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5 For Freddie: Buckys Tribute to Freddie Green by Bucky Pizzarelli

Four-to-the-bar. Unamplified. Felt more than heard. An unlikely choice for a key ingredient of a jazz orchestra but rhythm guitarist Freddie Green made a difference to the Basie Band for fifty years. He joined Basie in 1937 and made his last recording with Frank Foster as leader in 1987. This session is a tribute to Green by Bucky Pizzarelli, also a jazz giant in a specialty with few practitioners. Bucky, John Bunch, Jay Leonhart, and Mickey Roker invoke the sound of the Count's All-American rhythm section of Green, Basie, Walter Page and Jo Jones, the pulse of the band from 1937 to 1948, when Jones left. Warren Vaché is the sole horn player and his muted cornet suggests Sweets Edison.

Most of the tunes are from the Basie book, including five by Green. The mood is easy-going swing, blending understatement with top-drawer musicianship. You'll know you're in Basieland right from the opener - a laid-back version of Dizzy's "Groovin' High." Mancini's "Dreamsville" is treated with tenderness by Bunch while Vaché shines on "Centerpiece," a favorite of Edison's. Bucky contributes one of his few single note solos.

The group fits right into the Basie favorites, from Green's "Corner Pocket" to "All of Me." Bunch's light touch and sparse style, flavored with a few Basie bass licks, is exactly what is called for and, like Basie, can he comp! Those notes are placed just where they should be. Unlike his predecessor, Bucky gets plenty of solo space, and, as always, performs with rhythm and taste. Vaché's relaxed and creative solos deserve a second listen. His contribution to Quincy Jones' wistful "For Lena and Lenny" is eloquent. The salute to Green winds up with an up tempo "Lester Leaps In" where everyone leaps!

The liner notes by Michael Pettersen provide informative insights into Green's playing technique and his musical career.

A well-deserved and well-played tribute to an unsung master. Enjoy!

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bucky Pizzarelli
  • CD Title: 5 For Freddie: Buckys Tribute to Freddie Green
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Arbors
  • Tracks: Groovin´ High, Bustin´ Suds, For Lena and Lennie, Up In the Blues, Down for Double, High Tide, Dreamsville, Shiny Stockings, Centerpiece, Corner Pocket, All of Me, Sophisticated Swing, Lester Leaps In.
  • Musicians: Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Warren Vaché (cornet), John Bunch (piano), Jay Leonhart (bass), Mickey Roker (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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