in Ashtabula, Ohio, where he was born in 1928, and as an ex-sideman himself, he always got great mileage from his crew—everyone in the band respected him.
Early in 1959 he assembled a powerful big band to record in Los Angeles his albums Cookin’ with Rey and For Bloozers Only!, released on Challenge Records. To take care of the band’s library, DeMichel recruited two talented arrangers, one young, the other a seasoned veteran: John W. DeFoor and Kenneth L. Farrar, from the famed Westlake College of Music, which was, from 1947 and until 1960 the college for aspiring big band musicians.
The whole band delivered a marvelous funky bluesy feeling, and not only in their up-tempo escapades—their treatment of ballads and standards is equally praiseworthy. Excellent soloists who particularly catch the ear in these sessions are trumpeter Marv Brown, trombonist Dave Wells, saxophonists Lanny Morgan, Teddy Edwards, Jay Corre and Dave Madden, pianists Dick Grove and Joyce Collins, guitarist Buddy Mattlock, and drummer Roy Roten.
"Another in Jordi Pujol’s interesting series of overlooked west-coast big bands from the 50s. He has already given us Tommy Alexander and Keith Williams on FSRCD 965 together with Bill Hitz and Greig McRitchie on FSRCD 959.
This latest release features the work of Rey DeMichel, who recorded these albums for Challenge Records with arrangements by John De Foor and Kenny Farrer. Just like the other bandleaders in the series he assembled a number of performers who were to go on to work with name-bands like Bob Florence, Woody Herman, Charlie Barnet, Harry James, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson.
The DeMichel band provides jazz-influenced dance music in the popular Les Brown tradition and just like Brown’s bands there is plenty of room for some excellent soloists: Lanny Morgan (“Deep Purple”, “When You’re Smiling”), Jay Corre (“Meet Rey”, “Continental”), Dave Wells (“Brahm’s Lullaby”, “How Long Has This Been Going On”) and Teddy Edwards (“A Rompin’ We Will Go”, “Twelve Bars High”).
I must also mention 20-year-old baritone-man Modesto Briseno who is heard on “Playmates”, where he steps out of the section for two choruses of hard-swinging excellence. I believe he died very young but another fine example of his work can be found on the Chamber Jazz Sextet’s 1958 Pal Joey recording (Candid). Hats off, incidentally, to drummer Roy Roten whose accents and fills remind me of Frankie Capp."
Gordon Jack (March 28, 2019)
"The late 50s and early 60s were tough times for touring jazz orchestras. What people forget is that the studios which were used for TV and radio were fertile grounds for some exciting big band sounds. These two sets show what happened once the dust from the Swing Era settled, with two orchestras being featured here.
From Hollywood, California, Rey DeMichel brought together some top notch Angelenos such as Lanny Morgan/as, Buddy matlock/g, Teddy Edwards/ts and Dave Wells/tb to form a 12-13 member big band. With arrangements by John De Foor and Kenny Farrar, the pair of 1959 sessions include a Basie-esque “Meet the Rey” and a boppy “The Continental.” Teddy Edwards gets a bunch of room for some hip bluesy solos on “A Rompin’ We Will Go,” “Twelve Bars High” and “Ho Dere” with some nice ‘bone work by Wells on the sleek “Kingfish” and rich “Blue Rey.” A chart buster! Includes informative liner notes in the booklet, with the music an oasis for Big Band fans."
George W. Harris (January 21, 2019)