Shelly Manne: Summertime
Shelly Manne & His Men
Shelly Manne & His Men at the Black Hawk, Vol. 1 (Contemporary OJCCD-656-2)
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward.
Recorded: San Francisco, September 22, 1959
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
In 1959 producer Lester Koenig had the good sense to record Shelly Manne & His Men for four nights at San Francisco's Blackhawk. It was an audacious move: none of the sidemen was particularly well known, and the band was in transition, using Feldman as a temporary substitute for Russ Freeman. The resulting four LPs (later expanded to five CDs) are beloved in the jazz community because the musicians played in peak form throughout and the arrangements were fresh takes on familiar material. "Summertime" opens the first album and sets the stage for the 5+ hours of remarkable music to follow. Starting with Budwig's double stops and Manne's light cymbal touches, Gordon intones the theme while the rhythm section creates a mood rather than states the beat. Gordon, in Harmon mute, uses a pure straight tone and his ideas are pointed and direct, with no extraneous notes or terminal vibrato to soften the edge. Kamuca's warm tone and flowery ideas contrast Gordon's, and Feldman builds and releases tension in his solo without sacrificing the overall mood.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe