Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

July 1, 2020

The Herdsmen & The Kentonians: Paris Sessions, 1954-56

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The Herdsmen & The Kentonians: Paris Sessions, 1954-56

(Fresh Sound Records, Spain, 2-cd set, released 2017)


Total time: 131:06 min.

CD 1
01. Pot Luck (Johnny Mandel) 7:26
02. So What Could Be New? (Tiny Kahn) 6:44
03. Palm Café (Henri Renaud) 5:45
04. Just 40 bars (Henri Renaud) 4:16
05. The Gypsy (Billy Reid) 3:55
06. Thanks for You (Tim Whitton) 3:44
07. Embarkation (Jerry Coker) 4:56
08. Wet Back on the Left Bank (Ralph Burns) 7:14
09. Ballad Medley: 9:22
-These Foolish Things (Strachey-Maschwitz)
-You Go to My Head (Coots-Gillespie)
-Darn That Dream (Van Heusen-DeLange)
-I Cover the Waterfront (Green-Heyman)

CD 2
01. Why Not? (Neal Hefti) 7:07
02. Steeplechase (Charlie Parker) 6:42
03. I Remember You (Schertzinger-Mercer) 5:09
04. Blues Martial (Martial Solal) 7:42
05. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern-Fields) 11:11
06. They Say that Falling in Love Is Wonderful (Irving Berlin) 5:50
07. Jive at Five (Basie-Edison) 7:10
08. Daniel’s Blues (Henri Renaud) 11:42
09. Scrapple from the Apple (Charlie Parker) 6:52
10. Buhaina (Horace Silver) 7:55

Sources CD 1:
Tracks #1,2,5 & 6, from the 10-inch album
“The Third Herdmen Blow in Paris, Vol. 1” (Vogue LD.204)
Tracks #3,4,7 & 8, from the 10-inch album
“The Third Herdmen Blow in Paris, Vol. 2” (Vogue LD.205)
Track #9, from the album “A Unit from Stan Kenton’s band, directed by Carl Fontana”
(Club des Amateurs de Disque CAD3003)

Sources CD 2:
Tracks #1-7, from the 12-inch album
“Martial Solal et les Kentonians – Escale à Paris” (Swing LDM 30.044)
Tracks #8-10, from the album
“A Unit from Stan Kenton’s band, directed by Carl Fontana”
(Club des Amateurs de Disque CAD3003)


Tracks #1-4: Dick Collins, trumpet; Cy Touff, bass trumpet; Bill Perkins, Dick Hafer, tenor saxes; Henri Renaud, piano; Red Kelly, bass; Jean-Louis Viale, drums.
Recorded in Paris, April, 23, 1954

Tracks #5-8: Cy Touff, bass trumpet; Jerry Coker, tenor sax; Ralph Burns, piano; Jimmy Gourley, guitar; Jean-Marie Ingrand, bass; Chuck Flores, drums.
Recorded in Paris, May 5, 1954

Same personnel, location and date as #8-10 on CD-2


Tracks #1-7: Vinnie Tano, trumpet; Carl Fontana, trombone; Don Rendell, tenor sax; Martial Solal, piano; Curtis Counce, bass; Mel Lewis, drums.
Recorded in Paris, May 3 & 4, 1956


Tracks #8-10: Dick Mills, trumpet; Carl Fontana, trombone; Don Rendell, tenor sax; Henri Renaud, piano; Curtis Counce, bass; Wes Ilcken, drums.
Recorded in Paris, May 4, 1956

Original recordings produced by Charles Delaunay and Daniel Filipacchi
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol

American jazz musicians have been making records for European labels since the 1920’s, both while on tour…and for those who choose to reside in Europe for a chunk of time or permanently, as part of their new European life. As I was growing up, some of my favorite musicians were recording regularly in Europe–Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron, Paul Bley, Chet Baker, etc. And often, I tend to prefer the European recordings of such artists to their American recordings. Commercial considerations are usually not as much of an issue in Europe; styles not presently in favor in the US are still respected and nurtured there; and as the sessions are usually done inexpensively for specialist labels, they often let the musicians stretch out and/or do things they were chomping at the bit to do because not much planning or organizing would be needed.

There are also the European sessions done by sidemen in famous big-bands or smaller jazz units, who now got a chance to be featured on their own sessions. Ellingtonians and Basie-ites were always welcome, of course. Then there was Lionel Hampton, who refused to allow his band members to make outside recordings while on European tour, so they had to do it on the sly, without Hamp’s (or Gladys’s) knowledge. You would also find combinations of musicians on European sessions you’d NEVER see on American sessions, as the various “schools” or camps meant little outside of the US, and also the influence of American producers and A&R men who would assemble sessions was not felt.

The big bands of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman were known for always being forward-thinking and for featuring great soloists. These men always wanted strong and individual players, feeling that it would elevate the music, and they both gave them a LOT of space and features within the nightly programs. Other than CITY OF GLASS, I don’t listen to many Kenton studio albums that much, but I do have a number of Kenton airchecks, featuring the likes of Art Pepper and Lee Konitz, and they are amazingly fresh and fit well among those artists’ most interesting performances. As for Herman, I’m not crying out to hear “Your Father’s Moustache” anytime soon (and I have a feeling that Herman’s heart was in the jazz side of things), but think of the various “brothers” in his units, and the amazing players he had out on the road at various times: Stan Getz, Flip Phillips, Sonny Berman, Pete Candoli, Billy Bauer, Zoot Sims, Serge Chaloff, Al Cohn, Lou Levy, Shelley Manne, etc.

In the case of both Pepper and Konitz, the time with Kenton gave them an international audience, kept them playing challenging music nightly on the road, and helped them spin off to their own solo careers.

We should be thankful that European producers got a number of Herman and Kenton sidemen into the studio in France to record four albums–two 12″ and two 10″–worth of material, the Herman band members in 1954, the Kenton bandmembers in 1956.

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As might be expected, these are largely players who have one foot in the late-period progressive swing era and another foot in bop and a third foot in west coast jazz, and those are the elements mixed together here.

However, with the mixture of West Coast and East Coast and British and French musicians, the resulting recordings are both fresh and unpredictable. French pianists such as Henri Renaud (a deep Ellingtonian who later worked on some wonderful deep catalog reissues of lesser-known Ducal works) and Martial Solal provide ever-shifting, flexible foundations for the soloists….and what soloists.

paris-sessions-1954-1956-2-cd (2)

If you are looking for fresh and largely unheard 50’s small-group jazz from first-rate players with great imaginations, able to break free from their band leaders for once and lay down some of what they were longing to play while they were on the bandstand each night, this over-stuffed two-cd set from Fresh Sound will become a favorite. I’ve played my copy a dozen times or more in the six months or so I’ve owned it. It’s like being able to sit in on some dream version of a weekday jam session with members of the most progressive of 50’s big bands (Kenton and Herman) at a Left Bank basement jazz club, and who wouldn’t want that! Another home-run from Spain’s wonderful FRESH SOUND label.

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