Trumpeter Dick Collins had a gorgeous sound in the '50s. Like trumpeters Don Fagerquist and Doug Mettome, Dick had a lyrical quality to his playing that was part brass, part vocalist. Dick's note choices on solos often roamed in just the right places, punctuating distinctly as he ran up and down chords. And Dick always managed to end his solos exactly where you'd hope he would.
Much of Dick's playing hours were spent in the bands of Woody Herman and Les Brown, leaving him little down time. Fortunately he did record two albums as a leader—Horn of Plenty and King Richard the Swing Hearted. Both were cut in 1954 for RCA, both featured the well-oiled arrangements of Al Cohn [pictured] and Nat Pierce, and both featured mostly Hermanites.
As you can imagine, these albums are enormously tasteful. They also were among the last dates that many of the featured musicians made on the East Coast before relocating to Los Angeles and the Hollywood studio scene. I wrote about both albums when I interviewed Dick back in June 2010.
So what's the point? A treat. I found both rare albums hidden on one iTunes download for—are you ready for this?—$5.99. The album is called Dick Collins & His Orchestra: Essential Jazz Masters. If you download it (and I hope you do, because they're about the prettiest things), just rearrange the tracks in the following order:
Horn Of Plenty (RCA): Dick Collins (tp), Med Flory (as), Al Cohn, Dick Hafer (ts), Bill Perkins (ts,fl), Jack Nimitz (bar), Nat Pierce (p), Red Kelly (b) and Chuck Flores (d). Recorded in New York on May 22 and 23, 1954.
- I'd know you anywhere
- Angel eyes
- Tricky dicky
- Stairway to the stars
- Very shifty
- Just as you are
- The long night
- What a little moonlight can do
- My one and only love
- No soap
- Why was I born?
- Please don't talk about me when I'm gone
King Richard, The Swing Hearted (RCA): Dick Collins, Al Porcino (tp), Charlie Walp (tp) or John Howell (tp), Billy Byers, Sonny Russo (tb), Dick Meldonian (as), Al Cohn (ts,arr), Richie Kamuca, Bill Perkins (ts), Jack Nimitz (bar), Nat Pierce (p,arr), Herb Ellis (g), Red Kelly (b) and Chuck Flores (d). Recorded in New York on November 27 & 28, 1954
- Strike up the band
- The winter of my discontent
- Hold me, hold me, hold me
- As long as I live
- It's love
- They can't take that away from me
- Donna mia
- Northern comfort
JazzWax clip: Here's Dick Collins with John Howell, Al Porcino and Charlie Walpon on trumpets on another pretty album, Tjader Plays Mambo, which was recorded in 1954 between Dick's two leadership dates...