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NOTE: This review is of AVID AMSC 1050 (Al Cohn: Leader & Sideman), but under Amazon's slapdash product group system several reviews written about an earlier Avid 4-album release, which includes Al Cohn with Bob Brookmeyer, and with Zoot Sims have been cross-posted incorrectly. Under that system, this review will probably appear under that other compilation also.

Tenor saxophonist Al Cohn is presented here in four diverse settings. The earliest is the album "The Jazz Workshop" from May 1955, on which he was joined by four trumpeters, namely Joe Newman, Thad Jones, Joe Wilder or Phil Sunkel, and Nick Travis, the last-named switching to trombone for three numbers. Dick Katz on piano, Freddie Green on guitar, Buddy Jones on bass and Osie Johnson on drums completes the line-up. As the title implies, and Leonard Feather's original sleeve note confirms, this was something of an experimental session, the results of which justified the effort. Cohn came to the fore with Woody Herman's Second Herd, and later co-led a quintet with Zoot Sims. Alone, he can be heard solo against a four-horn backing, but I think the combination works to best advantage in the slower numbers, particularly the lovely ballad "I'm Coming Virginia" and the introspective "Alone Together".

The December 1955 session features a leaner band comprising Joe Newman on trumpet, Henry Coker on trombone, Al Cohn on tenor, clarinet & bass clarinet, Nat Pierce on piano, Freddie Green on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass and Osie Johnson or Jo Jones on drums. This was issued originally on Bluebird under the title "Natural Rhythm" and credited jointly to Green & Cohn. This is one of the very few sessions which Green led, having spent most of his career as rhythm guitarist with Count Basie, and the superb rhythm section anchors this small-group swing session.

Andy Kirk conducted a studio group in two sessions in March 1956 for the album "A Mellow Bit of Rhythm", using four trumpets, four trombones (one bass), two altos, two tenors, and a baritone. This was issued originally by RCA as "Clouds from the Southwest" but with only one of Kirk's original players present on but seven of the twelve numbers, namely Kenny Kersey on piano, it cannot be regarded as a reunion. Since this compilation is aimed at fans of Cohn rather than Kirk the distinction is unlikely to bother them, and the resurrection of this album of vintage tunes updated by some of the major stars of the fifties is to be welcomed. .

"Cohn on the Saxophone" was recorded in September 1956, with Hank Jones on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, Osie Johnson on drums, and Frank Rehak on trombone on two numbers. This is quite simply a showcase for Al's playing, in which he's ably supported by the great rhythm section. Music like this is made to last, and it has.
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on 16 March 2009
At the risk of sounding a bore, I must report that this is yet another superb issue from those wonderful people at Avid. You get what is says on the label namely four LP releases plus a couple of tracks from an album called "Winners Circle". Full recording information is given but I must draw your attention to the fact that pianist Mose Allison appears on two albums and the equally marvellous John Williams (he of Stan Getz and Zoot Sims fame) on one. Drummer Nick Stabulas appears on the two Allison tracks and is quite outstanding. It almost goes without saying that the main soloists Cohn, Sims and Brookmeyer swing like the clappers and are never less than interesting. The four main albums were recorded from 1954 to 1957. The two other tracks do not show a date but it is safe to assume it is from the same period. These extra tracks feature Cohn on baritone sax and the second of them has a memorable tenor solo from one John Coltrane. Highly recommended.
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on 5 May 2009
Another Avid company's winner; collection of 4 great LPs showcasing Al Cohn in various surroundings, playing tenor, but also some clarinet and baritone, composing and arranging at the peak of his powers, collaborating with some of the finest white jazz musicians (most notably Bob Brookmeyer, Zoot Sims, Gene Quill and Mose Alison), but also with Joe Newman, Coltrane and Donald Byrd...

We have MR MUSIC album, where Al is a true star; complete musician heading a small big band (with Joe Newman, Frank Rehak, Gene Quill...), a true testament to his tallent. And then there are two albums with Bob Brookmeyer (the one under Brookmeyer's name otherwise not available on amazon), one of Al's albums with Zoot Sims (where both play some jubilant clarinet on one track), PLUS two tracks from "Poll winners" album, featuring Coltrane (a very promising young tenorist), Donyld Byrd, Gene Quill and Al Cohn on baritone sax (he was high in Downbeat polls on that instrument that year...).

Some of tracks are excellent cool jazz, some are plain mainstream, most are very swinging and ellegant! Highly recommended to all tenor sax fans, Al Cohn fans, cool jazz fans, mainstream jazz fans, Bob Brookmeyer fans, Zoot Sims fans.... Available for a price far lower than a price of any single album from the package...
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on 5 May 2010
"Mr Music" feature Al as arranger, on the five tracks by an eleven-piece group, and player, especially on the other four by an octet.
"Al & Zoot" is the second of their co-led albums originally for Coral, the quintet completed by Mose Allison (piano) Teddy Kotick (bass) and Nick Stabulas (drums). The "Cohn featuring Brookmeyer" tracks are with the same rhythm section.
The five "Brookmeyer featuring Cohn" tracks were first issued as a 10 inch Storyville LP with John Williams on piano.
All the above are good modern jazz of the mid 1950s: the tracks are relatively short, but with sufficient solo space to balance the arranged heads.
The last two tracks from "Winners Circle" are something of a make weight. Cohn solos on baritone sax in a group including John Coltrane and Freddie Green (!)
Like other reviewers, I deem these Avid releases terrific value for money.
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on 17 March 2013
The LPs in this CD-set are all hapy jazz from the middle of the fifties. The thoroughly muscial arranger and tenor player Al Cohn is here at his best and his fellow musketeers Zoot and Bob assist vigourously!
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on 7 May 2009
The AVID Jazz collection of double Cds are brilliant value. I tend to buy them all, even if the artist is not really ones who I have an affinity for (e.g. Duke Ellington). This is not one of those, as Al Cohn was one of the best Tenors around in the 60s-80s. These albums are 'classic' and teams him, on some of the tranfers, with Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer. What more can I say, if you like jazz of this period, then buy it!
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