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The Best Things in Life

Price: £13.84 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Oct 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ojc
  • ASIN: B00002DG9Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. You're My Thrill
2. Button Up Your Overcoat
3. Rosetta
4. California Here I Come
5. Beale Street Blues
6. The Best Things in Life Are Free
7. Liza
8. Thigamagig
9. Everything I've Got
10. Easy Swing
11. Firebug
12. Ezz-May
13. You're Lucky to Me
14. Three Little Words
15. Ain't She Sweet
16. Bouquet
17. Take Me in Your Arms

Product Description Review

After providing the backbone for the best big band that Benny Goodman ever had, pianist Mel Powell retired from jazz in 1945, eventually becoming a professor of classical music at a university. Good for him, but a tragedy for the rest of us, because Powell was a dazzling soloist and accompanist and one of the most imaginative and skilled arrangers. This wonderful collection is tantalising too, for it collects together music recorded during a brief return that he made to jazz from 1953 to 1956. The scintillating music is notable for an early and outstanding performance by the young Ruby Braff. He, Powell and drummer Bobby Donaldson create some classic trio performances, and Braff is particularly good on "Ain't She Sweet", playing declamatory cornet over the rolling piano backing. "Thigamagig" and "Bouquet" are good examples of the quality of Powell's composing, while "You're My Thrill" is heavy with drama and typical of the atmospheric explorations that Powell made into modern chamber music. --Steve Voce

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Mel was a brilliant pianist, with all the technique in the world, a very nice line in melody, and a driving, effervescent swing. He was influenced mainly, I suppose, by Teddy Wilson, but really was very much his own man. He played with Benny Goodman in the 'forties for a brief while, and was one of the very few men who could take on Goodman and give him a good going over technically. He left jazz for classical music but came back in the early fifties briefly. He left again and never really returned. Had he stuck with jazz he would have been a towering figure.
These tracks come from various sessions in 1953 to 1956, during his temporary return. Seven of the tracks are from a trio date 'Thigamagig' with Ruby Braff on cornet and Bobby Donaldson on drums. These were early days for Braff, but he plays superbly, with that unique mixture of intimacy and acidity. Bass is not missed, due to the power and flexibility of Mel's left hand, and his right hand is all over the place, sparkling and swinging.
Another five tracks are from an album 'Out On A Limb' with the same group plus Skeeter Best on guitar and Oscar Pettiford on bass. With the great Oscar in there there are no problems with the rhythm at all, Best, an unsung hero plays well, and the band as a whole are well nigh perfect. Powell plays in a slightly less stride based style than before, but both hands still weave melodic magic. I can't hear bass and guitar on two of the tracks so maybe they drop out or the tracks are from the 'Thigamagig' session and the sleeve is wrong.
Four further tracks are from an interesting session without Braff but with a seven piece band including french horn.The sound is slightly cooler. Mel fits in perfectly, the piano dazzling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Great Swing Piano 8 April 2000
By Thomas - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If you like swing piano in the Teddy Wilson tradition, this is a great collection. Mel was one of the best there was and he shines here with Ruby Braff on trumpet. Well worth it, and one you'll get out to hear again and again.
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