I've been extremely busy for the past few months, and at such times the majority of my listening occurs while driving. This week the sounds of Abbie Brunies' Halfway House Orchestra have been reverberating around my car (and my brain).
I could go on at great length about the wonders these twenty two recordings contain, but I'll keep such self-indulgence to a minimum and limit myself to just three of my favourite moments.
1. Leon Rappolo and Charlie Cordella's duet on 'Pussy Cat Rag':
This record steams along with remarkable rhythmic energy and aesthetic integrity, but the highlight for me is hearing the tragic genius Leon Rappolo (alto sax) and his protege Charlie Cordella (tenor sax) collaborate on a sax duet that is a true masterpiece of collaborative improvisation.
2. Sidney Arodin's clarinet solo on 'Just Pretending':
The later sessions by the Halfway House Orchestra feature a 'sweeter' sound at times, which makes for a delightful contrast between sugar-coated melodies and sunnily optimistic hot solos. The elusive Sidney Arodin reaches a pinnacle of creativity in his solo here. I marvel at his warm, open tone and relaxed phrasing.
3. Chink Martin and Joe Loyacano on 'Wylie Avenue Blues':
Slap bass and hot alto sax make a dynamic combination, one that occurs frequently throughout recorded music from the late 1920s. Chink Martin (bass) and Joe Loyacano (alto sax) collaborate here with infectious enthusiasm.
I highly recommend Jazz Oracle's CD release of the complete recordings of the Halfway House Orchestra!