Saturday, February 2, 2019

Paul Horn: Plenty of Horn in the House of Horn

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

“Paul Horn — who, in Chico Hamilton's words, was a ‘man of many reeds and woodwinds’ — proves here that he was more concerned with playing music of differing emotional styles than he was in sticking to a certain, well-defined rut. There is constant change in this set; ebullience and restraint; soft, provocative swing and bucolic lushness. Everyone does extremely well, supporting and joining Horn in a variety of orchestral settings. Exceptional musicianship, fluidness, sensitivity and a thoughtful approach made these, Paul Horn's first recordings as a leader, a showcase of the range and the technical prowess of his playing.”
- Jordi Pujol, insert notes to Paul Horn Plenty of Horn

The title of this piece is derived from reed and woodwind player Paul Horn’s first two LPs as a leader on the Dot label  - Plenty of Horn [DLP 9002] and House of Horn [DLP 3091].

Both have been reissued as a double CD - Paul Horn Plenty of Horn [FSR CD 523] -  on Fresh Sound Records along with tracks from Paul’s Quintet September 15, 1958 appearance on the Stars of Jazz TV Show and his quartet’s part in a concert put on by Down Beat Magazine at Town Hall in NYC on May 16, 1958.

The LPs have been difficult to locate as they were originally issued in a very limited pressing so to have this music available again is a real treat.

You can preview excerpts from the 29 tracks that make up this CD 2-fer as well as locate order information on the Fresh Sound website by going here.

Paul Horn was born March 17, 1930, in New York City. Both his parents loved music. His mother, Frances Sper, was associated with Irving Berlin and was a well-known pianist and singer in Tin Pan Alley; his father, Jack Horn, gave Paul's career invaluable support. Paul began studying piano when he was four, but shelved that for the clarinet at eleven, and took up alto sax at thirteen. He played in the band and orchestra at high school, and took a Bachelor's Degree in Music at Oberlin College. He studied further at the Manhattan School of Music (with classmates including Max Roach, John Lewis and Julius Watkins) and earned his Master's Degree. After a term of military service Paul played with the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra (or nearly a year, where his skill on several reed instruments stood him in good stead). In September, 1956, Paul left the orchestra to join the Chico Hamilton Quintet, with which he achieved his greatest prominence, and was acclaimed as one of the most versatile reed players on the scene.

These recordings were Horn's first effort as a leader. He chose a variety of settings to present his considerable talents on flute, saxophone, and clarinet. His debut album "House of Horn" was recorded in September 1957, while Paul was still a member of Chico's quintet, and his efforts were highly praised by the trade papers. Metronome made a particularly fitting comment when they said "'s an album that's meant to be music, with styles falling where they may."

Early in 1958, Paul left the drummer's unit to become a freelance, and in April he recorded "Plenty of Horn," another stimulating and elaborated album, full of musical contrasts. The imaginative writing that pervades this 2-CD set is admirable, in both jazz and non-jazz contexts, in which all concerned turn in superior performances, with ample room for wailing too.

Horn contributed five originals (House of Horn, Pony Tale, To a Little Boy, A Parable, Blues for Tom), and three arrangements (Chloe, Yesterdays, Invitation) -, Allyn Ferguson arranged Day by Day, and composed A Soldier's Dream and the ambitious Moods for Horn, a compositionally sound, brassily exciting showcase for the reedman on alto sax (Effervescence), moody alto flute (Reminiscence), soaring piccolo (Exuberance) and clarinet (Ebullience). Fred Katz wrote three non-jazz pieces, The Golden Princess, Siddhartha, Romanze. but in The Smith Family, he revealed an abrupt switch in content and mood, with a guileless, down-on-the-farm line that swings off into a simple blues theme; Pete Rugolo arranged Sunday, Monday or Always and composed Interlude.

For Paul Horn, nominated by Playboy, Down Beat and Metronome magazines as one of the nation's top jazz musicians, this was obviously a worthy record debut.

The set is complemented with two appearances by the Paul Horn Quintet recorded during the TV show "Stars of Jazz" in Los Angeles, and a live performance at the Town Hall theater in New York, which was part of a concert organized by the "Down Beat" jazz magazine. For the latter, Paul Horn trekked east with bassist Don Bagley and they teamed with pianist Dick Katz and drummer Osie Johnson. This East/West quartet led by Paul Horn offered Give Me The Simple Life, a crisp and pulsing performance, and a moody rendition of Willow Weep For Me embellished by Horn's liquid-like variations.
-Jordi Pujol

The following are the unsigned original liner note; from the 12" album House of Horn Dot DIP 3091.

“As this album plainly indicates, Paul Horn is building a most impressive musical house. It rests, of course, on a solid foundation of academic training; appropriately for a House of Horn, the supporting members (he uses five here) are all of the woodwind family; and a formidable element in the structure is Paul's newly-revealed talent as a composer-arranger-leader. A versatile builder, this young man.

The five instruments Paul plays here are alto saxophone, clarinet, piccolo, flute, and alto flute. Actually he has mastered even more of the woodwinds, and one might well wonder why this diversity of effort. Paul's answer is quite clear: "There are emotions you can register on a flute," he points out, "that just wouldn't come off on, say, a piccolo or alto sax. Each has an individual sound. And I never feel satisfied with substitutes."

This discerning musical taste has made Paul his own sternest taskmaster.
Having postponed earlier opportunities to record a first Paul Horn album, he now presents this album's inventive, wide-ranging program with the confidence of someone who knows at last where he stands, an artist who has clearly defined his terms.

The acquisition of this musical identity, Paul feels, came about when he left the relative anonymity of the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra for the creative explorations of the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Though he credits every member of that group with stimulating help, Paul singles out Fred Katz (who, remarkably, works simultaneously as jazz cellist, classical cellist, and serious composer) as the most important influence of all.

"I live just two doors from Fred," he relates, "and we spend a great deal of time together. We talk about our kids, about politics, about people, places, and economics. But mostly we talk about music."

And, of course, they play music. The result, in both writing and performance, is an unusual amalgam of what most people call jazz and the classics, of improvisation and composition. To those who would ask what, really, to call his music, Paul has this reply:

"I think," he says, "that it's unfortunate when any music must carry a label.

"If a person begins to listen to music with preconceived notions of the category it ought to fall into, that person isn't giving himself or the music a fair chance.

"A musician has to satisfy his own musical desires and most of the time that can be difficult enough.

"In this particular case —in House of Horn— I'm doing what really satisfies me. I can't ask for more than that."

Three of the album's nine selections have been composed and arranged by Paul himself; for the six remaining, Paul has called on three superb young modernists, Fred Katz, Pete Rugolo, and Allyn Ferguson, to write a brace of selections each.

Pony Tale gives Paul a opportunity to demonstrate his amazing flute technique. He wrote the tune for his wife, who often ponytails her blonde tresses.

Day By Day is an Allyn Ferguson arrangement for a near-standard ballad. Horn's alto sax is set against cello, then bass, and finally against the string quartet. There are two notable drum passages in this tune, the drum being heard first with bass, then with piano.

A Soldier's Dream is another Ferguson work, an original composition based on a marching ballad of Civil War vintage. The theme is first stated m its marching context by Horn's piccolo and the drums. But Ferguson quickly brings guitar, vibes and piano into the picture and the proceedings take on a finger-snapping excitement. The addition of the string quartet fails to halt the rollicking, swinging feel which continues to the close. Shortly before the coda. Horn's piccolo and the drums again state the march theme while everyone else continues in the |azz groove. Another composer also utilized this theme with excellent results — listen to the final movement of Darius Milhaud's "Suite Provencale."

House Of Horn is another virtuoso flute performance designed by Paul. Except for a 16-bar establishment of tempo near the end, it is a completely improvised flute solo — and an amazingly minute detailing of Paul's capabilities on the instrument. He plays pensively, with gusto, uncovers an amazing vibrato and a consistently level double-tonguing of the flute; he even inserts a four-bar passage of very difficult flutter-tonguing.

The Golden Princess is a colorful musical picture painted by Fred Katz. Paul's flute works against a piano-vibes unison that creates a celeste-like pattern and there is a remarkable shuffling of twelve-tone figures near the halfway mark. Another mark of the keen Katz pen is noted in the vivid piano-flute-vibes counterpoint shortly before the close.

Sunday, Monday, Or Always almost fails to fall into the "standard" category with this reworking by Pete Rugolo's pen. Alto and guitar are most prominent here, and the cello blends nicely with both. Toward the end a little fugue-ish theme alternates between 2/4 and 4/4, creating an intriguing and eccentric movement.

To A Little Boy is Paul's third composition for this album and it is dedicated to his very young son. Marlen. Flute is spotlighted against string section, augmented by "chiming" vibes.

Siddhartha is a monumental composition for Paul's clarinet and string quartet. Using the twelve-tone system, Fred Katz has fashioned a work that ignites in flashing emotional fire between cello and clarinet. The scoring for the viola and twin violins is masterfully subtle. Near the conclusion there is a certain moroseness that suggests Alban Berg or Bela Bartok: Katz admits to heavy influence from both of these modern masters — an influence that in this case is solid and vital. Especially noteworthy are the enormous clarinet passages Paul plays here, passages made more remarkable by the fact they are almost all (80 percent, says Katz) total improvisation.

Interlude, an original composition by Pete Rugolo, belies its title by concluding the album, Rugolo employs Paul's alto flute, in company with cello and rhythm, for a melody that is wholly new, yet continues at each rehearing to sound mysteriously evocative.

The following are the unsigned original liner notes from the 12" album Plenty of Horn Dot DLP 9002 Paul Horn's recent album debut was select by Metronome magazine as "Best of the Month" in March 1958. This and other similar recognition constituted a challenge when it came to preparing a second album, for such an auspicious bow could hardly be followed by anything less than a notable encore. Paul Horn has met the challenge head-on in Plenty of Horn, in which there is, indeed, plenty of Paul—Paul playing flute, alto flute, piccolo, clarinet and alto sax; Horn set in trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and a brass choir; Horn composing; Horn arranging; Paul conducting. The cornucopia is bountiful with Paul Horn and friends in a wide range of moods and tempi.

The acknowledged virtuosity of the young woodwinder, who has since left the Hamilton group to freelance, is again evident in these well-charted courses, which this time wend their way almost exclusively through the realm of "jazz of the day-in-day-out variety." Romanze, by Fred Katz, is this album's only venture into the domain of atonality-sans-rhythm, but that is not to say that there exists any dearth of imagination; only that the beat continues throughout, solid and exciting.

One side is largely devoted to an ambitious jazz composition by Allyn Ferguson, Moods for Horn, each part of which frames a different Horn. Effervescence, for example, features Paul playing his alto sax with increased assurance and maturity, and with great drive. Reminiscence evokes a more appropriately lush mood for the contemplative sounds of his alto flute, while in Exuberance Paul and his piccolo engage in a rollicking romp. The moods are rounded out with Ebullience, which features both the clarinet and the alto sax. All four of these are cushioned, punctuated and enhanced by the brass choir, for which Ferguson has created a demanding score.

This balanced and rewarding second collection serves as a marker in the development of a talented man en route to his goal: consummate artistry in all the facets of jazz—as instrumentalist, composer, arranger, and judicious organizer. This development and the certainty of that goal are amply demonstrated here.”

Mention should be made of the many wonderful West Coast based musicians who accompany Paul on these recordings including drummers Chico Hamilton and Shelly Manne, guitarists John Pisano and Billy Bean, pianist Gerald Wiggins, vibraphonist Larry Bunker and bassist Red Mitchell.

I was particularly impressed with Paul Horn’s alto sax playing on these recordings, especially with the edginess of his tone and the fluid expression of his improvised ideas which all full of original phrases. It is regrettable that he would give up reed instruments in the later years of his career to concentrate almost exclusively on flute.

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