June 17, 2024

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Trombonist Eddie Bert recorded relentlessly with virtually every major band and group: Photos, Videos

With the 10-inch LP format on the rise in the early 1950s, a crew of jazz musicians emerged in New York who were superb studio swingers. They were dependable, driven and could really get feet tapping on recordings.

Their watering hole was Charlie’s Tavern on the west side of Seventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd St., in the Roseland Building. Since Charlie Tavern’s banned known junkies to limit the theft of horns and the fights that broke out after such attempts, the bar became a clubhouse for top dependable jazz musicians. [Photo of Eddie Bert, courtesy of Eddie Bert].

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With the longer album format came the demand for musicians who could write and assemble artists to record flawlessly. Naturally, Charlie’s Tavern became a go-to repository when  producers needed musicians.They might need a rhythm section behind a leader who was ready to record or they might want someone at Charlie’s to put together a group for a recording session. Producers would come down and have a drink to recruit musicians for recording sessions or they’d call the tavern to see who was around.

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The regulars at Charlie’s Tavern who killed time between recording dates included Oscar Pettiford, Hal McKusick, Hank Jones, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Bill Crow, Teddy Charles, Barry Galbraith, Osie Johnson, Joe Puma, Dave Lambert and many others, depending on the time of day. [Photo above of Charlie’s Tavern courtesy of Bill Crow]

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Trombonist Eddie Bert was among them. From 1942 on, Eddie recorded relentlessly with virtually every major band and group. He was with Red Norvo at the famed Town Hall Concert of 1945 recorded live by Commodore Records. And that was Eddie’s trombone solo on Stan Kenton’s How High the Moon with June Christy in 1947. [Photo of Eddie Bert with Charlie Parker in 1950, courtesy of Eddie Bert]

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In March 1952, Eddie was asked by Discovery Records to record his first leadership 10-inch album. Four tracks were recorded, followed by four more in June 1953. These were released on The Eddie Bert Quintet. Another eight tracks were recorded in July 1953 and November ’54 but weren’t released on a 10-inch album.

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Eventually, all of the Discovery sessions were released by Savoy on a 12-inch album called Kaleidoscope. Then in recent years, these sessions along with unreleased material were issued by Fresh Sound.

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Of particular note are the June and July sessions of 1953. The first four tracks featured Eddie Bert (tb), Duke Jordan (p), Sal Salvador (g), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Mel Zelnick (d). The second set of four tracks were recorded a month later and included Eddie Bert (tb), Vinnie Dean (as), Duke Jordan (p), Clyde Lombardi (b) and Art Mardigan (d).

The first four songs recorded were Love Me or Leave Me, Little Train, Prelude to a Kiss and Conversation Piece. The second set were Interwoven, Around Town, Kaleidoscope and Broadway.

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Eddie was a full-throttle player. A bebopper who admired Charlie Parker, Eddie was a lyrical but forceful soloist. Swing was everything to Eddie, as he told me when we got together in 2008. He brought a commitment and bouncy passion to the music that exceeded many other trombonists. He also knew his way around the slide. The first four tracks cited above feature wonderful interplay between Eddie and guitarist Sal Savador. The second set showcased Eddie and alto saxophonist Vinnie Dean.

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Interestingly, both musicians were with Stan Kenton’s band at the time and likely were in New York on layovers with the orchestra. For example, on June 6, 1953, Kenton recorded on an NBC broadcast at Birdland. On the 10th, Salvador recorded with Eddie. And on July 8, Kenton recorded on the road in Chicago. Pianist Duke Jordan on all tracks is stupendous.

Eddie Bert died in 2012.

Little Train

Conversation Piece

Bonus: He Ain’t Got Rhythm, on the Kaleidoscopereissue. That’s Eddie playing and singing…

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