One of my favorite little-known bossa nova albums was recorded by a British big-band leader born in 1919. Inconceivable, but true. Vic Lewis Plays Bossa Nova at Home and Away was recorded in Los Angeles in January 1963 and in London for EMI in February as an RCA-EMI joint venture. The L.A. tracks were done with top Hollywood jazz artists while the balance was recorded with British jazz musicians. Many of the players in both cities had recorded with Lewis before.
Side A features the London band playing Vic's Tune, Ricardo, Danielle and Last Minute Bossa Nova. The ensemble included Jimmy Deuchar (tp,mel), Shake Keane (tp,flhrn), Tubby Hayes (ts,fl,arr), Ronnie Scott (ts), Terry Shannon (p), Ray Dempsey (g), Freddie Logan (b) and Kenny Clare (d). Johnny Keating arranged Vic's Tune, Hayes arranged Ricardo, Deuchar arranged Danielle and Scott scored Last Minute Bossa Nova. [Photo above of Tubby Hayes]
Side B showcases the L.A. band playing Bossa Nova Scotia, Rio, Two Note Samba and Bossa Nova Blues. The band featured Shorty Rogers (flhrn), Jack Sheldon (tp), Bud Shank (ts,fl), Bob Cooper (ts), Victor Feldman (p,vib), Al Hendrickson (g), Laurindo Almeida (g only on Bossa Nova Blues), Don Bagley (b) and Shelly Manne (d). Howard Lucraft arranged Bossa Nova Scotia and Rio, Rogers arranged Two Note Samba and Leonard Feather arranged Bossa Nova Blues. Lewis conducted on both sessions. [Photo above of Bud Shank]
All of the songs are gentle and lyrical, allowing soloists to shine. Interestingly, the material on both sides of the LP don't have distinct London or L.A. sounds. Instead, they have a common feel, which was probably Lewis's doing while overseeing the project. Vic Lewis was an interesting cat. He recorded quite a few albums that were exquisite and swinging. For more on Lewis, see my 2009 post here.
Vic Lewis died in 2009.
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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