Richie Cole – West Side Story (1996) [Japan 2017]
SACD Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 51:44 minutes | Front/Rear Covers | 2,08 GB
or FLAC 2.0 (converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/48 kHz | Front/Rear Covers | 654 MB
On this enjoyable release, bebop altoist Richie Cole performs seven of the main themes from West Side Story, plus his own complex “West Side Blues.” Cole teams up with his longtime guitarist Vic Juris, pianist Lou Forestieri, bassist Ed Howard, drummer Tommy Campbell and veteran percussionist Ray Mantilla to give the familiar melodies his “alto madness” treatment, being respectful of the themes while stretching out. Highlights include “America”, “Maria” and “Tonight”.
Richie started playing alto saxophone when he was 10 years old in his home town of Trenton, New Jersey. Influenced by Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, Cole’s talent and dedication won him a full scholarship from Downbeat Magazine to the Berklee School of Music in Boston. His professional career began in 1969 when he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band. And after stints with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Doc Severinsen Big Band, Cole formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own “Alto Madness” style in the ’70s and early ’80s. Cole has performed and recorded with the great vocalese artist Eddie Jefferson, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Enriquez, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Boots Randolph, and Nancy Wilson, to name just a few of his musical collaborations. Notably, Cole has performed at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall as well as given a command performance for the Queen of England.
This is a winner, not only for Cole’s bubbly bebop alto saxophone but also for the imaginative sextet arrangements and the revival of Leonard Bernstein’s score that includes ‘Something’s Coming, ‘ ‘Maria,’ ‘I Feel Pretty,’ ‘Tonight’ and others. Ray Mantilla’s percussion adds the necessary Latin flavor to the performances. The predominant melody sound is Cole’s alto in unison with Vic Juris’ guitar an octave lower. But sometimes there is three-part counterpoint among Cole, Juris and pianist Lou Forestieri. Bassist Ed Howard and drummer Tommy Campbell complete this excellent, larger-than-life combo. Percussion introduces ‘America,’ whereas ‘Something’s Coming’ emerges from contrapuntal lines. Cole treats the ballads ‘Maria’ and ‘Somewhere,’ strong melodic tunes, to worthy improvisation-passionate but not overdone. For the finale, the group plays ‘West Side Blues,’ a Cole original that incorporates snippets of Bernstein’s melodies into its own groove.
01. Something’s Coming
04. I Feel Pretty
05. Cool & Jet Song
08. West Side Blues
Richie Cole – alto saxophone
Vic Juris – guitar
Lou Forestieri – piano
Ed Howard – bass
Tommy Campbell – drums
Ray Mantilla – percussion
Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Tetsuo Hara. Engineered by Troy Halderson.
Recorded on March 28-29, 1996 at Clinton Studio ‘B’ in New York.
Venus Hyper Magnum Sound Direct Mix. VENUS Japan # VHGD-253.