Oscar Peterson turns up on “Royal Garden Blues”, culled from the short series of duo-with-rhythm albums he made with Count Basie. I think Ray Brown is on bass and it’s brilliant. Is anonymity Peterson’s prize for blending in with pure Basie? Stunning too is the opening trio number with Red Garland’s lyrical, harmonically-interesting piano, assisted by an unnamed bassist and drummer. Carol Sloane sings and Bill Charlap plays a nice sort of fragmented stride piano in accompaniment. Even Concord can’t avoid identifying all the members of a duo!
The Clark Terryish trumpeter who works from a genius paraphrase of “I’ll Remember April” is Miles Davis, but he doesn’t also play the inspired piano solo or the very springlike alto saxophone. Tony Bennett has the wonderful accompaniment of Ruby Braff on cornet and George Barnes on guitar—the latter a 1940s child prodigy who somehow got mislaid but still managed to die too middle-aged after rediscovery. It was said that by the end of his mellifluous musical relationship with Braff, each of them was ready to murder the other. Alas, though much more in keeping with their music, they’re both now in Heaven. Afterwards, Braff Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring” is light as thistledown. Who’s on tenor? It sounds like Red Garland on piano in the marvelous quintet here called John Coltrane, and recorded a very long time ago with—perhaps—Hubbard making a second appearance in “Spring is Here”.
The use of a row of tunes with one word in common to each, or a related idea, is an old speculation among players who’ve wanted to make a larger unity of a set of what might otherwise just be a run of different items. This idea also works. I could probably find the Karrin Allyson CD sampled here (who’s the nice soprano player?), and indeed the source of the guitar duet between Larry Coryell and Emily Remler (somewhat near cult-figure paired with a lady who died far, far too young) on Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring”. It might not be too hard to trace the Bill Evans date which produced an “April in Paris” which blows my mind (real and feigned changes of pace, sudden colour shifts, four-bar melodic statements extended over longer structures, and more of the history of jazz piano than in all the other Evans titles I’ve ever heard).
But who plays guitar in the alternating bilingual performance of a Jobim song by the late Susannah McCorkle? The delicacy of the piano, the almost whispering Latin percussion . . .
The concluding track is by a named trio that Concord could not call by the name I think they half-hid under long ago—the Poll Winners. This seems to have been an attempt to perform “When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along” by what was very briefly the earliest Oscar Peterson trio (Peterson actually isn’t on this title, as well as not being named), with Barney Kessel’s guitar and the bass of Ray Brown joined by Shelley Manne on drums. Listen to Manne’s subtlety, but don’t get too engrossed in it. The surprises which follow could be dangerous. This is, after all, Spring!