It might perhaps plague him that there is a low-brow standup comic with the same name wandering the earth, but this Jimmy Carroll probably has his nose too buried in a music chart to pay any attention. Jazz fans may perhaps know him as the arranger behind the Bird with Strings sessions, although since some bebop listeners regard this as the death of jazz, it might be more advisable to slip mentioning it. There are listeners who adore it, however, and it does represent this artist's hippest jazz credits. He is part of the reed section of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and has toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra, but much of his activity, as both a player and arranger/conductor, has been in the realm of pop music, bringing him into contact with hitmakers from Patti Page to Michael Jackson. Some of his best material of this ilk comes from the '50s, when he was an arranger for class acts such as Marlene Dietrich and Rosemary Clooney. Although less well-known, brilliant cabaret singer Ruth Wallis was a performer who allowed the young Carroll plenty of room to both experiment and grow as an arranging talent. At the outset of the '60s, he was one of the lead arrangers for Mitch Mitchell, whose tenure at Columbia represents to some an absolute depth to which American music descended. Ironically, the sessions with Parker were the contact point for Carroll and Mitchell, and there are jazz fans who have remained catatonic ever since finding out that the latter bearded singalong maven did indeed play oboe with the mighty Bird on these same strings sessions, although he didn't get to solo. Yet one credit never tells an artist's whole story, and fans of exotic or strange hi-fi recordings from the same era will know that Carroll sat on both sides of the fence, whipping up smooth drivel for bossman Mitch while experimenting in sound on his own time. He gathered together a group of eight percussionists, including Terry Snyder and Harry Breuer, and created what was definitely one of the first stereo all-percussion recordings. The entire series of all percussion works were Carroll's own compositions, and were eventually cited as an influence on at least one modern percussion composition, Roscoe Mitchell's "The Maze." While he may have worked in luxury conditions at the big labels, in this case the players had to listen to the playbacks one person at a time through headphones. Still, in one important way, this was a totally classy project -- it was pressed on translucent maroon vinyl. It is also one of the few recordings in history in which cocktail shakers are used as an instrument, a letdown as far as music history goes to be sure. Carroll has also had a superb academic career, though it is doubtful he included this percussion orgy recording in his resumé. He has taught at the Washington Conservatory of Music and directed the jazz program at George Mason University. ~ Eugene ChadbournePortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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