Joe Newman Sextet – The Happy Cats
Trumpeter Joe Newman and tenor and flautist Frank Wess were mainstays of the great, 1953-1963 Count Basie band, and both are the stars of these swinging, thoroughly enjoyable sextet sessions from 1957, each contributing some unpre- tentious but accomplished blowing in the Basie idiom. Reinforcing the Basie touch are the totally compatible arrangements, loose yet structured, by Ernie Wilkins, Al Cohn and Quincy Jones, and the vibrant rhythm section of pianist Johnny Acea, a Basie alumnus in the dependable bassist Eddie Jones, and drum- mer Connie Kay. Newman, who had the ability to fit in almost anywhere, is warmth and invention personified, while Wess and trombonist Frank Rehak also turn in some persuasive solo work.
Newman was also the leader of an earlier septet date, recorded in Paris during Count Basie’s 1956 European tour. With the exception of the idiomatically adept pianist Maurice Vander, the rest of the musicians are drawn, like Newman, from the Basie band. It makes for a unified ensemble and a rolling, relaxed groove, garnished by fine soloing, set in the mellow smoothness characteristic of the best of the Basie splinter groups.
1. The Happy Cats - 3:06 2. Cocktails for Two - 2:51 3. Later for the Happenings - 3:37 4. Buttercup - 4:02 5. Robbins’ Nest - 4:23 6. They Can’t Take That Away from Me - 2:15 7. Feather’s Nest - 3:45 8. Mean to Me - 2:58 9. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - 3:32 10. Joe’s Tune - 3:17 11. I Never Knew - 3:30 12. Joe’s Blues - 9:38 13. Lover Man - 5:52 14. A Girl Named Rigmor - 10:31 15. Blues on the Champs-Elysées - 13:40
Tracks #1-11, from the Coral album “The Happy Cats” (CRL 57121)
Track #12, from the Coral miscellaneous album “Jazz Cornucopia” (CRL 57149)
Tracks #13-15, from the French 10-inch “Joe Newman Plays in Paris” (Vega V35S758)
Personnel on "The Happy Cats": Joe Newman (trumpet) , Frank Rehak (trombone) , Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute) , Johnny Acea (piano) , Eddie Jones (bass) , Connie Kay (drums)
Arrangements by Ernie Wilkins (#2,3,5,7,10,11), Al Cohn (#6,8,9), Quincy Jones (#1,4)
Recorded in New York City, January 7 (#2,5,7,11), and 8 (#1,3,4,6,8,9,10,12), 1957
Personnel on "Joe Newman Plays in Paris": Joe Newman (trumpet) , Henry Coker (trombone) , Frank Wess (tenor sax) , Bill Graham (baritone sax) , Maurice Vander (piano) , Eddie Jones (bass) , Sonny Payne (drums)
Recorded in Paris, October 7, 1956
1. jazzweekly.com - George W. Harris - February 27, 2017
"Trumpeter Joe Newman and tenor sax/flutist Frank Wess were two of the most important elements of Count Basie’s “Atomic” Band of the mid fifties. This album features the two in smaller settings, with arrangements by Basie-ites Al Cohn, Quincy Jones and Ernie Wilkins, making for a swingin’ affair.
Johnny Acea/p, Eddie Jones/b Connie Kay/dr and Frank Rehak/tb round out the 12 song session with Wess on flute for a toe tapping “The Happy Cats” with Newman on Harmon mute, a sweet toned open horn on “Buttercup,” a bluesy “Later for the Happenings” and a suave “Cocktails for Two.” Wess’ tenor is glorious on “Robbins Nest” while the blues are loose for the two on “Joes’ Blues.” Wess sticks to tenor for three tunes in Paris 1956 with Jones, Sonny Payne/dr, Maurice Vander/p, Henry Coker/tb and Bill Graham/bs for a languid “A Girl Named Rigmor” and they really stretch out on a 13 minute romp of “Blues on the Champs-Elysees.” Newman has an inherent steady groove to his delivery, and his tone is not only unmistakable, but unmistakably glowing. These guys had 4 steady beats to the bar in their dna."
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