GEORGE ROBERT / TOM HARRELL QUINTET
(Contemporary Records , 1988, USA)
Time for something a bit more recent. Here is the first album of the George Robert-Tom Harrell Quintet which is also George Robert's second album as a leader.
His first album – entitled First Encounter – was recorded in New York City in 1984 with Niels Lan Doky, Ron McClure & Klaus Suonsaari (CD re-issue on Polystar Records, 2005)
One of the finest jazz musicians born in Switzerland, altoist George Robert has long considered his main influences to be Charlie Parker and Phil Woods. He started on piano when he was eight, and clarinet at ten, playing with a family band that included his four brothers.
Robert switched permanently to alto as a teenager. In 1980, he moved to the United States to study at Berklee, settling in New York in 1984. Robert recorded his first album that year and in 1987, formed a quintet that he co-led with trumpeter Tom Harrell on and off through 1992.
This album was recorded in Lausanne, Switzerland during their '87 European tour. The quintet features George Robert (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone), Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn), Dado Moroni (piano), Reggie Johnson (bass), Bill Goodwin (drums)
On AMG Scott Yanow displays a typically American patronising attitude towards non-US players: George Robert who is credited as “the leader” “plays quite well” but it is because of Tom Harrell that the album becomes “most notable”.
Pure baloney, just forget about the “names”. Tom Harrell is excellent indeed but the album is most notable because the music cooks! What strikes the listener is how cohesive and “tight” this combo sounded on this first date.
Then Yanow goes on “ Harrell is actually much more boppish than usual, probably due to Robert's inspiration; the leader being most influenced by Phil Woods”. Fact is that Harrell was a key member of the Phil Woods Quintet in the eighties. Actually it may be interesting to compare this album with some of the works he did with Phil Woods during the same period.
C 14037 George Robert/Tom Harrell - Sun Dance
Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn) George Robert (alto saxophone, soprano saxophone) Dado Moroni (piano) Reggie Johnson (bass) Bill Goodwin (drums)
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 29 & 30, 1987
• Moon Alley
• Sun Dance
• Because I Love You
• Viking's Theme
n.b. some discographies mention an Italian re-issue on CD in 1993 but it was probably a pirate edition.