Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Howard Roberts - 1957 - Mr. Roberts Plays Guitar

Howard Roberts 
Mr. Roberts Plays Guitar

01. Seranata Burlesca
02. I Hear A Rhapsody
03. The Innocents
04. Ah Moore
05. Indiana
06. Indian Summer
07. Jillzie
08. My Shining Hour
09. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
10. An Orchid For Miss Sterling

CD bonus tracks

11. Little Girl
12. A Ghost Of A Chance
13. Have You Met Miss Jones
14. I've Got A World On A String
15. Sweet Georgia Brown

Guitar – Howard Roberts

Bob Bertaux Bass
Bob Cooper Reeds, Sax (Tenor)
Don Davidson Reeds
Herb Geller Reeds
Pete Jolly Piano
Harry Klee Reeds
Red Mitchell Bass
Joe Morello Drums
Red Norvo Vibraphone
Alvin Stoller Drums
Ben Tucker Bass
Gerry Wiggins Piano

Roberts was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and began playing guitar at the age of 8. By the time he was 15 he was playing professionally locally.

In 1950, he moved to Los Angeles, California. With the assistance of Jack Marshall, he began working with musicians, arrangers and songwriters including Neal Hefti, Henry Mancini, Bobby Troup, Chico Hamilton, George Van Eps, and Barney Kessel. Around 1956, Bobby Troup signed him to Verve Records as a solo artist. At that time he decided to concentrate on recording, both as a solo artist and 'Wrecking Crew' session musician, a direction he would continue until the early 1970s.

Roberts played rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, and mandolin. He was known for his heavy use of the Gibson L-5 guitar in the studio and for television and movie projects, including lead guitar on the theme from The Twilight Zone as well as acoustic and electric guitar on The Munsters, Bonanza, The Brady Bunch, Green Acres, Get Smart, Batman, Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith, Peter Gunn, Johnny Quest, Gidget, Mannix, Lost in Space, Dragnet, Wild Wild West, Mission Impossible, The Odd Couple, Dick Van Dyke, I Dream of Jeannie, and the theme for the film classic Bullitt.

Artists Roberts backed include Georgie Auld, Peggy Lee (on "Fever"), Eddie Cochran ("Sittin' in the Balcony"), Bobby Day ("Rockin Robin"), Jody Reynolds ("Endless Sleep"), Shelley Fabares ("Johnny Angel"), Dean Martin ("Houston"), the Monkees, Roy Clark, Chet Atkins, and the Electric Prunes.

In 1961, Roberts designed a signature guitar which was originally produced by Epiphone. The guitar was a modified Gibson ES-175 (Epiphone is owned by Gibson and during this period Epiphone guitars were manufactured in the same factory as Gibson guitars in Kalamazoo, Michigan), with a round sound hole and a single pickup. A redesigned version was later produced by Gibson. The Howard Roberts signature was borne by two other models made by Gibson: the Howard Roberts Custom and the Howard Roberts Fusion III.

In 1963, Roberts recorded Color Him Funky and H.R. Is A Dirty Guitar Player, his first two albums after signing with Capitol. Produced by Jack Marshall, they both feature the same quartet with Roberts (guitar), Chuck Berghofer (bass), Earl Palmer (drums) and Paul Bryant alternating with Burkley Kendrix on organ. Both albums were released on a single CD under the title Dirty & Funky on Randy Bachman's label Guitarchives in 1997. In all, he recorded ten albums with Capitol before signing with ABC Records/Impulse! Records.

As a member of the 'Wrecking Crew', Roberts was a part of Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound', playing guitar on some of the most famous songs in Pop Music history.

From the late 1960s, Roberts began to focus on teaching rather than recording. He traveled around the country giving guitar seminars, and wrote several instructional books. For some years he also wrote an acclaimed column called "Jazz Improvisation" for Guitar Player magazine. Roberts developed accelerated learning concepts and techniques, which led to the founding of Playback Music Publishing and the Guitar Institute of Technology. As a co-founder of GIT, now known as the Musicians Institute, Roberts' philosophy remains an integral part of the curriculum.

Roberts died of prostate cancer in Seattle, Washington, on June 28, 1992. His wife Patty, also active in musical education, continued in this field after his death

Howard Roberts was a very popular jazz guitarist on the cool west coast scene after he moved there in the mid-'50s. While approaching the popularity of Barney Kessel and the virtuosity of Joe Pass or Tal Farlow, Roberts was relegated to second division status, but remained a formidable and pleasing performer nonetheless. This reissue from the vaults of Verve and Intro records (officially his second effort as a leader) is structured in a manner where separate sessions from 1956 and 1957 are not programmed to be lumped together, but split up to hear the guitarist with strings, a flute, and double reed section, and help from tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper or vibraphonist Red Norvo. As a result, you hear different ensembles per track, showing a diversity of taste levels that Roberts employed. The four recordings with only strings sound tasteful and not overbearing, with bassist Red Mitchell adding exponentially to their high quality and class. "Serenata Burlesca" is surprisingly interactive, while the others are ballads, light and airy. Cooper sounds great on his three selections, witty and erudite, substantive and fluid, especially during the fleet bopper "Indiana" jousting with the pianist Pete Jolly, and in tandem with Roberts on the attractive "Jillzie." Of the two selections featuring the reed quartet, Jolly's bouncy piano informs the chamber like strings and woodwinds on the utterly delightful piece "The Innocents," and they congeal perfectly in harmonious refrains during "My Shining Hour." The cuts with Norvo are bonus tracks, and he is on four of the five even though attributed to only two. The guitar of Roberts scurries around Norvo on a great take of "Have You Met Miss Jones?," while big chords from all of the front line instruments are used for "I've Got the World on a String," and the band romps fast and furious through "Sweet Georgia Brown." There's a lone trio tune, "Little Girl," featuring the expert brushwork and effortless quick-time bop approach of drummer Joe Morello, clearly at the top of his game. This is a fine effort from Roberts, and though the bulk of these tracks is highly arranged, the bonus tracks are not. They provide insight and contrast into the kind of versatile jazz musician Howard Roberts was becoming.

Howard Roberts started his career as a recording jazzman with the first ten tunes contained in this album by Fresh Sounds. Originally it came out on Verve and it was an album full of stars in the arrangements department as in the playing roles. Bill Holman, Marty Paich, Jack Montrose, Bob Envoldsen were the arrangers while the players were Red Norvo, Pete Jolly, Bob Cooper and Alvin Stoller. What you can hear in this album are different settings, trio, quartet, quintet and string sections. The music is always interesting. Howard plays really really well in all the situations. This is a straight ahead jazz date (two different dates actually) and not an album similar to the Capitol ones that Howard recorded later on, that in my opinion are the ones that form the legacy of Mr Roberts original sounds (albums that I love so much). But this one it's really great in its own right. It shows a master at work among many other masters, ... something that does not happen anymore unfortunatly. A very good records that I suggest to all the fans of good, really good Jazz

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