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V.S.O.P. #63 CD Ava 22 THE PETE JOLLY TRIO and friends LITTLE BIRD
Pete Jolly (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Larry Bunker (drums), Howard Roberts (guitar), Kenny Hume (percussion).
Recorded in late 1962 and early 1963 for Fred Astaire's Ava (Choreo) record label, this was a groundbreaking album for Pete Jolly. Up until he made this recording, most of Pete's sessions were done for RCA, with a few exceptions. Having been Shorty Rogers' favorite pianist this comes as no surprise as Shorty was both very active and influential at RCA. This period ushered in a further development: the permanent establishment of The Pete Jolly Trio, which had existed since 1960, but had only recorded one album for MGM Records. This is also the first studio recording of the trio with Chuck Berghofer on bass.
Compared to Pete Jolly's previous recordings, Ava/Choreo was a very different setting. It was not a jazz label per se, but rather a label devoted to the musical arts as practiced in the Hollywood studios and related settings. It was eclectic and unique, not necessarily appealing to the average jazz listener of the day. It's major contributors included songwriter Tommy Wolf, composer Elmer Bernstein, arrangers Dick Grove and Harry Betts, and jazz musicians Pete Jolly and Victor Feldman. The unconventional atmosphere of the Ava/Choreo label and it's focus on movie related music, which Pete had already worked with, gave him the opportunity to try something a bit new and this album is the result. Pete co-wrote the bossa-nova title track "Little Bird", which was released both as a single and on the album. It was nominated for a Grammy, and was something of a hit in 1963-64, to the extent that jazz compositions performed by working trios are ever hits (Poinciana, excepted). The rest of the album is just as outside in mainstream jazz terms as the title track.
Today, years later, we have heard other jazz albums that resemble this one, but in 1963, this was different: both improvisational and orchestral in its conception but performed in the normative jazz format of a trio, sometimes augmented by an additional instrument or two. Over the years, "Little Bird" has become very well known. Today, it needs no special accolades or puffery. It is a great jazz album that fully speaks for itself.
Other sources for CD: City Hall Records