The 1950s brought a number of jazz players to the attention of mass audiences. Jackie Gleason’s lush string arrangements featured trumpeter Bobby Hackett, alto saxophonist Toots Mondello and guitarist Al Caiola. Ex-Basie trumpeter, Jonah Jones, served up all the muted, but swinging, jazz that the public would buy...and they "bought."
Charlie Shavers (1917-1971) emerged from decades with jazz bands both large and small. Originally a banjoist, he switched to trumpet early, but in later years, he felt that he would have been more frequently employed if he had stayed with the banjo. His first break was with Tiny Bradshaw’s fine band, but Shavers soon joined John Kirby and stayed there for more than a decade. Most fans of that era will agree that Kirby’s sextet was one of the best.
Charlie Shavers spent time with the somewhat "avant-garde" orchestra led by Raymond Scott. The trumpeter came to wider attention when he became the first black musician in Tommy Dorsey’s band in 1945. Influenced by Roy Eldridge, Shaver’s high note prowess came to the forefront with tunes like "Well Git It." He was paired with Dorsey’s other trumpet star, Chuck Peterson, and the two horn-men tore the roof off. Shavers was quoted "As for my high-note playing, maybe it’s influenced others, but I don’t particularly like to play high notes, to tell you the truth. It’s an effect - that’s all."
This CD is assembled from three pieces of vinyl that Shavers recorded for the Everest label in 1959, 1960 and 1961. There’s not much to say about this reissue except that it swings like the devil and features the trumpeter at a highpoint in his career. The three groups include such luminaries as Ray Bryant, Grady Tate, Wild Bill Davis, Aaron Bell and Oliver Jackson. They deliver a brand of jazz that anyone will appreciate.
I auditioned this album while painting our guest bedroom for the holiday season. Shavers was swinging his heart out and my aging body made the paint rollers and brushes fly. Within the length of the CD, the bedroom had its first coat of "country green." Any music that makes a 70-year-old writer that active in the bedroom can’t be bad. Sound samples can be heard on the label’s website. Bring your paintbrush!