Here's Charlie

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Play List

 

(Released in 1957)

The Great Lie

Julie

The Money Jump

How Deep Is The Ocean

I Love You

Turnpike

My Only One And Only

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

Intermezzo (A Love Song)

Over The Rainbow

Pagan Love Song

 

Album Notes: In the years of his reign as a top-echelon jazz policy maker, Charlie Ventura has been honored continuously by citizens of the jazz community. As recently as January 1957 it was revealed that in the first annual poll conducted by Playboy, in which a record 21,000 votes were cast, the readers had elected Charlie to membership in the saxophone section of its all-star dream band. As far back as 1946 C. V. was elected as "New Star" of the year on tenor sax by the critics on the Esquire panel. He has also won both Down Beat and Metronome awards, not only as the fans' favorite tenor man but also as leader of the country's most popular combo.

 

But plaques or no plaques, dream band or nightmares, it don't mean a thing if you can't deliver; and Charlie has shown through the years the ability to live up to the fans' faith in him. He has produced a long string of recordings with a wide variety of settings, some aimed at the most discerning of jazz cognoscenti, others at a wider popular audience. During these years he has been responsible, too, for the launching and encouragement of many important new talents.

 

Not the least of these are Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, who are featured on The Great Lie, the first side in this variegated set of Ventura collectors' items. Roy, a Chicagoan, met Jackie and formed a vocal duo with her in Chicago; at a concert sponsored locally by Dave Garroway they met Charlie Ventura, whose group they joined in 1948. Shortly after leaving Charlie in the spring of 1949 they were married and set out on a joint career doing night club, radio and TV work. They were back with the Ventura outfit for eight months in 1953, and it was during this time that The Great Lie was recorded. The group is completed by Max Bennett, a fine bass man from Des Moines who had been heard with Georgie Auld, Terry Gibbs and Stan Kenton; and drummer Owen Joseph "Sonny" Igoe, who had seen service with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman before joining Charlie.

 

Julie, the second track on this side, is one of a series of performances that set off Charlie's work on a variety of saxophones (in this instance it's baritone) against a mellifulous background of strings, for which George "The Fox" Williams served capably as arranger and conductor. The medium-slow tempo and string setting lend a pleasant atmosphere to this Dimitri Tiomkin them from Take The High Ground.

 

The Honey Jump, originally released as a double-sided 78 r.p.m. offering, stems from the same session as The Great Lie. Basically it's just a blues based on a series of riffs, with rock-and-roll type lyrics, but Jackie Cain and Roy Kral manage to lift it out of this category into something airy and insouciant, while the rhythm section as a whole has a beat considerably more subtle than that customarily found in rhythm-and-blues performances. Charlie again is heard on bariton sax.

 

How Deep Is The Oean brings us one of the fruits of a third session, one for which Charlie had the help of a promising young pianist, Dave McKenna, from Woonsocket, R.I., who was subsequently to acquire further jazz kudos with the Woody Herman band. Bassist Bob Carter, who had worked for Gillespie, Parker and other top boppers, and drummer Sonny Igoe complete the rhythm backing for Charlie's smooth tenor.

 

I Love You is one of the most unusual of Ventura's instrumental experiments. Recorded at the George Williams-plus-strings date, it features him on the bass saxophone, an instrument that was almost extinct after Adrian Rollini gave up in the early 1930s but came back into occasional use in the late 1940s through the good offices of Boyd Raeburn and Mr. Ventura. Charlie's first chorus reminds us of the old Lunceford treatment of this time; but surprisingly it is the string section that helps as much as anything to give this performance a remarkable swinging quality.

 

The second side opens with Turnpike, a fast bopish original based on the familiar, I Found-a-New-Baby type chord pattern. Charlie's tenor and Roy Kral's piano offer the instrumental choruses; Jackie Cain and Roy are in peak form in their wordless vocal, and in an interchange of the four-bar stints with Sonny Igoe. This is from The Great Lie session.

 

My One And Only Love, best known composition of the talented tunesmith from Britaon, Guy Wood, is played as a melodic tenor saxophone solo with George Williams and the strings again cushioning these elegant sounds.

 

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea is another product of the McKenna-Igoe-Carter date; notice the cute ending with a series of modulations.

 

Intermezzo brings back the George Williams string backing, this time featuring Charlie in a lighter sound on alto saxophone.

Over The Rainbow, with Charlie on tenor, has the McKenna & Co. backing and features a brief and effective bass solo by Bob Carter.

 

Pagan Love Song, also from this session, features some slick brushwork by Igoe as well as attractive solos by McKenna and Charlie.

 

As you can plainly see, and more plainly hear, these sides offer a varied and colorful picture of the kind of music Charlie Ventura has been offering his public in recent years, and of the rich variety of solo talents with which he has continued to surround himself.

 

- Leonard Feather

© 2021 by Scott MacKenzie, Corte Swearingen & Rick Pollak