(2011) Cat's In The Alley

Cat Anderson & His Orchestra

... read moreAs the lead soloist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra and recognized in smaller circles as one of the all-time great jazz trumpet improvisers, Cat Anderson did not have much time for fronting a band of his own. Up until his passing in 1981, Anderson still took many a backseat for listeners, critics...

01:02′:15″ 17 Songs

1
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Little Man
7:40
2
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Cat's In The Alley
2:26
3
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Blue Jean Beguine
4:00
4
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
My Adorable "D"
2:48
5
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
June Bug
3:23
6
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Don't Get Around Much Anymore
2:37
7
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Birth Of The Blues
3:24
8
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
You're The Cream In My Coffee
3:12
9
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Nina
2:37
10
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Chelsea Bridge
4:20
11
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
The Mexican Bandit
2:46
12
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Loveinnessence
4:18
13
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
4:36
14
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Between Some Place, Goin' No Place
3:40
15
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive
3:04
16
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Summertime
3:45
17
Cat Anderson & His Orchestra
Like Dig
3:39
Released 11 November 2011, ℗ Fresh Sound Records

Review

As the lead soloist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra and recognized in smaller circles as one of the all-time great jazz trumpet improvisers, Cat Anderson did not have much time for fronting a band of his own. Up until his passing in 1981, Anderson still took many a backseat for listeners, critics, and the general public who knew virtually nothing about him. This single CD should change all of that, a reissue of his first two dates as a leader, with a 15-piece big band Cat on a Hot Tin Horn for Mercury records, and Ellingtonia, for octet, originally on the obscure Wynne label. Both have been out of print on vinyl for decades, making this release more than merely long awaited. Anderson, a proprietor of the upper octave high note solos that bent notes and challenged air traffic lanes, surprisingly takes a backseat for the greater good of the ensemble on most of this, and also finds him an adept composer of original swing to bop music. Of course the bands are fully loaded with great soloists, Ellingtonians or not, most notably fellow trumpeters Clark Terry and Ernie Royal, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, tenor saxophonists Jimmy Forrest and Ernie Wilkins (also arranger,) and drummer Panama Francis. Of the nine big band charts from 1958, the opener and longest jam, "Little Man," gets the ball rolling with standout solos from the wailin' Forrest, baritone saxophonist Sahib Shihab, Cleveland, and a free-for-all from the trumpet section. The rest of the tunes are short, ranging from Anderson's supremely confident low octave, vocal-like lead on "Birth of the Blues," the dramatic, Latin "Besame Mucho" flavored, light lavender colored "Blue Jean Beguine," and the jumpier "Mexican Bandit." Earle Warren's bravissimo vibrato on alto sax is featured during "My Adorable D," while the rocking drums of Francis set off the sparks of a "Blues for Sale" spin-off "Cat's in the Alley," and the skittering and even slightly irritating but big themed "June Bug." The large group pieces from 1959, with legendary Elllington trombonist Quentin "Butter" Jackson and different (than Francis for sure) drummer Sam Woodyard, sports an entirely different lineup, with two features, the sensual "Lovelinnessence" and the classic ballad "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," for the immortal violinist Ray Nance. Budd Johnson and Rudy Powell split sax and clarinet chores. Johnson is backing Nance, and Powell adds to the advanced modern swinger "Between Some Place, Goin' No Place" the bouncy, fun "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," and the bright, happy "Like Dig." Throughout the disc you hear many typical Ellington phrases, as if the master is looking over Anderson's shoulder, but they are snippets and not clichés. Besides "Flower," the big band with Anderson upfront does a muted trumpet wah wah plunger-accented "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," while the octet performs a perfect "Chelsea Bridge" and a lush, Ellington-like, hot, slow, and sultry "Summertime," but those are the few and far between covers. This one should, by definition, be impossible to nit-pick, for the recording sound is excellent, the players beyond reproach, and the variety of (then) modern jazz fits the progressive aesthetic of Ellington and the then expanding Anderson to a T. This comes highly recommended; it's nearly essential, and is one of the best mainstream jazz reissues in recent years. ~ Michael G. Nastos