Dick Collins And The Runaway Herd/His Orchestra: Horn Of Plenty

Trumpeter Collins plays perfectly well on this mid-50s collection, but the album is made by the arrangements of Al Cohn and Nat Pierce


This is one of those satisfying albums where you only have to look at the personnel list to bring back vividly the fact that you and I lived through the greatest of the jazz years. Where, today, will you find musicians with the inspiration and character of the ones in this group? I’d be glad to know.

The arrangements for all sessions were written by Al Cohn and Nat Pierce and the sleeve meticulously identifies each. The often gentle music lives up to its promise and Collins, Cohn and Pierce sometimes joyously proclaim their immortality.

The (2) session stands out, with the full band and its soloists on good display, but the first set, which concentrates more on the trumpet, is very good with a Four Brothers-type choir of saxes to give the comprehensive backing to the soloist. The reeds are particularly effective behind the muted Collins on Angel Eyes and he dips attractively into the lower register on Stairway.

Collins isn’t a flashy trumpeter and has an attractive tone and a good range of ideas which justify his album – although it must be said that a large percentage of the general success is due to Pierce and Cohn, with the highlight being Cohn’s six-minute Strike Up The Band. It starts with a beefy Nimitz baritone and then an eloquent alto solo from multi-instrumentalist Meldonian. There’s a refreshing outburst from Herb Ellis, elsewhere playing only rhythm guitar, and the piece ends with a good solo where Perk wails politely.

RCA, who originally put this out, famously had the best studios in New York. Somewhere between there and my front door the sound quality has been slightly degraded.

(1) I’d Know You Anywhere; Angel Eyes; Tricky Dick; Stairway To The Stars; Very Shifty; Just As You Are; What A Little Moonlight Can Do; My One And Only Love; No Soap!; The Long Night; Why Was I Born?; Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone; (2) As Long As I Live; Strike Up The Band; Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me; Northern Comfort; They Can’t That That Away From Me; (3) The Winter Of My Discontent; It’s Love; Donna Mia; Lullaby Of Birdland (77.46)
(1) Dick Collins And The Runaway Herd: Collins (t); Med Flory (as); Bill Perkins (ts, f); Al Cohn, Dick Hafer (ts); Jack Nimitz (bar); Nat Pierce (p); Red Kelly (b); Chuck Flores (d). NYC, 23-24 May 1954.
(2) Dick Collins Orchestra: Collins, Al Porcino, Charlie Walp (t); Sonny Russo, Billy Byers (tb); Dick Meldonian (as); Al Cohn, Perkins, Richie Kamuca (ts); Nimitz (bar); Pierce (p); Herb Ellis (g); Kelly (b); Flores (d). NYC, 27-28 November 1954.
(3) as (2). NYC, 1954.
Fresh Sound Records FSRCD 1136