JazzSnap: Charlie Ventura (1947) - JazzWax

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April 12, 2011


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Brett Gold

I have the LP of this engagement, and the revelation is not Ventura or Harris, but the piano playing of Ralph Burns. I had previously known of him as a prominent arranger for Woody Herman (think Early Autumn), but his piano playing is something else on this record -- he seems to be going for an pre-Cecil Taylor sound. Very, very advanced for the time.


Burns made a couple of quartet albums under his own name in 1955 with Tal Farlow, Clyde Lombardi, and Osie Johnson. These were reissued on OJC as "Bijou." On those sessions he sounds closer to Shearing than Taylor.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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