4 1/2* Navarro and a Great Band--Not Enough Navarro Though!
M. Allen Greenbaum | California | 04/06/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"These great compositions (all but one by Tadd Dameron, feature legendary trumpet player Theodore "Fats" Navarro backed by a group of superb musicians. The overall sound is fast but tight ensemble playing, with masterful solo work by the saxophones. Navarro sounds great, soaring and sliding through the background: I only wish he had more solos on the CD (and on Volume 2 of the series too). In some ways this recording is a precursor to the great Clifford Brown/ Max Roach albums that followed. After all, Navarro is often cited as an important influence on the great Brown. You WILL hear the similarities.I think saxophonists Ernie Henry and Charlie Rouse (tracks 1-8), Dexter Gordon and Sahib Shihab (tracks 9 and 10), and Benjamen Lundy and Cecil Payne (tracks 11-14) are superb (listen to the great solo on the second take of "The Chase"). Shadow Wilson and "Klook" provides steady drumming throughout (though not quite as explosive as Roach is on the Brown/Roach CDs), and John Collins absolutely shines on guitar (tracks 11-14). The record is decidedly not flashy and is somewhat more restrained than later post-bop ventures. People who aren't avid Navarro fans may not like the four alternate takes included on the CD, but I enjoyed the opportunity to hear the subtle variations. Other notable players on the set include a young Miles Davis (mostly in the background on tracks 11-14, although he is well recorded on Track 14, "Focus"), trombonist Kai Winding, percussionists Diego Ibarra and Vidal Bolado (tracks 9-10), bassist Curly Russel, and Tadd Dameron. NOTE: Tracks 11-14 are apparently not available on this CD version of "...Volume 1." Recorded monaurally in 1947 and 1949, the sound is very clear and extremely well balanced. While highly reminiscent of the Brown/Roach sound, this is a well-recorded, exciting CD packed with the beautiful and innovative style of Navarro. Leonard Feather, in his excellent liner notes, quotes Joe Newman on Navarro: " He had everything a trumpet player needs, soul, a good lip, continuity, and a good sound (one of those big butter sounds)" Tracks on my CD differ somewhat from those listed on this version (mine is an older copy, perhaps): "The Chase (two takes)," "The Squirrel (2 takes)," "Our Delight (2)," "Dameronia (2)," "Sid's Delight," "Casbah," "John's Delight," "What's New," "Heaven's Doors are Wide Open," and "Focus (tracks listed in order). I highly recommend Volume 1 to fans of Navarro, Dameron, and post-bop."