I love this double-CD and it is probably one of the most frequently-played reissues in my home. It’s also the one that made me search out many more double-CDs from this wonderful early 90s reissue series, “Jazz Tribune” (later sold under the title “Indispensable”) by RCA/BMG France.Joe Newman (1922-1992) was best-known for his lengthy stay with Count Basie’s Orchestra. Newman started fronting pick-up groups from March 1954 onwards, but these sessions here start with the first ones for the giant RCA-Victor, starting in early 1955. Newman built an octet around fellow Basie members Wilkins, Green and Wilson by adding representatives of the swinging Kansas City style. The recording was done with one single microphone and soloists were brought to the forefront by simply making them stand up. The group’s sound was recorded exceptionally well and this reissue has more than decent sound, although I could imagine that a label like “Mosaic Records” could remaster this material to really make it shine. Still, this early 90s BMG reissue is a fairly flat transfer and is the better for it (you can really turn this one up without your ears starting to bleed), especially since you can still find this one at relatively cheap prices ranging from about $10 to $20 via second-hand sites or Amazon marketplace dealers.
Most of the other “Jazz Tribune” releases were mere reissues of earlier double-LP sets, but this one was newly compiled. It collects the four RCA LPs recorded by Newman, the two octet sessions, the tribute to Louis Armstrong in a big band setting and the wonderful small group session (a two-guitar septet) with flutist Frank Wess.
The whole set has a wonderful Basie touch to it and seriously swings. The octet sessions are essentially a mini-history of jazz and American popular music and include numbers made famous by, for example, Fred Astaire (Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails)), Frankie Laine (We’ll Be Together) as well as Louis Armstrong and Lionel Hampton (Sweethearts on Parade), Earl Hines and Fletcher Henderson (You Can Depend on Me), Benny Goodman and Lester Young (Sometimes I’m Happy) or Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard (Lament for a Lost Love).
Critics have given fellow New Orleans artist Newman the stamp of approval for his more contemporary take on Louis Armstrong’s material that makes up a larger part of the second CD and Newman easily links traditional and modern styles.
“The Midgets” session takes its name from Lester Young calling the more slender members of the Count Basie band “midgets” (on the 1955 Birdland Stars tour, the more meaty members were “the bombers”). The personnel came together in the dressing room of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria where Newman could be found warming up (with a muted trumpet) for each concert of this prolonged Basie residency gig, and after a while he was joined by fellow “midget” Frank Wess on flute and a while later by “bombers” Freddie Green and Eddie Jones. Basie saw the potential and moved the group from the backstage area to center-stage and gave them a central spot on the program: “The Midgets” became an up-tempo blues showpiece set in the repertoire.
If you like swing and especially the Basie sound, this is a must-have reissue which, as far as I know, is still the only complete collection of the material.
Rating: ***** (for the music) **** (for the sound)/*****
Artist(s): Joe Newman
Title: The Complete Joe Newman RCA-Victor Recordings (1955-1956): “The Basie Days” (Jazz Tribune #75)
Release Date: BMG France, 1994
This CD: Jazz Tribune #75, 74321226132
01. Corner Pocket (02:41)
02. Dream a Little Dream of Me (02:34)
03. Topsy (03:14)
04. Leonice (03:35)
05. Jack’s Wax (02:29)
06. Limehouse Blues (03:23)
07. Captain Spaulding (03:28)
08. Soon (02:41)
09. If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) (03:06)
10. I Could Have Told You (02:55)
11. Lullaby of Birdland (03:08)
12. Pretty Skinny Bunny (02:28)
13. It’s a Thing of the Past (02:47)
14. You Can Depend on Me (03:33)
15. Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails (02:41)
16. Sometimes I’m Happy (03:51)
17. Shameful Roger (02:46)
18. Lament for a Lost Love (03:11)
19. Sweethearts on Parade (02:41)
20. Slats (03:51)
21. Perfidia (02:50)
22. It’s Bad for Me (03:19)
23. Exactly Like You (03:15)
24. We’ll Be Together Again (03:38)
25. The Daughter of Miss Thing (02:35)
01. Basin Street Blues (03:31)
02. You Can Depend on Me (02:53)
03. Sweethearts on Parade (02:14)
04. Back O’ Town Blues (03:46)
05. Pennies from Heaven (03:06)
06. When It’s Sleepy Time Down South (03:00)
07. Struttin’ With Some Barbecue (02:41)
08. West End Blues (03:58)
09. Chinatown, My Chinatown (02:44)
10. When the Saints Go Marching In (02:39)
11. Dippermouth Blues (02:42)
12. Jeepers Creepers (02:46)
13. No Moon at All (02:46)
14. Valerie (02:55)
15. My Dog Friday (03:28)
16. Scooter (02:54)
17. Late, Late Show (02:58)
18. Indeed the Blues (03:39)
19. The Midgets (06:09)
20. One Lamper (03:04)
21. Living Dangerously (02:50)
22. Really? Healy! (02:52)
23. She Has Red Hair (03:29)
Recording Dates: February 8th, 1955 – July 13th, 1956
Personnel and Recording Dates:
Session A (1-1 to 1-13); “All I Wanna Do Is Swing” – The Joe Newman Octet: Joe Newman (tp); Frank Rehack (tb); Ernie Wilkins (as); Al Cohn (ts); Nat Pierce (p); Freddie Green (g); Milt Hinton (b); Ross “Shadow” Wilson (d). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, February 8th, 1955.
Session B (1-14 to 1-21); “I’m Still Swinging” – The Joe Newman Octet: Joe Newman (tp); Urbie Green (tb); Gene Quill (as); Al Cohn (ts); Dick Katz (p); Freddie Green (g); Eddie Jones (b); Ross “Shadow” Wilson (d). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, October 3rd, 1955.
Session C (1-22 to 1-25): Same as for session B. Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, October 4th, 1955.
Session D (2-1 to 2-4): “Salute to Satch – Joe Newman and His Orchestra”: Joe Newman (tp, voc on “You Can Depend on Me”); Conte Candoli, Joe Ferrante, Bernie Glow, Nick Travis (tp); Jimmy Cleveland, Urbie Green, Tommy Mitchell, Chauncey Welsch (tb); Sam Marowitz, Phil Woods (as); Al Cohn (ts, cl); Eddie Wasserman (ts); Al (Young) Epstein (bs); Hank Jones (p); Barry Galbraith (g); Burgher “Buddy” Jones (b); Gus Johnson (d). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, March 4th, 1956.
Session E (2-5 to 2-8): Same as for session D. Ernie Royal (t); Fred Ohms, Benny Powell (tb); Nat Pierce (p);; Freddie Green (g); Eddie Jones (b) replace N Travis; U. Green, T. Mitchell; H. Jones; B. Galbraith; B. Jones. Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, March 11th, 1956.
Session F (2-9 to 2-12): Same as for session E. N. Travis (tp); U. Green, T. Mitchell (tb); H. Jones (p) replace E. Royal; F. Ohms, B. Powell, N. Pierce. Joe Newman and the Band (voc on “When the Saints Go Marching In”). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, March 14th, 1956.
Session G (2-13 to 2-16): “The Midgets” – The Joe Newman Septet: Joe Newman (tp); Frank Wess (fl); Hank Jones (p); Barry Galbraith (el-g); Freddie Green (rhythm g); Eddie JOnes (b); Osie Johnson (d). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, July 8th, 1956.
Session H (2-17 to 2-19): Same as for session G. Hank Jones (org on “The Late Show”). Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, July 10th, 1956.
Session I (2-17 to 2-19): Same as for session H. Recorded at Webster Hall, New York City, July 13th, 1956.
Manny Albam (1-3, 1-4, 1-8, 1-11, 1-13 to 1-17, 2-1, 2-5 to 2-8, 2-11)
Al Cohn (1-5 to 1-7, 1-9, 1-18 to 1-19, 1-22 to 1-23, 2-10)
Ernie Wilkins (1-1, 1-2, 1-10, 1-12, 1-20 to 1-21, 1-24 to 1-25, 2-2 to 2-4, 2-9, 2-12 – 2-23)
Reissue produced by: Daniel Baumgarten.
Liner Notes (French): Pierre LaFargue (July 1994)
Liner Notes (English): (adapted from the French) Don Waterhouse