From the monthly archives: "November 2012"

This 1958 album of Pee Wee Russell exactly reflects his greatness and is appropriately named “Portrait of Pee Wee.” The feelings his clarinet expresses are very evident and will immediately effect the listeners here of Jazz Con Class. This analogy by Philip Larkin is very exact, “No one familiar with the characteristic excitement of his solos, their lurid, snuffling, asthmatic voicelessness, notes lent on till they split, and sudden passionate intensities, could deny the uniqueness of his contribution to jazz.” This album will be featured for a couple weeks, check the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

More on Album:

Portrait of Pee Wee album by Pee Wee Russell was released Oct 24, 2011 on the Essential Media Mod label. Issued originally on Counterpoint and reissued many times since by budget labels like Everest, this CD version has superior sound. Portrait of Pee Wee music CDs From 1958, this set matches the great clarinetist Pee Wee Pussell with an all-star horn section (trumpeter Ruby Braff, trombonist Vic Dickenson and tenor-saxophonist Bud Freeman) on a program of swing standards along with “Pee Wee Blues.”……Read More  

Biography of Pee Wee Russell:

Born Charles Ellsworth Russell, March 27, 1906, in St. Louis, MO, (died February 15, 1969, in Alexandria, VA); son of Charles Ellsworth Russell (a clerk, store manager, and broker) and Ella Ballard; married Mary Chaloff, March 11, 1943, in New York.

From the beginning, Pee Wee Russell was an enigma, an unclassifiable jazz musician whose unique style graced uncounted live and recorded jazz sessions. Bent on developing a singular voice, Russell consistently surprised both fellow musicians and fans with his recognizable solos. Though he became proficient on several reed instruments and a good reader of music, and though he could blend well with an ensemble with fine tone quality, Russell always preferred smaller groups to larger ones and developed a clarinet style that utilized growls, squeaks, swoops, whispers, and shouts to express his daring musical personality. Most critics and fellow musicians regard him as one of the truly inventive, expressive voices in jazz. Categorized for most of his career as a Dixieland or Chicago-style jazzman, Russell in his later years embraced, and was embraced by, many listeners and musicians of more modern bent.

The late and only child of the father for whom he was named and Ella Ballard Russell, Pee Wee was born in the Maplewood section of St. Louis on March 27, 1906. By his own testimony and that of friends, he was fawned upon by his parents who, while not affluent, dressed him finely and bought him whatever he seemed to desire, including his first musical instruments. Initially, his parents called him by his middle name, Ellsworth, to avoid confusion around the house. His father worked at a variety of jobs-clerical, managerial, sometimes entrepreneurial-and was usually upwardly mobile. The family moved to Okmulgee, then to Muskogee, Oklahoma just as Russell was about to enter elementary school. He began taking piano lessons, later switching to drums, xylophone, and other instruments provided by his indulgent parents. Next came the violin, at which the boy showed some proficiency. That career ended, however, at about age 12, when his mother accidentally sat on the violin.

As Russell’s biographer, Robert Hilbert, wrote in his Pee Wee Russell: The Life of a Jazzman, “But his interest in music was far from over. One night in 1918, his father took him to an Elks event he had arranged [Russell's father managed the Elks lodge]…. Alcide “Yellow” Nunez [a clarinetist] was holding forth with his band, the Louisiana Five. Nunez, one of the first prominent white jazzmen in New Orleans … was a charter member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band [ODJB] in Chicago…. But the aspect of Nunez’s playing that held young Russell enthralled was the thrill of the unexpected: improvisation.” Forty years later Russell expressed his still-remembered excitement at this event and throughout his career free-wheeling improvisation remained the hallmark of his playing…..Learn More

This album “Worktime” was considered to be one of Sonny Rollin’s best album but then again, they are all great. It’s amazing how much this man has done for Jazz and is still around playing now at the ripe age of 82! If you listen very close, you will hear his favorite Coleman Hawkins, throughout his music. Checkout the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

About the Album:

Rollins and Roach also worked off of each other to great effect on “Raincheck,” trading fours on this imaginative selection from the Billy Strayhorn catalog. Even on the more relaxed tempo of “There Are Such Things,” Rollins’ exploration of the changes combines a classic tenor’s warm breathy tone with a bebopper’s determination to leave no possibility unconsidered. Pianist Ray Bryant’s playing is also impeccable throughout.

Coaxed out of seclusion in Chicago to replace Harold Land in the Clifford Brown/Max Roach quintet in 1954, this 1955 release was Rollins’ first album as a leader since the conclusion of his first self-imposed sabbatical. Roach is on hand in the drummer’s seat, spurring Rollins along every step of the way……..Read More

Biography of Sonny Rollins:

Theodore Walter Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York City. He grew up in Harlem not far from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong, he started out on alto saxophone, inspired by Louis Jordan. At the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, trying to emulate Hawkins. He also fell under the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, Bebop.

He began to follow Charlie Parker, and soon came under the wing of Thelonious Monk, who became his musical mentor and guru. Living in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical peers included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew and Art Taylor, but it was young Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell and Miles Davis before he turned twenty.

“Of course, these people are there to be called on because I think I represent them in a way,” Rollins said recently of his peers and mentors. “They’re not here now so I feel like I’m sort of representing all of them, all of the guys. Remember, I’m one of the last guys left, as I’m constantly being told, so I feel a holy obligation sometimes to evoke these people.”

In the early fifties, he established a reputation first among musicians, then the public, as the most brash and creative young tenor on the scene, through his work with Miles, Monk, and the MJQ………Learn More


Every time these two geniuses worked together to record an album, a masterpiece was created. Their two distinctive fireworks type sounds work perfect! It’s hard though, for two heavy improvisers like Oliver Nelson and especially Eric Dolphy to pull it out make it work because of their domineering sounds but no problem. This is an outstanding’ unique Hard Bop album. Both artists played multiple instruments throughout, in this 1961 album “Straight Ahead” and which will be featured exclusively here on Jazz Con Class for a couple weeks. Afterwards it will be dropped inside the “Hard Bop” Playlist, meanwhile check the schedule link for play times, only the best for the listeners here, enjoy!

More on Album:

Straight Ahead is a jazz studio album by saxophonist Oliver Nelson. It features acclaimed musicians such as Eric Dolphy on sax, clarinet and flute (his last appearance on a Nelson album following a series of collaborations recorded for Prestige), and Roy Haynes on drums. It was recorded in March 1961 at the celebrated Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs. All the pieces were first takes; Joe Goldberg recalls: “The session was scheduled for one in the afternoon and I arrived at 3:30, thinking that by then the music would have been rehearsed and the men would be starting to play. What I found was a studio empty of everyone but…..Learn More

More on Oliver Nelson:

Oliver Nelson needs to be reconsidered by music listeners for what he was – one of the most significant jazz voices of his generation, and an important big band composer and arranger of the 1960s. Perhaps the skill he mastered most keenly was his ability to turn listeners on. As difficult as his music might have been to play, and as hard as it is to analyze, it is extremely easy to listen to.

Born June 4, 1932 in St. Louis, Oliver Nelson came from a musical family: His brother played saxophone with Cootie Williams in the Forties, and his sister was a singer- pianist. Nelson himself

began piano studies at age six and saxophone at eleven. In the late ‘40’s he played in various territory bands and then spent 1950-51 with Louis Jordan’s big band. After two years in a Marine Corps ensemble, he returned to St. Louis to study composition and theory at both Washington and Lincoln universities.

After graduation in 1958, Nelson moved to New York and played with Erskine Hawkins, Wild Bill Davis, and Louie Bellson. He also became the house arranger for the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Though he began recording as a leader in 1959, Nelson’s breakthrough came in 1961 with…..Learn More

This is an album which was recorded live in 1974 and from Clifford Jordan,  a band member of Charles Mingus during the early 60′s. The listeners here would have never thought it was recorded so late because of it’s Avant-Garde nature but it surely was and belongs here on Jazz Con Class. Clifford Jordan and company were more interested in keeping the Jazz tradition alive while Jazz musicians, young and old, were becoming increasing electronic. Here’s where you can purchase the album. This album will be featured for about two weeks and will be placed in the G4 Playlist afterwords and where I have most “live” sessions located. Check the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

More on Album:

Tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan (1931 – 1993) was born in Chicago and his high school classmates included Johnny Griffin, John Gilmore and Richard Davis. He worked with Max Roach in Chicago area and moved to New York in 1957 where he joined Horace Silver’s band…..Read More

Biography of Clifford Jordan:

Clifford Jordan was born in Chicago in 1931. A self-taught musician, his love of jazz had him performing in his home town until the late 1950′s, when he moved to New York. His first album was appropriately titled “Blowing in from Chicago,” and Horace Silver and Art Blakey.

In the 60′s, his range broadened, as he played with Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Kenny Dorham, Lloyd Price, and James Brown. He toured Europe as a soloist and conducted his own music for radio and studio orchestras in 1966. A year later, he was toured West Africa and the Middle East for the U.S. State Department with

Randy Weston. 1968 saw Cliff forming Frontier Records, through which he produced albums for Wilbur Ware, Pharoah Sanders, Cecil Payne, Charles Brackeen, Ed Blackwell and their groups.

Cliff Jordan was very interested in public work, and he became music consultant for Bed-Sty Youth in Action and Pratt Institute. He was the music director of the first Dancemobile in 1968 and faculty member at Henry Street Settlement.

1969 was time of change throughout the world, and Europe was becoming a hotbed for American jazz. This led Clifford Jordan to move with his wife and daughter from Brooklyn to Belgium……..Read More

On this Sunday, November 18th, Jazz Con Class will be presenting a 2 and 1/2 hour special on Jackie McLean. It will air 3 times throughout the day so it will cover all the time zones. The listener who are interested should check the schedule link for the time that will fit them the best. The Jackie McLean Machine is the name that I though would fit best because of his approach with the alto sax. The straight-from-the heart modal sound from McLean’s alto sax, rips into your skin with a wide range of emotions, very cool, enjoy!

Recorded in 1964 this album “It’s Time” was surely ahead of it’s time, as you will understand further when reading the description below. Although it states, “walks the line between modal post-bop and free jazz”, I disagree. It is a combination of both jazz styles but it is very balanced and works great! Drummer Roy Haynes helps keep it blended together and allows both Jazz styles (Free Jazz and Modal Jazz) to make sense. If anything, its more of an Avant-Garde type of jazz style and if the Jazz Con Class listeners here would like to listen to Free Jazz specifically, then they should check the playlist link and find out when that particular playlists airs. Outstanding musicianship by all 5 Jazz masters, great stuff! Check the schedule link, listen to album and be the judge, enjoy!

About this album:

Recorded in 1964, Jackie McLean’s It’s Time was only available on CD in the United States as part of a four-disc Mosaic set of his complete Blue Note recordings between 1964-1966. The band here includes trumpeter Charles Tolliver, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Cecil McBee, and drummer Roy Haynes. The music was written entirely by either Tolliver or McLean and walks the line between modal post-bop and free jazz. It came hot on the heels of McLean’s first forays into these waters on 1963′s One Step Beyond and Destination Out!. There is more to it than that, of course; chordal improvisation still plays a large part in the music on this fine record. Hancock’s solo on the opening “Cancellation” is the most angular thing here, and the tempo is simply breathtaking. McLean’s butt funky “Das’ Dat,” which follows, owes a debt to Horace Silver to be sure, but the blues element, which is in the tune’s head, is pure Jackie McLean. McLean’s own playing isn’t particularly adventurous, though he pushes his tone to the limits at times……Learn More

More on Roy Haynes:

A veteran drummer long overshadowed by others, but finally in the 1990s gaining recognition for his talents and versatility, Roy Haynes has been a major player for half a century. He worked early on with the Sabby Lewis big band, Frankie Newton, Luis Russell (1945-1947), and Lester Young (1947-1949). After some engagements with Kai Winding, Haynes was a member of the Charlie Parker Quintet (1949-1952); he also recorded during this era with Bud Powell, Wardell Gray, and Stan Getz. Haynes toured the world with Sarah Vaughan (1953-1958); played with Thelonious Monk in 1958; led his own group; and gigged with George Shearing, Lennie Tristano, Eric Dolphy, and Getz (1961). He was Elvin Jones’ occasional substitute with John Coltrane’s classic quartet during 1961-1965, toured with Getz (1965-1967), and was with Gary Burton (1967-1968). In addition to touring with Chick Corea (1981 and 1984) and Pat Metheny (1989-1990), Haynes has led his own Hip Ensemble on and off during the past several decades…..Learn More 

This album is a rarity and can be purchase for a lump sum, try to find it and make sure you don’t get ripped off. Or you can get the album in a two record set and with another great album (CD Version), “Soul Trombone.” Soul Trombone is quite expensive also but you can download the MP3 for a more favorable price. OR you can get both in MP3 fashion and with a great price here. You do have a choice, so you decide which way it’s better. “Cabin in the Sky”  will be featured here for the Jazz Con Class listeners and for a week and placed in the big band playlist. Very interesting combination of strings and Jazz, it’s different and very experimentally entertaining. Great stuff, enjoy! Check the schedule link for play times. The listeners will rather confused to find out why it was a “commercial” failure. Marc Myers explains more, here in his blog Jazzwax:

If you love Miles Davis’ Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess—both arranged by Gil Evans—then you simply must consider Curtis Fuller’s Cabin in the Sky. Recorded over two days in April 1962 for Impulse, the album’s orchestrations are on par with both Davis albums and frame Fuller’s trombone beautifully. [Pictured above, Curtis Fuller]

On the album, Fuller (like Davis) is cast as a wandering, vulnerable soloist who must spar with surging sections of the orchestra that hurl all sorts of heavenly bolts at him. From start to finish, Cabin in the Sky is a masterpiece that truly needs fresh critical consideration.

At the time, however, the album was a considered a commercial flop—through no fault of Fuller or Albam. Which is both tragic and baffling, considering its spectacular qualities and the musicians involved. Here’s who we’re talking about……..Continue Here

More on Curtis Fuller:

Curtis Fuller was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1934. He came to music late, playing the baritone horn in high school and switching to the trombone at age 16. Detroit, at the time, was the breeding ground for an astonishing pool of fresh, highly individual talent.

Milt Jackson and Hank Jones had already gone to New York and made their names. But coming of age in Detroit in the early fifties were Fuller, Donald Byrd, Elvin and Thad Jones, Paul Chambers, Louis Hayes, Kenny Burrell, Barry Harris, Pepper Adams, Yusef Lateef, Sonny Red, Hugh Lawson, Doug Watkins, Tommy Flanagan and many others who would make the mid-decade migration to New York and eventually international recognition.

In 1953, Curtis left the local scene to serve his two-year stint in the army, where he met and played with Cannonball Adderley and Junior Mance among others. When he returned home, he began working with Yusef Lateef’s quintet. The Lateef quintet came to New York in April 1957 to record two albums for Savoy and a third produced by Dizzy Gillespie for Verve.

Word of Curtis’s talent spread rapidly around New York. Although he initially came under the spell of J.J. Johnson and listed Jimmy Cleveland, Bob Brookmeyer and Urbie Green among his favorites, Fuller came to New York at the age of 22 with a unique style and sound.

In May, after being in town for about a month, he recorded with Paul Quinchette and made his first albums as a leader: two quintet albums for Prestige with Sonny Red featured on alto. Like the Blue Note debuts by Kenny Burrell and Thad Jones the prior year, he used mostly transplanted Detroit players…….Read More

Jazz Con Class will be featuring a One Day special Jazz presentation of  Art Blakey music. SIX powerful hours in total of the unique hard pounding rhythmic sounds of the great drummer Art Blakey. This Sunday November 11th will be the day and with the first three hours starting at 7AM  and until 10AM (Eastern New York Time). The second three hours will begin at 9PM and run to Midnight (Eastern New York Time). Check the schedule to confirm and to learn more of all the other playlists that are playing 24 Days/7 Days.

More on Art Blakey (Biography):

American jazz percussionist Art Blakey (1919–1990) helped to forge the characteristic sound of hard bop, perhaps the dominant style of modern jazz. His own powerful playing was instantly recognizable among jazz fans, but equally important was his influence—the long list of players who passed through Blakey’s band, the Jazz Messengers, formed the nucleus of the jazz scene in the last decades of the twentieth century and into the new millennium.

Grew Up in Foster Care

“Icall ours the music of survival,” Blakey was quoted as saying by Steve Voce of the London Independent . “I’m a Depression baby. I was orphaned in Pittsburgh—I didn’t know my dad and my mother died when I was six months old, so I played jazz on account of survival because I didn’t like to work in the mines. They had child labour then and I worked in coal mines and steel works.” Arthur Blakey, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 11, 1919, was raised by a woman named Marie Roddericker who was a friend or relative of his mother. He started out musically on piano, playing by ear, and by the time he was a teenager he had skills enough to be able to organize a big band (with as many as 18 musicians) that played in Pittsburgh clubs. He had other bands depending on his income. “When I should have been an adolescent, I was a man,” Voce quoted him as saying. “At the age of 14 I had a family and at 15 I was a father. I never had a childhood.” Blakey would marry four times and have a reported 12 children, five of them adopted……Read More

Kenny Clarke’s album “Bohemia after Dark” was one of eight albums recorded in the forgotten Cafe Bohemia and which was located on 15 Barrow Street in the West Village section of Manhattan. It was the earliest recording of Cannonball Adderley and featured an all-star cast (check names on album cover), I will eventually feature them all. I featured Charles Mingus’ recording and wrote a post about it here. Check the schedule link for play times. Here’s an interesting anecdote on how Cannonball Adderley was discovered:

On 19 June 1955 Julian and Nat Adderley arrived in New York on a trip for the former to work on his Master’s Degree at New York University. That first night in the city the brothers went to the Café Bohemia to hear the Oscar Pettiford band, which was the club’s house band at the time. Jerome Richardson, who was the group’s regular saxophonist was unavailable that evening due to a recording session. Pettiford asked Charlie Rouse – who was in the audience – if he would sit in, however Rouse did not have his saxophone with him. Pettiford then noticed another audience member, Adderley, who had a saxophone case with him and told Rouse to ask this unknown man if he could borrow his horn. Instead of lending the horn Adderley asked if he could sit in with the group. Reluctantly, the leader complied and allowed Adderley to play. Overnight Adderley rose to prominence on the New York jazz scene. On 21 June he officially played his first night at the Bohemia; on 28 June he made his first recording with Pettiford’s group; on 14 July he recorded his first album as a leader. By October 1957 he was a member of the Miles Davis Sextet.

About this Album:

Bohemia After Dark album by Cannonball Adderley / Kenny Clarke was released Feb 11, 2003 on the Savoy Jazz label. Along with Max Roach, Kenny Clarke was one of the definitive drummers of jazz’s original bebop movement. By the time of the BOHEMIA AFTER DARK sessions (in June 1955), Clarke was firmly established as a bandleader. He probably didn’t know it at the time but Clarke also made jazz history here……..Learn More

Have you ever heard of a jazz musician named J.R. Montrose? Not too many have. I am featuring his debut album “J.R. Montrose” so the Jazz Con Class listeners here could learn more and in a first hand manner. There’s something about these great musicians that fascinate music lover of all kinds but only to suddenly disappear. The listeners here will immediately understand the talent level of J.R. Montrose as soon as this album begins. He recorded very little commercially after this album. Why? Why would he not continue to make more records? A talent wasted, many listeners will say. Well, J.R. Montrose didn’t stop playing altogether, he just took a different path. Nevertheless, it would have been quite interesting if he continued collaborating with all the others superstars of the Hard Bop era and later on in the Avant-Garde era. Let’s not forget that he was an integral component of the famous Mingus album, “Pithecanthropus Erectus” and which I featured here on Jazz Con Class a while ago. There’s no doubt about it, he was just as good! Check the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

About the Album:

J.R. Monterose’s first session as a leader was a thoroughly enjoyable set of swinging, straight-ahead bop that revealed him as a saxophonist with a knack for powerful, robust leads in the vein of Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins. With a stellar supporting group of pianist Horace Silver, trumpeter Ira Sullivan, bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer “Philly” Joe Jones, Monterose has recorded a set of bop that swings at a measured pace and offers many delightful moments. Throughout the session, Monterose sounds vigorous, whether he’s delivering hard-swinging solos or waxing lyrical……..Learn More

J.R. Montrose (Left) with Kenny Dorham

Biography of J.R. Montrose:

J. R. Monterose (January 19, 1927 – September 16, 1993), born Frank Anthony Peter Vincent Monterose, Jr. in Detroit, Michigan, was an American jazz tenor (and occasional soprano) saxophonist.

J.R. or JR (derived from Jr.) Monterose grew up in Utica, New York, where his family moved a few months after his birth. He began formal clarinet studies at thirteen, but was largely self taught as a tenor saxophonist, which he took up at fifteen after hearing Glenn Miller band soloist Tex Beneke. His earliest stylistic influences were Coleman Hawkins and Chu Berry, but, as he told critic Leonard Feather, he also found harmonic inspiration in pianists, citing particularly the example of Bud Powell and the instruction of Utica-based guitarist and pianist Sam Mancuso in helping him learn how to use chord changes……..Learn More

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