Cellar Music Group Announces Archival Imprint From Reel to Real Recordings
‘Jazz from the Pacific Northwest’ From Shelly Manne & His Men

2 LP-SET RECORD STORE DAY EXCLUSIVE, OUT APRIL 20, 2024
Deluxe CD & Digital out on May 10, 2024

 Package includes extensive booklet with liner notes by author Richard S. Ginell and Interviews with Ruth Price, Bill Holman, Joe LaBarbera, Peter Erskine and Jim Keltner

Reel to Real is thrilled to announce the release of Jazz From the Pacific Northwest celebrating jazz drum giant, Shelly Manne. Manne is most often hailed as the pulse of the West Coast sound with his inimitable feel and swing gracing countless albums led by Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Stan Kenton and Barney Kessel. Jazz From the Pacific Northwest acts as a stunning document of the cool, subtle, and intensely swinging sound of his ensemble, Shelly Manne & His Men. The release chronicles three live performances by Manne, the first – a hallmark performance at the very first Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958. The second and third performances, two stellar evenings at Seattle’s The Penthouse jazz club in 1966.

© Ray Avery / CTSIMAGES

This deluxe edition 180-gram double LP is produced by Zev Feldman and Cory Weeds for Reel to Real Recordings, an archival imprint of Cellar Music Group. This gorgeous vinyl package will be released on April 20, 2024 as part of Record Store Day. The package includes an extensive booklet with liner notes by author Richard S. Ginell and interviews with Ruth Price, Bill Holman, Joe LaBarbera, Peter Erskine and Jim Keltner. The deluxe double CD and digital version will be available on May 10, 2024. 

Manne’s performance at the seminal Monterey Jazz Festival features Manne’s masterful drumwork alongside bassist Monty Budwig, pianist Russ Freeman, flutist and alto saxophonist Herb Geller and trumpeter Stu Williamson. Manne’s 1966 performances at The Penthouse feature Manne and bassist Monty Budwig alongside pianist Hampton Hawes, flautist and alto saxophonist Frank Strozier, trumpeter Conte Candoli, and very special guest vocalist Ruth Price.

During his lifetime, Manne bristled with the notion that he was most associated with the ‘cool jazz’ West Coast sound. In actuality, he was one of the most versatile architects of jazz drumming. “You ask any drummer from my generation about Shelly, and they will give you an earful because we were all influenced by him,” shared renowned drummer Joe LaBarbera. 

Manne adapted to the styles of Dixieland, swing, bebop, avant-garde jazz and later, fusion throughout his four decades on the bandstand. Manne even joked about the matter while introducing his band at the ’58 Monterey Jazz Festival. The bandleader quipped, “This is what we call a West Coast jazz band,” he then proceeded to introduce his bandmates emphasizing the point that none of them hail from the West Coast. To this day, Manne is woefully overlooked by those who pigeonhole his sound as ‘cool jazz.’ Producer Zev Feldman remarks, “Shelly Manne is one of the all-time great jazz drummers, and for this record producer and my co-producer Cory Weeds, Shelly is someone who doesn’t get nearly the accolades that he deserves.” Weeds adds, “I hope that this set can continue – and build on – their legacy.” 

Peter Erskine describes Shelly as, above all things, a true “swinger”. “I would also describe him as the ultimate colorist. But his appreciation and explorations of sound were only rivaled by his ability to swing. He was a very chatty, interactive musician. Even though he was an extrovert, I feel that he always served the music,” he shares. “To put it in one sentence for you: Shelly was the kind of drummer I wanted to be when I grew up.”

Sides A and B chronicle, in crystal-clear high fidelity, Shelly Manne and His Men’s performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival. The tracks capture Manne’s arranging sensibility, his singular sound, and the incredible interplay of the ensemble. The album begins with a jovial “Stop, Look and Listen” showcasing Manne’s ability to lead from the kit from the very first hit of the hi-hat.

The formal opening of Charlie Mariano’s “The Vamp’s Blues” is reflective of some of the cool jazz experiments that Manne was recording for Contemporary Records in the mid-’50s. Geller and Williamson’s solo entrances provoke touches of merriment from the arena crowd, delighting in the musical conversation at hand.

Manne shows another side of his playing with a performance of a suite in four movements, “Quartet (Suite in Four Movements),” written for Manne’s group by a Kenton regular, composer/arranger Bill Holman. Freeman immediately starts the soloing on a swinging blues in the first movement; the appreciative crowd likes the contrapuntal burst near the end. The second movement is a relaxed cool statement, with Geller the most prominent voice. Manne switches to mallets on the toms, as he often did. The third movement features a tremendous solo from Manne. In the fourth movement, the happily swinging opening mood returns at a bright tempo. “Many people had written extended compositions for a large ensemble, but no one had written an extended work for a quintet. That was the thing that got me into it originally,” Holman shares. 

Sides C and D contain more buried treasure from the archives of The Penthouse in downtown Seattle in Pioneer Square, which were broadcast on KING-FM in the 1960s. This 1966 edition of His Men contained only one holdover from 1958, frequent collaborator Monty Budwig.

The group, in contrast to the ‘men’ of 1958, have remarkable shades of bebop and hard bop throughout these pieces. The group brings a muscular energy to “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise,” “Funny” and “My Secret Love,” and a distinct soulfulness on “Summertime.” Manne brought out singer Ruth Price who puts a high-spirited bounce onto the rhythm of “Surrey With The Fringe On Top” and returns in ebullient style for “Dearly Beloved” over Manne’s sympathetically swinging brushwork. Now aged 85, Price reflects fondly on her experiences with Manne: “It turned out he’s one of the best player I ever heard, but he does not read music and he doesn’t transpose very well. I got through the evening singing standards, but I don’t sing in the original keys. No women do. Hamp couldn’t do the transposition, so bassist Monty Budwig would just yell the changes to him in the key that I was singing in. That’s how we worked. It was a wonderful gig and I loved being there.”

The great drummer Jim Keltner summarizes Manne’s musical contributions well: “I would just say, whether you play drums or not, his era – when he was on top, with his bands – was such a great era. His sound, and his playing, and the music that he was involved with were all very accessible. Even though he was a bebop drummer and he played with bebop musicians, it was still very melodic. We all kind of went off with ‘Trane. When Coltrane hit – that’s another whole long story – it changed everything. We were never the same again after that. But the era of that West Coast cool jazz is still deep in my heart. That’s what people should get reacquainted with. Shelly Manne was one of the heads of that. He was one of the guys who helped create the West Coast school of cool jazz.”

Jazz lovers celebrate Shelly Manne for his contributions to the iconic west coast sound. The masterful arrangements and singular musicianship of Jazz From The Pacific Northwest presents Shelly Manne through a decidedly new lens – a world of sound that cannot be narrowly defined by a specific region or musical subgenre. Manne laid the foundation of precision, freshness, adventurousness, and openness that generations of musicians since have aspired to, and this release goes far to cement Manne’s posture as a true pioneer of the jazz artform. 

 

ABOUT REEL TO REAL:

Reel to Real is the archival recording imprint of Cellar Music Group. Co-founded by Cory Weeds and Zev Feldman in 2018, Reel to Real strives to uncover historically important, archival jazz works and make them broadly available in a variety of formats. Last July, Reel to Real’s release of Roy Brook’s Understanding was widely considered one of the top historical releases of the year with accolades from The New York Times, The New Yorker, JazzTimes, All Music Guide and others.

Track Listing:

Side A

 1. Stop Look and Listen 6:21 (R. Freed & G. Van Eps)

 2. The Vamps Blues 11:14 (C.  Mariano)

Side B

1. Suite: Quartet 17:53 (B. Holman)

Side C

1. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (S. Romberg, O. Hammerstein II) 10:12
2. Summertime 12:13 (G. Gershwin)
3. Dearly Beloved* 2:54 (J. Kern / J. Mercer)

 Side D

1. Funny 10:19 (H. Hawes)
2. My Secret Love 11:25 (S. Fain)
3. Surrey With A Fringe On Top* 3:14 (R. Rodgers / O. Hammerstein)

 

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