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Generalissimo + Live Date

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Album Review

In 2007, the Lone Hill Jazz label reissued two Verve albums by clarinetist Buddy DeFranco: Generalissimo and Live Date!, which despite the title was a studio recording. In a producer's note, Morton James verbally winces at the pun on the name of the notoriously genocidal Spanish dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco, and speculates that this grossly insensitive gimmick, thought up by some clueless A&R director or advertising agent, might actually have delayed the album's appearance on CD until 2007. Boniface Ferdinand Leonardo de Franco was born in Camden, NJ, in 1923. The son of a piano tuner, he excelled on several instruments before settling into his role as one of the premier clarinetists in early modern jazz. Recorded on Wednesday, April 2, 1958, Generalissimo turns out to be a solid little blowing session involving trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison and Milwaukee-born tenor saxophonist Bob Hardaway, with an awesome rhythm section in Jimmy Rowles, Curtis Counce, Barney Kessel, and Alvin Stoller. On Friday, April 4, 1958, DeFranco brought Kessel and Hardaway back to the studio, this time with drummer Stan Levey, bassist Scott LaFaro, pianist/accordionist Pete Jolly, vibraphonist Victor Feldman, and multi-instrumentalist Herbie Mann, who played flute, tenor sax, and (on "These Foolish Things") bass clarinet. This double reissue is composed mainly of jazz standards with a couple of originals and two sumptuous ballad medleys. Unfortunately, the combined running time for both albums exceeded the 80-minute mark by about 120 seconds. For this reason, "Tin Reed Blues" from the Live Date! album was omitted, but may be enjoyed on the equally excellent double CD I Hear Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw [Lone Hill Jazz 10281].


Born: 17 February 1923 in Camden, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Buddy DeFranco is one of the great clarinetists of all time and, until the rise of Eddie Daniels, he was indisputably the top clarinetist to emerge since 1940. It was DeFranco's misfortune to be the best on an instrument that after the swing era dropped drastically in popularity and, unlike Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, he has never been a household name for the general public. When he was 14, DeFranco won an amateur swing contest sponsored by Tommy Dorsey. After working with the big bands of Gene...
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Generalissimo + Live Date, Buddy DeFranco
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