Mainstream-swing-to-bop's the thing on the two 1960 Swingville gems paired here, both of which feature one of the foremost Basieites on tenor saxophone, George "Buddy" Tate. Tate (1913-2001), whose big-toned blues mastery is his longtime calling card, is an integral part of a lively quintet date led by Claude Hopkins (1903-1984), the first of three fine albums the pianist-composer-bandleader would pilot for Swingville.
Tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and his quartet (which includes organist Shirley Scott, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Arthur Edgehill) welcome three immortal tenors (Coleman Hawkins, Arnett Cobb and Buddy Tate) to what became a historic and hard-swinging jam session. On three blues, an original based on the chord changes of "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Lester Leaps In," the four tenors battle it out and the results are quite exciting. The spirited music on this memorable LP will hopefully be reissued on CD eventually, for the performances live up to their great potential.
This double-CD set gave bassist Milt Hinton an opportunity to engage in reunions with many of his old friends from the 1930s. The seven sessions were compiled during a 12-month period and the results are often delightful. The opening "Old Man Time" is sung by Hinton himself, and it is both insightful and humorous. The other highlights include Joe Williams singing "Four or Five Times" (which features some very rare Flip Phillips clarinet), three bass guitar duets with Danny Barker, appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Ralph Sutton, and the formation of a group called "The Survivors" that has guitarist Al Casey at age 75 being the youngest member; the latter band also includes 85-year-old trumpeter Doc Cheatham, Eddie Barefield, Buddy Tate and even Cab Calloway. A lot of storytelling takes place during the songs and, in addition to the 92½ minutes of music, there are two "Jazzspeaks." The 13-minute one features Hinton, Calloway, Cheatham and Barefield reminiscing about their experiences in the early days, while a marvelous 45-minute monologue by the bassist covers most of his long and productive life and is consistently fascinating. Highly recommended.
When four veterans like Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate, Eddie Davis, and Arnett Cobb get together, no longer young bucks that have to prove themselves, they still like to assert their musical masculinity. It is like four old friends in their shirtsleeves or T-shirts, having an old fashioned bull session over beer and pretzels or an equivalent. There is talk of old times, back-slapping, head-shaking, low humor and high hilarity. Troubles of the present are forgotten temporarily as old bonds are reweaved.