Chubby Jackson Big Band – Ooh, What an Outfit – New York City 1949 – Uptown Records UPCD27.75/27.76 (2 mono CDs), 67:08/59:46 ****:

(Chubby Jackson Big Band:
Norman Faye, Al Porcino, Charlie Walp – trumpets; Mario Daone, Rob Swope – trombones; Frank Socolow – alto sax; Ray Turner, Al Young – tenor sax; Marty Flax – baritone sax; Gene Dinovi – piano, arranger; Teddy Charles – vibes; Red Mitchell – piano, bass; Tom “Red” Kelly – bass; Curly Russell – bass; Chubby Jackson – leader, bass, vocals; Tiny Kahn – drums, arranger, vocals; Joe Harris – bongos, congas; Paula Castle – vocals

Gene Roland’s Boppers:
Dan Baxter, Dan Blue, Jerry Lloyd, Dale Pierce – trumpets; Gene Roland – trumpet; valve trombone, arranger; Al Cohn, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims – tenor sax; Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax, arranger; Gene Dinovi – piano; Tom “Red” Kelly – bass; Tiny Kahn – drums

Paula Castle with Joe Roland Quintet:
Ray Turner – tenor sax; Joe Roland – vibes; Joe Puma – guitar; Red Mitchell – piano; Paul Sziglai – bass; Paula Castle – vocals

Chubby Jackson’s Fifth Dimensional Jazz Group:
Conte Candoli – trumpet; Frank Socolow – tenor sax, vocals ; Terry Gibbs – vibes, vocals; Lou Levy – piano; Chubby Jackson – bass, vocals; Denzil Best – drums)

Uptown Records’ new release in their Flashback Series has an embarrassment of riches. Dedicated primarily to the great bassist, Chubby Jackson, who is remembered by many as Woody Herman’s bassist in Woody’s Herd of the mid-1940s, Jackson went on to make the merge from swing to bebop with one of the hottest bands of the early bop movement. Many of Jackson’s big band’s arrangements were done by the inimitable drummer Tiny Kahn (Kahn was the opposite of tiny, as he topped 300 lbs. and approached 400 lbs. at one time). Kahn, who was largely self-taught, had an amazing sense of time, and his death from a heart attack at age 29 was a major blow to jazz at that time. Testimonials to Kahn are legendary as he was greatly loved by the likes of Stan Getz, Johnny Mandel, and Red Rodney. If he had lived longer, he would have entered the pantheon of legendary drummers.

Introduced by Symphony Sid, whose low key rap was quite in vogue in the day, Jackson held the stage at the Royal Roost in New York City. Broadcast over the radio with frequent plugging by Sid to come on down to the “Bopera House”, Jackson’s band was on fire with wild abandon. Being referred to by Sid Torin as frantic was quite the compliment, and it shows as the band blows off the roof with versions of “Tiny’s Blues,” “Father Knickerbopper,” “Lemon Drop,” and “Boomsie.” If you love high register trumpet playing, then Chubby’s band fits the bill.

Most of Disc 1 was recorded over two Saturdays in March, 1949. The final four tracks on the first disc are from a rehearsal (two months later) that featured Chubby’s rhythm section backing a Gene Roland led group of boppers that include the iconic Three Brothers tenor sax section (Al Cohn, Stan Getz, and Zoot Sims), with Gerry Mulligan on baritone, and Tiny Kahn drumming. They do two versions of “Sid’s Swing Symphony,” as well as a self titled “Blues” from Roland, and “Oh, Them Saxophones.” This previously unreleased rehearsal, while only 10 minutes long, is a treat for collectors.

Disc 2 gives us  four tracks of a studio recording from Chubby’s band, as well as a grab bag of other goodies. Of major significance are two interviews with Chubby by Don Manning that were done in 1957. Jackson describes what is was like to put his band together, lamenting that he did not really enjoy the business side of running a band, as it was the music that was the real reward.

What I enjoyed the most on this historically significant release are the six tracks near the end of the second disc. They feature Chubby’s Fifth Dimensional Jazz Group made up of future all-stars Conte Candoli, Terry Gibbs, Lou Levy, Frank Socolow, and Denzil Best playing in late 1947 into early 1948 in Stockholm, Sweden. Their ages range from Candoli at age 20 to Jackson, the “old man” of the group at 29. Closing out the second CD is Chubby vocalizing on “My Ideal” backed by Lennie Tristano and Billy Bauer.

Uptown Records’ owner Robert Sunenblick provides his usual massive CD booklet with voluminous liner notes, and photos. Be careful, the booklet is so thick that it is a major accomplishment to get it back into the jewel case.

The acoustics for music recorded so long ago, including radio broadcasts, is more than acceptable and highly listenable. The historical value for bop lovers and jazz historians is significant. For collectors of prime bop, and fans of Jackson and Kahn this is a must have purchase.

TrackList (includes versions of):

Disc 1:  Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid, Tiny’s Blues, Father Knickerbopper, Tenderly, Lemon Drop, Boomsie, Bop Slappy, Belvedere Bop, You Wear So Well, Godchild, Sid’s Swing Symphony, Oh, Them Saxophones, Blues

Disc 2:  All Wrong, Leaving Town, A Fool and His Love, Three Men on a Bass, Don Manning Interviews with Chubby Jackson (2), Crown Pilots, Begin the Beguine, Cryin’ Sands, Dee Dee’s Dance, My Ideal

—Jeff Krow