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The Four Freshmen - Their Very Best

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Album Review

The Four Freshmen in Person (1958) is the quartet's debut live platter, as well as their initial long-player to be offered in stereophonic and mono-aural. [Note: A 1957 appearance at Penn State surfaced in 1958 on the Penn State Jazz Club's own private label]. The results are a uniformly resounding reminder of just how incredible the blend of Ken Albers (vocal/trumpet/mellophone/bass), Don Barbour (guitar/vocals), Ross Barbour (vocal/drums), and Bob Flanigan (vocal/trombone/bass) really is. The material is derived from two sets at the Compton Junior College Auditorium January 25, 1958 and is a nice alternative for enthusiasts who didn't catch the combo in action. In addition to digging into their back catalog, the album features Nelson Riddle's unique arrangement of "Indian Summer." It boasts one of the finest examples of the Freshmen's compact unified harmonies, and bears the distinction of having been recorded in the studio, rather than in front of an audience. "Somebody Loves Me" provides a high-energy opener contrasted by the soulful rendering of "In This Whole World" and the infectious rhythmic frolic of Don Barbour's "Holiday." They quickly veer from the sublime to the ridiculous as Ross Barbour inhabits the spirit of 'Leroy' on "Sweet Lorraine," which quickly became an obvious concert favorite. Other standouts include Albers' mellophone solos on both the boppin' "My Heart Stood Still," and during the nimble bounce of "Them There Eyes." Those are contrasted by the reserved intimacy of "Old Folks" and the slight melancholia of "It's a Blue World." The nine-disc Complete Capitol Four Freshmen Fifties Sessions (2000) box set augments these 14 sides with four previously unissued songs from the same evening. In 2004, Collectors' Choice Music packaged Four Freshmen in Person with Voices and Brass (1960), making them available on CD for the first time.


Formed: 1948 in Indianapolis, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Four Freshmen were one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, and formed the bridge between '40s ensembles like the Mel-Tones and harmony-based rock & roll bands such as the Beach Boys as well as groups like Spanky & Our Gang and the Manhattan Transfer. The group's roots go back to the end of the 1940s and a barbershop quartet-influenced outfit called Hal's Harmonizers, organized at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Butler University in Indiana by two brothers, Ross and Don Barbour. Their repertoire...
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The Four Freshmen - Their Very Best, The Four Freshmen
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