I got turned on to vibes player Peter Appleyard back in the late 70s while in an audiophile phase. I was buying up quad and direct-to-disc LPs because, now being in the aerospace community, I could finally afford a decent stereo and had tasted the heady delights of the best of all the sonic formats (and I'm still very partial to hi-fi). Thus Peter Appleyard Presents on the Salisbury Laboratory label, a direct-to-disc quad pressing of completely new cuts on white virgin vinyl, soon entered my eclectic collection. I was especially intrigued by his gently swingin' south of the border take on Ravel's adagio Pavane, there an unusual cross between Jobim and Doc Severinson.
The hard-to-find LP still rests nicely in my vaults and a few others of his have joined it over the years, but this Linus Records release is a special affair, a presentation of a lost gig well preceding Presents (Appleyard's been recorded since 1956 and recently appeared at the Toronto Jazz Fest with Dick Hyman in 2007 - I mean, holy cow, the guy was born in 1928 and still swings those mallets!), a 1974 session where he ushered into the studio an amazing band: Hank Jones on piano, Zoot Sims on sax, Slam Stewart on bass, Bobby Hackett on cornet, Mel Lewis on drums, and Urbie Green on trombone. Lord, lord, lord, how many great players wouldn't pawn their eyeteeth to cast such an ensemble? And the music reflects the august aggregate to the last jot and tittle. As Appleyard notes, it's really Benny Goodman's band, of which Pete was a prominent member, but the entire vibe shifts for him here.
This is a small big band, that much is evident, but when they cut loose, which they do often, it's the sort of jam session only jazz can produce. The date was entirely of standards, but, man o man, what they did to those gems, yow! More, you get live chatter between cuts as well, so it's like being right there in the studio. Though the ardent collector's mouth waters for that kind of esoterica, it's rarely trotted out. Whether moody and slow (But Beautiful, etc.) or swinging and bouncy, every track is like a museum piece…and then there's the bonus: after 50 minutes in the main format, 25 minutes of studio chatter and brief instrumental snippets ensue, more of that window into the human element beyond the art. The casual listener will probably be driven a bit buggy by it, but collectors and connoisseurs will be in seventh heaven. And to add the last tidbit of astonishment to everything, the entire gig was done in just 4 hours.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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