From the monthly archives: "February 2013"

ByrdInHandCover

In light of the recent death of Jazz great Donald Byrd (80 years old), I am featuring this album “Byrd in Hand.” This is not intended as a tribute because there’s plenty of Jazz tracks here on Jazz Con Class of Donald Byrd as either a leader or a sideman. The reason why I’m featuring this particular album is not solely because of its greatness but more importantly, because he was remembered more for his work on post 70’s records (Beginning of so-called “Smooth Jazz”). One must note that great music doesn’t ever “get old” by any means and Donald Byrd’s earlier accomplishments should be recognized even more. Its for this reason that I have created Jazz Con Class, so this music could have a place to be enjoyed on a 24 hour basis. “Byrd in Hand” will be featured for a couple weeks and then place in the “Hard Bop” playlist. Check the schedule link for play times.

About the Album:

Of the jazz trumpeters who blazed a trail during the 1950s and ’60s, Donald Byrd has never really gotten his due. He came into his own at the same time as Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham, etc. were on the scene, unjustly diverting some attention away from Byrd. Yet a listen to a small part of his recorded output reveals a trumpeter with a well-developed penchant for lyricism and who, over time, learned to use space as effectively in his improvisations as Miles himself.

Byrd In Hand, Byrd’s second album for Blue Note Records, features him with his frequent collaborator, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams. The front-line is augmented with tenor man Charlie Rouse and the rhythm section includes Walter Davis Jr., Sam Jones and Art Taylor.

The proceedings kick off in elegant style with a gorgeous rendition of “Witchcraft” that makes expert use of a rhythmic suspension. Byrd’s sensitive rendering of the standard features forceful punctuations by Rouse and Adams that illustrate the orchestral possibilities of a three-man front-line and up the romantic quotient of the tune. Byrd then takes a two-chorus solo, a thoughtful improvisation full of memorable lines……..Read More

TakingCareOfBusiness

Oliver Nelson was really known more for his arranging and composing but was never truly worshiped enough for his ability to master the tenor. He had his own distinct, precise and sweet sound that could get into your soul. His special sound seems to make one feel like they are in some dream-like state. This 1960 album, “Taking Care of Business” will take you there for certain but could be more of a testament of how bluesy Oliver Nelson’s sound really was. Every Jazz collection should consist of a “healthy” dose of Oliver Nelson, what a genius! Check the schedule link for play times.

About the album:

This special collector’s edition is digitally remastered from original analog master tapes. Oliver Nelson would gain his greatest fame later in his short life as an arranger/composer but this superior session puts the emphasis on his distinctive tenor and alto playing. In a slightly unusual group (with vibraphonist Lem Winchester, organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith, bassist George Tucker and drummer Roy Haynes), Nelson improvises a variety of well-constructed but spontaneous solos; his unaccompanied spots on “All the Way” and his hard-charging playing on the medium-tempo blues “Groove” are two of the many highpoints……….Read More

TheAllSeeingEyeFeature

Wayne Shorter’s classic album, The All Seeing Eye will be featured here for all the Jazz Con Class listeners to enjoy. This was a very advance album for 1964. It is categorized as an Avant-Guarde album and with a great supporting cast, James Spaulding (alto saxophone); Freddie Hubbard (trumpet, flugelhorn); Alan Shorter (flugelhorn); Grachan Moncur III (trombone); Herbie Hancock (piano); Joe Chambers (drums). A great album that can be considered to be Wayne Shorter’s best post Hard Bop and before Jazz Fusion success. Every tune is uniquely different from each other and takes its own special path of exploration. Check the schedule link for play times and enjoy!

About the album:

Digitally remastered using 24-bit technology by Rudy Van Gelder (2000, Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey). This is part of the Blue Note Rudy Van Gelder Editions series. Wayne Shorter’s epic THE ALL SEEING EYE can be compared in character to John Coltrane’s A LOVE SUPREME. It is the culmination of the first leg of Shorter’s artistic journey, which began in earnest in 1964 with his first solo recordings for Blue Note. Like SUPREME, it is a deeply spiritual work, with both the album and song titles referring to God’s creation of the universe. Also, unlike his previous efforts, EYE marks the first time Shorter commanded such a large ensemble, a feature that would mark many future solo outings. Compositionally, Shorter takes daring leaps here, greatly expanding his freer modal style. Traditional forms are bent and stretched beyond recognition as themes and solos meld into a continuous stream, projecting moods and varying intensities that reflect the album’s subject. The large horn section creates a massive sound on ensemble passages and a great variety of interpretations in solo jaunts. Also part of Shorter’s design is the role of the rhythm section, more an ebbing whirlwind than strictly a supporting unit. THE ALL SEEING EYE is one of Wayne Shorter’s boldest and most successful efforts……Read More

EthiopianKnightsCover

Donald Byrd sure made his contribution to the Early Jazz Funk movement and this album “Ethiopian Knights” is certain proof. This is the album prior to the famous Black Byrd album and where he was heavily criticized by fellow Jazz musicians because of its total abandonment of traditional creative improvising and what Jazz really stands for. Donald Byrd created a new genre in the commercial musical world which was later named “Smooth Jazz.”  In my opinion, Black Byrd did harm traditional Jazz but this wasn’t the only reason. There are other factors involved but I will discuss this matter in the future. For now, let’s concentrate on this classic. To listen to this album featured here in its entirety, please go to the schedule link  for play times.

About the album:

At about the same time that Miles Davis’ crew was populating the jazz world with their revolutionary fusion-isms, trumpeter Donald Byrd had returned from a trip to Africa and undergone an artistic epiphany. His Afrocentric explorations resulted in a number of beautiful albums, including 1971’s ETHIOPIAN KNIGHTS, which postdated his incomparable hard bop work with the likes of Sonny Rollins and Pepper Adams, and landed just before his renowned album BLACKBYRD and later ventures into radio-friendly R&B. ETHIOPIAN KNIGHTS stretches into experimental BITCHES BREW territory with rock and soul-jazz rhythms, electronic keyboards, elastic structures and a battery of African percussion. Byrd employs a stellar line-up of West Coast jazz funkateers for these sessions, including the Jazz Crusaders’ Joe Sample and Wilton Felder, and Bobby Hutcherson with members of his band. The vibe here is loose and organic, with full doses of driving funk. ETHIOPIAN KNIGHTS fills in an……Read More

SuperTuesdayLogoPost

The listeners of Jazz Con Class already know that on every Tuesday I present a special combination of Jazz tunes that I feel everyone will enjoy. But there are always new Jazz explorers that fall into this Jazz Trap here and are not aware, so this post is to help them familiarize themselves. This “Super Tuesday Jazz Presentation” lasts at least three hours total and plays three times (its repeated) during the day so that it could be heard in all parts of the globe. Check the schedule link to see the play times and when it would be best for you. I am also inviting anyone interested in having their own three-hour Jazz presentation placed here on Jazz Con Class. If you can put together at least three hours of Classic/Traditional Jazz together please let me know on the feedback link and we will work it out together. Thank you and ENJOY!

TheQuotaCover

Jimmy Heath was a great tenor saxophone player and can be categorized under the “Modal” type of style. He also composed and arranged quite a bit of tunes. This album consists of original tunes as well and includes his other two brothers, Percy Heath (bass) and Albert “Tootie” Heath (drums). Not to mention, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Cedar Walton on piano and an interesting addition of a French horn with Julius Watkins playing it. Great hard bop album with extraordinary improvising. Check the schedule link for play times.

About the album:

Quota album by Jimmy Heath was released Nov 27, 2001 on the Original Jazz Classics label. Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1995, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California). Quota music CDs Jimmy Heath’s considerable talents are very evident on this fine hard bop title. His supple, Dexter Gordon-inspired tenor work shines throughout the album’s seven tracks, which range from the challenging yet fleet originals “Funny Time” and “The Quota” to attractive covers like “When Sunny Gets Blue” and Milt Jackson’s “Bells and Horns.” Heath also mixes it up stylistically with elements of both East Coast jazz (Philly native, vigorous ensemble work) and West Coast jazz (spry, vaporous arrangements), showing his flexibility amidst the music’s healthy, bi-coastal rivalry of the late-’50s and early-’60s California stars Art Pepper and Chet Baker would cover several Heath numbers on their excellent 1956 collaboration Playboys. The Quota also benefits from stellar solo contributions by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, French horn player Julius……Read More

PerceyHeathImage

Biography of Percy Heath:

A product of one of jazz’s most illustrious families, Percy Heath and his sublime, swinging bass served as the cornerstone of the Modern Jazz Quartet for over four decades. Heath was born in Wilmington, NC, on April 23, 1930. The second of four children, he was raised in Philadelphia, receiving his first instrument, a violin, at the age of eight. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, and assigned to fly P-4s and P-47s as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Heath managed to avoid combat, and after World War II ended, he purchased a standup bass and enrolled in Philadelphia’s Granoff School of Music. After a stint behind pianist Red Garland, he signed on with the house band at the local Down Beat Club. There he met bebop trumpeter Howard McGhee, and by 1947, Heath and his saxophonist brother Jimmy were touring as members of McGhee’s sextet, appearing the following year at the premiere Festival International de Jazz in Paris. The Heath brothers relocated to New York City in 1949, and there Percy collaborated with a who’s who of postwar jazz icons including Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Sonny Rollins. From 1950 to 1952, he and Jimmy reunited as members of Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet…..Read More

BasraCover

Pete La Roca is another unknown great who played with all the greats. Here’s one of a very few that he recorded as a leader and is a great one. The name of the album is “Basra” and the Jazz Con Class listeners here will definitely enjoy it. It is another 1965 album that is border line Hard Bop but can be categorized under Avant-Garde and I will place it in that particular playlist after a couple of weeks featuring it as a whole. Joe Henderson is outstanding, again, like always, as he puts it over the top and over that border line. La Roca is constantly playing, taking turns jamming intensely with all the musicians. Pete La Roca is another example of the quality of Jazz drummers then and their inventiveness. He refused to change into a back beat drummer when the 70’s came by. Check the schedule link for play times.

About the Album:

Pete La Roca was one of those musicians with a long but under-sung career. He was a sideman to some great Blue Note leaders including saxophonists Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, and Joe Henderson, but he only ever recorded one date (1965’s Basra) under his own name during the label’s heyday, and indeed only three records total as a leader over a fifty-year career. He was a drummer in the background in almost every sense.

According to La Roca’s obituary in the New York Times (he died November 19th, 2012), he left performing to go to law school and then to work as a contract lawyer, mostly because he couldn’t make a living playing the music he wanted to play.

Practicing law certainly came in handy when he sued for royalties related to his later album, Turkish Women at The Bath (Douglas, 1967); La Roca only returned to performing when he was able to balance his own financial stability with performing music. His life should serve as a reminder of how difficult it can be to actually make a living as a jazz musician…..Read More

PeteLaRocaImage

Biography of Pete La Roca:

Drummer Pete “La Roca” Sims, who passed away November 19 after a battle with lung cancer, was born April 7, 1938 in New York City. Early in his career, he played timbales with Latin bands, acquiring his nickname (“the rock”) along the way. He began his jazz career in earnest in 1957, playing with many of the biggest names of the time for over a decade, including Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Sonny Clark, and many others. For several years, he was the house drummer at the Jazz Workshop in Boston. In 1968, he left music entirely to become a lawyer, but returned to jazz in 1979.

Sims did a lot of recording for Blue Note during the 1950s and 1960s, including appearances on some truly legendary albums, like Sonny RollinsA Night at the Village Vanguard; Joe Henderson’s Page One and Our Thing; and Freddie Hubbard’s The Night of the Cookers. He also made one album under his own name during that era, 1965’s Basra. That record, which features Henderson on tenor, Steve Kuhn on piano, and Steve Swallow on bass, packs three Sims originals, one composition by the bassist (“Eiderdown”), a version of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s “Malagueña,” and a take on the ballad “Lazy Afternoon” into just over 40 minutes. It combines hard bop and swing with some surprisingly avant-garde ideas (the title track hovers on a single chord for nearly 10 minutes), and the saxophonist and drummer are perfect foils for each other……Learn More

MingusMingusMingusCover

Charles Mingus, what a character and what a true Jazz musician. The whole idea why Jazz is so different from any other musical art form is because of the improvising aspect behind it. For a matter of fact, if there were no improvising taking place, Jazz would have never made it further than the swing era. There was plenty of improvising taking place in the swing era but not on the big stage, it was mostly found in small unknown clubs. Mingus was a true “Individualist” and taught many Jazz musicians to express themselves to the fullest. I of course, did not know Mr. Mingus but from all I have read about him, I learned of a great man! After all the racist obstacles he had to overcome on the West Coast and all the difficulties he had with the “organized” big band style and their leaders, he was able to “teach” the American listening audience about improvisation and how it works hand to hand with Jazz. Although Europeans were aware of this already, Americans were not! Jazz, which had originated in America was misrepresented and missing it’s main ingredient, improvisation. Charles Mingus and the musicians who joined his “movement” can be credited for the survival of Jazz. This album “Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus” and also known as the “5 Mingus,” exemplifies the end result of all the struggles he went through. We are talking about an 11-piece band here and with all its members improvising at the same time. Note, he had done albums like this before (Recorded with large ensembles of musicians) but not in a “Orchestra” type of manner. This album which was recorded in 1963 is a true MASTERPIECE and reflects what Jazz is really all about! Check the schedule link for play times and enjoy!

About the album:

Having completed what he (and many critics) regarded as his masterwork in The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, Charles Mingus’ next sessions for Impulse found him looking back over a long and fruitful career. Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus is sort of a “greatest hits revisited” record, as the bassist revamps or tinkers with some of his best-known works. The titles are altered as well — “II B.S.” is basically “Haitian Fight Song” (this is the version used in the late-’90s car commercial); “Theme for Lester Young” is “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”; “Better Get Hit in Your Soul” adds a new ending, but just one letter to the title; “Hora Decubitus” is a growling overhaul of “E’s Flat Ah’s Flat Too”; and “I X Love” modifies “Nouroog,” which was part of “Open Letter to Duke.” There’s also a cover of Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” leaving just one new composition, “Celia.” Which naturally leads to the question: With the ostensible shortage of ideas, what exactly makes this a significant Mingus effort?….Read More

PairingOffCover

Here’s a great example of Jazz musicians collaborating and experimenting different combinations of instruments. This time you have two trumpet players and two alto saxophone players paired up and why the album was named “Pairing Off.” It was recorded in 1956 and will be featured here and exclusively for the Jazz Con Class listeners. Check the schedule link for play times.

About the album:

Pairing Off album by Phil Woods Septet was released Jul 01, 1991 on the Fantasy label. Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley). Pairing Off songs The title of this excellent CD reissue comes from the fact that the featured septet consists of two altos (Phil Woods and Gene Quill) and two trumpets (Donald Byrd and Kenny Dorham) in addition to a rhythm section (pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Philly Joe Jones). Pairing Off album Of the pairings, Woods and Dorham were more distinctive in 1956, but both Quill and Byrd get in some good licks. Pairing Off CD music The full group stretches out on four ……Read More

TommyFlanaganImage

Tommy Flanagan Biography:

Between 1975 and 1993, pianist Tommy Flanagan recorded six tribute albums featuring, in turn,  the music of Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn, Bud Powell, Harold Arlen, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Thad Jones. These albums—it seems a stretch to call them a series—were recorded for four different labels, with only two of them recorded back-to-back, and an eleven-year gap between the last two. They were neither the first nor last of Flanagan’s tribute albums: early in his career, he had recorded an album of Richard Rodgers songs from “The King And I” under the leadership of trumpeter Wilbur Harden, and an album of Leonard Bernstein music under his own name; immediately after the Thad Jones album, he recorded a tribute to his former musical collaborator, Ella Fitzgerald. Yet, the tributes discussed here are linked by their focus on compositions, and by their appearance during a very productive part of the pianist’s career. For all but one of these tribute albums, Flanagan used a traditional piano trio (the exception was the Bud Powell tribute, which had only piano and bass). While Flanagan’s bassists remained fairly steady, each of the five trio albums had a different drummer, and the style of the percussionists helped to define each album.

Since 1956, when he moved from Detroit to New York, Flanagan was a fixture on the recording scene. Fellow Detroiters Kenny Burrell and Thad Jones were the first to include Flanagan in their rhythm sections, and only four days after his New York recording debut, he recorded with Miles Davis. By the end of the year, Flanagan had participated in 17 recording sessions, which yielded classic albums like Davis’ “Collector’s Items”, “The Oscar Pettiford Orchestra in Hi-Fi” and Sonny Rollins’ “Saxophone Colossus”. He was a member of J.J. Johnson’s band until mid-1958, and in May 1959, he played on John Coltrane’s masterpiece, “Giant Steps”. Flanagan recorded two albums under his own name between 1957 and 1960, and co-led “The Cats” with Coltrane and Burrell in 1957. After working with Coleman Hawkins, and recording with a wide range of jazz giants between 1960 and 1963, Flanagan became Ella Fitzgerald’s accompanist and he would tour with her until the late 1970s.

When Flanagan recorded “The Tokyo Recital” in February 1975, it was the first album issued under his own name in 15 years. Despite the title, the album was recorded in the studio, not in a concert setting. The album was conceived by producer Norman Granz as a tribute to Strayhorn, and seven of the nine songs were composed (or co-composed) by him…..Learn More

SerenadeToABusSeat

Here’s a solid Hard Bop fast-beat album that will certainly wake the listeners here. Johnny Griffin is at his finest and works wonders with Clark Terry. The name of this album is “Serenade to a Bus Seat” and is just another exceptional Keepnews remastered beauty. Check the schedule link for play times, enjoy!

About the album:

Serenade to a Bus Seat album by Clark Terry Quintet was released Sep 11, 2007 on the Fantasy label. Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1992, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California). Serenade to a Bus Seat songs This CD reissue matches together trumpeter Clark Terry (before he switched to flugelhorn) with tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. Serenade to a Bus Seat album Most notable about the music is that Terry wrote five of the eight selections (including the colorful title cut which pays tribute to life on the road with Duke Ellington); the other numbers are “Donna Lee,” a pretty version of “Stardust” and a slightly Latinized “That Old Black Magic.”…..Read More

ClarkTerryImage

Clark Terry Biography:

Clark Terry’s career in jazz spans more than seventy years. He is a world-class trumpeter, flugelhornist, educator, composer, writer, trumpet/flugelhorn designer, teacher and NEA Jazz Master. He has performed for eight U.S. Presidents, and was a Jazz Ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. More than fifty jazz festivals have featured him at sea and on land in all seven continents. Many have been named in his honor.

He is one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz, with more than nine-hundred recordings. Clark’s discography reads like a “Who’s Who In Jazz,” with personnel that includes greats such as Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Barnet, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Gerry Mulligan, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, and Dianne Reeves.

Among his numerous recordings, he has been featured with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Count Basie Orchestra, Dutch Metropole Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Herbie Mann Orchestra, Donald Byrd Orchestra, and many other large ensembles……..Learn More

KeepnewsCannonball

About Orrin Keepnews:

“Listen,” Orrin Keepnews’ no-nonsense delivery tempered by a smile. “I’m 84 years old. I’ll take my legacies where I can get them,” referring to the Keepnews Collection, a series launched this year by Concord Records.

An astonishing study in longevity and ingenuity, the multiple facets and accomplishments of Keepnews’ career as label maverick, writer and producer need no rehearsal in these pages. His insight, wit and engagement with the music, its participants and history, so evident in his numerous writings, come through with even more clarity in the exhaustive and endlessly entertaining liner notes to these new Riverside and Milestone reissues.

“To me,” Keepnews muses in a recent phone conversation, “the fascinating thing is that I’m not having trouble finding things that were previously unsaid.” He then goes on, succinctly and perfectly, to sum up a major accomplishment of the Keepnews Collection: “You know, when you start out writing liners as a kid, its advertising copy; now, it’s history!”…….Learn More

Re-UnionCover

This Dave Brubeck album was recorded in 1957 and included the original tenor saxophone player Dave Van Kriedt but also included a new drummer Joe Morello (more below) and who I admire so much. This album, “Re-union” will be featured for a couple of weeks, check the schedule link for play times.

About the Album:

Reunion album by Dave Brubeck was released Jul 01, 1991 on the Concord label. Digitally remastered by Phil De Lancie (1990, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California). Tenor-saxophonist Dave Van Kreidt, a former member of Dave Brubeck’s octet in the late ’40s, had a reunion with the pianist, altoist Paul Desmond and bassist Bob Bates for this unusual session; Brubeck’s new drummer Joe Morello made the group a quintet. Reunion songs Van Kreidt supplied all of the compositions (some of which are fairly complex), giving this set a sound very much different than the usual Brubeck Quartet outing. Interesting if not essential classical-influenced music that predates the Third Stream movement. ~ Scott Yanow Originally released on Fantasy (3268). Includes original release liner notes by Dick Hadlock. Personnel: Dave Brubeck (piano); Paul Desmond (alto saxophone); Dave Van Kriedt (tenor saxophone); Norm Bates (bass); Joe Morello (drums)………Read More

JoeMorelloImage

Biography of Joe Morello:

Joe Morello had a knack for turning lemons into lemonade. Born visually impaired, he was largely restricted from taking part in outdoor activities as a child – a crushing blow for most young men. Yet while other kids played stickball or tag in the park, he turned his attention to learning music, and went on to become one of the most famous drummers in the history of jazz.

Then, years later, after earning countless awards and accolades, Morello once again faced a difficult crossroads when his eyesight became so bad that he could no longer tour. So the legendary sticksman simply redirected his energy into drum education, taking on hundreds of students, composing a library of instructional materials, and developing a reputation as one of the greatest drum teachers of his era.

Joe Morello fought every step of the way, battling bandmates and physical limitations, never allowing anything to alter his path. But the drummer faced his final hurdle on Saturday, March 12, 2011, when he died of heart failure at his home in northern New Jersey, leaving behind legions of fans and followers whose lives were forever changed by this iconic drumming legend.

PRECOCIOUS YOUTH
Joe Morello was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on July 17, 1928 – the same year singer Fats Domino, newsman Roger Mudd, and poet Maya Angelou were born.

Encouraged by his family, Morello first turned his attention to studying violin at the age of six. He developed so rapidly on the instrument that only three years later he appeared as a soloist in the Mendelsohn Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra – a feat that he again repeated at the age of 12.

Though his career as a violinist seemed well underway, it became unpredictably sidelined when Morello got the chance to meet and hear his idol Jascha Heifetz, a prodigy who had already gained international fame before immigrating to the United States from Lithuania at the age of 16.

Heifetz was considered one of the greatest violinists of all time, and was a celebrity of the day, appearing in films, making countless recordings, and marrying Florence Vidor, ex-wife of film producer King Vidor. Upon hearing Heifetz’s trademark sound, described as “intense and shimmering,” Morello had an epiphany. He told his parents that he would never be able to replicate “that sound” and, at age 15, announced that he wanted to become a drummer……Read More

css.php