Ted Nash, Tony Rizzi: The Music Of Frank Comstock

In 1954, reedman Nash and guitarist Rizzi led separate dates saluting the music of Frank Comstock. The pair are reissued here on one CD

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This is a nice surprise, being a coupling of two LPs originally on the far from well-known Starlite label. The combined duration doesn’t top the 44-minute mark but brevity is compensated for by the quality of the music, all of which comes from the pen of Frank Comstock.

Comstock spent years as the chief arranger for the Les Brown band, while Nash spent 1944-1946 with the Brown band before recording with the likes of Billy May. Rizzi, meanwhile, went down the same Brown road before working with the Paul Smith Trio.

On a practical note, the Nash quintet is on the first eight tracks and the Rizzi quintet makes up the balance. The personnel in both quintets is identical, incidentally, which on a practical level ensures the myopic jazz hack doesn’t have to squint over credits.

Nightfall is pleasingly evocative in the titular sense and affords Nash (on tenor saxophone) the chance to showcase his sensitivity, which he does within the 3.26 duration with no little aplomb. 

Teddy Bear is a jaunty line in marked contrast to the track discussed above, and it highlights the ease with which Comstock’s music fits into the archetypal West Coast scope of the 1950s. That said, any reasonably good ear will be able to distinguish it from the music of, say, Marty Paich for a number of reasons, not the least of them being Comstock’s distinctive arrangerly touches.

The continuities in Comstock’s music, and indeed in the abilities of these musicians to lift it off the page and give it life are apparent on the Rizzi quintet’s reading of Laurel, which has about it a lyrical strain which, if one focuses hard enough, is evocative of a comforting world now lost to us. Nostalgia might not be what it used to be, but there are still times when it’s a nice escape route.

Discography
Whim Wham; Frantica; Nightfall; Nash-inalize; Taylor Talks; Passion Girl; South Of Brazil; Teddy Bear; The Grabber; Laurel; I’ve Got Eyes For You; Footloose; Here’s Tony; Starlight; The Languid Latin; Less Sand And More Cement (43.08)
Ted Nash (as, ts, f, picc); Dick Nash (tb); Tony Rizzi (g); Morty Corb (b); Alvin Stoller (d). Gold Star Studios, Hollywood, summer 1954.
Fresh Sound Records FSRCD 1070