Shorty Rogers: Martians Come Back (1955) Atlantic

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Track Selection 1: Dickies Dream (Count Basie/ Lester Young)

(audio warning: a few surface clicks along the way)

Track Selection 2: Papouche (Rogers)

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Artists

Shorty Rogers and His Giants, including: Harry Edison, the Candoli brothers, Barney Kessel (guitar) Shorty Rogers (trumpet, flugelhorn) Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet, tenor,baritone saxophone) Bud Shank (saxophone),  Lou Levy (piano) Ralph Pena/ Leroy Vinnegar (bass) Shelly Manne (drums) Los Angeles, CA, October 26, 1955

Trumpet  and flugelhorn player Milton “Shorty” Rogers (born Milton Rajonski) had been fermented in the big band tanks of Woody Herman and Stan Kenton. He first came into his own in the mid ’50s, and evolved into a reliable arranger of Hollywood scores, including 1955 Frank Sinatra film The Man with the Golden Arm,  cult film Dementia aka “Daughter of Horror”, the Peter Gunn TV series and TV accompaniment for The Partridge Family, and finally Starsky & Hutch. I believe it’s called earning a living. A healthy financial lifeline from the  film and TV industry kept West Coast musicians from starving or emigrating, the main alternatives offered by the evolving East Coast jazz scene.

The assembled crew, his Giants, are an assortment  of leading West Coast players including contributions from Barney Kessel, Jimmy Giuffre, Bud Shank, and the signature muted trumpet of Harry “Sweets” Edison to rival his own.

Music

A veritable exercise in time-travel, the music is light swinging West Coast Jazz at its most normal.  Rogers takes agile sorties on trumpet and flugelhorn, while on Papouche, Guiffre makes an appearance on baritone sax played with the intonation and voicing of his more regular woodwind, the clarinet, with attractive results. The changing retinue of soloists offers an interest which marks this Rogers’ album out from the many unremarkable West Coast outings.

RobbyBox1Big[1]With Sci-Fi popular at the ’50s  box office, Rogers space-themed titles –  Martians Come Back!, and Martians Go Home, And Stay Home! were a very ’50s cultural artefact. The Committee for American-Martian Affairs complained the title was offensive to ordinary law-abiding hard-working Martians, and that interplanetary migration was not as big a problem as some people had suggested. The relationship with Martians however remained tense for some years, until America finally elected it’s first Martian President. Or so the science fiction writers wrote. I apologise now for any offence caused to anyone, for any reason, ever.

Vinyl: US Atlantic 1232 original black label, mono.

Mid ’50s US Atlantic recordings usually found their way into the UK via licensee Decca and their Vogue, London American or London Atlantic labels, so imported Atlantic originals from this time are uncommon. Atlantic engineering never quite reaches the heights of you know who, but still offers a solid performance.

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Collectors Corner

An unexpected find in a suburban rock and pop shop. In the suburbs, hardly an hour passes with out loft-clearing hopefuls turning up with  bags of ’80s chartbusting LPs. Anything collectable is a rarity, and anything valuable immediately spirited away on the internet, so authentic finds are few and far between. Thrift shops are a no-hope setting, but specialist record shops at least do the sifting for you, and can sometimes offer something of interest, that can help brighten an otherwise dull collector’s day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Shorty Rogers: Martians Come Back (1955) Atlantic

  1. This album is an old favorite and I have both the mono and stereo editions. Another album, the swinging Mr. Rogers, has “Martians Go Home” on it – and is in my opinion the better of the two albums (but I usually play them back to back anyway).
    On YouTube his band plays a variant on this called “The Martian Bossa Nova” which is my favorite Rogers track even though he never committed it to disc.

    • The stereo edition, showing a different tracklist including Moten Swing and Baklava Bridge, must be among the earliest Atlantic stereo recordings ever (December 1955).

  2. I bought this record because I liked Shorty Rogers’ previous album, The Swingin’ Mr. Rogers, so much — especially the Martians Go Home cut — which had Giuffre’s huff and puff clarinet and a great drum solo by Shelley Manne that featured a spinning 50 cent piece, and still makes me grin when I hear it.

    • that record features the nucleus of the Giants, a straightforward quintet, and it is amongst one his best recordings. The other one being a quintet (Giuffre-Lou Levy) for RCA Victor (“Winds are blowing” – five themes with Wind elemenets in it (hurricane etc)
      The martians “humour” is something else, of course, on which I will not comment.
      LJC’s 1232 came also in stereo SD-1232, with a pinkish cover, in stead of the green one. But, the tracks on this stereo version are not identical to the mono version. They borrow tracks from the 1270 album.

  3. i bought this record on a whim awhile back, hoping it would be a bit out and wacky. i was disappointed, but upon repeated listenings have come to enjoy it on its own merits. gotta love that silly cover.

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