Ronnie Ross (bs), Art Ellefson (ts), Stan Jones (p), Stan Wasser (b), Allan Ganley (d), Vic Ash (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Brian Dee (p), Malcom Cecil (b), Bill Eyden, Tony Mann (d)
Reference: FSRCD 820
Bar code: 8427328608206
This CD presents two of the best English modern jazz combos of the late 50s and early 60s, both sharing the same instrumentation. Two outstanding British talents, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross and drummer Allan Ganley, launched The Jazz Makers in 1958, recruiting the delightful tenor of Art Ellefson for an impressively balanced and imaginative front line, with pianist Stan Jones and bassist Stan Wasser completing a formidable rhythm section. Ross, always a strong, coherent and inventive soloist, blended intuitively with Ellefsons warm, flowing style and the results were filled with tremendous snap, vigour and musicality. It was a superb ensemble which produced compelling results and much music to remember.
The Jazz Five was formed in 1960 by baritone Harry Klein and tenor Vic Ash, two consistent, capable and accomplished soloists. Klein a confident, self-assured performer, was an assertive and swinging player, while Vic Ash possessed an outgoing, fluent approach, making him an ideal front-line partner. On a well written set of five originals and one standard, their ensemble had a bruising impact, with the rhythm section rounding out the group effectively, thanks in no small measure to the stimulating style of pianist Brian Dee, one of the highlights of this reunion.
"This package unites two albums from the day when exporting British jazz was a task of Sisyphean proportions. In an attempt to alert American listeners to the fact that jazz over in dear old Blighty wasnt all bowler hats and banjos, both the original albums (Ronnie Ross & Allan Ganley - The Jazz Makers, tracks 1-8, and The Jazz Five - The Hooter!, tracks 9-14) were intended for the US market. The message was that British modern jazz could hold its own with the best. The Ash-Klein band toured opposite Miles Davis in 1960, eliciting warm praise from the usually taciturn trumpeter, whilst the Jazz Makers ventured further still, traversing the US in a concert package that included Monk, Tristano and Cannonball Adderley.
The kudos of recording the Ross-Ganley album in the Big Apple was considerable but the tour had been something of a misfire with pianist Stan Jones suffering a mental collapse and the group reduced to a paltry 20-minute opening slot on each concert. Fortunately none of this shows in the music, which swings in a sunny Al and Zoot kind of way. Theres also another bonus in the presence of Art Ellefson, whose choppy, hooting solos are a highlight throughout.
The Jazz Fives set was taped a few weeks after their support stint with Miles and it demonstrates the enormous strides local modernists had made. Klein is in belting form, whilst Ashs tenor comes over as a warmly effective blend of Mobley and Harold Land. Most impressive of all is the young Brian Dee.
A slice of nostalgia perhaps, but these albums have stood the test of time and nicely remastered and repackaged they make an ideal introduction to the history of British modernism."
Simon Spillett -May, 2014