If there was any happier place than the Loa for a jazz lover New Year's Eve, no one at the Santa Monica hot spot wanted to know about it.
The ingredients were all in place as Ray Brown's quintet worked as if it had been waiting all year for this moment.
A celebratory occasion calls for a jubilant brand of jazz. With two veterans like Brown on bass and Teddy Edwards on tenor saxophone, this appropriate groove was all but assured, yet it was the phenomenal drive of two lesser-known men that put the proceedings over the top.
The chief scene-stealer was Gene Harris, a pianist whose blues solos are as steeped in righteous funk as his ballads are couched in gentle understatement--until the last half chorus, when he would build to a climax with a series of massive, thousand volt tremolos.
Bruce Forman, a guitarist from San Francisco, matched Harris for speed and inspiration. If his version of Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" had lasted another minute he might have worn out his plectrum. Completing the group on drums was a most effective last-minute sub, Clayton Cameron.