Dennis Farnon: Caution! Men Swinging / Skip Martin: 8 Brass … 5 Sax … 4 Rhythm

Albums led by lesser-known figures feature work by leading West Coasters, including Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Ted Nash and Jimmy Rowles


Here’s another welcome reissue in Fresh Sound’s series Rare & Collectible Albums By Unsung Bandleaders. As usual in the series the leaders may be unfamiliar but the assembled sidemen represent the very finest of the West Coast jazz fraternity.

Canadian Dennis Farnon had arranged for Charlie Barnet, the Four Freshmen and Matt Dennis and for Caution! Men Swinging he fashioned some imaginative charts very much in the Les Brown style.

The always reliable Bob Enevoldsen is centre stage on the opening title. Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year features the unsung giant of the trumpet Don Fagerquist. He was one of the premier soloists in Brown’s band and there is plenty of his lyrical trumpet to enjoy here because he is also heard on Shoo-Shoo Baby, South Of The Border and Three Little Words.

Lestorian tenor from another Brown soloist, Ted Nash, illuminates Shoo-Shoo Baby, Why Don’t You Do Right and Isle Of Capri. Incidentally, Farnon adds some interesting atonality to the A sections of the latter.

The connection with Les Brown is even more apparent on Skip Martin’s 8 Brass …5 Sax …4 Rhythm because he began an association with Brown in 1944 which lasted until 1959. His 1946 chart of I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm for Brown’s band sold over a million copies. Johnny Mercer said years later “I doubt there is anyone who does not know practically by heart (that) tremendous version.”

The danceable tempos here feature brief solos from the elegant Jimmy Rowles (Bye Bye Blackbird), the Benny Carter-influenced Ronny Lang (The Best Things In Life and Villa) and Milt Berhnart’s powerful trombone (Until The Real Thing).

[Caution Men Swinging!] (1) Caution! Men Swinging; Spring Can Be A Little Late This Year; (2) Lover Come Back To Me; Shoo Shoo Baby; (1) Just You, Just Me; Isle Of Capri; (2) South Of The Border; It Don’t Mean A Thing; (1) Why Don’t You Do Right?; (2) Three Little Words; Resume Speed; [8 Brass … 5 Sax … 4 Rhythm] (3) Until The Real Thing Comes Along; Truckin’; (4) East Of The Sun; Bye Bye Blackbird; Bidin’ My Time; The Best Things In Life Are Free; (3) Do-Do-Do; Drivin’ Home; (4) You Turned The Tables On Me; (3) There’s Danger In Your Eyes, Cherie; (4) I Concentrate On You; (3) Villa (68.29)
(1) Pete Candoli, Frank Beach, Don Fagerquist, Paul Geil (t); Tommy Pederson, Joe Howard (tb); Bob Enevoldsen (vtb); George Roberts (btb); Jack Dumont, Brian Farnon (as); Ted Nash, Gene Cipriano (ts); Chuck Gentry (bar); Howard Roberts (elg); Jimmy Rowles (p); Cliff Hills (b); Alvin Stoller (d). Hollywood, 1957.
(2) as (1) Lou Levy (p) replaces Rowles.
(3) Frank Beach, Pete Candoli, Ed Leddy, Shorty Sherock (t); Milt Bernhart, Kenny Shroyer, Ray Klein, Tommy Pederson (tb); Jack Dumont, Ronny Lang (as); Justin Gordon, Babe Russin (ts); Chuck Gentry (bar); Jimmy Rowles (p); Al Hendrickson (elg); Artie Shapiro (b); Frank Carlson (d). Hollywood, 31 March 1958.
(4) as (3) Conrad Gozzo (t) replaces Sherock; Stumpy Brown (tb) replaces Shroyer; Milt Raskin (p) replaces Rowles; George Van Epps (elg) replaces Hendrickson. Hollywood, 4 April 1958.
Fresh Sound Records FSR-CD 1120