Track Selection 1: Dickies Dream (Count Basie/ Lester Young)
(audio warning: a few surface clicks along the way)
Track Selection 2: Papouche (Rogers)
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.
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.
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.
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.