Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mingus & Me

One of the albums I bought when first the jazz bug bit was Charles Mingus, Three or Four Shades of Blue.  At the time I was very interested in jazz guitar.  The album appealed to me chiefly because of the presence of Larry Coryell, Philip Catherine, and John Scofield.  I can't say that I really had any clue about Mingus at the time and anyway the album is a pretty atypical in the selection of instruments.  It has a much more seventies, fusion feel than one associates with Mingus.  

However, it is pure Mingus in the power of the arrangements.  This album was also the beginning of an enduring love for Mingus' composition 'Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.'  I have uploaded that song.  Here is the solo order for that one song, thanks to Discogs:
Soloist [1st] – George Mraz Soloist [2nd] – Larry Coryell Soloist [3rd] – Philip Catherine Soloist [4th] – George Coleman Soloist [5th] – Charles Mingus Soloist [6th] – Larry Coryell, Philip Catherine
Meanwhile, I have been yearning to do another post on Booker Ervin.  Ervin was a wonderful tenor player with a fine number of recordings that no one but yours truly seems to know about.  I won't do it now, but I did post MDM (Monk, Duke, and Me) from Mingus' album MingusHere is the lineup:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Mountain of a Hemphill

Just randomly strolling through my collection tonight I hit on The Julius Hemphill Sextet.  Avant gardener Hemphill (1938-1995) seems to be the almost invisible man.  I couldn't find an entry on him in the Jazz Encyclopedia.  Nor could I find the album Five Card Stud on Discogs.  That's damned odd, because Discogs has pretty much everything.  

Anyway, Five Card Stud is a very fine piece of work.  It is all saxophone all the time.  Here is the lineup, from Wikipedia:
I note the presence of Tim Berne.   An all horn band is a lot like a Capella music: voice is everything.  Fortunately, the sax has a lot of rich voice.  I don't miss the drums or the ubiquitous thump of the jazz bass, maybe because some of the horns are thumping like a bass.  Much of the composition divides between a solo, a horn doing bass, and an orchestra-like chorus. 

Search this one out.  Everything on it is toe curling good.   I am playing 'Moat and the Bridge' from the album. 

Another Hemphill recording (the only other one I have) is Flat-out Jump Suite.  This is a pure avant garde concept album, with titles 'Ear', 'Mind', 'Heart', and 'Body'.  You don't want to miss hearing this one. 
 I am playing 'The Body' on my L365 station. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

More Elvin Jones on Blue Note

On July 17, 1970, Elvin Jones recorded a session in the Rudy Gelder Studio that is astonishingly good.  It was released as Coalition.  I am playing a couple of cuts from this session: 'Ural Stradania' and 'Shinjitu'.  The recording features
  • Frank Foster (tenor sax on the first and alto clarinet on the second)
  • George Coleman (tenor sax)
  • Wilbur Little (bass)
  • Candido Camero (congas and tambourine)
  • Elvin Jones (drums)
Everything on the album is good, but Foster's low horn on Shinjitu is way deep down in the bone.   I found all this on the Complete Elvin Jones Blue Note Sessions, a box set that is a really box of treasure. 

In February of the following year, Jones and Foster returned to Gelder's studio for a second session.  Most of this session was released as Genesis. I already have 'For All The Other Times' playing on my L365 station.  I am adding 'Three Card Molly'.  
  • Frank Foster (tenor, alto flute, alto clarinet).  
  • Joe Farrell (tenor sax and soprano sax)
  • David Liebman (tenor sax and soprano sax)
  • Gene Perla (bass).  
  • Elvin Jones (drums)
This is great jazz on the cusp of hard bop and avant garde.  Enjoy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art Pepper

Art Pepper is one of those guys you can count on, if you are holding one of his recordings in one of the few remaining jazz stores and not, say, leaving something valuable where he could get at it.  Pepper is a study in genius, psychological dysfunction, and heroin.  It may be one of the most insidious things about the fine white powder that it didn't stop someone like Pepper from producing exquisite music. 

I went back this evening to his Village Vanguard recordings.  It is a fine collection if you want to get to know Art Pepper.  There is a lot of his voice introducing the sets.  If you have ever known someone who is always on the edge, psychologically, you will recognize the tone when he speaks.  He lets the audience know that they are recording a classic. 

Anyway, Pepper produced a lot of essential bop when he wasn't in the slammer or too high to play.  Even when he was too high to play, he could still play.   I am putting some Pepper on my L365 station.  'Caravan' can be found on his Complete Village Vanguard Sessions, disc 2.  Here is the lineup:

I am also including 'Anthropology', which opens with a very special dialogue between Pepper and Mraz on bass.  This is an essential live jazz recording.  There are nine discs in the box set, covering several sets over three days.  I would also note the presence of Elvin Jones, who I have been pushing lately on my L365 station.  This Pepper box is a great example of his work as a sideman.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Anthony Braxton

Listening to Anthony Braxton recordings is a little like watching Doctor Who.  The Tardis door opens on to anything from a Victorian parlor to a garden full of fauna from another galaxy.  It's fair to warn you that, with Braxton, you get more of the second than the first.  The vast majority of Braxton's recordings are very challenging jazz compositions with titles like 'Opus 23J' or 'Composition No.114 (+108a)'. 

I am confused by a lot of this work, but when I get Braxton I find his work very gratifying.  I am playing a couple of Braxton interpretations of other composers work.  'You Stepped Out of a Dream' is a duet with bass boss Dave Holland.  It is a fantastic display of Braxton's talent.  I have it from the box set The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton.  It is from Five Pieces (1975) which also features Barry Altschul on drums and Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn. 

I also added 'Miss Ann', an Eric Dolphy composition, originally from Duets 1976.  This pairs Braxton with Muhal Richard Abrams.  

If you only had two Braxton recordings, I would recommend first the two disc The Charlie Parker Project (1995).  Here's the lineup:
I've had 'Dewey Square' playing but I just replaced it with 'Yardbird Suite'.  I don't know Misha Mengelberg, but her  his playing is magnificent.  Intrepid reader Jason corrects me below regarding Misha Mengelberg

The second album I would recommend is Six Monk Compositions (1987).  Here is the lineup:

This might be my single favorite cover of Monk compositions.  I have worshiped at the Church of Waldron for a long time now.  I have 'Four in One' playing. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kenny Dorham Comes To Mind

A little bit of exquisite hard bop from the golden period of exquisite hard bop: Kenny Dorham: 'Round Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia (1956).  I noticed a review of this recording in the latest incarnation of the Penguin Jazz Guide and realized with a shock that, although I bought a copy of Vol. 1 decades ago, it somehow wasn't in my iTunes library.  Well, I fixed that. 

Cafe Bohemia is one of the great Blue Note live recordings.  It has distinctly Jazz Messengers sound, what with Dorham and Bobby Timmons on piano.  I have the title cut playing on my L365 station.  It will make your day.  

Being in a Dorham mood, I also posted the title cut from Una Mas (1963).  It's a very nice, slightly Latin bop.  Here is the lineup:
You can't beat that group.  Anything with Tony Williams on it is a treasure.  Dorham's playing is superb all the way through. 

Finally, I added a cut from one of those Sonny Rollins recordings that might be easily overlooked: Rollins Plays for Bird (1956), which has the subtitle: Sonny Rollins Quintet with Kenny Dorham and Max Roach.  The cut is 'Kids Know'. 

Roach is Roach and Rollins is Rollins.  Dorham is luminous. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012