Fine Chamber Jazz
B. D. Tutt | London, UK. | 11/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tony Parenti and his Downtown Boys (Dick Wellstood on piano and Sam Ulano on drums) were a fixture at Manhattan's Metropole hotel in the early sixties, attracting a cult following among musicians for their wide repertoire and inventive playing. This CD, made up of sessions from 1961 and 1965, captures them in fine form.Parenti has been rather undervalued, often seen as simply a dixieland player, despite the fact that he was active in New Orleans in the 1920s and had a prodigious technique, a beautiful tone and great drive and flair. These recordings reveal what a fine musician he was. Dick Wellstood, one of the greatest but most underestimated pianists of the post - war period, is also shown to great effect here.Highlights include a wonderfully ebullient and catchy "Railroad Man", a driving "Ballin' the Jack" and a powerful ballad performance of "Stardust". The ragtime pieces (and the version of Morton's "Shreveport Stomp") will not be to everyones taste, as they stick pretty close to the score throughout.Tracks 6 - 9 feature Parenti's "New Orleans Quartet" (Armand Hug, Chink Martin & Abbie Brunies) and illustrate a rather more mellow side to Parenti.All lovers of Wellstood or Parenti should buy this disc as a matter of course. Fans of chamber jazz should investigate it."