Recorded at Contemporary Records' Studio in Los Angeles:
#1,4 : April 22, 1957
#3 : August 29, 1957
#2,5-7 : January 6, 1958
Although the Curtis Counce Quintet was not a commercial success, their four Contemporary albums (which have been reissued on CD) were all timeless in their own way, undated examples of high-quality hard bop from the late '50s. This set features the bassist-leader, either Jack Sheldon or Gerald Wilson on trumpet, tenor saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Carl Perkins and drummer Frank Butler interpreting both jazz standards (including "Love Walked In" and Clifford Brown's "Larue") and originals (such as the drummer's "The Butler Did It"). Excellent music that still sounds fresh four decades later.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
While it lasted, The Curtis Counce Group was one of the most exciting ever organized in Los Angeles. Counce picked four men who almost immediately achieved a togetherness only long-established bands seem to have. Today, Carl Perkins is dead, and the members of the group have gone off in different directions -Harold Land to form his own group, Jack Sheldon to the trumpet section of the Kenton orchestra, and Frank Butler to gigging around Los Angeles. It would be difficult under the best of conditions to recapture the feeling of the 1957 quintet. Without Perkins, whose unique piano style was basic to the group's special sound, it is impossible.
Contemporary recorded a third Counce album just before Perkins died -the last we shall have of this great jazz group, and one of the most gifted modern jazz pianists. Listening to the forty minutes of pure jazz in the set, it is a source of wonder and regret that the group did not succeed. Lack of work, indifference of the critics, and personal problems within the group helped destroy it. But their music in this, and their previous albums,01 stands. The evidence is all there -on the record.
In response to Contemporary's request, Curtis Counce prepared the following notes on the selections in this album, and the highly individual personalities in the group.
* * *
Fcreedom of expression is one of the great joys of the musical profession. After years of working as a sideman with many outstanding and successful bandleaders, I began to realize this. I knew that to have a good organization, it would take talent, conduct, personality, brotherhood, and that all important meeting of the minds, along with a compatible relationship between leader and sidemen.
The process of organizing this group was a new and exciting experience for me. I found a great personal satisfaction in presenting musicians who, I felt, deserved recognition. The musicians I selected were experimenting, like myself, with progressive ideas and sounds in music. The idea of this group was to give each member a chance to have his individual efforts presented to the public. Yet in spite of this accent on the individual-or possibly because of it-we worked together so well that on some nights we felt and sounded like one person. We organized in September, 1956, played a four-week engagement at The Haig in Los Angeles that same month, and only a few weeks later recorded our first album for Contemporary. We played together for over a year and a half until the group disbanded not long after Carl's death.
"Punching, stomping, pushing, swinging, and grooving!' Too much will never be said about Carl Perkins. He was one of the most outstanding pianists in jazz. With his unorthodox style of playing, Carl was a giant in our group, and he also wrote some soulful charts. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 16, 1928 and died in Los Angeles, California, March 17, 1958. In his short life he packed a world of experience. With all his problems, he was alive every minute-something which cannot be said of every one of us. He played with a world of beauty, feeling, taste, and really excelled in blending the talents of the group. Carl's Blues was composed by him during the recording session - the last composition he wrote.
Frank Butler has been praised by almost every jazz musician in the country as being the most exciting and refreshing drummer of this decade. In a Down Beat interview in 1958, the great Jo Jones said of him, "As of today, this very minute, Frank Butler is the greatest drummer in the world!' Frank was born in Wichita, Kansas, February 18, 1928, and although we both went to the same high school in Kansas City, we first met in Omaha, Nebraska where I was playing with Nat Towles' band. We first played together when in Southern California we became members of Edgar Hayes' "Stardusters!' Frank has worked with many great musicians-Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck. Frank did a masterful job in keeping our group well balanced. His dynamics, punch, drive, and solos were in excellent taste. The track The Butler Did It will more than speak for itself, for Frank really gets his conversation through in a tasteful and thoughtful bit of drum philosophy. In my estimation, Frank is a drummer's drummer.
Jack Sheldon was with the group from the very beginning. Jack was born in November 30, 1931 in Jacksonville, Florida and has worked and recorded with numerous jazz groups-Art Pepper, Jimmy Giuffre, the Lighthouse All-Stars, Jack Montrose, Chet Baker, etc. Pink Lady is his composition, inspired by the album cover for our second Contemporary album. This chart swings hard, displaying some of Jack's outstanding solos and his ability to project. Jack has since further demonstrated and proved his abilities as a fine musician.
Harold Land, formerly with the Max Roach-Clifford Brown group, wrote some unique jazz charts for our group, as well as express his soulful ideas on his horn. Harold, a very outstanding musician, proved to be very helpful in the organization of this group. He and Jack worked very hard together to create good balance. Harold was born in Houston, Texas, December 18, 1928. He now has his own group, and at this writing has recorded several albums of his own, and is now one of the most popular tenor players on the West Coast and throughout the country. He is featured on Vernon Duke's I Can't Get Started.
On Carl's Blues we were very happy to have the talents of Gerald Wilson on trumpet. He was born in Shelby, Mississippi, September 4, 1918. He replaced Sy Oliver with Jimmy Lunceford's band in 1939, later working with Les Hite, Benny Carter, Phil Moore, and his own big band for several years. He also plays on LaRue, a beautiful composition written by the late Clifford Brown.
With the exception of Carl's Blues and Frank's drum solo, the charts we recorded were all part of the group's nightly repertoire. Very few of them were actually written arrangements. I did some, and so did Jack and Harold, but much of our book was "orchestrated" by the combined efforts of everyone in the group; Love Walked In is an example. It moves in a vein of pulse-beating rhythms, and is capably improvised by all.
Horace Silver, one of my favorite artists, wrote the song Nica's Dream which I have always enjoyed playing. The Latin flavor is very expressive.