Live at the Roosevelt Grill is recorded in Manhattan. In its trendy and beautiful setting, Bobby Hackett played a stint here during the year 1970. What we have here is a live recording by the Chiarscuro Label; it is the fourth release of Hackett and this sextet. This is an album with a program in relaxed and enjoyable swing.
Hackett was from a musical family. He could play several instruments like the violin and guitar. Hackett played guitar in his early years but he had a preference for the cornet and performed with it throughout his career save some performances with Glenn Miller when he had dental problems and was forced to use the guitar. It was with Miller that he would perform his most memorable number, "A String of Pearls," on cornet. His solo was transcribed and he became identified with this hit tune. He, then, had a successful collaboration, during the 50’s, with comedian, Jackie Gleason, who employed him and used that "butter" tone to great effect. Gleason’s mood music albums, rich in orchestration, were big hits for himself and Hackett. Hackett could do no wrong as he also recorded two terrific sessions with trombonist, Jack Teagarden, which was released under the trombonist’s name as: Jazz Ultimate and Coast Concert.
This album comprises tunes from the Great American Songbook. Hackett and trombonist, Vic Dickenson had been touring in America during the late 60’s until Hackett landed the engagement at the Roosevelt Grill with this line up. They put together an album of swingers, ballads, Brazilian numbers, and my personal favorite, Henry Mancini’s Mr. Lucky. All selections are delivered with a nice groove in that after-hours type of appeal. Hackett plays like no other in that warm and buttery tone. There are nice solos by pianist, Dave McKenna, and trombonist, Vic Dickenson. Bassist, Jack Lesberg and drummer, Cliff Leeman, provide solid backing. Lacking in this set are the "Chicago Style" rompers that he has typically been associated.
Hackett has been a favorite with vocalist. He has worked with Lee Wiley, Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett. "I left My Heart in San Francisco," is Bennett’s signature tune. The ballad is played almost entirely by Hackett, save a few bars by McKenna. He pays homage to the Big Apple with, "Autumn in New York" and "Manhattan."
All the music is presented without fanfare and without décor. It simply swings. Only the recording which gives the sextet a slightly detached and muddy sound detracts from the overall appeal of the album. Out of print since its release, on vinyl, it makes a welcomed return on compact disc. And with the longer playing time of the digital format, the disc includes three gems previously unreleased for your listening pleasure.