Jazz CD Reviews

Oscar Pettiford Modern Quintet – Bethlehem

Good things come in small packages.

Published on October 18, 2013

Oscar Pettiford Modern Quintet – Bethlehem

Oscar Pettiford Modern Quintet – Bethlehem mono BCP 1003, 15:34 [Distr. By Naxos] ****:

(Oscar Pettiford – cello and bass; Julius Watkins – French horn; Charlie Rouse – tenor sax; Duke Jordan – piano; Ron Jefferson – drums)

“If I had to sum up Oscar, I would say that he should be ranked with the select group of great jazz artists, beyond merely one of the great bassists”, so says Ira Gitler in the book The Masters Of Bebop: A Listener’s Guide. This new release on the Bethlehem label of the original 1954 recording Oscar Pettiford Modern Quintet demonstrated the boundless talent that the group possessed all of which was guided by Pettiford whether on bass or cello.

While the music is outstanding, each composition comes in at under three minutes per track for a very slim session of just slightly over fifteen minutes. For those cost-conscious consumers, the most efficient way of acquiring this music would be by digital download which can be purchased, by shopping around the internet, for around $6 for the entire album. The Gerry Mulligan composition “Sextette” opens with Watkins’ French horn and Rouse’s tenor in unison for several bars over Pettiford’s bass, then Rouse’s tenor takes brief but delightful solo. On the Quincy Jones piece “Golden Touch”, Pettiford uses the cello throughout and in effect carries the composition with Jordan’s piano in a supporting role.

There are three original compositions by Oscar Pettiford starting with “Cable Car” which features Watkins on French horn and a sprightly Duke Jordan on piano. “Trictatism” is bass feature for Pettiford with a fine solo interlude by Rouse on tenor. Finally “Rides Again” has a pleasing ensemble sound with Pettiford on both bass and cello with the latter being over-dubbed, with a couple of flashy solos from both Rouse and Jordan.

Despite its very skimpy length, this is a delightful offering with tight ensemble playing along with some skillful solos and confirms the old adage that good things come in small packages.

TrackList: Sextette; Golden Touch; Cable car; Trictatism; Edge Of Love; Rides Again

—Pierre Giroux

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