Lennie Niehaus: You Stepped Out of a Dream
You Stepped Out of a Dream
Lennie Niehaus (alto sax)
Complete Fifties Recordings One: Quintet & Octet (Lone Hill Jazz LHJ10238)
Composed by Brown & Kahn; arranged by Lennie Niehaus.
Recorded: Los Angeles, CA, July 9, 1954
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Neglected master composer/arranger of West Coast, counterpoint-styled Jazz, and no slouch as an alto saxman either, Lennie Niehaus is better known these days for his later work on the scores of Clint Eastwood films. But any fan of Mulligan, Baker, and great playing in general should seek out the series of CD reissues on Lone Hill Jazz that showcase Niehaus's amazing '50s run of quintet and octet albums on Contemporary Records.
To pick a single representative track is kind of laughable, so I'll just make the arbitrary choice of "You Stepped Out of a Dream," recorded in mid-1954 during his second session as a leader, and a solid example of his call-&-response, bob-&-weave arranging. Plus this track lets Lennie step out front with two faster-than-dreamy solos – so up, so clean, so cool (oops, excuse the 4-letter word) – with swift, echoing support from the saxes of Jack Montrose and Bob Gordon, and the happy underpinning of Monte Budwig and Shelly Manne. In less than 3 minutes, all five have their say, with no wasted notes – the performance nearly over before you suddenly realize the source tune.
Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher