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Classic of the Week

"The Jazz Soul of Porgy & Bess" (1959) Arranged, orchestrated and conducted by Bill Potts: Capitol/Blue Note

December 10, 1992|STEVE EMMONS

With all the big names who recorded "Porgy and Bess," who is this guy Bill Potts?

He's one of those arrangers revered by musicians but virtually unknown to casual fans. Like Gil Evans, he wrote a jazz arrangement of "Porgy and Bess" in the '50s (although where Evans' is moody, Potts' is straight-ahead, quick and often playful). Like Evans, he gathered and conducted a big, all-star band (Evans got Miles Davis, Julian Adderley, Paul Chamners, Philly Joe Jones; Potts had Zoot Sims, Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Gene Quill). Like Evans', Potts' results were magnificent.

But unlike Evans', Potts' album faded from the market and (horror of horrors!) the masters were lost. Its current reissue, therefore, is nearly a miracle. Potts had to search for mint copies of the original phonograph record from 1959 and then transfer it to CD. The album is now available in CD only (B 295132) from Capitol/Blue Note.

This is that rarity, a genuine find. You'll probably have to order it--the pressing was small and hardly promoted--but do it. It will become a favorite album for many.



Miles Davis, "Porgy and Bess" (1958), Columbia

Love, "Forever Changes" (1967), Elektra

Skeeter Davis & NRBQ, "She Sings, They Play" (1985), Rounder

Joe Ely, "Joe Ely" (1977), MCA

Tim Buckley, "Goodbye and Hello" (1967), Elektra

Van Morrison, "Saint Dominic's Preview" (1972), Warner Brothers

The Dwight Twilley Band, "Sincerely" (1975), Shelter

The J. Geils Band, "Full House" (1972), Atlantic

The Partridge Family, "Greatest Hits" (1989), Arista

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Cosmo's Factory" (1970), Fantasy

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