SJR Recordings Artists: Bill Bean/John Pisano/Dennis Budimir

SJRCD1006/West Coast Sessions


John Pisano - (guitar) ~ Billy Bean ~ (guitar) ~ Dennis Budimir - (guitar) ~ Gene Estes (vibes track 4 only) ~   other personnel unknown

Tracks: The Hippie (Horace Silver) ~ My Old Flame ~ Have You Met Miss Jones (R.Rodgers/L.Hart) ~ I Love You (Cole Porter) ~ Everytime We Say Goodbye ~ All The Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein/Jerome Kern) ~ Airegin (Sonny Rollins) ~ Two Five Jive (Pisano/Bean)


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When we first started looking at releasing the unissued rehearsal recordings from the fabulous jazz guitar duo of Billy Bean and John Pisano, it became obvious that John had much more material available than would fit on one CD.

It wasn't a difficult choice of what to put on Makin' It Again (SJRCD1003), the first release. All of the material currently available is of a phenomenal standard of playing, if not quite up to modern standards of recording. It should be remembered that they were done on a fairly cheap two track tape deck with a $20.00 mic. After all, these recordings were not meant to be released so there was no desire to make a professional job of them. Having said that, when you hear the tapes and realise just what John Pisano got down and how they have cleaned up to an acceptable standard, one has to marvel at his ingenuity.

It was on a trip to the NAMM show in January 1999 that, browsing through the boxes of tapes chez Pisano, my eyes lit on a cassette that simply said "Billy & Dennis Budimir, 1959". Actually, I did the classic double take and my heart leapt into my mouth. Billy Bean and Dennis Budimir playing together. Was this a rarity or what!!

So we listened to it and there was Billy blowing his usual storm trading licks with a Dennis Budimir that I'd certainly not heard before. This idiosyncratic master was known to me only through his ground breaking recordings on the Revelation label, now long out of print. Here, we have a much more bop orientated Budimir. He always was a unique player but this is a glimpse of Budimir that I feel sure no one has heard before.

You get those days sometimes in life (if you're lucky), when fortune smiles on you and makes what you are doing worthwhile. Sitting in the same room with me on that day listening to the tape was a friend of Dennis's who simply said, "Would you like to talk to Dennis. I'll give him a call right now?"

And so that was that. Within 15 minutes of hearing the tape, I was on the phone talking to Dennis Budimir. He'd forgotten the tape existed but was more than happy to allow the three tracks to be included on "West Coast Sessions".

Like the John & Billy recordings, these were done in Dennis's house in 1959 on a small recorder. The three tracks last over 30 minutes and, through necessity, have had to be shortened and edited because the they basically have no ending, they just peter out. But the playing was so incredible that they just had to be released and in the scheme of things, must be regarded as historic recordings - in fact, absolutely unique.

Dennis has of course spent much of his working life in the L.A. studios. He's seen and played with them all and to just put in perspective how important Billy Bean was, Dennis told me that in 1958, he (Dennis) used to practice in his garage at home with bass player Ralph Pena. Ralph arrived one day with this small red haired guy carrying a guitar, whom Ralph introduced as Billy Bean, and asked if Dennis would mind him sitting in.

Dennis Budimir's comments to me last January were "I've seen, heard and played with many of the greats of the jazz guitar but Billy Bean was the only player I've ever heard who scared me sh**less."

It was inevitable therefore that, once Billy Bean had teamed up with John Pisano that the jazz guitar world would be presented with one of the all-time classic duos.

In actual fact, we haven't, even now, exhausted the unissued recordings of the Pisano/Bean duo. There is more that we may well yet bring out. Certainly, it would be almost criminal not to.

We at SJR have been priviledged to be involved in the issue of these classic recordings.

Chris Burden/SJR

Listen to MP3 soundclips of this CD here


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