If you thrive on a healthy diet of 1950s jazz played by a matched pair of talented saxophonists, this collection will be a swinging slice of heaven. Among the "coolest" of the West Coast tenor players of the 1950s, Bill Perkins in later years became a bit influenced by John Coltrane and modernized his style in a personal way. A flexible and versatile musician who also played baritone, alto, soprano, and flute, Perkins was best-known for his work on tenor.
For this set, tenor saxophonist Bill Perkins is showcased in an all-star octet also including altoist Bud Shank, baritonist Jack Nimitz, trumpeter Stu Williamson, trombonist Carl Fontana, pianist Russ Freeman, bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Mel Lewis. Perk's tone is heard throughout at its coolest (influenced by Lester Young but distinctive within the style) and there are plenty of short spots for the other key voices.
On this rewarding set, the L.A. Four (altoist Bud Shank, acoustic guitarist Laurindo Almeida, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Jeff Hamilton) perform a Bach melody, "Carinhoso" (originally recorded by Shank and Almeida back in 1954), "Just Friends," a "Love" medley ("Love for Sale" and "Love Walked In"), and Chick Corea's "Spain." Shank sticks exclusively to alto for the date, leaving his flute in its case, and the result is a more high-powered program than usual. Recommended.
Bill Perkins pays tribute to former boss Woody Herman on this CD by leading a 14-piece big band through a variety of standards, most of which were featured by Herman. Actually, this is more of a tribute to Herman's spirit than to his original recordings, for the arrangements (by Jim Knight, John La Barbera, Dennis Mackrel, Frank Strazzeri and Mark Taylor) are much newer; not all of the songs (such as "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me," "9:20 Special" and "Blue Lou") were that closely connected with Herman's legacy, and his hits ("Four Brothers" and "Early Autumn") are absent. In addition, there is no clarinetist in the band filling in for Herman…
At first glance, it's easy to see why this late-period Sonny Stitt date could have fallen through the cracks. Recorded at Bubba's Jazz Restaurant in Florida on November 11, 1981, one year before the tenor saxophonist passed away, the set list depends on several pleasant yet rudimentary standards that these musicians could play in their sleep. Fortunately, the majority of these cuts find Stitt with fellow tenor man Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison, who more than hold their own with a combined spontaneity and playfulness that are anything but boring. These 11 tracks are spirited, straight-ahead bebop with excellent versions of "Oh, Lady Be Good," "What's New," "There Is No Greater Love," "Lester Leaps In," Stitt's original "Sonny's Blues," and the Miles Davis tune "Four." The first-rate rhythm section alongside Stitt, "Lockjaw," and "Sweets" consists of Eddie Higgins on piano, Donn Mast on bass, and Duffy Jackson on drums.