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Witherspoon, Mulligan, Webster - At The Renaissance (1959)




Исполнитель: Jimmy Witherspoon, Gerry Mulligan, Ben Webster
Название альбома: Witherspoon, Mulligan, Webster At The Renaissance
Год выпуска: 1960, HiFi Jazz
Формат файлов: Mp3, 320
Размер архива: 86 Mb
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In recent years the growth of the coffee-wine-and-beer
houses in Hollywood and environs has become a marked
phenomenon. Several years ago at a jazz concert I attended,
the master of ceremonies remarked there were some 32 such
establishments in Los Angeles. By the close of 1959 (for
one inclined toward such statistics) the number may have
doubled, even tripled. And a cheerful subsidiary fact is that a great many coffee-beer-and-wineries maintain a steady jazz entertainment policy. |

Possibly the word entertainment is not apposite here. Certainly at Ben Shapiro’s Renaissance (opposite Ciro’s on the Sunset Strip) a majority of the customers come not so much for entertainment but to enjoy the lively arts—of which jazz music surely is the liveliest.

Shapiro’s policy of booking good jazz instrumental groups
and vocalists reached an apogee of sorts when he had the
inspired notion late in 1959 to combine the music of Gerry
Mulligan and company with the virile and potent blues sing-
ing of Jimmy Witherspoon. As an attraction the owner figured
the combination couldn’t miss. He was so right. During that
memorable engagement the cash register swung so hard it
loosened the modern canvases from their wall-moorings and
Shapiro was reported seriously considering tossing out the
arts-and-crafts shop which occupies the forepart of the
premises in order to enlarge the club’s seating capacity.

For the booking, Mulligan brought in with him the same
personnel with whom he had already recorded an album for
Verve Records—the great tenor sax giant, Ben Webster, and
an indubitably ideal rhythm section of pianist Jimmy Rowles,
bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Mel “The - Tailor”
Lewis. The clean, sure and happy way they worked together
is plainly manifest in this album.

The sessions from which the record was born resulted from
a wild and left-field speculation spawned in the mind of Jack Lewerke, one of the hippest record distributors ever to okay a disc shipment. When Lewerke broached the subject of recording Jimmy Witherspoon with the Mulligan-Webster group on location at the club, Hifijazz’ artists and repertoire director Dave Axelrod flipped, it is rumored. Actually, Lewerke was one step ahead of Axelrod. He had already spoken to Mulligan about such an undertaking and the baritonist assuredly dug the idea.

From that point there was no further difficulty. The choice
of Ben Webster as balancing horn man was really a foregone
conclusion. Axelrod had used Webster in Witherspoon’s
accompanying group on the highly successful date recorded
at the Monterey Jazz Festival the previous October, and the
tenor man’s contribution to the musical value of that album
was quite inestimable. Happiness became Witherspoon’s
middle name.

In these days of painstaking preparation for albums rang-
ing from The Chipmunks to Emil Gilels, it would seem appro-
priate at this point to mention the “long hours of planning
and thought” that went into recording Spoon and company
at the Renaissance. Forget it. The bare bones of organization on which this date was built were completed on a Thursday evening, the following morning Axelrod and Shapiro huddled at the club and agreed to do the date following the a&r man’s inspection and okay-for-sound. By 8:00 that night Hifijazz had set up the necessary equipment; by 9:30 p.m. the tapes began to roll on the first take. Here is the result of these two wailing evenings at the Renaissance.

Following the master of ceremonies’ introductory remarks,
Witherspoon kicks off the medium up Time’s Gettin’ Tougher
Than Tough as drummer Lewis lays down a solid foundation
beneath him. Webster solos with Lewis’ booting phrases back-
ing him. "Spoon comes in once more for a second vocal, then,
after a series of stop-time breaks, winds things up.

Jimmy Rowles’ soulful introduction catches the spirit of
the slow, mournful How Long blues. Mulligan moves in be-
hind Witherspoon’s vocal then goes for himself, his big horn
digging deep into the blues. When ‘Spoon takes the mike
again, Webster noodles in the background until all concerned
take it out.

Corina-Corina finds The Tailor laying out the time on top
cymbal, riding along behind the vocal, then digging in behind Webster’s romping, barking and grunting solo with a rolling eight-beat. As Witherspoon resumes, Jimmy Rowles fills the gaps with piano commentary as the horns riff on to the final chorus.

A slow roll from Mel and ’Spoon launches into the classic
C. C. Rider with Webster in background first, then Mulligan
murmuring on the second chorus. “Shoot that man, Catch that
cannon-ball,” ’Spoon exhorts. Then Mulligan enters to play a
thoughtful and meaningful solo that must be considered by
many his best blues playing on record. After a throbbing
Witherspoon cries, “Where did you stay last night?” both
horns ride on to the coda. |

Roll ’Em Pete is up tempo and jumping. Webster riffs
behind the vocal, then embarks on his solo with Spoon urging
him on. Another vocal, then Jimmy announces “Leroy Vinnegar
and the bassist takes a solo. The Tailor takes two solo
choruses with Witherspoon announcing his name and after a
final vocal it’s “Bye, bye.”

Side two kicks off in walking tempo with Rowles bringing
in ’Spoon with an oddly happy lament, belting out Every
Day. Webster’s fine gutty solo concludes with a funky trill to bring in the next vocal chorus.

As both horns ride along behind the singer, it’s another
rideout ending.

On the Outskirts of Town finds Witherspoon soulful and
down. Webster comes in behind him to commiserate, then is
joined by Mulligan’s second voice and both horns moan in
sympathy. Ben now breathes the blues all alone before Spoon
re-enters to enunciate the risque but probably realistic lyric before concluding.

Goin’ To Kansas City is a jumpin’, walkin’ reminiscence
about “standin’ on the corner 12th street and Vine.” Mulligan double-times his solo for two choruses, then straight-times his third. Spoon speaks out again with the rhythm section belting him on ina real KayCee groove.

Trouble In Mind, yet another classic, is lamented by the
singer with Webster telling his own story in background.
Mulligan solos in almost lyric vein, and Spoon calls his name.
The singer sums up the message by almost groaning, “Gonna
lay my head on some lonesome railroad track .. .”

Witherspoon’s fervent “Ahh-men” brings in W. C. Handy’s
St. Louis Blues with Webster blowing strongly behind him.
The Tailor slides into fast tango rhythm on the verse before
Ben comes back with a preacher almost guttural in character.
Leroy walks a chorus before ’Spoon returns for a final outing with Webster’s tenor rooting him home.

Notes by John Tynan

Side 1
A1. Time's Gettin' Tougher Than Tough 3:20
A2. How Long 3:10
A3. Corina-Corina 3:05
A4. C.C. Rider 4:15
A5. Roll 'Em Pete 4:05

Side 2
B1. Every Day 2:36
B2. Outskirts Of Town 2:58
B3. Kansas City 3:15
B4. Trouble In Mind 3:15
B5. St. Louis Blues 3:35

Vocals – Jimmy Witherspoon
Tenor Sax – Ben Webster
Baritone Sax – Gerry Mulligan
Piano – Jimmy Rowles
Bass – Leroy Vinnegar
Drums – Mel Lewis

Liner Notes – John Tynan

Recorded live at the Rennaissance Club, Los Angeles., CA, December 2 & 9, 1959

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