Harry Babasin and the Jazz Pickers

This combo worked for several years out of a regular base at Hollywood's trendy Purple Onion club. In many ways the group was a model for the cool, swinging, non-aggressive school of jazz, with both vibraphone and flute prominent in the front line. The band was the brainchild of Harry Babasin, who was considered one of the first jazz cellists. His pizzicato solo on a 1947 side by pianist Dodo Marmorosa may be the first such cello chilling on a jazz record. Although the name of the band might suggest some kind of hillbilly jazz fusion, in reality, the Jazzpickers was nothing of the sort. It was really a pure jazz outfit, attracting a blend of seasoned studio and jazz vets such as flautist Buddy Collette and young newcomers such as guitarist Don Overburg, a playing partner of tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh. The front cover photo of the group's first album on the EmArcy label is foremost striking because of Overburg's apparent youth. Besides playing standards, the group performed material written by Babasin and Bob Harrington, the latter man doubling on vibraphone and drums. For the group's second album, Harrington was replaced by the much better known vibraphonist Red Norvo. For years, fans of this style of jazz have been daydreaming about some kind of release of this band's live tapes; the over-produced EmArcy sides limit the playing time to around three minutes per title, hardly the norm for a jazz band. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

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