Once the 12-inch jazz LP became feasible in the mid-1950s, record-company A&R executives began scouring the market for musicians who could assemble and arrange bands. Record companies had quotas to fill, especially as an album's vinyl circumference expanded. So while prestige bands led by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman were given a new lease on life, other bands gathered for one-shots.
Here are five swinging examples of what these one-shot bands were all about...
Larry Sonn—The Sound of Sonn (1955). As of 2010, trumpeter Sonn was still with us, living in Mexico. He only recorded through 1959, but the bands he led were solid and hip, largely a result of the personnel and arrangers. On this date, his penmen were Al Cohn and Manny Albam. You'll find this one here.
Ernie Wilkins—Top Brass (1955). Though not technically a big band, prolific arranger Wilkins assembled quite a horn crew for this session. And everyone gets to solo: Donald Byrd, Ray Copeland, Ernie Royal, Idrees Sulieman and Joe Wilder (tp), Hank Jones (p), Wendell Marshall (b), Kenny Clarke (d) and Ernie Wilkins (arr,dir). You'll find this one here.
Terry Gibbs—Swingin' (1956). Vibist Gibbs throughout the decade organized dream band after dream band and always succeeded—even if his swinging efforts in this space aren't fully appreciated today. What's a dream band? Bernie Glow, Al Derisi, Ernie Royal and Nick Travis (tp); Don Elliott (tp,mellophone); Bob Brookmeyer (v-tb,arr); Urbie Green, Tom Mitchell and Chauncey Welsch (tb); Sam Marowitz and Hal McKusick (as), Al Cohn (ts,arr), Frank Socolow (ts) and Al Epstein (bar); Terry Gibbs (vib); Terry Pollard (p); Turk Van Lake (g); Herman Wright (b); Jerry Segal (d) and Manny Albam and Ernie Wilkins (arr). Any questions? You'll find this one here.
Manny Albam—The Jazz Greats of Our Time, Vols. 1 and 2 (1957). Albam was one of the finest band arrangers of the period. And the album's title ain't braggin'. Here's the lineup for Vol. 2: Nick Travis and Art Farmer (tp); Bob Brookmeyer (tb); Phil Woods (as) Zoot Sims (ts) Al Cohn (ts,bar) and Gerry Mulligan (bar); Hank Jones (p), Milt Hinton (b) and Osie Johnson (d); and Manny Albam (arr,cond). You'll find this one here.
Chubby Jackson—Chubby Takes Over (1958). Bassist Jackson led the Woody Herman Orchestra for a session during Herman's run with the Everest label. Poor Woody had to make do with these guys: Bernie Glow, Marky Markowitz, Ernie Royal, Al Stewart and Nick Travis (tp); Bob Brookmeyer, Jim Dahl, Bill Elton, Tom Mitchell and Frank Rehak (tb); Sam Marowitz (as), Sam Most (fl,cl,as), Al Cohn and Pete Mondello (ts), and Danny Bank (bar); Marty Napoleon (p), Chubby Jackson (b), Don Lamond (d); as well as Fred Karlin, Manny Albam, Ernie Wilkins, Bob Brookmeyer, Nat Pierce and Al Cohn (arr). You'll find this one here.
JazzWax track: Here's Ernie Wilkins 58 Market Street from Top Brass. To play the track using the JazzWax AudioPlayer below, simply, move your cursor to the left of the title in the bar until the arrow appears, then click it to play. If you're receiving JazzWax by email, just click on the link.