Though fellows like Krupa, Rich, Roach, Blakey, and Haynes generally get all the props when it comes to jazz drumming, there IS one fellow that hugged the background for most of his multi-decade career: Shelly Manne. The late great Manne has played on SO many records you've likely heard him whether you know it or not. After all, how many drummers could say they've played with Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Frank Zappa, and Tom Waits? [Give you one guess.]
A very busy California-based studio musician who contributed to many movie scores - he taught Sinatra to play drums for The Man With The Golden Arm - Manne also led many find bands of his own. One such ensemble has been preserved for the ages in the form of Boss Sounds, a quintet set featuring Manne regulars Russ Freeman (a fine, underrated West Coast-er) and Monty Budwig, and the incredibly boss, not-exactly-over-recorded alto wizard Frank Strozier. While a cursory listen would indicate this to be a fairly relaxed West Coast hard bop date (recorded live 1966 at Manne's very own LA club), these fellows push the envelope some, especially Strozier, whose tart, blues-rich, volatile, Cannonball Adderley-ish playing includes some influences from the then-controversial "free jazz" side o' the tracks. He pumps some agitated skronk-energy into his solos, with over/under-tones of Ornette Coleman and Marion Brown (and even Arthur Blythe, though A.B. didn't emerge 'til the '70s). Conte Candoli too plays with a touch more brashness than usual. Manne's 5tet starts out all mainstream, then they zap your frontal lobes with some whipsmart, supercharged playing without completely abandoning a cool-cat vibe. While not exactly a lost classic, it's great to have this long-out-of-print gem available again.