Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The Final Counce Group Bounce
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 12/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"West Coast bassist Curtis Counce made three very solid records with his "Group" of Harold Land on tenor sax, Jack Sheldon on trumpet (it should be noted Gerald Wilson subs on two tracks), Carl Perkins on piano, and Frank Butler on drums for the Contemporary label in the late 1950s. Unfortunately Perkins' death put an end to one of L.A.'s best hard bop quintets. This album, recorded over three sessions in 1957 and early 1958, is dedicated to the pianist's memory with the fitting "Carl's Blues" as the disc's closer. Other standout tracks are Sheldon's opener "Pink Lady," the standard "I Can't Get Started" featuring a great solo from Land, and the Horace Silver penned "Nica's Dream." Anyone who enjoyed the music on "Landslide" or "You Get More Bounce..." (see my review), will also bounce with Counce here."
Awesome Jack Sheldon
B. Guerrero | 12/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, this has the greatest version of "Nica's Dream" I've yet to encounter; far surpassing the already fine Blue Mitchell version. That alone is enough for me to give this five stars. Yes, the C.C. Group was amazing; gracefully fusing the intensity of eastcoast bee-bop with the mellowing effect that L.A. in the 50's had on the genre; the so-called "westcoast" sound. No one on the planet carries the signature of that sound more than Jack Sheldon - for my money, THE most underrated instrumentalist of all time. Harold Land was the perfect tenor match for him in those days (I'd love to hear J.S. do some work with Benny Golson, sometime before they're both gone). Take a careful listen to his solo in "Nica's Dream". You can keep your Lee Morgan, Diz, and Miles; I'll take J.S. every time (and I do like those guys). The two cuts without J.S. have Gerald Wilson on trumpet - not exactly a slouch in his own right. For me, this is on my top ten desert island list for CDs. Don't miss this; "Nica's Dream" alone is worth the price of admission."
The third, and regrettably last, essential recording by the
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 05/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The previous reviewer has a point. Play this version of "Nica's Dream" alongside that of the composer's (from "Horace-Scope" on Blue Note, with Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook). This one's guaranteed to spoil any but the most inattentive listener. It's not just the purposeful solos (not a wasted note), the inimitable expressiveness of each solo voice, the artfulness of the arrangement and cohesiveness of the ensemble, but it's the audio imaging as well. Van Gelder's Blue Note recording echoes and thunders with intrusive but muddy presence; by contrast, the audio on this (originally) Contemporary date resonates with depth and dynamic shading, allowing the listener to pick out each of the subordinate motifs and subtle moving harmonies in addition to the main melody and solos.
There were definite color lines in the jazz groups of the 1950s, and Counce wanted to counteract stereotypes of West Coast Jazz as being removed geographically and creatively from its African-American East Coast counterpart. Nevertheless, in the case of Sheldon he simply had to make an exception. Dig the ensemble playing on "Love Walked In." When the frontline reaches the first high concert Eb of the melody, it sounds as though Jack flubs the note, a rare mistake by a flawless group. But then when, on each ensuing chorus, he makes the same "mistake," we realize that this tricky, micro-second moment, is an ornamentation by Jack, stamping the Gershwin tune as the group's exclusive property. As usual, Land and Sheldon play as a single voice when the situation calls for it, and have an intimate but definitive conversation at the other times. The solos by both are personal and inventive statements, distinguished by indisputable musical logic. In fact, the usual "break" between the ensemble head and the first solo, regardless of the instrumentalist, is played with such resourcefulness and continuity that it becomes a seamless bond between the two sections, an extension of the primary melodic idea.
Once again Carl Perkins demonstrates his precocious genius--a young pianist who managed to combine the best of Erroll Garner and Bud Powell into a language all his own. His chord voicings and comping are in a league of their own--not just the notes but the touch and placement of them contributing to the spacious, open, fresh sound of this ensemble--and his soloing is frequently suggestive of the "rhapsodic" if not the rapturous. Overcoming polio despite the lasting handicap of a deformed left hand, Perkins could not get the better of his drug habit. His death, shortly after this recording and before his 30th birthday, spelled the end of a quintet that may have been equalled but, to my mind, never surpassed in the past half century of this indigenous American art form.
Hearing these Counce recordings, one wishes that Sheldon had been a bit more vigilant about "taking care of his career." Whether it was to support himself, to fraternize with celebrity, to indulge his funny bone--he failed to produce a discography close to being truly representive of his talents as a trumpet artist of the first-rank. Strange that Chet Baker would be so popular, ubiquitous, and better known today than Jack, who was at once the more personal and disciplined player. (Don't think I'd care to hear him with Golson, though--at least not today. Maybe James Moody, Rollins, Fathead Newman, Houston Person--or a younger player like Eric Alexander.)
Finally, Counce's liner notes reveal him to have been a thoughtful, literate, aesthetically sensitive thinker, acutely aware of each player's contributions to the integrity of the ensemble. He is unstinting, above all, in his praise of the underappreciated Carl Perkins, noting that the truly unique sound of this group, which jelled practically from its inception, owed more to Perkins than any other musician. Those few tracks that replace Perkins with an Elmo Hope (or Sheldon with Gerald Wilson) completely support his judgment. It was indeed a delicate balance which, like the most vitally alive organisms, was not destined to endure."