The Allisons – Are You Sure (1961)

FrontCover1The Allisons held similarities to American duo the Kalin Twins of a few years earlier. They harmonised their voices beautifully, had one enormous smash hit, and then struggled to get recognition for much else. Perhaps it was being so successful too quickly that ultimately proved to be a handicap by raising expectations too high. Whatever the reason for their very short spell at the top, the quality of their recordings would seem to indicate that they should have done better.

Although Brian Alford had been singing in the choir of Saint Dionis Church in Parsons Green, Fulham, since an early age, it wasn’t until around 1956 that it occurred to him that he might be good enough to become a professional. Although he came from a poor background, he managed to raise the sum of £2 2s (£2.10p) with which he purchased his first guitar. He was fortunate to find a local jazz musician willing to teach him how to play it. Like so many youngsters in the UK at that time he became a skiffle enthusiast. It wasn’t long before he had formed his own group, “The Shadows”, at his local church youth club. Despite starting work as a trainee draughtsman, Brian began writing his own songs- an activity that would have a huge influence on his future.

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By 1958, Brian and a fellow member of the Shadows, John White formed a duet- calling themselves the ‘Shadows Brothers’. The gigs they did were mostly unpaid, but they longed to try their talents in the burgeoning coffee bars of London. However, parental approval for taking themselves to Soho to do this was not forthcoming. They entered an audition in Finsbury Park- and from this became Carroll Levis “Television Discoveries”- they performed in two shows which were the highlights of their careers up to that time.

In January 1959 John White decided to quit, and Brian Alford carried on as a soloist until August when he began a new partnership with Colin Day- somebody he sang with in the church choir. At this point the act was renamed “The Allisons”. They each adopted a new name- Brian became John Allison and Colin became Bob Allison. This they thought would strengthen their professional image as “brothers”. This new pairing worked well and by 1960, they had managed to obtain a residency at ‘The Breadbasket’ coffee bar in Cleveland Street. Other famous stars had precursed their careers here- notably Emile Ford, Wally Whyton, and Jimmy Justice.

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They entered a national talent competition co-sponsored by the pop newspaper DISC and a tape recorder manufacturer. They reached the finals at the ATV studio in Wembley despite a roster of 600 entries, and went on to win- then being invited to sing on Bert Weedon’s TV programme “Lucky Dip” that same day. They also won a record test and taped several of the songs that John had previously written earlier during 1957 and 1958. These were submitted to Fontana Records in the hope of obtaining a full recording contract. Fontana were impressed and selected “Are You Sure” for submission to the UK heats to decide Britain’s entry to the Eurovision song contest.

Despite having turned professional less than a month earlier, the Allisons won the British heats and narrowly missed the top spot in the actual contest in Cannes.

However, despite their near miss, the record became a massive hit all over Europe eclipsing the other entries and reached the UK #1 spot in all the major versions of the chart, including NME which was regarded widely as the most definitive at the time. [From March 1960 Guinness adopted a chart compiled by Record Retailer for their “British Hit Singles”- now accepted as the de facto standard. This has meant the Allisons are strangely absent from most lists of UK #1s. This web page is no exception.]

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Sadly, the Allisons’ follow ups to “Are You Sure” largely went unnoticed by record buyers. Doubtless, the Allisons were poorly prepared for the highly commercial world they had entered and management disputes, poor promotion and naivety took their toll. They achieved only two further minor chart placings in the UK.

As the sixties progressed the pair eventually decided to split up and leave foreground pop music. At first, John turned to full time songwriting but the yearn to perform became too great and he soon found himself keeping the Allisons name alive whenever he could. He and Bob would reunite occasionally for short tours, but during the 1970s and 1980s John teamed up with other “brothers”- notably Mike “Allison” and Tony “Allison”.

Ultimately, the Allisons, in common with many of the musicians whose popularity peaked in the 1960s have found themselves in great demand again. Although now 50 years have elapsed since he first felt compelled to sing, John Allison is still at it- and “Are You Sure” is still going strong. John and Bob now reunite regularly and they still harmonise their voices beautifully. (by 45-rpm.org.uk)

And here´s their debut album … a real charming one … a nice mixture between Buddy holly and Tom & Jerry (pre-Simon & Garfunkel)

Bob Allison died on 25 November 2013, aged 72, after a long illnes.

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Personnel:
Bob Allison (guitar, vocals)
John Allison (guitar, vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (Anka) 2.04
02. There’s One Thing More (B-Allison/J.Allison) 1.53
03. Darling Trust In Me (B-Allison/J.Allison) 1.50
04. Never Be Anyone Else But You (Knight) 2.33
05. Be My Guest (Domino(Marascalo/Boyce) 2.01
06. Are You Sure (B-Allison/J.Allison) 2.03
07. Blue Tears (J.Allison) 2.02
08. From Now On (B-Allison/J.Allison) 1.47
09. Lightning Express (Kincaid) 5.53
10. That’ll Be The Day (Holly/Petty) 2.06
11. Fool’s Paradise (Petty/Linsley/Claire) 2.17
12. Be Bop A Lu La (Vincent/Davis) 2.11

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Davy Graham with Alexis Korner – 34 A.D. (1962)

OriginalFrontCover1Davy Graham’s debut EP was released in 1962, consisting of three acoustic guitar instrumentals. The first of these, “Angie” (written when he was only 19), is the one tune that Graham is best remembered for to this day, and with it he is often credited as single-handedly inventing the idea of the folk guitar instrumental (though John Fahey was doing something similar in America at the time). The legacy of this one song is vast, as it inspired a whole generation of acoustic guitarists (it was covered by Bert Jansch, Paul Simon and many others).

The title track “3/4 AD” was a duet with Alexis Korner, also on guitar, who helped discover Graham and organize this first recording. Korner also wrote the sleeve notes which praised Graham highly and called him “a genuinely gifted guitarist who rightly refuses to let himself be fenced into one field of music.” Stylistically, the EP could be comfortably called folk music, but there are strong shades of blues, jazz, and perhaps more in his playing. Indeed Graham never felt he had to be confined to one genre, and with his later releases he explored well outside the boundaries of folk music. Even from this early release it is obvious that he had to be one of the best acoustic guitarists of his age… and this was just the beginning! (by stuckinthepast,blogspot)

Alexis KornerExperiment, per se, has only a limited value. What is of importance is the confirmation of an emotionally valid step forward in music. Musicians or singers have to be fiercely aware of the ‘rightness’ in their music in order to make it last. They may appear to be reticent or shy but, in their private selves, they must be sure.

Most good performers are, to a large extent, self-centred. They do not have to be rude, arrogant or offhand – neither do they have to be bland and ingratiating. They may be incredibly weak in many respects, but they are firm in their music. These statements apply to both Davy and me.

Davy Graham is just over 21. He is a genuinely gifted guitarist who rightly, refuses to let himself be fenced into one field of music. The great traditional folk banjo and guitar pickers have influenced his playing. Josh White, who can hardly be fitted into this category, has also exerted considerable influence. But then, so have the great modern jazz players. The fierce belief of good Gospel groups, the great blues singers, all have influenced him as have the Baroque composers.

At times he has wanted to take up other instruments because he wanted the extra sound. Fortunately, he has always been too lazy to do anything about it, with the result that he has been forced to make these sounds on guitar. So something new emerges. He gets a chance to work out his ideas at Nick’s diner, in Fulham, where he works several nights a week. He has also played the streets of Paris and had it rough – and, in his way, he has had it good, with a crowd of worshipful fans sitting at his feet. What he has learned is that, to keep his music alive, he needs to play in front of audiences; he needs to communicate.

His approach to a tune seems to be basically through the tune itself. Both ‘Angi’ – Baroque or Modern Jazz Quartet influenced – and his ‘Train Blues’ – a piece of pure rhythmic impressionism – testify to this. This approach is probably why Davy is best as a soloist. Yet one of Davy’s most telling performances is in our duet, 3/4 A.D. (The title is derived from the time signature and our respective initials). Inspired by Miles Davis’ ‘Kind Of Blue’ and Charles Mingus’ ‘Better Git It In Your Soul’, with a definite bow towards Jimmy Giuffre in the second theme, it is simply the Blues. It is not folk, it is not jazz; it is just music the way we feel it when we are playing together.

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There is a lovely swoop at the beginning of Davy’s opening solo. It is completely Davy, playing you will notice, harmonies rather than single-note lines, sinuous but expansive. Then a complete change in the next chorus. That is me. A hammering, shouting gospel approach which I could never get rid of, even if I wanted to. In the second theme, the solo work is all Davy.

The solo voice, treble first, then bass, in the last two choruses, is by me. It is just the way it happened to work out. We certainly would not play it exactly the same way again; it was an experiment which we may never repeat. It was however an experiment which we ‘know’ was right. (taken from the original liner-notes, written by Alxis Korner)

The recording was made by Bill Leader at his home, ‘North Villas’ London in April 1961.Released in April 1962

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Personnel:
Davy Graham (guitar)
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Alexis Korner (guitar on 03.)

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Tracklist:
01. Angi (Graham) 2.29
02. Davy’s Train Blues (Graham) 3.03
03. 3/4 A.D. (Korner/Graham) 4.40

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Thelonious Monk – With John Coltrane (1961)

FrontCover1Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane is a 1961 album by Thelonious Monk issued on Jazzland Records, a subsidiary of Riverside Records. It consists of material recorded four years earlier when Monk worked extensively with John Coltrane, issued after Coltrane had become a leader and jazz star in his own right.

The album was assembled by the label with material from three different sessions. The impetus for the album was the discovery of three usable studio tracks recorded by the Monk Quartet with Coltrane in July 1957 at the beginning of the band’s six-month residency at New York’s legendary Five Spot club near Cooper Square. To round out the release, producer Keepnews included two outtakes from the Monk’s Music album recorded the previous month, and an additional outtake from Thelonious Himself recorded in April.[6] The latter selection, “Functional,” is a solo piano piece by Monk.

It was reissued in 2000 on Fantasy Records as part of its series for back catalogue using the JVC 20-bit K2 coding system. Because of the historical significance of this album it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007.

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Universally regarded as one of the greatest collaborations between the two most influential musicians in modern jazz (Miles Davis notwithstanding), the Jazzland sessions from Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane should be recognized on other levels. While the mastery of the principals is beyond reproach, credit should also be given to peerless bassist Wilbur Ware, as mighty an anchor as anyone could want. These 1957 dates also sport a variety in drummerless trio, quartet, septet, or solo piano settings, all emphasizing the compelling and quirky compositions of Monk. A shouted-out, pronounced “Off Minor” and robust, three-minute “Epistrophy” with legendary saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Gigi Gryce, and the brilliant, underappreciated trumpeter Ray Copeland are hallmark tracks that every jazz fan should revere. Of the four quartet sessions, the fleet “Trinkle Tinkle” tests Coltrane’s mettle, as he’s perfectly matched alongside Monk, but conversely unforced during “Nutty” before taking off. Monk’s solo piano effort,

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“Functional,” is flavored with blues, stride, and boogie-woogie, while a bonus track, “Monk’s Mood,” has a Monk-Ware-Coltrane tandem (minus drummer Shadow Wilson) back for an eight-minute excursion primarily with Monk in a long intro, ‘Trane in late, and Ware’s bass accents booming through the studio. This will always be an essential item standing proudly among unearthed live sessions from Monk and Coltrane, demarcating a pivotal point during the most significant year in all types of music, from a technical and creative standpoint, but especially the jazz of the immediate future. (by Michael G. Nastos)

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Personnel:
John Coltrane (saxophone)
Thelonious Monk — piano
Wilbur Ware (bass)
Shadow Wilson (drums)
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Art Blakey — drums on 03. + 05.)
Ray Copeland (trumpet on 03. + 06.)
Gigi Gryce (saxophone on 03. + 06.)
Coleman Hawkins (saxophone on 03, + 06.)

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Tracklist:
01. Ruby, My Dear (Monk)  5.22
02. Trinkle, Tinkle (Monk) 6.41
03. Off Minor (Monk) 5.16
04. Nutty (Monk) 6.39
05. Epistrophy (Clarke/Monk) 3.10
06. Functional (Monk) 8.42

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Eric Dolphy – The Berlin Concerts (1980)

FrontCover1This two-LP set features the great multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy mostly stretching out on standards, coming up with very original statements on such songs as ‘Hot House,’ ‘When Lights Are Low,’ ‘Hi Fly,’ ‘I’ll Remember April’ and ‘God Bless the Child’ (the latter taken as an unaccompanied bass clarinet solo), in addition to two brief originals.

With trumpeter Benny Bailey helping out on half of the selections along with a strong rhythm section, the twofer would be a perfect introduction for listeners not familiar with Eric Dolphy’s innovative style, but this set is very difficult to find. (by deejay.de)

This two-LP set features the great multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy mostly stretching out on standards, coming up with very original statements on such songs as “Hot House,” “When Lights Are Low,” “Hi Fly,” “I’ll Remember April” and “God Bless the Child” (the latter taken as an unaccompanied bass clarinet solo), in addition to two brief originals. With trumpeter Benny Bailey helping out on half of the selections along with a strong rhythm section, the two-fer would be a perfect introduction for listeners not familiar with Eric Dolphy’s innovative style, but this set is very difficult to find. (by Scott Yanow)

Tracks 1 to 3 recorded at Funkturm Exibition Hall, Berlin, Germany, August 30, 1961
Tracks 4 to 7 recorded at Club Jazz Saloon, Berlin, Germany, August 30, 1961
(recorded by SWF Radio facilities.)

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Personnel:
Pepsi Auer (piano)
Benny Bailey (trumpet)
Eric Dolphy (saxophonne, flute, clarinet)
George Joyner (bass)
Buster Smith (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Hot House (Dameron) 19.04
02. When Lights Are Low (Carter)13.02
03. Geewee (Dolphy) 2.49
04. God Bless The Child (Holiday/Herzog) 3.29
05. Hi-Fly (Weston) 14.40
06. The Meeting (Dolphy) 5.38
07. I’ll Remember April (DePaul)13.12

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This album is part of the great greygoose collection … thank you !

Chet Atkins – The Most Popular Guitar (1961)

FrontCover1Chet Atkins hit the jackpot with his 12th 12″ LP release, Chet Atkins’ Workshop, which soared into the pop Top Ten, and RCA Victor Records hopefully released his 13th one with the title The Most Popular Guitar and adorned it with a cover picture of a comely girl in a negligee. The notion here seems to have been to present Atkins not so much as a guitar instrumentalist (though his guitar playing was, as usual, front and center) as the leader of a lush studio orchestra and chorus playing easy listening favorites in the manner of Percy Faith.

The varied selections ranged from show tunes like the leadoff track, George and Ira Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So” from Porgy and Bess, to recent pop hits like the Platters’ “My Prayer” and swing era favorites such as “East of the Sun (West of the Moon).” But no matter the source, the treatment was in middle-of-the-road ballad form, with piano and harpsichord, muted horns, swirling strings, and wordless choruses augmenting Atkins’ dreamy electric-guitar stylings.

But perhaps Chet Atkins was not destined to become the next Ray Conniff. In any case, The Most Popular Guitar, despite spending ten weeks in the Billboard LP chart, did not match the sales of Chet Atkins’ Workshop, and the guitarist was free to go his own way, making whatever style of record he wanted in the future. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Chet Atikins (guitar)
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unknown orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. It Ain’t Necessarily So (Gershwin) 2.43
02. My Dear Little Sweetheart (Smith/Weiss) 2.48
03. Stay As Sweet As You Are (Gordon/Revel) 3.38
04. Monte Carlo Melody (Atkins) 2.30
05. When Day Is Done (DeSylva/Katscher) 2.20
06. My Prayer (Boulanger/Kennedy) 2.22
07. Rock-A-Bye-Bay (Curtis/Wood) 2.40
08. Vanessa (Wayne) 3.57
09. Intermezzo (Henning/Provost) 3.04
10. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo (Deutsch/Kaper) 2.40
11. East of the Sun (West Of The Moon) (Bowman) 2.38
12. Goin’ Home (Atkins) 2.53

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Various Artists – An Easy Christmas (2001)

frontcover1This is just a sampler, full with 20 old and classic christmas songs, performed by many stars in the easy listening style.
You can hear singers like Don McLean, David Bowie, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Perry Como and Al Green.

“This is my most favourite christmas album ever-I had to order a second copy as the first had a scratch on. I listen to it all the time. Not your average Christmas album!”(by miss r aughton)

“Great to listen to while wrapping presents” (by Zoe Bell)

And I guess, I will play this album (amongst others) on December 24, 2016 … Enjoy this romantic and sentimental sampler.

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Tracklist:
01. Andy Williams: Most Wonderful Time Of Year (2001) (Pola/Wyle) 2.34
02. Nat King Cole: Christmas Song (1963) (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (Tormé/Wells) 3.14
03. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby (1953) (Javits/Springer) 3.26
04. Dean Martin: Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow (1965) (Cahn/Styne) 1.58
05. Judy Garland: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944) (Martin/Blane) 2.45
06. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child (1957) (Hairston) 2.59
07. Bing Crosby: White Christmas (1954) (Berlin) 3.04
08. Al Green: Silent Night (1963) (Gruber/Mohr) 3.19
09. Crystal Gayle: Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer (1996) (Marks) 2.57
10. Anne Murray: Snowbird (1978) (MacLellan) 2.11
11. Don McLean: Winter Wonderland (1991) (Bernard/Smith) 2.54
12. Charles Brown: Please Come Home For Christmas (Christmas Finds Me Oh So Sad) (1961) (Brown/Redd) 3.18
13. Doris Day: I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1964) (Gannon/Kent/Ram) 2.27
14. Andy Williams: Sleigh Ride (live) (2001) (Anderson) 2.22
15. Crystal Gayle: Silver Bells (1996) (Livingston/Evans) 4.09
16. Don McLean: Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1991) (Coots/Gillespie) 3.06
17. Perry Como: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1959)(Traditional) 2.56
18. Al Green: What Christmas Means To Me (1963) (Story/Gaye/ Gordy) 3.44
19. Bing Crosby + David Bowie: Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (1977) (Fraser/Grossman/Alan Kohan/Simeone/Davis/Onorati) 2.38
20. Michael Ball: Happy New Year (1999) (Andersson/Ulvaeus) 4.18

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Toots Thielemans – Road To Romance (1961)

FrontCover1Celebrated Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans dies aged 94

Thielemans, one of the world’s foremost harmonica players, worked with artists including Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra
Toots Thielemans plays the harmonica at an event to celebrate his 90th birthday in La Hulpe, Belgium
Toots Thielemans plays the harmonica at an event to celebrate his 90th birthday in La Hulpe, Belgium. Photograph: Kristof van Accom/AFP/Getty Images

The Belgian jazz musician Toots Thielemans has died aged 94 after a long career in which he was known as one of the world’s best harmonica players.

Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidore Thielemans, better known as Toots, died in his sleep at a hospital in Brussels early on Monday, said his manager, Veerle Van de Poel.

Born in 1922 in the working class Marolles district of Brussels, Thielemans got his big break when he joined the American swing musician Benny Goodman on a European tour in 1950 before moving to the US, where he teamed up with artists such as Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

He took up the harmonica as a hobby before becoming hooked on jazz music during the second world war. His nickname was taken from the US swing jazz saxophonist Toots Mondello and the composer and trumpeter Toots Camarata.

Buoyed by the commercial success of his jazz standard Bluesette in 1962, he played harmonica on the soundtrack for the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969, among other movies.

Thielemans was made a baron by the then king of Belgium, Albert II, in 2001, confirming his status as one of the country’s best-known figures.

His health declined in recent years, but he played a concert in 2012 to mark his 90th birthday before setting out on a world tour. Thielemans was, however, forced to give up touring in 2014.

The Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, tweeted: “We have lost a great musician, a heartwarming personality. All my thoughts are with the family and friends of Toots Thielemans.”

The record producer Quincy Jones, known for his work with Michael Jackson, was quoted as saying on Thielemans’ website: “I can say without hesitation that Toots is one of the greatest musicians of our time.” (by http://www.theguardian.com)

This is an early recording by Toots Thielemans for the erman record market … featuring the legendary Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra … and this is a very romantic alvum …maybe a good choice to honour one of these greatjazz musicias of the last century !

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Personnel:
Toots Thielemans (harmonica)
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The Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Isn’t It Romantic (Rodgers) 2.36
02. Homesick That’s All (Jenkins) 2.35
03. Penthouse Serenade (Jaso/Burton) 2.43
04. A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (Berlin) 2.33
05. This Is Always (Warre/Gordon) 2.31
06. Stranger In Paradise (Wright/Forest) 3.18
07.Stairway To The Stars (Maluec/Signorell/Parish) 3.20
08. Love Walked In (Gershwin) 2.31
09 Long Ago And Far Away (Kern) 2.25
10. I Loves You, Porgy (Gershwin) 3.04
11. You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Brown/Kahn) 3.06
12 .You’re Driving Me Crazy (Donaldson) 3.05
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13. Don´t Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) 2.30
14.  Fundamental Frequency (Thielemans) 4,57

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