Besides the great jazz vibes from Julius Wechter this is another example of Fresh Sound Records preserving a piece of jazz history

Fresh Sound Records

Julius Wechter – vibes; Cy Colley, Jr. – alto sax; Jim Bates – bass; Frank DeVito or Jerry Williams – drums; John Bambridge, Jr. – clarinet; Dennis Budimir – guitar

I didn’t recognize Julius Wechter’s name but with a little digging I found he played vibes and percussion for Martin Denny in the 1950s. In the 1960s he worked on movie and television soundtracks.

He did session work for people like the Beachboys, the Monkees, and Sonny & Cher. He played with Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass for quite a while. In 1963 he formed the Baja Marimba Band.

Before all this Wechter recorded two delightful west coast jazz records, LINEAR SKETCHES and a quintet recording that never saw the light of day. Somehow Fresh Sound Records found a test pressing of the unreleased material and released it as a 24-bit digitally remastered CD . The sound on both of the recording dates is excellent.

LINEAR SKETCHES featured Cy Colley, Jr. on alto sax with Julius Wechter on vibes, James Bates on bass, and Frank DeVito on drums. Colley seemed to disappear after this recording which is strange because he was a good player. He’s not Art Pepper but that’s who he reminds me of.  Colley wrote ‘Cy’s Blues,’ one of the better tunes on the album.

Bass player Jim Bates is a great timekeeper and he throws out some really nice solos on both sessions. ‘My Melancholy Baby ’is one of the most overworked tunes in the jazz repertoire but this version is pleasantly upbeat. Bates solo adds some needed panache.

For the 1957 recording John Bambridge, Jr. was added on clarinet. He’s a fine player but he sounds like swing-era Benny Goodman. Someone like Buddy DeFranco probably would have been a better fit.

Dennis Budimir was on guitar and his fluid single note improvs sound great. Budimir died this year at the age of 84. He mainly did session work but he seemed to have worked with everyone from Tom Waits and Frank Zappa to Stan Getz and the Carpenters. He played on more than 900 movie soundtracks.

Cool West Coast jazz was a response to the fast-paced bebop style of jazz coming out of the East Coast. Cool jazz tried to be laid back. It used multiple melodic lines interweaving with subtle harmonies. You could often catch glimpses of classical composers like Debussy and Ravel.

Besides the great jazz vibes from Julius Wechter this is another example of Fresh Sound Records preserving a piece of jazz history. American labels would never reissue these sessions.. It wouldn’t be profitable enough for them.