Jazz From A Swinging Era
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Count Basie's trumpet alumnus Buck Clayton organized and led a fine "all-star" band that toured Europe during March and April of 1967. They visited ten different countries, performed at 27 concerts in two-dozen cities, and laid down 19 tracks in a Parisian studio on March 12th. This double-disc compilation presents all of that material with the addition of eight jams recorded live at the Tivoli Konzerthalle in Copenhagen on March 17th, at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart on April 3rd, and at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London on April 6th. The extraordinary front line included trumpeter Roy Eldridge; trombonist Vic Dickenson; and saxophonists Earle Warren (who also played clarinet wonderfully), Budd Johnson, and Bud Freeman. Pianist and organist Sir Charles Thompson, who had been a primal force in the bop revolution of the mid-'40s, was placed in the unenviable position of alternating with Earl Hines, who is said to have precipitated the dissolution of this touring ensemble by dominating the group with his powerful persona. This friction, along with the presence of Roy Eldridge, certainly helped to spark things up a bit both in the studio and on-stage. The upbeat numbers from the live dates are wild, particularly a screaming 11-minute race through "St. Louis Blues," which is very much dominated by Earl Hines. Crucial support was provided by bassist Bill Pemberton and drummer Oliver Jackson. Since many of the players shared a Basie background, a pleasant and interesting contrast was provided by the sunny tonalities of Bud Freeman, a gentle soul whose handling of the ballad "What Is There to Say" brings to mind a large orange tomcat curled up on a cozy cushion inside of a wicker basket.