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Album Review

George Wein is best known as the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and an enthusiastic impresario who became instrumental in jump-starting jazz festivals in New York City in the early '70s, but Wein has also recorded as a pianist and singer from time to time. This reissue of 13 tracks from the long-unavailable Atlantic LP Wein, Women and Song is combined with nine more selections from a 1992 session that he never released, featuring three separate groups. Wein's friendly sounding vocals are rather soft and mellow on the earlier dates, with a bit of vibrato on the end of nearly every phrase, though the trumpet solos by either Ruby Braff (trading licks with tenor saxophonist Sammy Margolis on a superb treatment of "You're Lucky to Me") or Bobby Hackett (with fine muted backgrounds on the melancholy "I'm Through with Love") add something special to each song. Surprisingly, the music from Wein's later session, which he initially rejected as unsatisfactory, finds him a much more confident singer in much snappier arrangements. Warren Vache, Jr. continues the tradition of Wein having a strong trumpeter on hand, and the playing of guitarist Howard Alden is simply superb, especially on the lively take of "I'm Shooting High." Wein likes to poke fun at his own musical abilities, describing the initial LP as "relatively well accepted...only my relatives bought the record," but his consistent ability to put together swinging groups of all-stars to accompany his concerts and occasional recordings can't be discounted, so this entertaining CD shouldn't disappoint anyone familiar with George Wein's somewhat sporadic but long career as a performer.


Born: 03 October 1925 in Boston, MA

Genre: Jazz

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

George Wein's main importance to jazz has been his work at organizing and booking festivals including Newport (which he helped found in 1954) and his own Storyville club in the 1950s. However, Wein has long been a fine Earl Hines-inspired pianist (and an occasional vocalist), quite comfortable in swing and Dixieland-oriented settings. On an irregular basis since the 1950s he has toured and recorded with his Newport All-Stars, which has...
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