March 24, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: March 24 to March 31

March 24
  • Pianist Renee Rosnes born 1962 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • Pianist Steve Kuhn born 1938 in Brooklyn, NY.
  • Pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi records From Toshiko with Love, 1981.
March 25
  • Guitarist John McLaughlin records his tribute to Bill Evans, Time Remembered, 1993.
  • Drummer Paul Motian born 1931 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Duke Ellington records The 1952 Seattle Concert.
March 26
  • Tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley records Workout with pianist Wynton Kelly, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, 1961.
  • Saxophonist/flutist/vocalist James Moody born 1925 in Savannah, GA.
  • Tenor saxophonist David Murray records The Special Quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, 1990.
March 27
  • Saxophonist Ben Webster born 1909 in Kansas City, MO.
  • Clarinetist Pee Wee Russell born 1906 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Vocalist Sarah Vaughan born 1924 in Newark, NJ.
March 28
  • Trumpeter/composer Thad Jones born 1923 in Pontiac, MI.
  • Soprano saxophonist/clarinetist Sidney Bechet and cornetist Muggsy Spanier record “China Boy,” 1940.
  • Pianist Tete Montoliu born 1933 in Barcelona, Spain.
March 29
  • Guitarist Eddie Lang records “Add A Little Wiggle,” 1928.
  • Trumpeter Tony Fruscella records his eponymously named album 1955, including the classic “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
  • Saxophonist Michael Brecker born 1949 in Philadelphia, PA.
March 30
  • Vibraphonist Karl Berger born 1935 in Heidelberg, Germany.
  • Pianist Marilyn Crispell born 1947 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin records The Man I Love in 1967.
March 31
  • Alto saxophonist Gary Bartz records West 42nd Street, 1990.
  • Guitarist Freddie Green born 1911 in Charleston, SC.
  • Xylophonist/Vibraphonist Red Norvo born 1908 in Beardstown, IL.
Source: Smithsonian Jazz

March 21, 2011

Shelly Manne - "Speak Low" (1962)

Shelly Manne on drums, with Conte Candoli on trumpet, Richie Kamuca on tenor sax, Russ Freeman on piano, and Monte Budwig on bass.

March 19, 2011

Coltrane’s Poor Cousin

Coltrane Plays the BluesJohn Coltrane’s 1960 Album Coltrane Plays the Blues is often overshadowed by its more famous companion LP, Coltrane’s Sound. This is unfortunate, because Plays the Blues is a consistently strong album from Coltrane and even contains a few surprises for listeners.

All the songs on the original releases were recorded over two days, October 24 and 26, 1960. The tunes used on Coltrane’s Sound have a darker hue to them, particularly “Liberia” and “Equinox,” with its dirge-like rhythmic underpinning beneath Coltrane’s soaring solo. This was probably intentional as this album followed hard on the heels of My Favorite Things, which was all standards. (Even the artwork for the album was dark, a painting of Coltrane’s face in which the smears of paint make it appear that he is melting. Apparently, even Coltrane was upset by the image.)

Coltrane Plays the Blues is of a different order. The playing is more approachable, and Coltrane plays both the soprano and tenor sax, accompanied by McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. It opens with the terrific “Blues to Elvin,” in which we hear Coltrane dig into the tune with a kind of simplicity of approach that is often lacking elsewhere. Yet, he is exploring harmonically with as much creativity and interest as ever. In two of the tunes, “Mr. Day” and the slowly swinging “Mr. Syms,” one hears premonitions of “Equinox” (recorded two days later) from both Coltrane and Tyner, as if both were taking the opportunity to explore motifs and variations for the later tune.

The surprises I mentioned earlier are two tunes without Tyner, the first time that Coltrane had recorded with a trio since his Prestige Records days. On “Blues to Bechet,” he plays soprano sax in tribute to its master, Sidney Bechet, and on “Blues to You,” he plays tenor. This is a refreshing, uncluttered format for Coltrane, and one wishes he had returned to it more often in his career.

While no Coltrane recording can be said to be lost in obscurity at this point, I recommend that you take a listen (or re-listen) to Coltrane Plays the Blues - it deserves to come out of the shadows.

March 17, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: March 17 to March 23

March 17
  • Pianist Herbie Hancock records Maiden Voyage, 1965.
  • Pianist/vocalist Nat "King" Cole born 1917 in Montgomery, AL.
  • Saxophonist/composer Sam Rivers records Dimensions and Extensions with trumpeter Donald Byrd, 1967.
March 18
  • Guitarist Bill Frisell born 1951 in Baltimore, MD.
  • Pianist Lil Armstrong records “Sixth Street,” 1940.
  • Poet Langston Hughes records Weary Blues with bassist Charles Mingus, 1958.
March 19
  • Fletcher Henderson Orchestra records “Hot ‘N’ Anxious,” 1931.
  • Pianist Lennie Tristano born 1919 in Chicago, IL.
  • Count Basie records “Taxi War Dance,” featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young, 1939.
March 20
  • Pianist Marian McPartland born 1918 in Windsor, England.
  • Trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis records In This House, On This Morning, 1993.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane makes his last recording with trumpeter Miles Davis, Someday My Prince Will Come, 1961.
March 21
  • Clarinetist Hank d’Amico born 1915 in Rochester, NY.
  • Pianist/composer Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure recorded, 1964.
  • Pianist/vocalist Amina Claudine Myers born 1942 in Blackwell, AR.
March 22
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records “Pent-Up House” with trumpeter Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach, 1956.
  • Guitarist George Benson born 1943 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Xylophonist Red Norvo’s band records Eddie Sauter’s arrangement of “Remember,” 1937.
March 23
  • Tenor saxophonists Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon record Tenor Titans in Denmark, 1972.
  • Pianist/composer Dave Frishberg born 1933 in St. Paul, MN.
  • Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach duo is recorded in Paris, 1989.
Source: Smithsonian Jazz

March 13, 2011

Jazz News: Joe Morello Has Died

Drummer Joe Morello, most famous for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, has died. Here's the story from The Telegraph:

Joe Morello
Best known for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet over a span of more than 12 years, Morello played on 120 albums (60 of them with Brubeck) and went on to become a highly valued teacher of percussion. More...

March 10, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: March 10 to March 16

March 10
  • Bassist/composer Charles Mingus records Cumbia and Jazz Fusion, 1977.
  • Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke born 1903 in Davenport, IA.
  • Trumpeter Bunk Johnson and saxophonist Sidney Bechet record Milenberg Joys, 1945.
March 11
  • Violinist Leroy Jenkins born 1932 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Kenny Barron records Scratch with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Daniel Humair, 1985.
  • Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Johnny Smith record Moonlight In Vermont, 1952.
March 12
  • Pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams records “Russian Lullaby” with trumpeter Frankie Newton, 1944.
  • Bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus records “Haitian Fight Song,” 1957.
  • Pianist Sir Charles Thompson born 1918 in Springfield, OH.
March 13
  • Drummer Roy Haynes born 1926 in Roxbury, MA.
  • Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff records A Matter of Taste, 1977.
  • Trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard born 1962 in New Orleans, LA.
March 14
  • Pianist/composer Chick Corea records his first trio album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes, 1968.
  • Trumpeter/arranger Quincy Jones born 1933 in Chicago, IL.
  • Alto saxophonist Art Pepper records Plus Eleven, with arrangements by Marty Paich, 1959.
March 15
  • Trumpeter/bandleader Harry James born 1916 in Albany, GA.
  • Duke Ellington records “Concerto for Cootie,” 1940.
  • Pianist Cecil Taylor born 1929 in New York, NY.
March 16
  • Pianist/composer Fats Waller records “Jitterbug Waltz,” 1942.
  • Cornetist Ruby Braff born 1927 in Boston, MA.
  • Pianist Tommy Flanagan born 1930 in Detroit, MI.
Source: Smithsonian Jazz

March 9, 2011

Cannonball Adderley - "Jive Samba" (1963)

Cannonball Adderley on alto sax; Nat Adderley on cornet; Yusef Lateef on tenor sax, oboe, and flute; Joe Zawinul on piano; Sam Jones on bass; and Louis Hayes on drums.

March 6, 2011

A Cup of “Ko-Ko”

Never No Lament the Blanton-Webster BandKo-Ko” was a song recorded on this date in 1940 by the famous Blanton-Webster version of the Duke Ellington Orchestra (bassist Jimmy Blanton and saxophonist Ben Webster were featured soloists). Ellington said that the song was meant to evoke Congo Square in New Orleans (where Louis Armstrong Park is now), a place where African-Americans gathered on Sundays in the pre-jazz days of the nineteenth century to dance to drum music. The Duke originally intended it to be part of his musical history that eventually became the jazz symphony “Black, Brown and Biege” (1943).

Even today, this song has an exotic, raw energy to it. One can hear how it might have been disturbing for some people who listened to it at the time. The whole Ellington band is in attack mode on the piece, with Harry Carney blowing a rhythmic baritone sax and Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton “speaking” through his trombone. Nanton was one of the pioneers of the use of the plunger mute and he employs a raucous “wah-wah” voicing to great effect here.

March 3, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: March 3 to March 9

March 3
  • Bassist Jimmy Garrison born 1934 in Miami, FL.
  • Saxophonist Hal McKusick’s quartet records George Russell’s The Day John Brown Was Hanged, 1956.
  • Clarinetist Barney Bigard born 1906 in New Orleans, LA.
March 4
  • Guitarist Charlie Christian records Solo Flight with Benny Goodman’s band, 1941.
  • Saxophonist Jan Garbarek born 1947 in Mysen, Norway.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band records Carnegie Hall Concert, 1961.
March 5
  • Vocalist Carol Sloane born 1937 in Providence, RI.
  • Louis Armstrong records “Knockin’ A Jug” with trombonist Jack Teagarden, 1929.
  • Basie tenor saxophonists Frank Foster and Frank Wess record Two Franks, Please, 1956.
March 6
  • Trumpeter Howard McGhee born 1918 in Tulsa, OK.
  • Duke Ellington records “Ko-Ko,” 1940.
  • Guitarist Wes Montgomery born 1925 in Indianapolis, IN.
March 7
  • Boogie-woogie pianist Meade "Lux" Lewis records Honky Tonk Train Blues, 1937.
  • Bassist Alcide Pavageau born 1888 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Guitarist Gabor Szabo born 1936 in Budapest, Hungary.
March 8
  • Saxophonist George Coleman born 1935 in Memphis, TN.
  • Pianist James Williams born 1951 in Memphis, TN.
  • Alto saxophonist Lee Konitz records Yesterdays with Miles Davis, 1951.
March 9
  • Alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley records Somethin’ Else, with trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Hank Jones, and drummer Art Blakey, 1958.
  • Saxophonist Ornette Coleman born 1930 in Fort Worth, TX.
  • Pianist Paul Bley records Turns, featuring tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, 1964.
Source: Smithsonian Jazz