Back To Avalon 995

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rovi.MR0001880282 Used
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    Back To Avalon 995 Contemporary Records
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Review

Review Text The liner notes written by Kirk Silsbee tell a tale easily as intriguing as the fine music on this CD. Producer Lester Koenig asked Teddy Edwards to assemble a large ensemble of lesser known jazz musicians from Los Angeles to record originals and new arrangements of standards. Those players had difficulty with the somewhat tricky charts, and because they were not up to the highest standards, the project was mutually agreed upon to be scrapped. Nearly 35 years later, Ed Michel came upon the tapes, assessed that the feeling and spirit in them was good enough, and had them cleaned up by editing in alternate takes spliced by audio computer to enhance the originally imperfect sessions. After some fact checking, the alleged or disputed lineup was confirmed, and the result is solidly swinging,enjoyable music. It showcases the magic touch Edwards displayed in composition and arranging, his distinctive tenor sax, and the ability of these players, many who would later prove their own mettle removed from the obscurity of that time. And now, the rest of the story...this is a really good album! Edwards is well known for his classic, ahead of its time, original soul-jazz tune "Good Gravy," and it appears here for its first recording, the horns grooving together and strutting their stuff. While "The Cellar Dweller" is usually in reference to a perennial last place sports team, this one is for the listeners of The Jazz Cellar nightclub in San Francisco, naturally bluesy and easy swinging with Edwards as the front runner, and the horns following in varying levels of dynamics. "(Under) A Southern Moon & Sky" takes Edwards back to his Mississippi roots and love for Duke Ellington in an attractively exotic and sensual, riki-tiki calypso beat courtesy of Larance Marable cracking his sticks on drum rims. The swing standard "Avalon" bookends the session, one at medium tempo, the other faster, both with wonderful interplay and rich balance. A supercharged take of "Sweet Georgia Brown" has Edwards out of the gate flying, extending the second chorus with a witty extrapolation and during the jamming bridge, while the contrasting sad and bittersweet "You Don't Know What Love Is," with the plaintive second lead of trumpeter Nathaniel Meeks, and the especially downhearted "Our Last Goodbye" wrenches every ounce of emotion from a somber place where no one really wants to be. Trombonist Lester Robertson and alto saxophonist Jimmy Woods became major players in L.A. from this point onward, and deserve a close listen here, while baritone saxophonist Modesto Brisenio is heard to good effect, especially on the intro of the quick waltz "Steppin' Lightly," which also sports some compelling rhythm changes slowed to half time, sped up, and funkified. There are recordings that rank as underrated or under appreciated, but Back to Avalon should not merely be tagged as such. Thankfully -- through hindsight -- this recording was released in fully flowered form so all can realize what a marvelous all-around musician Teddy Edwards was. ~ Michael G. Nastos

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Avalon - 3:49
  2. 2. Cellar Dweller - 6:34
  3. 3. You Don't Know What Love Is - 4:25
  4. 4. Steppin' Lightly - 7:20
  5. 5. Sweet Georgia Brown - 4:47
  6. 6. Our Last Goodbye - 5:41
  7. 7. Good Gravy - 7:32
  8. 8. Under a Southern Moon and Sky - 5:16
  9. 9. Avalon - 2:28

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