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Four Freshmen in Person/Voices and Brass
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Four Freshmen in Person (1958) and Voices and Brass (1960) are gathered on this single CD from Collectors' Choice Music. After six successful studio ventures, the third incarnation of the Freshmen, featuring Ken Albers (vocal/trumpet/mellophone/bass), Don Barbour (guitar/vocals), Ross Barbour (vocal/drums), and Bob Flanigan (vocal/trombone/bass) recorded during a January 25, 1958 appearance at Compton Junior College Auditorium. As this was the Freshmen's first concert platter, many enthusiasts were given an opportunity to hear the extent of the quartet's live prowess. The entire affair is a platform for the best of what the Four Freshmen have to offer, from the jump and swing of "Somebody Loves Me" and "My Heart Stood Still" to the introspectively intimate "In This Whole World" and the moody "It's a Blue World." In between are a few notable solo excursions, including Don Barbour's infectiously fun "Holiday," and his animated reading of "Sweet Lorraine." Instrumentally, the Freshmen prove their worth with Albers' unique mellophone riffs leading the way on "My Heart Stood Still" and "Them There Eyes." Completists should be aware of the extra four selections available on the nine-disc Complete Capitol Four Freshmen Fifties Sessions (2000) box set. Voices and Brass (1960) hearkens back to the enormously influential 4 Freshmen and 5 Trumpets (1955), this time sporting two respective horn sections for a total of ten. The idea was exploit the new-fangled stereophonic technology by placing one section on the right, and the other on the left as the Freshmen hold down the center, although in reality only half of the material would be arranged for all ten horns to play simultaneously. Among the most impressive results are the unhurried take of "Stella By Starlight" and the soulful "I'm Glad There Is You" with Don Barbour unveiling some stunning contributions to the latter. They kick things up a notch for the hip and flair of "Route 66," a cha cha-influenced rendition of "Candy," as well as "Sunday," augmented by the full trombone aggregate. As both albums were out of print for decades, long-time listeners and burgeoning fans alike are encouraged to check them out, as each captures the Four Freshmen in their prime. ~ Lindsay Planer, Rovi
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