Jump to content

Charlie Ventura


Recommended Posts

Guess there´d been some comments on him in different threads, but I would like to know AGAIN your opinion about this controversial tenorist.

I must recognize my only Ventura is on JATP set (where his playing sometimes can be called "for the gallery" or "for the masses" with all its tricks and tics, but includes very good solos) and in some Gene Krupa with Anita O´Day recordings... ah, and in some Lennie Tristano sides, too!

Any comments??? Favorite recordings???


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by EKE BBB

and in some Lennie Tristano sides, too!


Ventura & Tristano... the only recordings together were Overtime and Victory Ball from the metronome allstars of 49. Recordings generally that show up in Miles, Diz or Parker collections ( other than "Poll Winner" type sets)

What else do you have featuring the two of them. Ventura's style was certainly not suited to Tristano type arrangements.

As for my opinion on Charlie... I will reserve it... wouldn't want to be too persausive


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I first encountered Charlie Ventura when I was a teenager and heard him on the JATP sides, especially with the Krupa Trio. One of the very first 12"LPs I ever bought was his 1949 Live Concert recording.. the famous Pasadena Concert, and this sold me on Charlie, as well as Conte Candoli, Boots Mussulli, Benny Green, and Jackie and Roy! I am surprised that no-one has mentioned this recording, because it is IMHO one of the most enjoyable of all live concert recordings in the history of modern jazz .. "BOP FOR THE PEOPLE," indeed! It holds up amazingly well today, and the genuine excitement in the audience is quite palpable. And now through the generosity of the Proper Box people, both halves of the concert are available in one place ... still essential listening. For the price, I would recommend the 4-CD Proper Box set as a great way to appreciate Ventura in all of his facets.. he has been vastly neglected in the evolution of modern jazz.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have the Mosaic box myself, because I like those Norgran sides Ventura and Phillips did (I once owned a 10" Collates" Norgran for both artists), but given that these Proper Boxes can be purchased for anywhere from $16-$21, I would highly recommend it ... and the other Proper Boxes too as either primary or as "automobile" albums .. ..

The one thing wonderful about the Proper set is that it exposed me lots of new things I had never heard before, like his sides for National and Black & White. I love "discovering" stuff like this, featuring then young lions like Charlie Kennedy, Red Rodney, Tony Scott, Billy Bauer, Clyde Lombardi, Bill De Arango, Bill Harris, Ralph Burns, Kai Winding, Shelly Manne, etc. etc. .. a whole pantheon of modern jazz's "up-and-comers.." So .. for less than $20 a wonderful trip down forgotten byways during that fascinating era on the cusp of bop.. 1945-47.

My advice -- go for it! While there is some overlap with the Mosaic set, it is less than one CD's worth, and the final disk has the complete Pasadena 1949 concert in one place for the very first time ....

Joop Visser's excellent notes in the Proper Box note that "Charlie was hyped by the jazz critics as a true apostle of bebop, while in fact Charlie was a swing musician with a big sound and great technical skill, who in reality was the odd one out in his own Bop For The People combo." A realistic assessment I would suggest ....



Link to comment
Share on other sites

O. K. just for EKE,

Charlie Ventura does not rate high in the ranks of Jazz tenor saxophonists that I like to listen to. No doubt he could play his instruments.. tenor and baritone… he recorded on Bass sax about five times , which hardly makes him a promoter of that instrument.

He recorded some “nice” solos, but rarely a “great” one. If someone would like to reference a “great” Ventura solo, I’d be glad to pull it of my shelves and give it another listen.. Ventura played to the crowd too much for me. Not necessarily in the Honking , squealing dept. but in general terms.. for example his overplaying and over emphasis of tunes like Dark Eyes.

To some extent, he was the Kenny G of the Bebop era.. perhaps a bit of a stretched analogy, but his Bop for the People was little more than an attempt to popularize something that would never really be popular . ( If you think the Kenny G analogy is a stretch.. I was going to compare his playing to Eddie Murphy’s toilet humor in his latest movie.. Day Care Daddy)

Most of the time he catered to the lowest common denominator, as does Kenny,( and Murphy) and as a result produced little of staying value in his own performances. .

Such comments of course only count on how you visualize your interest in jazz. If you see it as an art form, then these comments may have substance. If you see it purely as entertainment, then ..hell yes…. Ventura is right up there.

Please don’t get the idea that I only listen to Jazz for “intellectual” stimulation.. far from it most times its to get my feet moving and have me jumping round the house. But in the long run..Jazz to me is an Art Form and I rank the artists accordingly.

Ventura rates with Keane’s big eyed kids.. if you remember them.. or perhaps Rodriguez Blue Dog paintings.

Fortunately he had the insight to hire some excellent musicians a long the way. Bennie Green, Conte Candoli, Boots Mussulli.. Jackie and Roy. I buy Ventura records for the sidemen, not for Charlie himself, and yes these I feel represent his best period.

After the Bop for the People group fell apart, Ventura produced little of lasting value. His work with the Gene Krupa Trio veers close to vulgarity ( Eddie Murphy again).. however as I tried to point out above.. I’m occasionally up for a dirty joke, and a bit of Jazz vulgarity.

His later recordings, quintets with Billy Bean/ Richard Davis / Mousey Alexander and a piano player .. are OK.. again nothing special

Once again, all jazz does not have to be “spectacular” if you enjoy something more power to you, enjoy it

But Kenny G sells a lot of records, and I’m sure that the Eddie Murphy movie was very popular with a large segment of the population.

The above post requires liberal does of “grinners”.. if you can’t figure out where they should be… oh well…..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glad to hear some positive comments for Mr. Ventura!!!! In the past, folks have pointed out that he was , gasp a tenor player who was a show-off and pandered to his audience!!! :o I have read the words vulgar next to his name more than once. I just go for the music, and it sounds like that is the way most feel here on the board! :tup

Another enthusiastic comment for the Proper set! And if you like that enough, don't forget the Krupa Proper with many Ventura solos as well....

Oh, and the Live at the Three Deuces volumes 1 and 2 are kick ass!!! Bill Harris and Charlie Ventura were excellent together, since both were quite vulgar!!!! ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He's not one of my favorites. I have the Mosaic and quite enjoyed the Phillips. Ventura was ok. Yes, I agree he was a good saxophonist but not much more than that. I once had the Pasadena concert and that didn't do much for me, especially Jackie and Roy. Not my cup of tea. Someone mentioned the Three Deuces material. Volume One is the best. Ventura is actually pretty good there but if you're going to get it, get it for Bill Harris, one of the underrated masters of the trombone, in my opinion. That was also a highlight of the Mosaic: Bill Harris.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the advantages of being in bed with some fever and a hell of cold: I started listening to my Ventura / Phillips Mosaic! I head none of the Phillips stuff before, the Ventura maybe two or three times.

Generally, I like him well. He get's a nice sound on all his horns, the bands are playing some good arrangements. I would not need the vocal-backing on that one session, Ms McCall, though, is good for my ears.

My favorite sessions would be the quartet dates with Napoleon and Hank Jones, as well as the last date in the box, the one featuring a larger band and some very good playing by all.

I would not say I like the music for the sidemen only - though many of them do deliver very good work. I enjoy the way Ventura handles the material on hand. Maybe he is a little bit vulgar from time to time, but, so is life... Seriously, I like it a lot!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...