"Right now -- April 13, 2005 -- Amazon shows no tracks or personnel for this CD. Most people who have heard of Harry "Sweets" Edison think he only played for Basie in the late 1930s and accompanied Sinatra on his Nelson Riddle recordings in the 1950s. But he was much more.
I have no idea why this CD took so long to emerge, but this is the finest Sweets recording ever and one of the very best small group swing (mainstream) recordings of the 1950s that were so fertile for good jazz. No hyperbole here, I promise.
I purchased the LP in 1957 (was on Columbia Clef then) and I still preserve it carefully. Apart from Sweets it has Ben Webster on tenor sax, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Barney Kessel on guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, and Alvin Stoller on drums. The track names I recall off the top of my head are "Hollerin' At The Watkins", "Willow Weep for Me", plus another eight or so. Does the CD contain more? -- I really hope so! The swing is powerful and clean and the solos have a form and a structure -- mainly blues-based -- that place melody and "voicing" ahead of the complex chord changes and harmonies (an oxymoron!) that have done so much to remove jazz from public appeal this past 35 years. The three main front line players (tpt/tnr/pno) play among the best work of their careers.
For other great "Sweets" recordings, hear him with Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges on "Back to Back" and "Side By Side."
I suggest you get this CD whatever your age."
Sweets and The Brute
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 04/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
In 1956-57, Sweets Edison and Ben Webster teamed up to cut two albums for the Verve label; both are superb, though this one might be a tad better. Everything works marvelously here, and Ben and Sweets play at peak form. Things kick off with the fast blues HOLLERING AT THE WATKINS, an Edison original, and immediately we know we're in for something special. WILLOW WEEP FOR ME gets an excellent treatment with Sweets playing tightly muted trumpet (as he does on most of the tracks), and LOVE IS HERE TO STAY is another beautiful ballad track. Another up-tempo blues is OPUS 711, and it's one of the highlights on the album. Rhythm support is solid in Jimmy Rowles (p) Joe Mondragon (b) and Alvin Stoller (d), and Barney Kessel's bluesy guitar adds much to the album's flavor. A terrific mainstream jazz album from the mid-1950s - definitely worth a prominent spot in anyone's collection."
Dave W. | Cincinnati, OH | 05/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent disc from Harry 'Sweets' Edison at the peak of his career. There are several memorable songs - Used to be Basie, How Deep is the Ocean, Walkin' With Sweets, Studio Call - and plenty of extended solos.
I would, however, rate this album just a notch below The Swinger/Mr. Swing double CD from 1958. It's still highly recommended music."
YES, I agree: definately Sweets' finest
Mike DiMartino | Rochester, NY | 10/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I once chanced to be present during a Lockjaw Davis session for Pablo--Jaws played "Sweet and Lovely," I recall. You can imagine the awe of seeing Sweets arriving with Clark Terry. Anyway, I've heard a lot of Sweets--from his Basie days on through his Verve years on to his Pablo sessions. But I've always felt that SWEETS was Sweets at his best--his finest session. There's something about his tone, his groove; he's really relaxed and often comes up with ideas, freshly different from his signature lick stuff. Just check out "How Deep is the Ocean." (Want to hear some other extrordinary Sweets? Get BUDD JOHNSON AND THE FOUR BRASS GIANTS on OJC CD. Why that album isn't a big seller behooves me.)
This SWEETS recording is a little heavy with reverb, but it's in the original and Verve was wise not to add any fake stereo reverb to it. By the way, I'm noticing Verve is getting better at reissuing; they still can't match the meticulous Japanese, but the domestic-issue Verve audio has been greatly improving, with just a tadd of harshness now and then at about 1000Hz. That's probably because I no longer see Richard Siedel's name among the production credits: GOOD RIDDANCE, you bum; you've messed up too many classic Verves with excruciating boosted highs and fake stereo reverb! Thankfully, for this issue Verve reproduced the original cover and liner, and you get a full-sized repro folded inside the digipak.
Another joy of this CD is Jimmy Rowles' brief but tasty piano solos. You know, this session's vibe would've been so much different with Oscar Peterson at the piano--it might've sounded like just another Verve. Why, oh, why was Peterson, and his sometimes annoyingly busy accompaniment, chosen by Norman Granz to play on so many Verve's!? (yeah, I know: that "thousand note" show off, Tatum wish-he-was sold lots of records for Granz). Well, I gotta say, Granz chose all the right cats for SWEETS, making for one the most beautifully swingin' Verves ever, owing in big part to the layed back presence of drummer Alvin Stoller. Ben Webster... Ben sounds great as always, but for some reason, he just doesn't move me on this date. (Although BILL HARRIS AND FRIENDS, an OJC CD, is not popularly known as a Ben Webster date, some of the best Ben you'll ever hear was recorded on that 1955 Fantasy session--every solo's a gem; perfection.) Joe Mondragon added so much to the many, many west coast sessions he played on. His huge bass sound is captured fully here; when you play this CD through your speakers, you'll really feel the bass. Finally, you may find that the star of SWEETS is actually guitarist Barney Kessell. Man, his lines! So creative, inventive.
Track 4, "Studio Call," is ringing through my mind as I write. Love that tune; nice to hear Sweets' rich, open trumpet singing out on this one.
I'm ol' Mike DiMartino in Rochester, NY. Thank you."
All-purpose trumpet player yet one of a kind.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 06/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Harry Edison had such an inimitable trumpet "voice" that musicians of all schools welcomed his presence on a session even though nothing about his playing reflects the bebop revolution of Dizzy, Bird, Bud and Monk. You can hear him on a date exchanging choruses with Diz and Roy Eldridge; two years after the release of this album, Granz featured Sweets as the only trumpet player on "Jazz Giants '58" (out of print but worth the search) with Mulligan (a huge Sweets fan), Getz (more Prez-like than ever), Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Belson; he can be heard on a couple of sides as a frontline mate to Bird's foremost disciple, Sonny Stitt; he made two sparkling CDs with the hugely underrated tenor great, Spike Robinson.
He was one of the last trumpet players to see mutes (not simply the harmon mute favored by Miles) as integral with the sound of the horn, which could have many different "tonal personalities." He plays with humor, lyricism and, if required to, ample technique. But economy is his game--sometimes he'll "ride" on a single note for close to an entire chorus, bending and shaping it every which way (in fact, it's hard to believe he wasn't an influence on a "modernist" like Kenny Dorham, who occasionally would do much the same). Sweets does have a few trademark, signature "licks" that he has a tendency to use more than necessary, making it too easy at times for a listener to guess what's coming. The other side of the coin is that there's no mistaking who's playing trumpet.
I'm surprised this session swings as hard as it does, since Verve's "house pianist," Oscar Peterson, has been replaced by Jimmy Rowles, an adept player but more minimalist, even, than Sweets. Give much of the credit to Al Stoller, a drummer Sinatra preferred to Buddy Rich. The program is a great mix of jazz and pop standards ("How Deep Is the Ocean" is taken too fast for my taste, but the medium-tempo pace of "Willow Weep for Me" is a welcome touch to this frequently dragging torch number.)
It's Edison's date, but Ben Webster is no less impressive, at the very top of his game. In fact, were it not for the title, you might have difficulty deciding which of the two is in charge."