Sunday, May 3, 2015

Son of Gunn!! Shelly Manne and His Men Play More Music From Peter Gunn

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Given the success of the Peter Gunn television series, Henry Mancini's scores for that refreshing detective story, and Shelly Manne's freewheeling adaptation of the music, it was inevitable that Manne would do a follow-up to his well-received Shelly Manne and His Men Play Peter Gunn (OJCCD-946-2).

Only five months elapsed between Manne's recording the first album and Son of Gunn!! [OJCCD 1105-2], but his band had undergone significant changes. Trumpeter Conte Candoli and alto saxophonist Herb Geller moved on, to be replaced by Joe Gordon and tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca, giving the front line a different character. What did not change was the quality of the music and the zest with which the quintet played it.

Again using Mancini's themes and harmonies as points of departure, Manne and his men created fresh performances that stood — and stand — on their own. Mancini encouraged their free interpretations and was delighted with them, as listeners have been ever since.

Lester Koenig added these insights into the making of Son of Gunn!! Shelly Manne and His Men Play More Music From Peter Gunn in these excerpts from his insert notes to the sequel:

“The record business in the United States during the first half of 1959 was taken over by Peter Gunn, that suave, Brooks Brothers-suited private eye who digs jazz. The Henry Mancini music from the TV program was the No. 1 best-selling popular album, and Ray Anthony's record of "The Peter Gunn Theme" was the best-selling single in the country.

Shelly Manne, longtime friend and admirer of Mancini, has been the regular drummer on the Peter Gunn show since the latter part of 1958. This, of course, is in addition to Shelly's activities as leader of his own famous jazz group. As a result of his association with Mancini, Shelly and His Men recorded their own best-selling version of the Mancini music for Contemporary in January 1959 (M3560 and stereo S7025; OJCCD 946-2). When Mancini came up with a new set of compositions based on his score for the TV show, it was inevitable that Shelly would record them as well.

When Shelly first thought of doing the Peter Gunn music, Mancini urged him to feel free to change the original conceptions in any direction Shelly felt he wanted to go. In fact, in both Shelly's first album and in this one, Shelly and The Men use Mancini's compositions as points of departure for their own highly personal interpretations. A comparison of each track in this album with the corresponding track in Mancini's album might prove an interesting demonstration of "jazzmen at work" for the jazz fan or critic.

The Manne approach differs from Mancini's in two basic ways: (1) all the performances are completely improvised, where Mancini wrote arrangements, and (2) the use of the six-piece group (instead of Mancini's large band) allows for more extended jazz blowing. Working from lead sheets (melody line and chords), The Men explored various ways of treating each Mancini original, and once the general approach and routine were agreed upon, the performance was spontaneous, with, usually, the first or second take used.”

The following video features the band of Goofin’ At The Coffee House from Son of Gunn!! as set to images of Beatniks - remember those?

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