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This review is from: Three Classic Albums Plus (Stan Tracey Showcase / Little Klunk / Jazz Inc) (Audio CD)
There is a tendency to over-praise some of the British jazz from the 1950's and 60's as if everything was either over-looked or under-appreciated. In the case of the music on this disc the music is several cuts above that offered by Stan Tracey's British contemporaries with even the performances on the early "Showcase" album marking out the originality that most jazz in this country lacked until the late 60's.
I think that this is terrific value for money. The opening set of standards fascinates even if the tunes where Tracey switches to vibes with a guitar laying down the harmonies to produce something slightly less rugged than the piano trio. The sets with Tubby Hayes playing vibes offer a more jagged sound than say the rather polite MJQ whilst the two number where ST was a sideman with Harry Klein's quintet sound a bit ordinary and of their era.
There are three revelations for me on this double CD. The first is the medium sized "Jazz, Inc" which was a short lived group which, on the evidence of the live performance on this record, really understood how jazz worked and deliver a set that is easily on a par with much American jazz from the 1950's. I was startled how good this group was - especially as I had never heard of them. The four closing number sit at odds with the historic recordings that make up the rest if the CDs as it is a trio of Andy Cleyndert and American guitarist Jon Wheatley (a new name for me) recorded in 2003. Seemingly a giveaway element of this record, the four tracks as so good you wish there was a whole album of this stuff.
As good as the rest of the album is, it has to be said that the incorporation of the record "Little Klunk" raises the game as far as the quality of the music is concerned. Tracey frequently acknowledge his debt to Ellllington, Monk and Herbie Nichols yet this album shows how original he was in this school of jazz with his trio of Kenny Napper and Phil Seamen producing some inspired jazz. It is an interesting to compare the music from "Little Klunk" with the Monk offering on the Avid label as, in my opinion, Tracey's offering is actually superior to most of the content and certainly equal to the "Trio" album than contained much of monk's finest work. I believe that "Little Klunk" is staggeringly brilliant and would be worth acquiring alone regardless of the quality of the rest of the music. As it is, this is easily one of the most consistent of all the classic jazz series that Avid have offered and opens a door to the finest jazz Britain was producing at the time. It is impossible to award this less than 5 stars.