Jack Teagarden, Think Well of Me (Verve)
Rifftides reader David Chilver, son of the guitarist Pete Chilver (1924-2008), writes from the UK that he recently found among his father’s belongings a Jack Teagarden CD minus cover or liner notes. He listened to it, liked it and went online to see what he could learn about the album. What he found was my 1999 JazzTimes review. Mr. Chilver’s enthusiastic discussion of the recording encouraged me to listen to it for the first time in too long, and then listen to it again. It was as captivating as ever. Here is the review.
This is a Teagarden album like nothing else in his 40-year discography. Made in 1962, precisely two years before his death, it reflects much that was important about the man and musician; the uncanny precision and languorous passion of his trombone playing, the intimacy of his singing, his blues core, the performance quality that never declined even in the weariness of his final years.
Except for Jimmy McHugh’s and Harold Adamson’s “Where Are You,” all of the songs are by Willard Robison, a songwriter who has never been recognized in proportion to his talent. With their freight of nostalgia and down-home wisdom, Robison’s pieces are ideal vehicles for Teagarden’s warming voice and trombone. The settings by Russ Case and Bob Brookmeyer (in his first recorded string arrangements) provide just the right amount of emphasis and cushioning. The orchestrations are in keeping with Teagarden’s infallible taste. These are definitive versions of “Old Folks,” “A Cottage for Sale,” “Guess I’ll Go Back Home This Summer,” the unusual title song and six other Robison compositions. The trombone playing is incomparable.
Teagarden’s favorite trumpet sidekick of his latter years, Don Goldie, provides interludes between vocals and trombone solos, as well as occasional obbligatos. It is some of Goldie’s best proportioned work on record. The only deficit in taste is in occasional skittery accompaniments by an overactive pianist, Bernie Leighton; Teagarden is so compelling that they matter little. Verve sat on this classic for a long time before putting it on compact disc. It is in their limited Elite Edition series. It won’t be long in the bins.
There aren’t many bins these days because there aren’t many record stores. Having assumed that Think Well of Me was long out of print, I was surprised to find that it is available (click on the title above). Here’s a reason that is good news, one of Robison’s most affecting songs.
Jack Teagarden, 1905-1964.