It seems almost incredible that there is not a surviving member of this 1969 all-star quartet. Ralph Sutton (1922-2001) was probably the greatest modern practitioner of genuine two-fisted stride piano. He filled the piano chair at Eddie Condon's for almost a decade and never lost his love of "his era." Sutton delivered his music with a youthful punch until the day he died. Ralph Sutton aged without getting old.
Dick Cary (1916-1994) was another fixture with Condon and recorded on trumpet, alto horn and piano. His piano style was reminiscent of Joe Bushkin. Cary was a great arranger and worked in that capacity for Jean Goldkette, Benny Goodman and Glen Gray's Casa Loma orchestra. As a player, he recorded with Eddie Condon, Bobby Hackett, Wild Bill Davison, Billy Butterfield, Joe Marsala and Barney Bigard. He was the original pianist with Louis Armstrong's 1947 All Stars.
Drummer Cliff Leeman (1913-1986) joined Artie Shaw in 1936, then went on to work with Tommy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet. His small group recordings with John Kirby, Don Byas, Ben Webster are appreciated by most jazz collectors while the traditionalists rave about his work with Condon, Davison and Sutton in the 50s.
Bassist Al Hall (1915-1988) earned his reputation within Teddy Wilson's 1938 small group and the 1939-40 big band. He later played with Mary Lou Williams, Ellis Larkins and the "bop" outfits of Kenny Clarke and Clyde Hart. He went on to a long association with singer Josh White. Together with ex-Ellington drummer Sonny Greer, he added a jazzy sound to the folk/blues singer's recordings and concerts. His later years were spent in New York with Doc Cheatham's traditional band.
The quartet was recorded in 1969 at Sunnie's Rendezvous
in Aspen, Colorado where Ralph Sutton made his home. Sutton and Cary don't waver in their delivery of thirteen jazz standards. These are all well-loved classics that paid the bills when the players were at their height of popularity. There are no surprises. Dick Cary alternates seamlessly between the trumpet and Peck horn. His trumpet style sometimes gives a "dip of the horn" to Wild Bill Davison and that's no sin! The rhythm players cook well together. Both Hall and Leeman get ample chances to show their solo abilities.
This CD becomes Number 7 in the Arbors Historical Series
and it's a winner all the way. Sound samples can be heard at the Arbors web site.