This Hep CD collects the first 26 sides Buddy DeFranco recorded under his own leadership, mostly for the MGM label. Five of the eight sessions find Buddy fronting a big band filled with some of the best modern players in NYC at the time: Al Cohn, Teddy Charles, Gene Quill, Jimmy Raney, and Bernie Glow, to name just a few. After playing for years in the Tommy Dorsey band, DeFranco wanted to try out new ideas, and these bands were just the ones to attempt them. The arranging is excellent. RUMPUS ROOM and KING PHILLIP STOMP are snappy tunes, very boppish and finely arranged. OUT OF NOWHERE features Buddy's lower-register clarinet on half a chorus before ascending into the upper spheres where he is more accustomed to playing.
The remaining three sessions are quintet/sextet dates, the quintet sides with Kenny Drew (p) and Jimmy Raney (g) from 1952 being the best sides on the CD. Most of them are taken up-tempo, and they really cook, especially GET HAPPY and SWEET GEORGIA BROWN. BUDDY'S BLUES is the only blues on the CD and it's a nice one. LADY BE GOOD features Buddy's clarinet all the way, while Kenny Drew's composition CAIRO is a tune with real sticking power. The sextet date from 1949 was done for Capitol and features Teddy Charles (vibes) (Max Roach is the drummer). Pianist Harvey Leonard's BUD'S INVENTION is a great little tune and it has some wonderful Jimmy Raney guitar work on it. (Raney's name was left off the personnel listing in the booklet.) These early sides of DeFranco's are terrific, and hopefully Hep will issue a second volume completing the run of MGM sides.
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