Sunday, April 22, 2007

On Tour - Coral Records

On Tour

1961 Coral Records CRL 757357 Stereo / CRL 57357 Mono

Side 1
1. Hindustan
2. New Orleans
3. Mississippi Mud
4. San Antonio Rose
5. Manhattan
6. Isle Of Capri

Side 2
1. Swanee River Rag
2. Indiana
3. Sentimental Journey
4. I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City
5. Moonlight In Vermont
6. Chicago

Liner Notes:

Clarinet Solos With Rhythm Accompaniment

Many things have been said about Pete Fountain's music. It has been called jazz-flavored Dixieland and New Orleans styled jazz; smooth but wild, faithful to the melody line yet shaped by ad lib solo flights; rompin', stompin' and foot-tappin' while gently moody, and yet, always happy.

Strangely enough, all of these apparent contradictions are absolutely true. Here, on the 12 standards that comprise PETE FOUNTAIN "ON TOUR," is the evidence. The arrangements prove all of those descriptives and then some, for with each hearing the listener finds another nuance, - another bit of phrasing, another harmonic relationship between the instruments for him to savor.

To call them arrangements is, in truth, stretching the facts a bit. Each of these tunes was performed from what musicians call "head arrangements" - that is, there is no exact written arrangement for the various instruments. Instead, each sideman contributes his own individual interpretation within a general framework of the melody and a rough idea of what the end result should sound like.

With the men chosen to complement the bewhiskered Mr. Fountain on this album, the decision to use head arrangements was a wise one. For Drummer Jack Sperling, Bassist Morty Corb and Pianist Stan Wrightsman are rated expert exponents of their craft even by those severest of all critics, their fellow musicians.

As Charles (Bud) Dant, artist's repertoire man who supervises all of Pete's recording sessions, explained: "We spent four sessions cutting this album. We took our time because we wanted to build something. Since these are head arrangements, we wanted to build some unusual interpretations into these standards. We took a rough outline of the tune, then put the Pete Fountain feel into it. With this touch we get not only jazz but a fine melodic line that swings without deviating too much from the original".

What is the "Pete Fountain touch"? It's hard to explain. Pete himself can't explain it. "I don't think too much about my playing," he says. "I just play by instinct. I blow what I feel and it just comes out right. I don't even read much music. Like Wingy Manone always says, I read just enough not to hurt my jazz".

The album was inspired by a tour Pete made in the Spring of 1960 which met with such tremendous acclaim from both critics and customers that he is planning more tours to play colleges and communities across the country. At any of these concerts the group may break into any of these numbers. Some of them find Pete soaring, in others he plays harmony to the other instruments, in still others he steps back to let them wing it, singly and together. But all have that magic Pete Fountain touch.

The set opens with a moving "Hindustan" on which Pete staccato-ly points up a Corb bass bit and Sperling creates an Oriental feel by laying down a jazz-latin beat on cymbal. Pete then puts a soft "down home" feeling to a bluesy "New Orleans." An uptempo "Mississippi Mud" follows, with Morty's bass prominent and Jack taking a few short solos on tom toms. In tribute to his neighboring state of Texas, Louisiana-born Pete puts a horse-trotting gait to "San Antonio Rose" and caresses it with his sweetest tones. An abrupt switch in tempo brings a light, easy "Manhattan", followed by Pete's wailing version of the ever-swinging "Isle of Capri".

Side Two opens with Pete's chorus of "Swanee River" before the gang blows it wild like the river at floodtide. Pete steps up the beat closer to a true New Orleans feel on "Back Home Again In Indiana", once again with the bass and drums taking off individually after Pete's opening melodic statement.

"Sentimental Journey" is sentimental indeed, with Pete and Morty alternating on melodic interpretations. The set really rocks when Stan comes into his own with a boogie woogie keyboarding of "I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City" while Pete blows straight melody. Another facet of the versatile Fountain talent shows through on a soulful "Moonlight in Vermont" and the group closes in the same fashion as it opened, with a light swinging, nostalgic treatment of "Chicago".

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