bobby shew





Bobby Shew




Audio Samples:

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes


My Romance


But Not For Me


Las Vegas can be a tough place. Just ask Bobby Shew and Carl Fontana. Both are top-notch musicians, and both have toiled in various show bands in Vegas. While the money may be great, it is not a good place to gain recognition as a musician. While Shew has recorded a few albums under his own name on various small labels, plus being a part of some great big bands (Toshiko Akiyoshi, Woody Herman, and Benny Goodman to name a few), Fontana has been rather invisible. This recording, therefore, is a chance to hear the two horn-men at their best.

The concept of this album isn't anything new or unusual. It's basically a blowing session for everyone. About half of these tunes are straight-ahead jams. Trumpet great Herbie Phillips arranged three of the tunes, and then passed away suddenly. Shew arranges two others.


They kick it off with "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes", an up-tempo burner in which Fontana wastes little time in astounding everyone with his trombone prowess. His approach to the 'bone is a bit different from other 'bone players. He isn't a raucous, loud player. He keeps the volume down in order to be more flexible. His solos are tasty and to the point. On "Bag's Groove", after Shew's monster solo, Fontana and bassist Bob Magnusson converse together in a bluesy mode for a couple of choruses before the rest of the band joins them. On "Girl From Ipanema" - done as an up-tempo samba - Fontana flat out cooks! And on "Just In Time" it is ALL Fontana in a mesmerizing display.

Shew shines on his own on the beautiful "Autumn Serenade" - his solo feature - and plays a hot muted solo on "But Not For Me", one of the better tunes on this album. And his arrangement of "While My Lady Sleeps" features some great horn lines as well as a wonderful solo. And everyone shines on "Night And Day", another up-tempo swinging affair.

The rhythm section really makes this record glow. Drummer LaBarbera is his usual steady self, and pianist Cables - an underrated musician in my view - plays some outstanding solos on several pieces. If there is one flaw in this recording, it is that some songs have too many solos. Several songs have the obligatory trading 4's routine, and sometimes that gets a little old. But there is no denying the quality of musicianship on this record. This is a great opportunity to hear some artists who deserve wider recognition.


-- Bill Bernardi, 52nd Street Jazz

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