Monday, May 15, 2017

Mr. Roberts Plays Guitar

Howard Roberts was a very popular jazz guitarist on the cool west coast scene after he moved there in the mid-'50s. While approaching the popularity of Barney Kessel and the virtuosity of Joe Pass or Tal Farlow, Roberts was relegated to second division status, but remained a formidable and pleasing performer nonetheless. This reissue from the vaults of Verve and Intro records (officially his second effort as a leader) is structured in a manner where separate sessions from 1956 and 1957 are not programmed to be lumped together, but split up to hear the guitarist with strings, a flute, and double reed section, and help from tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper or vibraphonist Red Norvo. As a result, you hear different ensembles per track, showing a diversity of taste levels that Roberts employed. The four recordings with only strings sound tasteful and not overbearing, with bassist Red Mitchell adding exponentially to their high quality and class. "Serenata Burlesca" is surprisingly interactive, while the others are ballads, light and airy. Cooper sounds great on his three selections, witty and erudite, substantive and fluid, especially during the fleet bopper "Indiana" jousting with the pianist Pete Jolly, and in tandem with Roberts on the attractive "Jillzie." Of the two selections featuring the reed quartet, Jolly's bouncy piano informs the chamber like strings and woodwinds on the utterly delightful piece "The Innocents," and they congeal perfectly in harmonious refrains during "My Shining Hour." The cuts with Norvo are bonus tracks, and he is on four of the five even though attributed to only two. The guitar of Roberts scurries around Norvo on a great take of "Have You Met Miss Jones ?," while big chords from all of the front line instruments are used for "I've Got the World on a String," and the band romps fast and furious through "Sweet Georgia Brown." There's a lone trio tune, "Little Girl," featuring the expert brushwork and effortless quick-time bop approach of drummer Joe Morello, clearly at the top of his game. This is a fine effort from Roberts, and though the bulk of these tracks is highly arranged, the bonus tracks are not. They provide insight and contrast into the kind of versatile jazz musician Howard Roberts was becoming.
Michael G. Nastos

Source :

Howard Roberts
Plays Guitar


1 Seranata Burlesca (Marshall)  3:06
2 I Hear a Rhapsody (Baker, Fragos, Gasparre)  4:32
3 The Innocents (Montrose)  4:39
4 Ah Moore (Cohn)  2:37
5 (Back Home Again in) Indiana (Hanley, MacDonald)  4:22
6 Indian Summer (Dubin, Herbert)  2:23
7 Jillzie (Roberts)  7:10
8 My Shining Hour (Arlen, Mercer)  2:15
9 Polka Dots and Moonbeams (Burke, Van Heusen)  3:40
10 An Orchid for Miss Sterling (Friedhoffer)  3:24
11 Little Girl (Hyde, Henry)  2:46
12 A Ghost of a Chance (Young, Washington, Crosby)  4:24
13 Have You Met Miss Jones ? (Rodgers, Hart)  3:03
14 I've Got a World on a String (Arlen Koehler)  3:10
15 Sweet Georgia Brown (Casey, Bernie, Pinkard)  2:28


[# 1, 4, 6 & 10]
Howard Roberts - g
Red Mitchell - b
Alvin Stoller - dr
String quartet & quintet
Recorded at Radio Recorders, Hollywood, California ; October 22, 1956
[# 3 & 8]
Herb Geller, Don Davidson, Harry Klee, Bob Cooper - rds
Pete Jolly - p
Howard Roberts - g
Bob Bertaux - b
Alvin Stoller - dr
String section
Recorded same place as above ; November 9, 1956
[# 2, 5, 7 & 9]
Bob Cooper - ts [out # 9]
Howard Roberts - g
Pete Jolly - p
Bob Bertaux - b
Bobby White - dr
Recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood ; January 17, 1957
[# 11-15] Bonus tracks
Red Norvo - vb
Howard Roberts - g
Gerry Wiggins - p [out # 12]
Ben Tucker - b
Joe Morello - dr
Recorded at Western Recorders, Hollywood ; January 3, 1957

Set will satisfy many variations in taste within jazz circles and extend beyond to listeners of other pursuasions. Various contexts are utlized to support Roberts in his solo album premiere — string quartet, woodwind quartet, etc. Roberts, aided by arrangements and compositions by J. Montrose, M. Paich, B. Holman, etc., explores main-stream jazz, synthesis of jazz with classical techniques, even Spanish folk material, and is excellent.
The Billboard, May 13, 1957


lcbriza said...

Thanks, Melanchthon. This is a real classic.

analog said...

Thank you! I love the HR stuff! Any chance you have Equinox Express Elevator?? Great site, thanks again!

yewsta said...

Thank you.

Scoredaddy said...

great personnel and superb selections. thanks again Mel.

jpo said...

awesome-- yes, any OOP HR would be sweeeeeet

justjack said...

Melanchthon, thank you. I know it's not so recent any more, but still I really enjoy Howard Roberts, and the side men on this disc are primo. I look forward to listening to this.

I also wrote because I wanted to note that the cover picture is backwards! Check out the guitar; Roberts wasn't lefthanded, was he?

Melanchthon said...

I did not pay attention to this, justjack, you're "right" !

bluebird said...

Many thanks for this HR Melanchthon. Look forward to hearing it. Best wishes.

cvllos said...

Thank you, Melanchthon, once more!
Links still active, thanks heavens!!!
Too many splendid guys on this recording!

Pernath said...

Thank you, Mel. Great Line-up.

deGallo said...

Thank you for HR. Great player.

Prof. Yaffle said...

Thank you

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

AmyBRAINS said...

Many thanks, Melanchthon.

Geoviki said...

Thanks for keeping this alive for us latecomers.

ProfessorCalculus said...

Simply...many Thanks

jazzcat1228 said...

Thank you, Mel!

Melanchthon said...

Kovina Kris said...

Thank you Mel! I can never get enough of the great guitar players and this is a nice upgrade for me.

tdelyon said...

Thanks, Mel :)