Born in 1926, Masso was with Jimmy Dorsey in 1948-49, but gave up a travelling life in the early 50s, settling down with university teaching up to retirement in 1973. When he returned to full- time playing his exceptional skills soon ensured a full engagement diary with numerous top names in Dixieland, mainstream and swing. Touring worldwide, he visited Europe in 1973 with Benny Goodman in a nine-piece, which included Al Klink and John Bunch – both chosen for this excellent 1978 album, Masso's debut as a leader.
He plays with a warm tone, relaxed swing, a ready flow of beautifully crafted phrasing and seemingly effortless poise. Al Klink's light-toned, nimble tenor is a perfect match in style, sailing with elegant assurance through the arrangements. I was reminded of the Roy Williams / John Barnes duets at times, e.g. in Sometimes I'm Happy with its intimate, integrated rapport and a flawless unaccompanied chorus. The rhythm section comprised celebrated practitioners in fine form, with some delightful solo spots from veteran bassist Milt Hinton (who seems to have worked with just about everybody in his long career from Freddie Keppard to Branford Marsalis!).
Long unavailable, this very welcome reissue adds two previously unissued alternative takes. Top class small-group swing, this release is a timely reminder of just how good were the somewhat undervalued Masso and Klink.
~ Hugh Rainey | Jazz Journal | ⭑⭑⭑⭑ (4) Stars