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Chas

Freddie Gambrell

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Kind of surprising that there has been no discussion on this board of this talented pianist . His first two World Pacific albums would be of interest to any piano jazz fan . The first is a trio date with Ben Tucker and Chico Hamilton , the second , a duet with Ben Tucker . Recording was done at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles in 1958 ( with superb sound engineering by Ralph Valentine ) .

Critical plaudits were many . John S. Wilson wrote that Gambrell has ,

" a very rhythmic , percussive style with an appealingly dark ,blues-bred texture and good structural sense . He swings powerfully at moderately fast tempos and on ballads reveals his derivations most clearly for he has a fondness for stating a melody with a wry , Monkian twist , for occasional splashes of Garner's ripe orchestral explosions , and for excursions into Tatum-like displays of facility " .

His third and final World Pacific date was a jazz interpretation of The Mikado , which I haven't heard , but which was panned by Downbeat .

We can only hope that Blue Note gives us a CD reissue of those first two World Pacific sides .

After revisiting this music recently , I went in search of information as to his present whereabouts . I discovered that he had continued in music , playing both piano and trumpet and recording under his birth name , Federico Cervantes . Sadly , at age 68 , he died in 2004 . His daughter has put together a nice tribute website for him , and is offering FREE CDs of his last recordings .

Please see : The Freddie Gambrell Memorial Website

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I played in his big band for awhile in San Francisco, 1968, I think. (20yo, tenor or alto).

As I remember, he had an Oscar Peterson style on piano and a hi note style on trumpet.

Nice large man, completely blind, but knew every note in his big band arrangements.

Perhaps all written by him.

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I played in his big band for awhile in San Francisco, 1968, I think. (20yo, tenor or alto).

As I remember, he had an Oscar Peterson style on piano and a hi note style on trumpet.

Nice large man, completely blind, but knew every note in his big band arrangements.

Perhaps all written by him.

Thanks for posting Flat5 .

Apparently the orchestra was a vehicle for Gambrell to showcase both his composing and arranging skills , as well as his work on several of the instruments he played . Do you remember any of the regulars , or players who passed through the band ?

I am familiar only with Gambrell's early piano work . Interesting player both rhythmically and harmonically . Good dynamic sense and very good time ; the kind of player who I imagine had little difficulty negotiating a solo recital . To get a sense of all this listen to the bravura performance of Yesterdays from his second World Pacific side .

If we think of Tatum as sui generis then the Gambrells , Petersons and Newborns of the world are each in their own way , epigones , and yet this in no way diminishes our esteem or enjoyment , because what really matters is that the musician swings . Gambrell swung .

Edited by Chas

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It was so long ago...I don't remember who was in the band. These guys were players I only in this band. Some were young college guys from Oakland. I think we rehearsed in the SF Musician's Union building.

I do remember Freddie sitting at the piano for fun before the rehearsal - while people were setting up. He really could swing on piano, in what I remember as an Oscar Peterson style.

For the big band, he stood in front or to the side and only played some hi note trumpet or solos.

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Well, I don't make any claims to any great expertise, but I have Gambrell's "Mikado" and I think it's terrific.

The reason I am even here is because I am in the process of converting my Mikado LP to a CD using the Cakewalk software--and I did a google search looking for a good pic of the album cover (my scanner is too small to get a full copy.)

I am open to hearing from anyone..............

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I've has success scanning the cover twice and using Paint Shop Pro to merge the two images.

For cleaning up wave files I've been using CoolEdit v1.2 since the early 1990s :-)

Good luck!

Edited by flat5

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I was hoping his albums would have made it to that Mosaic Select set of Pacific Jazz piano trios - seemed like a natural! (And there could have been room, considering not everything on there was a trio or originally on Pacific Jazz.)

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It's interesting — and revealing, in a good way — how googling the names of certain (usually obscure) jazz musicians will almost always yield a result to this forum. I've even googled a certain musician only to find a thread I'd started (and since forgotten about) here. :rolleyes:

I'm listening to Gambrell's second Pacific Jazz session right now. He sounds to me like a cross between Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner, when Garner's not using his locked-hands style. It's a solid session — nothing that bowls me over, but pleasant. I think I'm actually most attracted to it for the fact that it's a duo session. Ben Tucker's bass is well-recorded, and you can really follow his bass lines. It's available on disc for 1500¥, or, stateside, DG has it for $18.99.

post-282-1212504227_thumb.jpg

Edited by Late

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How's the "Introducing" session with Hamilton?

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I just found this very hard to find record on a Russian blog.

Forum rules probably don't allow me to be specific.

The Chico Hamilton Trio intr. Freddie Gambrell 1958

Freddie Gambrell, piano

Chico Hamilton, drums

Ben Tucker, bass

1 Lullaby of the Leaves

2 Recreation Blues

3 These Foolish Things

4 Ex-Ray's Friends

5 In the Still of the Night

6 You're the Cream in My Coffee

7 Midnight Sun

8 Five Minutes More

Freddie Gambrell could be described as an alternative to Cecil Taylor in terms

of extending the legacy of Art Tatum into postmodernism, the majority of his

peers choosing to cut and run as if a reader confronted with the first half of

this sentence. So much more alluring would be the combination of mysterious and

mundane details out of which came his relatively brief time in the spotlight, at

least by jazz standards. Blinded as a teenager, Gambrell mastered enough

instruments to humiliate even a multi-instrumentalist from Chicago's

Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He learned violin at 11,

later recorded on viola, was "introduced" to the public in the early '50s by

maestro Chico Hamilton as a pianist in the "blind genius" category, and also

played guitar, bass, and brass instruments from top to bottom. One of the

strangest things about Gambrell - which at the very least gives him something in

common with Garth Brooks and the suicidal phase of Phil Ochs - was his reinvention

of himself as Federico Cervantes, modern jazz trumpet player.

Year: 1958

Country:USA, World Pacific Records

Quality: APE + cover

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Just picked up his second date with Ben Tucker on a UK Vogue LP . Tucker really just walks the whole 2 sides.

Gambrell's a bit inconsitent in that he at times sound like a cocktail pianist trying to be bold with clever licks plonked into fairly routine playing. I like his originals the best but Porter's "Anything Goes" is pretty good. So a mixed bag, worth hearing but I wouldn't pay for an expensive Japanese edition etc.

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I've got several of those Freddie Gambrell Pacific Jazz Lps on Toshiba pressings. Will have to dig them out again.

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IIRC a review in Jazz Journal back in the 60s mistakenly referred to Gambrell as a woman!.. Presumably because of the cover art.

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Kind of funny that this thread would come (back) to life when the Vinnie Riccitelli thread is active. I got the Gambrell/Ben Tucker LP about the same time I got the Riccitelli LP. Haven't heard either in YEARS.

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The trio album with Chico Hamilton is great.

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