Swing's The Thing (Original Jazz Classics)
Reviewed by Ron
Al Sears was another wonderful tenor saxophone player whose career is
all but forgotten. The consummate professional, Sears replaced Johnny
Hodges in the Chick Webb band in 1928. He then played for Elmer
Snowden, Andy Kirk, and Lionel Hampton as well as leading his own group.
Duke Ellington deeply respected Sears' ability and hired him to replace
the great Ben Webster in Ellington's Orchestra. After leaving Duke's
group, Sears continued to play in other artist's bands. However, he had
little opportunity to record as a leader. This is strange, since Sears
was one of the few tenors of his generation with his own distinct style
Swing's The Thing is Sears' belated debut as a leader at the age of
fifty and his only studio recording currently available. Sears was
joined by Don Abney on piano, Wally Richardson on guitar, Wendell
Marshall on bass, and Joe Marshall on drums. On this album, Sears
played a good mix of standards, blues, and originals.
Sears' tenor sounded confident and sensual, utilizing Rhythm and Blues
riffs throughout. His solos were relaxed in the beginning, quickly
found the groove, then slowly built to passionately intense climaxes.
Its obvious that Sears enjoyed playing simple yet accessible music. The
band, though not composed off all-stars, was subtly attuned to Sears.
In the liner notes, Al Sears stated "I think anyone who can make
contemporary jazz that can be danced to will be doing a very important
thing." As you play this recording, try to resist the urge to follow
Sears urge to get the listener dancing. Trust me, before you realize it
you'll be swinging around the room like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.
That is a legacy Sears would be proud of.
© 2000 - Ron Saranich