Guitarist Howard Alden and trombonist / cornetist Dan Barrett were Southern California buddies and musical colleagues when neither one of them had a driver’s license (they show up on record — with the esteemed Bryan Shaw) first in 1981. But a few years later, when they were both New Yorkers, they created a quintet with an unusual instrumentation — guitar, string bass, drums, alto doubling clarinet, trombone doubling cornet — that initially had a book of arrangements including many written especially for them by Buck Clayton. In 1986, this recording was the result:
Like many other splendid small groups of that time (Soprano Summit and the Braff-Barnes Quartet) they didn’t stay together steadily, but assembled for reunions. One of their champions, the late Joe Boughton, always made sure that they played at his jazz parties, and I first heard them in person at Jazz at Chautauqua in 2004. Happily, they’ve continued to appear — with a sub or two — at the Allegheny Jazz Party and they will be a highlight of the 2016 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party.
Here are Howard and Dan with Harry Allen, tenor saxophone; Frank Tate (an original member), string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums, having a good time with the 1945 Coleman Hawkins line, STUFFY:
I know I’ll see them at this year’s Cleveland Classic: I hope you will, too.
May your happiness increase!