Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Buck Clayton and Tommy Gwaltney-Goin' toKansas City (1960)

I recently ran into this Delightful session as part of the Real Gone Buck Clayton set. Real Gone specializes in releasing 6-8 lps on a 4CD set. They have a great catalog of Jazz and Pop artists.
This Riverside lp of 1960 was actually conceived by Tommy Gwaltney and billed as his Kansas City 9.
Basie alums Clayton and Dickie Wells are guest artists and Buck gets plenty of solo space.

The interesting personnel also includes Bob Zotolla (famous mouthpiece maker and father of Glenn) on lead trumpet and alto horn. Gwaltney on alto,clarinet,vibes and xylophone (he was quite a talent and part of Bobby Hackett's great Henry Hudson band). Tommy Newsom of Tonight Show fame on tenor and clarinet. The Rhythm section consists of Benny Goodman stalwart John Bunch on piano, the great Charlie Byrd on guitar, West Coast Bass star Whitey Mitchell and Big Band veteran Buddy Schutz(Goodman, Savitt,Jimmy Dorsey) on drums. The arrangements were by Newsom and Gwaltney and make the band sound bigger via their voicings.
The tunes are an interesting mix of vintage material and originals. Now on with the program.

Hello Babe- A Dickie Wells original. A Swinging band chorus opens the proceedings with Dave Pell-like writing.(you can hear the alto horn in the ensemble). Buck delivers a crisp,swinging solo, some boppish but still swingy tenor from Tommy (a fine player) and Dickie with one of his patented "talking" solos. He was a brilliant trombonist,but tended to fall back on these tricks in later years. Thankfully,he's fairly straight on this album. A Basie-like shout chorus takes us home. 

An Old Manuscript-Composed by Don Redman and Andy Razaf and recorded by several swing bands..
An easy swinging ensemble takes us to Gwaltney's sweet alto,some alto horn, Buck playing plunger under sax riffs, a Basie rhythm bridge and some tasty Byrd guitar (he lays nice rhythm down too). Wells gets in a good solo before the band rides it home.

Kansas City Ballad-Comp. by Newsom. One of the highlights of the session. Buck's trumpet featured in a pretty, introspective mood (the tune reminds one of Pete Kelly's Blues- pardon the plug!).John Bunch has a lovely bridge passage, he has many fine solos on the date.

Jumpin' Blues- Comp. Jay McShann and Charlie Parker. A jazz standard from the Jay McShann band.
John gives us a Basie chorus up front and the saxes take the riff backed by plunger brass. Byrd's guitar follows with Gwaltney's vibes, Whitey's bass and a shout chorus taking us to Wells' bone. The following ensemble is very tight and sounds like a full band. The saxes return us to the melody.

Walter Page-Comp. Gwaltney.in tribute to the great Kansas City Bassman. Gwaltney intros with his xylophone(shades of Red Norvo) followed by Byrd's guitar and the band playing the bluesy theme.Gwaltney's alto leads to Mitchell's bass backed by the band. More xylophone, Tommy's tenor and Buck on Harmon mute over riffs before a short shout chorus.

Midnight Mama-A rather obscure Jelly Roll Morton composition.(he recorded a piano roll and band version.) The theme is a bit reminicent of Nobody Knows the Way I Feel this Mornin'. Saxes and one trumpet up front with Buck blowing 2 beautiful blues choruses(he was a great blues player), after a band interlude he's back for more. There's more of Tommy's fine tenor,piano and a shout chorus back to the theme.

John's Idea by Count Basie. This Basie classic is given a transcription treatment and sounds a lot like the original-despite the smaller band setup. Bunch does a great job playing Count's original solos-he really gets the Basie feel. The saxes trade phrases and the band chorus leads to Tommy's tenor. The shout chorus has Dickie reprising his trombone shouts before an all too quick fadeout.

Steppin' Pretty by Mary Lou Williams. This was a staple of the great Andy Kirk band. The muted brass state the theme followed by tenor and Gwaltney's low register clarinet (sounding a bit like Woody Herman). We get Buck wailing with some high ones, Byrd and a boppish spot by Zottolla. The brass reprise the catchy riff out.

The New Tulsa Blues by Bennie Moten, A 1927 recording. We get some boogie piano by Bunch for 2 choruses. The theme is stated by the saxes with piano responses.  Buck wails for 2 choruses sounding very Louis-ish backed by boogie riffs. Following Whitey's bass there is a modulation to more low register clarinet.
Byrd's guitar leads to another modulation with reeds answered by plunger brass with Gwaltney's clarinet wailing over the band ala Woody. Bunch reprises the boogie theme leading to the band coda. 

As you can see, a lot happens here and the stellar cast of musicians all get plenty of blowing room.
Gwaltney and Newsom's arrangements range from traditional to innovative,but always in the swing tadition.
It's also a kick to hear Charlie Byrd playing rhythm guitar ala Freddie Greene.

The rest of the Real Gone set has the excellent Buck/Frankie Laine session, 2 Jam Session lps, Buck's Vanguard session with Ruby Braff and 2 collaborations with Buddy Tate.
All Good Stuff,but you're really Dig this Kansas City 9 session!

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