Jack Sheldon: A Jazz Profile of Ray Charles / Cappy Lewis: Get Happy With Cappy

Sheldon's strong trumpet playing prevails over Marty Paich's overbearing organ while Lewis proves to be the trumpet star that escaped

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Jack Sheldon’s ambition was to become a great singer. He took professional singing lessons and the later part of his life was devoted to improving what talent he had in this direction. He had developed his trumpet playing at an early age and had, although he never assessed himself as such, become one of the best jazz trumpeters of his generation.

Just For A Thrill shows his great authority on the horn. It’s a heartfelt yet virtuoso ballad performance showing off his warm tone and fine improvisation methods. He fights off the dire organ playing of Marty Paich to place the trumpet where it should be. At the front of things. And there it stays. The statement of Basin Street’s theme is beautifully made and, as throughout, Jack sweeps easily through the registers.

This is indeed one of the many great eloquent collections of his work. Only two of the tracks reach the three-minute mark, but this isn’t a handicap because Jack’s solos are, as well as deeply expressive, quite concise. The material chosen is excellent. Near perfection is not reached, but only because of that organ. Why on earth would such a skilled piano player as Marty fall for it? One adjusts to the beast, despite the long and loud chords, so don’t let it put you off acquiring what is otherwise a treasure.

No such strictures of course about the about the first man ever to play a trumpet solo on Woodchoppers’ Ball. Cappy really came out of the woodwork for this one. He displays a technique which has much in common with Harry James, but the florid tone and huge range is unfailingly exuberant, and we must own that one of the potentially finest jazz trumpeters escaped us whilst he was alive. The brusque and bouncing Rosalie contrasts with the poised You Can’t Take That with its dab of half-valve and assured fire.

If only Jack had had Cappy’s rhythm section, the album would be, as I suggested, near perfect. Rowles was one of the greatest (and most unflashy) pianists and Cappy’s set becomes a fine showcase for him too. Corb and Sperling are ideal. Everybody excels on the rocketing Undecided. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this album. Except for that blasted…

Discography
(1) Am I Blue?; Just For A Thrill; Basin Street Blues; When Your Lover Has Gone; Cherry; Moonlight In Vermont; ’Deed I Do; Rain Or Shine; There’s No You; One Mint Julep; Georgia; Rosetta; (2) Charmaine; Rosalie; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; Undecided; C’Est Si Bon; Umbrella Man; I Hear Music; Swanee; Imagination; Runnin’ Wild; Plenty Of Money; Pagan Love Song (65.49)
(1) Sheldon (t); Marty Paich (p, org); Joe Mondragon (b); John Markham (d). Hollywood, May 1961.
(2) Lewis (t) Jimmy Rowles (p); Morty Corb (b); Jack Sperling (d). Hollywood, February 1960.
Fresh Sound Records FSRCD 1073