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Jazz Heroes - Shelly Manne

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Album Review

This compilation samples 11 of drummer Shelly Manne's albums recorded for Contemporary between 1953 and 1961 while utilizing a wide range of musicians. The free jazz opener "Flip" (no doubt dedicated to his wife by her nickname) is an intriguing trio with Shorty Rogers on muted trumpet and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre. The low-key trio interpretation of Oscar Pettiford's "Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas" (also known as "Blues in the Closet") features Leroy Vinnegar's walking bass and André Previn's surprising piano backed by the leader's subtle brushwork. John Williams wrote the breezy "Checkmate" as the theme to an early-'60s television series, with trumpeter Conte Candoli and tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca shining in the solo spotlight and a driving rhythm section anchored by Manne with pianist Russ Freeman and bassist Chuck Berghofer. Henry Mancini wrote a special arrangement of "Peter Gunn" for Manne's group, with Candoli, alto saxophonist Herb Geller and Victor Feldman on marimba. Manne's unusual drum-piano duet with Freeman of the pianist's "The Sound Effects Manne" features the drummer's best work in this collection; it also foreshadows their later duo album One on One. This compilation is a great starting point to examine Shelly Manne's rewarding Contemporary recordings and will doubtless inspire serious collectors to pick up the original releases.


Born: 11 June 1920 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

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

Shelly Manne made a countless number of records from the 1940s into the '80s but is best-known as a good-humored bandleader who never hogged the spotlight. Originally a saxophonist, Manne switched to drums when he was 18 and started working almost immediately. He was with Joe Marsala's band (making his recording debut in 1941), played briefly in the big bands of Will Bradley, Raymond Scott, and Les Brown and was on drums for Coleman Hawkins's classic "The Man I Love" session of late 1943. Manne worked...
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