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Jazzman Shorty Rogers And Group Aired Live From The Biltmore Hotel

March 05, 1987|LEONARD FEATHER

Shorty Rogers, one of the most recorded jazzmen of a generation ago, has been making a comeback in recent years. Friday, he brought a big band to Donte's; Tuesday, he led a quintet in the first of a series of live broadcasts on KKGO that will emanate weekly from the Biltmore Hotel, hosted by Chuck Niles.

You could say the only thing missing Friday was Howard Rumsey on bass. Many of Rogers' and Rumsey's colleagues from the Lighthouse years were on hand: Bob Cooper, Bob Enevoldsen and Pete Jolly.

Despite this personnel, the first two numbers sounded as though Rogers could have written them in his sleep: a fast blues that was given over mainly to a string of solos with no organized backing, and Rogers' 1953 opus "The Sweetheart of Sigmund Freud," with slightly sloppy work by the reed section.

The band came dramatically to life in an extended piece, in shifting moods and tempos that displayed Rogers' capabilities as a weaver of rich harmonic textures. Lanny Morgan was the featured soloist throughout, alternately reading and ad-libbing to compelling effect.

Next, an arrangement of "Un Poco Loco" translated the old Bud Powell piano solo into vivid orchestral terms--Rogers' fleet, legato fluegelhorn leading the way, the wit and wisdom of Paul Humphrey on drums and Monty Budwig's rock-steady bass.

The Rogers Quintet (with Bill Perkins, Budwig and Jolly from the big band and Roy McCurdy on drums) played the Biltmore gig Tuesday. Although Jolly's piano solo "Never Never Land" offered surcease, most of what emerged was a competent, conventional journey through jam session territory, with a total absence of surprises.

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