Ted Sommer and Bill Lavorgna – Cole Porter in Pleasing Percussion

Today’s record which was $6 brings together to favorites of this blog, Cole Porter and percussion.  An added bonus is the promise of organ on the cover.  A bit on the pricey end, but this is the way things are post-2017.  If you have not heard, I moved by upper spending bound from $5 to $8.

I am continually amazed from doing this blog of the span and reach of Cole Porter’s music.  He was truly one of America’s greatest song writers and perhaps one of the greatest of all time.  It is hard to accurately place one on an infinite line of tine and space.

Ted Sommer, born in New York City in 1924, is a jazz drummer who worked with such greats and blog guests as Dick Hyman and Terry Synder as well as Zoot Sims, the inspiration for the Muppet’s Zoot.

Bill Lavorgna, born in Patterson, NJ in 1933, was best known for his work as a musical director on Broadway.  A Korean war vet, upon return he worked with such greats as Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Dizzy Gillespe, and Frank SInatra.  Lavorgna past on in 2007 at the age of 74.

The Lowrey Organ, made by Fred Lowrey in Chicago, was the most popular brand of organ in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Lowrey made it’s one millionth organ in 1989.  Also apparently, Chicago is the hotbed for organs as the Hammond was invented there as well.

Well, here they are on this album which features the skills of both men pitted against the illustrious work on Porter. I am not sure what year this came out.  I am guessing late 60’s.  It was released on budget label Pickwick under the Grand Prix Series.  Decent enough album.  Pretty good light jazz interpretations of popular Porter songs.  Nice little organ parts as well as good percussion breaks.  Songs include favorites such as “I Love Paris”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, and “It’s D’Lovely”.  However, for a sample, I went with “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” as I feel it capitulates everything this record was trying to do, which it largely accomplishes for the most part.


Manny Albam & Ernie Wilkins- The Drum Suite

dscn5276-800x790This was a pricey one at $4.00.  It looked interesting enough.  Somehow, I can not get away from those jazz drum albums. I also think that I had just seen Whiplash around the time of this purchase.

Manny Albam
Manny Albam
Ernie Wilkins




I realize that jazz drum albums are not everybody’s cup of tea.  This album, released in 1956, features six movements written expressly for drummers.  However, this is far from an album of just drum solos.  The songs are led by the orhestra with extended drum breaks.  The band leaders on this, Manny Albam and Ernie Wilkins were both sax men who took up arranging and composing.  The drummers on this record are Osie Johnson, Gus Johnson, Teddy Sommer, and Don Lamond, all accomplished in the world of jazz.  These men are also all dead today.

O Johnson
O Johnson
G Johnson
G Johnson

The Allmusic review states that this album is free of gimmicks and I can agree with this. Although it is a drum-centric album, in my mind, the drums do not steal the show. It is pretty much a straight jazz album. Albam and Wilkins’ arrangements are the star here.  dscn5277-800x796

Link to Allmusic Review.

Anyway, for a sample, I went with the last movement “The Octopus” which features all the drummers together at the beginning and the end of the movement.donlamond_leetanner

This is a decent record but I was really hoping for a more gimmicky, solo driven record with less horns and more drums.  And although they succeeded in producing a good album that was not drum overkill, well perhaps I am that minority that was looking for overkill. Meh for me.


ST/ Tatum-Hampton-Rich

DSCN4504This was $2.40.  It was recommended to me by some random stranger I met at the Half Price Books on FM529.  Anybody who knows me knows how much I love talking to strange men.  But somehow, instead of the normal ignoring routine that I do, we chatted for a bit.  We talked a bit about Buddy Rich’s brutal treatment of musicians and his influence on certain Seinfeld‘s lines.  We also spoke a bit about Ray Price, who was a roommate of the stranger’s father for a period.  At first I was dead set against buying this record, because I am not going to get something because someone I do not know suggested I should.  But after looking at it for awhile, I decided it looked pretty good.  I was also looking at the time for an outlet for two of my Buddy Rich stories.812215

Link to earlier Rich album with the two stories including his link to Seinfeld.


This album was originally released in 1955 by Clef Records.  This version I posted is a re-release by Verve.  It features the work of three geniuses in their fields; the vibraphone of Lionel Hampton, the piano of Art Tatum, and the drums of Buddy Rich.  Tatum would die a year after this recording.  Art-tatum

All members are in good form on this album and it is a really good jazz collection.  Songs like “Perdido”, “Hallelujah”, and Cole Porter’s “What is This Thing Called Love” really swing.  As stated above, I got this originally as an outlet for some Rich stories I had, but I felt that the album really highlighted more of Hampton and Tatum.  Rich was keeping the beat in a supporting role rather than offering flashy fills.  And perhaps, that is exactly what this album needed and why Rich is one of the greats.DSCN4505

I thought “Hallelujah” was a better song, but for a sample, I wanted to use something that showcased all three.  Therefore, here is “How High The Moon” which has what I can recall the only drum solo Rich does on the album.buddyrich500999

Top Rated Record. This is an excellent jazz album.

VA-The Soul of Jazz Percussion

DSCN4336This was on the high end at $5.00.  I got it at a record convention.  It looked really good.Shelly_Manne

In fact, it is real good.  This album is a compilation of jazz drummers from the 1950’s.  It was released in 1962 on Riverside Records.  It features such luminaries as Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Albert Heath, and Philly Joe Jones.DSCN4338

I known what you are thinking. This is an album of just drum solos.  Not quite.  Only Roach and Philly Joe are allowed unaccompanied solos.  The rest of the songs have drum solos but are accompanied by a band.  Copies of this are on sale on Ebay in the $20 range so it looks like I may have arbitraged this album.  That is if I wanted to sell it because I think it is a pretty good album.philly-joe-by-dennis-stock

For a sample, I wanted to spotlight Philly Joe Jones.  Philly Joe born and died in Philadelphia.  He played in what can be called arguably, Miles Davis’ “first great” quartet.  Davis would state several times during his career that Jones was his favorite drummer.  He also played with Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, and Chet Baker among others.  He also led his own band from time to time.  Philly Joe died in 1985 at 62 from a heart attack.

Bio from Drummerworld.com

So here from Philly Joe Jones is an accompanied and unaccompanied drum solo.philly-joe-jones

Top Rated Album.