Jazz Club #1 : The Melrose Avenue Conservatory Chamber Music Society – Blow Hot, Blow Cool

Release on Brunswick in the UK, in 1956, label number LAT 8110, it was originally release by Decca in the US in 1955, DL 8130

The promo record is single sided and is matrix number MG 4092-1B and is the B side (Blow Cool) from the MACCMS. It’s not a collectable album as such and copies go for less than £5 on discogs. The promo came as part of the ‘promo box’ acquired in Haverfordwest in 2019 and the Jazz Club series will look to research and discover some of the treasures it contained.

It’s a period form of jazz from the mid 50’s with some experimentation and is a good listen; ground breaking it’s not.

From the sleeve notes:

As the title of this album would indicate, you are in for both some hot and some cool moments. The fact that Herbie Fields and his Sextet have been appointed the group representing the hot side and TMACCMS has been appointed the cool propounders doesn’t necessarily end there because for some happy reason Herbie Fields and his Sextet have some very cool moments, indeed, and the boys from Melrose, as you will notice, leap in a very warm manner. 
Be Assured that there is not a battle of the bands planned or to be assumed here. This is no hot versus cool sound dual. Rather, it is more like a formula for getting things to just the right taste. This is one of those dates where you know (even if you don’t know) that a lot of hard work has gone before…arranging work, scoring, or to make it sound easier, scratching out a chart, writing a few originals, thinking up new ways of saying old familiar things, selecting musicians with compatible ideas and compassion for one another and then hoping fervently that instruments, studios, musicians and their respective chops will all be in the best possible condition for the date. 
Whatever came out of this date came through work and persistance and there were some experiments tried that paid off, as you will hear. The serious student of contemporary music, however, will find no revolutionary upset in the musical concept. But, at the same time, he shouldn’t expect to get ‘knocked out’ or to hear a ‘new sound’ every time he puts the needle to the groove. It’s impossible. But the groups here have assimilated some interesting sounds and provided quite a few pleasurable moments. 
That can sometimes be more important than the other. 
About the Music: 
“No Word Blues”… is really one of the nicest things in this set because it immediately gives a most relaxed, pleasant kind of smoky-blue feeling. This is largely due to Marcy Lutes who sings, wordlessly, and to the ebulliance of the Herbie Fields clarinet. This you will play more than once. 
“The Lady is a Tramp”… is a highly revamped lady swinging along animatedly. This is the real “blow hot” portion of the album and you will hear some easy-listening guitar by Rudy Cafaro. 
“Baltimore”… is a swinging easy-groove opus, with shades of a shave and a haircut — two bits. Unison solidly but lightly shuffling gives this a pleasant nudging direction. Peter Compos on bass gets a little taste near the end but is subdued by somebody, probably Bart Varsalona on trombone. 
“Nutcracker Swing”… borrows a few leaves from the Tchaikovsky book, especially “Waltz of the Flowers,” which gets wrapped up into a modern corsage. Even a touch of Dixieland is thrown in and Peter Ilyitch might even be grooved by this one. 
“St. Louis Blues”… gets a real funky treatment by Herbie Fields with some bucket-type clarinet and a very driving rhythm: the effect being a dance-stimulating effect. 
“Makin’ Whoopee”… the last of the grooves, is a robust version of the tune, the celebrants managing each to be heard in the revelry. It’s a whoopee loud and long and human. 

“I’m Forever Counting Geigers”… is an original by Marty Paich, who also played piano on the session. It’s a very happy little thing that seems to jump off in all directions but has the necessary amount of cohesiveness to be well held together. It’s faintly reminiscent of Chopin’s Minute Waltz. The unison work contributes greatly to the enjoyment of the tune, and the soloists, in order of appearance, are “Bert Herbert,” alto sax; Bob Gordon, baritone sax; Jack Montrose, tenor sax; Stu Williamson, trumpet; and Marty Paich on piano. 
“Id”… is an original by John Graas whos “Jazz Studio 3” (Decca DL 8104) has just been released. Soloists involved are “Herbert,” Gordon, Williamson, Montrose, Collette, and Paich plus the efforts of Chico Hamilton on drums and Curtis Counce on bass. 
“Skip to my Loot”… is another Marty Paich arrangement of the standard, “Skip to My Lou.” Marty’s Piano establishes the theme contemplatively and tenderly at the beginning and then the saxophone quartet comes in up tempo. From then on it’s each man for himself in this order: “Bert Herbert,” alto; Jack Montrose, tenor; Stu Williamson, trumpet; and Bob Gordon, Baritone Sax. Marty Paich comes back on piano to return the original form to you undamaged in any respect. 
“Speak Easy”… is an original by Jack Montrose. It is most easily the type of music that lets your imagination create a choreographic pattern. It’s possibly the most interesting arrangement in the group and seems embued with a Kenton element. However, it goes its own way. Heard on the side are Montrose, Gordon, “Herbert,” Williamson, and Paich with the addition of tenorman Buddy Collette. 

Blow Hot – Blow Cool will, I’m sure, give you a taste of temperature, humidity, tempo and satisfaction. No more could be asked of any recording. 

– Al “Jazzbo” Collins

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