Steps to the Desert

Steps to the Desert

by Shelly Manne
     
 

The avant-garde pull is strong in the world of Jewish music, and this reissued gem from the Fantasy vaults is a perfect example. When modern jazz was at its kickin'-est, drummer Shelly Manne convened a sextet to give contemporary swing to a selection of Yiddish and Israeli classics. The notion had been percolating since the '40s, when the Yiddish Melodies in Swing<See more details below

Overview

The avant-garde pull is strong in the world of Jewish music, and this reissued gem from the Fantasy vaults is a perfect example. When modern jazz was at its kickin'-est, drummer Shelly Manne convened a sextet to give contemporary swing to a selection of Yiddish and Israeli classics. The notion had been percolating since the '40s, when the Yiddish Melodies in Swing program was a radio favorite. Manne's moment capitalizes on the fervor for the new(ish) Jewish state, embracing the pluralistic impulse that seized American Jewry in the '60s. Fittingly, his "modern jazz" covers the map, from the straight-ahead bop rendition of "Hava Nagila" to the soul-jazz take on "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" to the bossa nova interpretation of the theme to the film "Exodus." With a cast that includes longtime cohorts Shorty Rogers -- who worked with Manne in the groups of Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and the Lighthouse All-Stars -- on trumpet, Victor Feldman on piano, tenor man Teddy Edwards, guitarist Al Viola, and Monty Budwig, Manne's regular bass player, Steps to the Desert is top-notch playing. The beautiful remastering puts this vintage disc right up there with today's exponents of Jewish jazz.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Alex Henderson
When Shelly Manne recorded Steps to the Desert in 1962, John Coltrane was among the most controversial musicians in jazz. Some people praised Coltrane's modal innovations; others detested his post-bop work and even went so far as to describe it as "anti-jazz" (which is simply ridiculous). Arguably, Steps to the Desert is Manne's way of acknowledging the influential saxophonist; the CD has a modal orientation, and it indicates that the Los Angeles-based drummer was paying close attention to Coltrane in the early '60s. Not that Steps to the Desert is actually meant to be a tribute to the influential saxman -- if Coltrane (or for that matter, Miles Davis or Yusef Lateef) showed Manne the possibilities of modal jazz, he certainly embraces it on his own terms. Steps to the Desert finds Manne and five other West Coast jazzmen (including trumpeter/flugelhornist Shorty Rogers, tenor saxman Teddy Edwards, vibist/pianist Victor Feldman, guitarist Al Viola and bassist Monty Budwig) providing post-bop interpretations of songs that have some type of Jewish connection, and the material ranges from traditional favorites like "Hava Nagila," "Yossel, Yossel" (also known as "Joseph, Joseph") and "Zamar Nodad" to Ernest Gold's "Exodus" (which a hit for French vocalist Edith Piaf). Coltrane never recorded an album with a Jewish theme; he did, however, show a strong appreciation of modal music from India, the Middle East and North Africa, and Jewish music is certainly part of the modal family. If Coltrane had decided to record a bunch of Yiddish and Israeli songs, they probably would have worked as well for him as they work for Manne on Steps to the Desert -- which is among the most intriguing and memorable sessions that he recorded in the early '60s.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/11/2004
Label:
Contemporary
UPC:
0025218760928
catalogNumber:
7609

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Shelly Manne   Primary Artist,Drums
Victor Feldman   Piano,Vibes
Viola   Guitar
Shorty Rogers   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Monty Budwig   Bass,Double Bass
Teddy Edwards   Tenor Saxophone

Technical Credits

Victor Feldman   Arranger
Lennie Niehaus   Arranger
Shorty Rogers   Arranger,Adaptation
Sammy Cahn   Composer
Saul Chaplin   Composer
Teddy Edwards   Arranger
Ernest Gold   Composer
Howard Holzer   Engineer
Jacob Jacobs   Composer
Lester Koenig   Producer,Liner Notes,Audio Production
Mitchell Parish   Composer
Arthur Schwartz   Composer
Jack Yellen   Composer
Joe Tarantino   Remastering
Roger Marshutz   Cover Photo
Steve Prizant   Composer
Lew Pollack   Composer
Sholom Secunda   Composer
Nellie Casman   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Isaachar Miron   Composer
Julius Grossman   Composer
Reut Regev   Composer

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