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ThePretidigitatorCover

Here’s a real “sleeper,” if you want to use that term. I prefer not to because this 1957 album was great when is was released back in 1957 but unfortunately was “overlooked.” “The Prestidigitator” is hard to find, not because it wasn’t available then and/or now but because George Wallington wasn’t a household name. The listeners on Jazz Con Class Radio have choice on where to hear the songs of this album because they can be found on this album, “J.R. Monterose Essential Jazz Masters” which is not available on Amazon at the moment. Great album, get it before its too late!

About the album:

Sicilian-born pianist “George Wallington” (his given name was Giacinto Figlia) had more than ethnicity in common with Dodo Marmarosa. Both men were active in the burgeoning bop scene of the early and mid-’40s, both made important contributions to the evolution of modern jazz, and both withdrew from public activity for protracted periods of time. Most importantly, both of these excellent pianists left enough great music in their wake to warrant a reappraisal of their legacies. Wallington named Mel Powell, Al Haig, and Bud Powell as his favorite contemporaries; primary influences were Art Tatum, Count Basie, and especially Earl Hines. He collaborated and consulted with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Pettiford, and Max Roach during bop’s formative years; later he would befriend young Mose Allison and help him to get established as both recording artist and jazz essayist. Recorded in early April 1957 and released on the East West label the following year, Wallington’s album The Prestidigitator is an excellent example of his creative approach to the art of jazz. His quintet/quartet on this album consisted of bassist Teddy Kotick, drummer Nick Stabulas, Detroit-born tenor saxophonist J.R. Monterose, and bass trumpeter Jerry Lloyd, who sounds for all the world like a valve trombonist. Three of the seven pieces were composed by…..Read More

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Biography of George Wallington (From Scott Yanow- AllMusic.com):

George Wallington was one of the first and best bop pianists, ranking up there with Al Haig, just below Bud Powell. He was also the composer of two bop standards that caught on for a time: “Lemon Drop” and “Godchild.” Born in Sicily, Wallington and his family moved to the U.S. in 1925. He arrived in New York in the early ’40s and was a member of the first bop group to play on 52nd Street, Dizzy Gillespie’s combo of 1943-1944. After spending a year with Joe Marsala’s band, Wallington played with the who’s who of bop during 1946-1952, including Charlie Parker, Serge Chaloff, Allan Eager, Kai Winding, Terry Gibbs, Brew Moore, Al Cohn, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims, and Red Rodney. He toured Europe with Lionel Hampton’s ill-fated big band of 1953, and during 1954-1960 he led groups in New York that….Read More

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