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Jazz-Lab 1 & 2

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Album Review

One of the most overlooked musicians considered to be a part of the so-called cool school is John Graas, who initially played French horn in a classical setting then switched to jazz for good in 1946. This Lone Hill Jazz compilation gathers most of the tracks from his two Decca LPs, Jazz Lab 1 and Jazz Lab 2 (with a missing cut added to a later compilation by the label), featuring musicians like Herb Geller, Dave Pell, Jimmy Giuffre, Marty Paich, Curtis Counce, Gerald Wiggins, Jack Montrose, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones over the five sessions heard in this collection. In addition to the leader's compositions, the various small groups delve into standards and works by the bandmembers. Graas' classical background is apparent on most of the songs, though the music is consistently swinging and never overly arranged. John Graas' death from a sudden heart attack at age 37 in 1962 cut short a promising career.


Born: 14 March 1917 in Dubuque, IA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Along with Julius Watkins, John Graas was one of the first jazz French horn soloists. After playing some classical music, in 1942 he became a member of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. A period in the Army (1942-1945) and stints with the Cleveland Orchestra and Tex Beneke's big band preceded Graas' first high-profile gig, playing with Stan Kenton's Innovations Orchestra (1950-1951). After leaving Kenton, he settled in Los Angeles and worked as a studio musician in addition to being used on West Coast...
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Jazz-Lab 1 & 2, John Graas
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