Bernard Stanley "Acker" Bilk was an English clarinettist and vocalist known for his appearance – goatee, bowler hat and striped waistcoat – and breathy, vibrato-rich, lower-register clarinet style. Bilk's 1962 instrumental tune "Stranger on the Shore" became the UK's biggest selling single of 1962: it was in the UK charts for more than 50 weeks, peaking at number two, and was the first No. 1 single in the United States by a British artist in the era of the modern Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
For a recording fervently hyped as a special occasion – B.B. King's 50th album and all that – this one is surprisingly patchy in concept and erratic in execution…
Features 24 bit remastering and comes with a mini-description. Other than two selections put out on a sampler and the soundtrack from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, this LP is quite significant for having the first recordings of Eric Dolphy with the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Dolphy's solos (on alto, flute and bass clarinet) are brief, but he already sounded fairly distinctive. The third version of Hamilton's popular Quintet also included the drummer/leader, cellist Nate Gershman, guitarist Dennis Budimir and bassist Wyatt Ruther. On this album, half of the tunes are played by the basic quintet, while the remaining five songs have an added string section. The West Coast jazz chamber music generally holds one's interest, but has been out of print for some time.
This CD reissue brings back one of Lennie Niehaus' finest recordings of the 1950s. His alto is featured throughout the dozen selections and the varied settings (Niehaus is backed by a string quartet, a standard rhythm section, and sometimes two other saxophonists in addition to performing four numbers with a standard quintet) give him an opportunity to show off his writing abilities. Niehaus varies tempos a lot (the strings are often heard on faster material), there is solo space for the tenor of Bill Perkins, baritonist Bob Gordon, and Stu Williamson on trumpet and valve trombone, and the leader's boppish alto is heard at the peak of his playing powers. Bop collectors can consider this disc to be essential.