Recording Date: Nov 19, 1995
This rare opportunity to hear veteran bassist Bill Crow as a leader came about in 1995 to serve as "musical accompaniment" to the Japanese translation of his autobiography, From Birdland to Broadway, though the CD was only released in Japan. Crow, who is an accomplished soloist when he chooses to take a chorus or two, is joined by veteran tenor saxophonist Carmen Leggio, guitarist Joe Cohn (son of tenor sax legend Al Cohn), and drummer David Jones. The packaging is a little confusing, with the outside cover showing only eight tracks, but there are actually 11 in all on this CD, which was evidently simultaneously issued on LP. Crow starts off with two originals. The title track is a catchy blues with a snappy strut rhythm and fine solos by both Cohn and Leggio, while "Share a Key" is a tasty bossa nova. Crow also revives an oldie, "News From Blueport," which the bassist had written in the early '60s while a member of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet; this memorable blues still inspires musicians to shine. In addition to several enjoyable arrangements of standards, Crow's subtle scoring of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism" and Mulligan's underappreciated ballad "Night Lights" round out this highly recommended release.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
I have Haruki Murakami to thank for the existence of this LP. His Japanese translation of my book. "From Birdland to Broadway,' caught the attention of Tetsuo Hara, of Venus Records. I met Mr. Hara early in 1995, when I made a recording for him with Claude Williamson. He suggested that I record an album of my own, to accompany the publication of Haruki's translation of my book in Japan.
I am happy to present this music. Joe and David and Carmen and I have developed a personal and musical friendship over the past several years. And we enjoyed playing in Rudy Van Gelder's pleasant studio in Englewood, Now Jersey. Rudy set us up in a comfortable circle, where we could see and hear each other well, and then unobtrusively balanced and recorded the music so that everything could be heard. We enjoyed the playbacks almost as much as we enjoyed playing the music.
The opening tune on this disc is an original that I have given the same title as my book, "From Birdland to Broadway." It has a sixteen bar form and a blues feeling. Joe and David set it up with a combination of New Orleans and Caribbean rhythms, and then Carmen and I play the melody in unison. Joe and Carmen each take two choruses, and then I trade choruses with David before rejoining Carmen to take the melody out.
In 1958, when I was a member of the Gerry Mulligan quartet, I wrote "News From Blueport" for Gorry and Art Farmer, for a Columbia record album. I recorded it again early this year with Claud Williamson and David Jones, and Mr. Hara asked that I record it with this instrumentation. This time, I add my bass to the playing of the melody. After the call and response between tenor and guitar, Carmen and Joe and I each take two choruses, and we play a sendoff for David's choruses before returning to the melody to take it out.
Oscar Pettlford was the finest Jazz bassist in New York while I was learning to play, and his work had a strong Influence on the way I hear music. "Tricrotlam" is one of many wonderful tunes that Oscar composed. I chose it because of the lovely record he made of It with Lucky Thompson and Skeeter Best. The arrangement is Oscar's, and our renditions is dedicated to his memory.
"Fools Rush In" is an old favorite of mine. Carmen plays the melody beautifully, and stops back for a moment for a chorus each by bass and guitar. Then he plays a lyrical chorus and a half of his own, returning to the melody on the last release to load us to his final cadenza.
I like "Autumn Leaves" as a Jazz form, because It combines a lovely, rising melody with minor chords, providing a rich structure on which to Improvise. I play a little Introduction and start the melody, with gentle answers from Carmen and Joe. Carmen finishes the first chorus, and David and I swing along behind Joe's airy solo. Joe chords beautifully behind my chorus, providing the kind of support I love to hoar. Carmen wails a robust and dazzling pair of choruses, and then returns to a simpler restatement of the melody. The bass and drums finish with a little eight bar tag.
I must have played "My Funny Valentine" hundreds of times with various Jazz groups led by Gerry Mulligan, ft was one of his most requested tunes, ever since his hit recording of it with Chet Baker in 1952. Here, I've sot it as a ballad with a Brazilian fooling. Carmen begins with a dreamy statement of the melody, and moves on to an exultant chorus of his own. Joe follows with a lovely chorus, and then I take my turn. Carmen returns to the bridge of the melody for soulful final statement, and we all vamp lightly into the distance as Rudy fades us out.
Gerry Mulligan's lovely "Night Lights," a ballad that I recorded with his sextet In 1963. becomes a vehicle here for Carmen's expressive tenor. After his opening rendition of the melody, I spend half a chorus searching for pretty notes on my old French bass before handing things back to Carmen for the reprise. "My Funny Valentine" and "Night Lights" are dedicated to Gerry, whose music I admire tremendously.
Given the title of this album, it seemed appropriate to end with "Broadway," a tune that has been a favorite at New York City jam sessions since the 1940s. Carmen takes the opening melody, and then Joe plays one chorus. I trade some fours with David, and then Carmen stops up for his final announcement that swing Is still here? We didn't stretch out on this one as long as we usually do In live performances, because even compact discs eventually come to an end. But we all hope that our musical Journey from Birdland to Broadway is one that the listener will enjoy as much as we did.
Bill Crow spent his childhood in the State of Washington. He moved to New York City in 1950. He has been a member of many Jazz groups, including those led by Teddy Charles, Stan Getz. Terry Gibbs. Marlon McPartland, Gerry Mulligan, Gene DiNovi, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Clark Terry and Bob Brookmeyer, J.J.Johnson and Kai Winding, Eddie Condon, and the big bands of Claude Thornhill, Benny Goodman, and Gerry Mulligan. He now freelances in the Now York area, and lives In Rockland County, New York.
Carmen Loggio lives in Tarrytown, New York, where he was born. He began his professional career in 1950, and has been a featured soloist in the bands of Terry Gibbs, Bonny Goodman. Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, and Thad Jones and Mel Lowls. For the past several years ho has led his own quartet, playing in the greater New York area.
Joe Cohn, of New York City, is the son of the great jazz saxophonist Al Cohn and the singer Marilyn Moore. A formidable guitarist, Joe also plays piano, string bass, trumpet and saxophone, and in his spare time Is a marathon runner. He toured Brazil with Freddie Colo, and has been a member of the Buddy DeFranco quartet, the Bob Mover quartet, Artie Shaw's band, and the Al Grey quintet. He also played with quartets led by his father, and by Zoot Sims, and with the quintet that Al and Zoot co-led. For the past two years he has played with Carmen Leggio's quartet. Joe visited Japan once In 1961. when ho married Yasuko Ishlbashi, whom ho mot at Berkeley School of Music in Boston.
David Jones comes from Somerville. Massachusetts and has lived in Westchester County, New York, for the past twenty-four years, whore ho has played with many local jazz groups. He has visited Japan twice : in 1987, with pianist Bertha Hope and bassist Michael Fleming, and In 1989, with pianist Mickey Tucker and bassist Paul Brown. He is featured on three compact discs, in groups led by Mickoy Tucker. Ted Dunbar, and Claude Williamson. For the past two years he has played with Carmen Loggio.