Stan Tracey Trio – ‘The 1959 Sessions’ – London Jazz News

Stan Tracey Trio – “The 1959 Sessions”
(ReSteamed-Records RSJ116. Album review by Leonard Weinreich.)

The music on this never-before-released album represents a salvaged time capsule and demands a word or two of context.

Having “won” the Second World War, the weary British population faced a future of shortages and rationing. But the young propellants among progressive jazz musicians felt more deprived than most because they had heard distant echoes of New York’s bebop revolution, which in their case might well have been Mars. Attracted by radical new sounds and frustrated by the lack of means, they yearned for more than the meager rations available would allow.

At that point, a miraculous solution presented itself: the enlistment in the Navy of Geraldo, an organization created by the high-society bandleader to outfit the lavish Cunard transatlantic liners with dance bands. Which explains why intrepid young jazzers like Ronnie Scott, John Dankworth and Stan Tracey spent their nights playing strict tempo tangos, waltzes and tasteless pop songs to well-heeled passengers strolling the dance floor. However, the moment the ship docked at Pier 54 in Manhattan, the musos rushed to feast on bebop’s banquet on West 52.n/a Street until the liner was to depart from his home.

Pianist Stan Tracey, already a connoisseur of the works of Duke Ellington, lived in the flesh the revelations of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Bud Powell. But, on the evidence of that album (and countless subsequent nights at Ronnie Scott’s club where Tracey served as long-term resident pianist), none left such a lasting impression on his keyboard style as Thelonious Monk.

The 1959 Sessions is an album in two halves. Four standard tracks with drummer Tony Crombie and four of Tracey’s original compositions with drummer Phil Marines.

At the time of recording, Tracey was a pianist in the precise and brilliant Ted Heath Orchestra, Britain’s premier dance group, a haven for the most skilled of modern jazz musicians. But precise and brilliant were hardly an outlet for Tracey’s brand of individualism.

However, once within range of Decca’s microphones at Broadhurst Gardens, Hampstead, Tracey’s idiosyncratic style was freed from her shackles. His reading of Vincent Youman sometimes i’m happy, amplifies the song’s underlying melancholy, emerging from a dark place festooned with Monk-like accents and dissonances. Bass player Kenny Napper and drummer Tony Crombie match the mood with rhythmic sophistication and seamless swing. by Jesse Greer Just you, just me shows how closely Tracey had absorbed Thelonious’ example as the foundation of her own style. His approach to the ballad of Karl Suessdorf Moonlight in Vermont is unconventional, punchy yet lyrical, tender yet unsentimental. And his version of Jump with Symphony Sid, Lester Young’s blues riff dedicated to a friendly radio disc jockey, replaces beat jam session riffs with freshly hit phrases.

Three days later, the trio, now with legendary drummer Phil Marines replacing Crombie, returned to Broadhurst Gardens to record four of Tracey’s own compositions, showing traces of Tracey’s other major influence, Duke Ellington. The first piece, Mood 13, is contemplative with plenty of reverie in the treble, powered by Seamen-inspired drums. little girl sadly, the second original, with Napper-inspired bass, suggests the thwarted passion and drizzly back streets of Soho.

After the first chorus of Theme Street, the tone and color change as Tracey moves from piano to vibraphone, producing an equally individual sound. Seamen, in form, shows why he has earned the deep respect of his fellow musicians.

Pitter Patter Panic (a title suggested by Pitter’s panther patter, Ellington’s influential 1940 duet with bassist Jimmy Blanton?) is a rhythmic romp at a lively tempo by the entire trio, with Tracey giving an audible nod to Duke.

The album has been meticulously transferred from the original master tapes by mike brown. Erudite jazz columnist Alyn Shipton provided the authoritative liner note and the entire event was produced by Tracey’s son, drummer Clark Tracey. Unavoidable.

(Stan Tracey,piano; Kenny Napper, bass; Tony Crombie, Phil Marines, drums. Recorded at Decca UK Studio, Hampstead, London, June 5-8, 1959.)

LINK: To buy The 1959 Sessions at Restteamed Records

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