(1920-1984) was a New Yorker by birth and the king of West Coast drummers by public opinion. He’s a musician that was heard by many fans before his name became even modestly famous. A veteran of the big band era, Manne played with Les Brown
, Stan Kenton
, Will Bradley
and the avant-garde Raymond Scott
outfit. My own introduction to the drummer’s work occurred when, in 1954, I purchased a 10" Decca recording of the soundtrack from "The Wild One." Having never heard of Shelly Manne, I believed the liner notes that called him Manny Shell
. Due to contractual obligations, Manne recorded under a pseudonym as did his friend, trumpeter Shorty Rogers who appeared as Roger Short
Shelly Manne was everywhere in the 50’s and 60’s. He composed and played for such TV gems as Johnny Staccato
and Peter Gunn
. Affiliated with ASCAP, he penned various melodies for the revered Sesame Street
. My personal favorite Shelly Manne composition is Blues In Burlesque
written for the Kenton band and offered on two sides of a Capitol 78 disk. It was a delightful spoof on the music of burlesque houses.
Manne was no stranger to Hollywood and appeared in a number of roles. He played the part of Davey Tough
in no less than two films, The Gene Krupa Story
and The Five Pennies
. Shelly was a natural for the parts as he actually replaced Davey Tough in the Joe Marsala
band about 1941.
The notes for the new Fantasy release are by JazzReview’s
own Mark Keresman
and he does an admirable job of chronicling this impressive compilation. Recorded between 1953 and 1961, the album features the famed drummer in the type of situations for which he is best known. There are plenty of Kentonites in the form of Shorty Rogers, Bob Cooper, Conte Candoli and Richie Kamuca
. Other well known jazzmen include Herb Geller, Andre Previn, Joe Mondragon, Jimmy Giuffre and Russ Freeman. The tunes are representative of the era with compositions by Sonny Rollins, Henry Mancini, Shorty Rogers, Bill Holman and Charlie Parker.
Fantasy Jazz chose their material wisely and issued a mix that will please the most discriminating fans. The music may be decades old but the tracks sound as bright and fresh as ever. This is a highly recommended CD. It documents Shelly Manne’s Contemporary Records