Various Artists: Jazz That Swings (1999)
As the "Nouveau-Swing" era dies a well-deserved death, it leaves in its overdone, under-appropriately handled wake on valuable lesson: real Swing swings!
Fortunately, the folks at 32 Jazz were able to not only ride the wave but pick out the crests that rose highest. Though a few of the tracks on this compilation are a bit watery, most of them are absolutely tidal.
The opening "Love Theme from ‘The Sandpiper’" (a.k.a. "The Shadow of Your Smile") finds key man Cedar Walton and bass man Ron Carter pushing Eddie Harris’s squeaky sax along the shore while Ron Carter’s bass strolls nearby. The claved count of ModernJazz Quartet’s "One Note Samba" features MJQ’s breezy vibes and John Lewis’s synchronized self-comps. Not a ‘Swing’ song in the strictest sense (whatever that may be), but a tune that ‘swings’ nonetheless.
The driven rhythm of pianist Red Garland’s "It’s All Right With Me" has bassist Sam Jones filling in Al Foster’s percussive pockets. Sax-er Sonny Criss’s "All The Things you are" starts off with a stiff count-off, but soon rolls into sharp but smooth verses with Laryr Gales pullinghard on the foru-string while Jimmie Smith stumbles about the traps. David Newman’s "Little Sister" stutters through a swingin’ intro to a series of two-bar strikes which open to restrained flights. Kossie Gardner’s cavernous organ and Tod Dunbar’s bright fret flicks add further contrast to this peppy piece which was originally produced by 32-man Joel Dorn. "Fathead" Newman returns on Hank Crawford’s "Boo’s Tune," where he is met and matched with John Hunt and Philip Guilbeau’s clarion calls and squeaky seconds as well as Crawford’s own alto sax.
Les McCann gets both hands dirty on his ivory keys in "I Can Dig It" (again produced by the Dorn clan) and Richard "Groove" Holmes lives up to his nick with the timeless Ellington Swing (wutha capital "S") of "Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me." Pianist Kirk Lightsey rings in Woody Shaw’s clear as a- (well...you know) trumpet for "If I Were A Bell" and Hank Jones lays down the key work behind Charlie Rouse’s apparent self-doubling on "I Mean You." Though miscredited in the liner notes, the dramatic, keys of "Naima" make it a clear Cedar Walton piece and a clear (albeit gentle) swinger, closing the collection on a titular-ly appropriate note.
Track Listing: 1. Love Theme from "The Sandpiper" - Eddie Harris 2. One Note Samba - The Modern Jazz Quartet 3. It's All Right With Me - Red Garland 4. All the Things You Are - Sonny Criss 5. Little Sister - David "Fathead" Newman 6. Boo's Tune - Hank Crawford 7. I Can Dig It - Les McCann 8. Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me - Richard "Groove" Holmes 9. If I Were a Bell - Woody Shaw 10. I Mean You - Hank Jones 11. Naima - Cedar Walton