Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Max Bennett Plays

The follow-up recording for Max Bennett as a leader includes some sessions that were left off from his debut effort, and includes others from Los Angeles with a different band from the same year of 1955. Vocalist Helen Carr is included on two songs, trombonist Frank Rosolino, pianist Claude Williamson, and drummer Stan Levey contribute on the majority of the cuts, and alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano plays a larger role than on the previous date. This is a diverse effort in terms of instrumentation, a larger emphasis on standards, but retains more of a jam session feel. Two quartet leftovers from the first LP feature Carl Fontana playing strong and long during "Taking a Chance on Love" and "Sweet Sue," where he riffs on the melody. Pianist Dave McKenna is back in a boppish mood, stroking and stoking the coals for the fast "Blues" with Fontana in late, and the trio version of "S'posin'," with Bennett taking the lead. Alto saxophonist Charlie Mariano is featured up front in a way he was not heard on Bennett's first album. His post-Charlie Parker sound is vibrant and exciting during the strong and fleet "Rubberneck" which includes ex-Stan Kenton-ites as pianist Williamson and composer/trombonist Rosolino. This band also does Rosolino's "Just Max" as a feature for the bassist, they jump all over "Jeepers Creepers," and collectively wail on the super duper bop take of "Sweet Georgia Brown." This band is at a fever pitch not heard on the previous date, due to the driving swing of drummer Stan Levey, the excitable Williamson, and the fiery Mariano and Rosolino. Helen Carr, yet another alum of the Kenton bands, was not a well-known vocalist in the general scheme of things, but did release three of her own albums on the Bethlehem label in the mid-'50s. She has a sound that crosses through the thin vibrato of Billie Holiday, the nimble bite of Anita O'Day, and the silky smoothness of Helen Merrill. She's a slight bit flat, but pushes through "They Say" and shines during the ballad "Do You Know Why?" alongside Mariano's effervescent alto. At a time when both Mariano and Rosolino were at the peak of their powers, the tracks they are on would be well worth any jazz student's time and analysis. In the years to follow, Bennett would become a first call studio session electric bass guitarist for films, television, and with Tom Scott's L.A. Express. Both Max Bennett and Max Bennett Plays comprise substantial reminders of what a force the bass player was on the Southern California mainstream jazz scene. Both volumes come highly recommended, but one wonders why they couldn't have been packaged as a companion double-CD set. Timewise, they would fit, and the two recordings truly belong together.
Michael G. Nastos

Source :

Max Bennett


1 Rubberneck (Rosolino)  3:28
2 Just Max (Rosolino)  2:56
3 They Say (Heyman, Mann, Weiss)  3:08
4 Taking a Chance on Love (Duke, Fetter, LaTouche)  3:30
5 Sweet Sue (Harris, Young)  2:47
6 Jeepers Creepers (Mercer, Warren)  3:30
7 T.K. (Kahn)  2:27
8 I'll Never Smile Again (Lowe)  3:43
9 Do You Know Why (Burke, VanHeusen)  3:29
10 Blues (Bennet)  5:18
11 S'posin' (Denniker, Razaf)  2:31
12 Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Casey, Pinkard)  3:18


[# 1-3, 6-9 & 12]
Charlie Mariano - as
Frank Rosolino - tb
Claude Williamson - p
Max Bennett - b
Stan Levey - dr
Helen Carr - voc [# 3 & 9]
Recorded in Los Angeles ; January 27, 1955
[# 4, 5 10 & 11]
Carl Fontana - tb
Dave McKenna - p
Max Bennett - b
Mel Lewis - dr
Recorded in New York ; December 14, 1955.

See also


Bhowani said...

thank you mel, another gem!

micky said...

thank you so very much line up looks wonderful cant wait.

obelix said...

TY, great upload. :D

Cosmo Vitelli said...

Thank you. I love west coast jazz and did not know this session already

Larry said...

Thanks for all the old Bethlehem recordings -- so many treasures there!

rowgatien said...

Have mercy! This one is also unknown to me. Looks like a good set of tunes.

hulaboy said...

This is great - Charlie Mariano rules. Thanks!

rm said...

Thank you for Max Bennett, such a great lineup.

Kovina Kris said...

Thank of another MB opus. He really did play with some great cats on these 2 albums as leader. Thanks!

Albertito Jazz said...

Melanchthon: thanks for the last treasures.

palomeky said...

Maravilloso disco, grácias Mel.

Axel.T. said...

Thanks a million for this one Mel. Terrific line up of players.

rog said...

"Max Bennett Plays" is WONDERFUL ... a BIG Thank You Mel !

Prof. Yaffle said...

Thank you

Melanchthon said...

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Thank you very much

furnguy said...


Historicus said...

Thanks a lot!

Andreu Fàbregas i Borràs said...

Thank Mel you are the best.Andreu

Andreu Fàbregas i Borràs said...

Thank Mel you are the best.Andreu

daniel genovese said...


deGallo said...

Thank you!

Axel.T. said...

Thanks for this wonderful album of such great players during the West Coast Jazz era. Can't say thanks enough for all you have done here.
Best regards,

Fred Archtop said...

Thanks Mel. Great post for west coasters like me.

Gaetano Bevilacqua said...

thank you very much

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You