if it starred Sonny Tufts and Vic Tayback instead of Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.
Yet Fruscella was more than a white boy trying to be a hepster jazz man, his playing shows real sensitivity and depth. His take on the standard Lover Man is classic, and moving. One of the few versions to reference Charlie Parker's mid-nervous breakdown
recording of the same number. From the set starter Bernie's Tune (a Lieber-Stoller number), the Diz/Bird exotica classic A Night In Tunisia, Lester Young's Blue Lester, Monk's Hackensack and the standard Imagination are the highlights, there's also a nice reading of Jackie McClean's Donna and a very bluesy, extended stab at Sometimes I'm Happy. The other musicians are fairly obscure-- Brew Moore-- tenor sax (who I've never heard of but does a pretty good impression of later day Lester Young on Sometimes I'm Happy), Bill Triglia-- piano, Teddy Kotnick-- bass and Art Mardigan-- drums. They're competent enough, but Fruscella is certainly the star of the show. By the end of the fifties Fruscella's dope habit and alcoholism had ended his career in music, he would die in 1969 from a cardiac arrest and cirrhosis of the liver. Fruscella was not a genius, he was not Bird or Miles, but for one hour, one night in '53, up there on the bandstand, somewhere between a nod and rush, he captured some magic, and this record remains, for me, more than just a curiosity of narcotica-ephemera, it's actually one of my favorite jazz albums of that era, and I probably listen to it more than really great jazz records (i.e. I can't remember the last time I played an Ornette Coleman record, and I've got at least a dozen of them), which may say more about me than Tony Fruscella. Bob Quine turned me onto this one very early on in our friendship, when I was still trying to develop an ear for jazz, he certainly understood my taste (or lack there of). While it may not be Kind Of Blue, Tony Fruscella- A Night At The Open Door has an allure all it's own that has little to do with musical innovation, it has a soul that is unique, and that makes it something special.