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Master of “Time and Space”: Ace Arranger Jimmy Wisner Reissues Early Jazz Recordings

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The list of artists with whom Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner has worked is rather staggering: Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Iggy Pop, Carly Simon, Al Kooper, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Searchers…the list goes on.  But although everybody knows “Palisades Park” (on which Wisner played organ for Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon) or “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” (which Wisner arranged for Spanky and Our Gang), few know the music he’s created as a solo artist.  ABKCO is seeking to redress this with the recent release of Time and Space.  This 10-track compilation draws on the two albums Wisner recorded for Philadelphia’s Cameo-Parkway Records for C-P’s Wyncote imprint, 1964’s The Girl from Ipanema and 1965’s Cast Your Fate to the Wind.  The former, originally credited to “Jimmy Davis” and “Norma Lee,” features Wisner on piano and Norma Mendoza on vocals, while the latter finds Wisner flying solo under his own name.  Unfortunately for Ms. Mendoza, Time and Space is an all-instrumental affair, showcasing Jimmy Wisner’s considerable gifts as a jazz composer and pianist.

The recipient of 36 Gold and 22 Platinum awards, Wisner also co-wrote The Searchers’ hit “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and has been involved with over 100 hit records as producer, arranger or composer.  But he’s long held a soft spot for these very personal albums recorded for Wyncote, and recently approached ABKCO (the successor to Cameo-Parkway) about their reissue.  The result is Time and Space, which takes five tracks from each of the two albums.  Although credits on the actual album are sparse, it appears that Wisner has remixed and/or overdubbed many of these tracks; ABKCO’s press release indicates that Wisner has “improved the original recordings with a very contemporary approach including enhancements he’d had in mind for more than five decades.”

We’ve got more on “Wiz” Wisner after the jump!

That Wisner was a prolific jazz musician might come as a surprise to those who only know him from his pop hits, many of which were recorded in the 1960s.  Born in 1931 in Philadelphia, founded a jazz trio with Chick Kinney on drums and Ace Tesone on bass.  With Wisner leading on piano, The Jimmy Wisner Trio made the rounds in the City of Brotherly Love during the late 1950s and early 1960s and accompanied talents including Mel Tormé, Carmen McRae, Dakota Staton and the Hi-Lo’s on live dates.  In addition to recording a couple of albums themselves, The Wisner Trio can be heard on albums such as the 1962 Atlantic LP Mel Tormé at the Red Hill, recorded at a New Jersey club.   When Wisner dipped his toe into the world of pop music, it was under the mysterious name “Kokomo.”  The exotic single “Asia Minor” was an unusual adaptation of Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, but nonetheless managed to hit the U.S. Top 10.  Wisner was encouraged to pursue his pop muse, and eventually became head of A&R for Columbia Records.

If you’re interested in joining ace arranger, composer and pianist Jimmy Wisner in Time and Space, you can order below!  The album is in stores now.

Jimmy Wisner, Time and Space (ABKCO 8890-2, 2012)

  1. Blues For Bernard
  2. Five To Four
  3. Jasmine
  4. Kimberly
  5. El Viento
  6. Time And Space
  7. Billy From Philly
  8. Spanish Jazz
  9. Jersey Waltz
  10. Epilogue

Tracks 1, 4-5 and 10 from Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Wyncote LP SW-9103, 1965
Tracks 2-3 and 8-8 from Jimmy Davis and Norma Lee, The Girl From Ipanema, Wyncote LP SW-9028, 1964

Written by Joe Marchese

May 31, 2012 at 10:06

One Response

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  1. Major thankies for the blog post. Much obliged.

    Miracle Edelstein

    June 30, 2012 at 03:12

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