From the monthly archives: "November 2013"

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In case the Jazz Con Class Radio listeners were not aware, on Saturdays I feature the “Contemporary Playlist” on Saturdays. I play it three times on this day and strategically throughout the day so the listeners in every time zone could listen to them. I have added three hours to the total amount this playlist streams, so the listeners could enjoy a total of 9 hours from these jazz musicians that are keeping this precious art form alive. The addition of Mike DiRubbo, Chico Freeman and Brian Charette is the reason for the expansion of the “Contemporary Playlist.” That makes it 24 musicians that will be featured here on Jazz Con Class Radio and there are at least two more that will be added next week. The hours the “Contemporary Playlist” streams are: 8AM to 11AM, 1PM to 4PM and 7PM to 10PM (New York EDT). I don’t see any reason for this list to stop growing and as word spreads around, the number of talented young jazz musicians who would like to be added here will completely fill all 24 hours of each Saturday with great promise. More to come, enjoy!

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Under-appreciated, as the description below says, can only be a starting point in order to begin to rectify Yusef Lateef’s achievements. He could be the most overshadowed jazz musician in the hard bop era and in the history of jazz. The Jazz Con Class Radio listeners should seriously consider purchasing his music and should begin with this 1960 album “The Centaur And The Phoenix.” They should look back to 1957 where he recorded his first album as a leader. He is still alive (Age 93) and actually recorded an album in 2012. Although he received his due in 2010 from the NEA Jazz Masters, jazz fans should take a closer look at his astonishing career and take special note of his innovations.

About the album:

An under-appreciated jazz innovator, Yusef Lateef made many strides with regard to instrumentation in jazz. One of the few jazz oboe and bassoon players, Lateef also introduced such instruments as the argol (a double clarinet that resembles a bassoon) and the shanai (a type of oboe) into the jazz setting. However, his main instruments were the tenor saxophone and the flute. On this 1961 record date, the inventive Lateef surrounds himself with a horn section that features, among others, trumpet great Clark Terry and trombonist Curtis Fuller. A bassoonist by the name of Josea Taylor is also heard here and the rhythm section is lead by the noted pianist…..Read More

This is a sort of reminder of the ongoing jazz presentations that are reinvented every week by yours truly. It’s a painstaking process of matching songs in a thematic/mood changing manner, not very easy task but an absolutely satisfactory experience. Both of these presentations/specials play on their respected days, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and are a permanent fixture on their respected schedules.

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The “Super Tuesday Jazz Presentation” plays three times on every Tuesday. That’s from 3AM to 6AM, from 11AM to 2PM and from 7PM to 10PM (All Times are New York EDT).   I also welcome 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.

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Unlike the Tuesday presentation, the “Wednesday Five Hour Special” plays only once throughout the day and from 2PM to 7PM (New York EDT).

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Joe Zawinul was a little known jazz pianist who entered America in early 1959 with a scholarship to Berklee in Boston and before the end of the year he had recorded his debut album, “To You with Love.” Cannonball Adderley immediately recognized his talent and took him in, they recorded 22 albums altogether. Zawinul recorded full time with Cannonball and part time from 1966 on. This 1971 album “Zawinul” was his 3rd as a leader and where he began to take a new direction. Great album, very spiritually soothing to the mind.

About the album:

Conceptually, sonically, this is really the first Weather Report album in all but name, confirming that Joe Zawinul was the primary creative engine behind the group from the beginning. It is also the link between WR and Miles Davis’ keyboard-laden experiments on In a Silent Way; indeed, the tune “In a Silent Way” is redone in the more complex form in which Zawinul envisioned it, and Miles even contributes a brief, generous tribute to Zawinul on the liner. Two keyboardists — Zawinul and the formidable Herbie Hancock — form the underpinning of this stately, probing album, garnishing their work with the galactic sound effects…….Read More

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Biography of Joe Zawinul:

His musical talent was apparent at an early age, and after his grandfather gave him an accordion, young Josef was often called upon to perform at family gatherings. At the age of seven, Joe was selected for enrollment in the prestigious Vienna Conservatory, where he studied classical piano, clarinet and violin. In the later stages of World War II, Vienna came under heavy Allied bombardment, and Josef and 28 of his conservatory classmates were evacuated to a large estate in the Czech Sudetenland, where he continued his studies while being forced to endure a regimented life that included war training under the direction of injured German SS officers. It was there that Josef heard jazz for the first time when a fellow student performed an impromptu version “Honeysuckle Rose” on the piano one evening.

After the war, Josef returned to Vienna and continued classical piano training while earning money by playing accordion in small combos. During the post-war years, Vienna was occupied by the Allied powers, and Joe began performing at clubs on American military bases, where his lifelong fascination with sound was spurred by access to a Hammond organ. In the fifties, Zawinul led his own groups and played in a series of increasingly high-profile Austrian bands, including the Austrian All Stars—the first bona fide Austrian jazz combo—and the Fatty George band. Yet, as his standing in the Austrian music scene rose, America beckoned to him. His contact with American culture via the military bases, American Armed Forces Radio, and the movies had whetted his appetite. But even more, he knew that he could only go so far as a jazz musician in Austria.

In 1958, noticing an advertisement in one of the few copies of Down Beat magazine to reach Vienna, Joe applied for a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. Berklee accepted him, and on January 2, 1959, he boarded a boat for the five-day journey across the Atlantic. He carried with him his Berklee scholarship and $800 in his pocket……Read More

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This 1959 live album took place in New York City in the Nonagon Gallery, part of the Tenth Street Galleries. Very interesting and a great rare recording of Mingus with his quintet that included two great saxophone players, John Handy on alto and Booker Ervin on tenor. “Jazz Portraits: Mingus in Wonderland” is a treasure and could be heard here on Jazz Con Class radio, enjoy!

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About the album (Best description from Jazzophile.com):

One of my favorite Mingus albums, Mingus In Wonderland eschews his typical big band arrangements and instrumentation for a pared-down quintet. Recorded live at the Nonagon Gallery (NYC) in 1959, this set has a comfortable intimacy – turn it up loud enough, close your eyes, and you could almost be there. While it’s not clear whether the tunes on this CD are presented in the order they were performed, the opener Nostaglia in Times Square is just the kind of tune I’d pick for a warm up – and has a bit of that feeling to it, as the group eases into the tune, sounding more sure-footed and assertive as the piece unfolds. In part, John Handy’s opening solo may be responsible for this, coming off as more of a limbering up on assorted Parkerisms, blues and bop cliches more than anything else. In any case, he further establishes the easygoing, swinging mood of the piece, sounding relatively laid back even on the double-timed choruses. This is followed by an extremely perfunctory solo from Richard Wyans (a last minute sub for Mingus’ regular on the piano bench, Horace Parlan) on piano, after which Booker Ervin steps in and things start getting down to it.

Ervin’s stark tone and unique tonality are instantly recognizable, and serve to heat things up a bit. Booker launches into his double-time choruses with more abandon: seizing the first bars to unleash one of his cascading, descending dimished runs that his solo has been building towards……Read More

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Oh Sonny Criss, he can sure play that  sax and sure could makes it look simple. This album is a Brunswick Records production, a historical American company that built their first phonograph in 1916 (more info below in description). This 1963 album, “Mr. Blues Pour Flirter” is loaded with standards and the Sonny Criss breezing right through with impeccable precision, great stuff!

About the album:

Sonny Criss was relatively inactive as a leader in the first half of the 1960s, though he did produce outstanding music during two trips to Paris. The latter visit in 1963 resulted in these studio sessions, originally released by Brunswick and reissued in complete form (with three unreleased tracks) by Polydor, before reverting to the initial version on this Verve CD reissue. Powered by some of France’s finest musicians, including guitarist Rene Thomas, bassist Pierre Michelot, drummer Philippe Combelle and pianist Georges Arvanitas, the hard bop alto saxophonist mixes it up with a set which contains classic jazz compositions, standards and an original……..Read More

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Biography of Sonny Criss:

Alto saxophonist William “Sonny” Criss was an anomaly of the jazz musicians who came up during the bebop era. Criss moved to Los Angeles from Memphis at the age of 15, and at 19 played in Howard McGhee’s band with Charlie Parker and Teddy Edwards. As was the norm for every alto player, Parker exerted a huge influence on Criss’ playing. His beefy, earthy tone can be heard on a number of Savoy sessions beginning the next year. Criss drifted, playing in jazz and R&B groups, including those led by Johnny Otis, Billy Eckstine, and Stan Kenton. After joining Buddy Rich in 1956, Criss recorded Jazz U.S.A. for Imperial as a leader; it’s one of the true underground classics of the hard bop era. Imperial — mainly an R&B label specializing in New Orleans acts such as Fats Domino — put no promotional push behind it. Nonetheless, he was able to cut two more sessions for the label: the excellent Go Man! and Sonny Criss Plays Cole Porter. Still playing with Rich, Criss cut At the Crossroads while on tour in Chicago for the Peacock label; the set featured Wynton Kelly and was critically well received…..Read More

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As the description below of this 1960 album explains, the ability of Clifford Jordan is little known and his impact on hard bop has been overshadowed by others who simply were publicized more. His fellow musicians believed in him and recognized his talent, that’s why Cannonball Adderley took it upon himself to produce this album. Charles Mingus also made sure to have Clifford Jordan featured in his recordings and took him along whenever he would tour. “Spellbound” is a great example of straight forward Hard Bop, simple and effective jazz by a simple quartet. Excellent album, get it and listen to one of the best ever tenor saxophone player in action.

 About the album:

Clifford Jordan was a solid and too-often overlooked hard bop saxophonist, and 1960’s SPELLBOUND was his fourth album as a leader. Originally released on Riverside, and reissued on OJC, the album features Jordan backed by bass, piano, and drums. Jordan intersperses readings of Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” among his original compositions, and the whole endeavor has an appealing, straightforward feel typical of the era…..Read More

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Sonny Red was right there with the new modal sound produced in the late 50’s but was overshadowed by the likes of Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean and several others. Sonny managed to record 7 albums as a leader until 1962. He made numerous albums with others in the late 50’s but only one after 1962 and then came back strong in 67, when he accompanied Donald Byrd with several significant Jazz-Funk albums (“Mustang!”, “Slow Drag,” “Blackjack” and “The Creeper”). “The Mode” is a great example of his ability to play with the best of them. Grant Green joins him on guitar to make it more interesting. Great album, enjoy!

About the album:

In the early ’60s, modal improvisation was still controversial in the jazz world — not as controversial as free jazz, but controversial nonetheless. Some hard boppers found the modal breakthroughs of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Yusef Lateef exciting and decided to take up modal playing themselves, while others vehemently disliked modality and refused to play anything but bop. Sonny Red was among those who opted to explore modal improvisation in the early ’60s, although the alto saxman never gave up the sort of fast, chordal, Charlie Parker-based bop he was known for. On 1961’s The Mode, Red fulfills both needs: the need to investigate modal playing and the need to deal with bop’s swift, demanding chord changes. Red is joined by Grant Green on guitar, Barry Harris or Cedar Walton on piano, George Tucker on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums, a team that handles chordal bop and modal post-bop equally well. Red is in good form on post-bop offerings like the title song….Read More

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Biography of Sonny Red:

The jazz gospel that was preached by Charlie Parker was deep and wide enough to have influenced legions of musicians. Sonny Red was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 17, 1932, and as an alto sax player he learned much from Parker, though like many he went on to form his own voice on the instrument during the course of his sadly brief career.

His first professional gig was with pianist Barry Harris, a fellow native of Detroit, in the late 1940s. 1954 found him working with both the trombonist Frank Rosolino, with whom he played tenor sax, and Art Blakey. Three years later he worked in New York with the trombonist Curtis Fuller, and recorded with him at that time.

Always a fluent soloist, Red succeeded in making a name for himself as a sideman, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s he built upon that reputation with albums under his own name for the Blue Note and Jazzland labels, for the latter of whom he recorded on more than one occasion.

Barry Harris and Cedar Walton split the piano duties on the LP The Mode, with Harris playing throughout the Images album, which proved to be Red’s last for the label. These albums find him mining Parker’s rich musical seam, whilst at the same time establishing his own instrumental voice, helped in no small part by a feeling for the blues which escaped many of his higher profile contemporaries. This and a certain languor in his phrasing kept his playing at some distance from the more incendiary approach of the likes of Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Criss.

On The Mode, Red’s theme statement and solo on Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”—hardly the likeliest of jazz vehicles—is a manifesto for his musical approach. Both are imbued with a level of good nature that’s hard to resist, especially when as here it’s accompanied by the obvious desire to communicate in an honest and unpretentious manner…….Read More

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The very first Jazz Con Class Radio T-Shirt is available now! I named it “The Original” and rightly so. I tried different designs and arrived to this one. It signifies and clearly illustrates all that this Classic/Traditional Jazz Station has to offer. The image in the front of the t-shirt is very clear and will not fade away. I washed mine 5 times already and it still looks like new. The price is very affordable and is available in the USA (including Hawaii and Alaska) and Internationally. Learn more about the “The Original” here and order before they go out of stock, enjoy!

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Bobby Hutcherson, the vibraphone extraordinaire and credited for his great ability of being able to make this instrument work in a “free jazz” environment. He was always inventive and right there in the middle of the mid 60’s avant-garde moment. In this 1965 album “Dialogue” he is joined by Freddie Hubbard, Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, Richard Davis (Double Bass)  and Joe Chambers(Drums). A great collection of innovators making history as they record. Just another classic album that everyone should own and can be listened to here on Jazz Con Class Radio, enjoy!

About the album:

This is part of Blue Note Records “Rudy Van Gelder Editions” series. Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson was among the most successful and appealing of the 1960s musicians who merged post-bop aesthetics with the experiments of free jazz. His 1965 album DIALOGUE is one of his best–melodic, adventurous, rigorously musical, and ever-searching. Hutcherson pushes the jazz envelope here while maintaining allegiance to structure and form. The insistent, Latin-tinged opener, “Catta,” is a case in point, a bold exploration…..Read More

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Biography of Bobby Hutcherson:

Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone, marimba) was born January 27, 1941 in Los Angeles, California.

He studied piano with his aunt as a child, but didn’t enjoy the formality of the training; still, he tinkered with it on his own, especially since his family was already connected to jazz: His brother was a high school friend of Dexter Gordon and his sister was a singer who later dated Eric Dolphy. Everything clicked for Hutcherson during his teen years when he heard a Milt Jackson record; he worked until he saved up enough money to buy his own set of vibes. He studied informally with vibist Dave Pike, but, for the most part, he is self-taught on the instrument. Hutcherson’s own musical career began when started playing local dances with his friend, bassist Herbie Lewis.

After high school, Hutcherson played with local jazz musicians Les McCann, Charles Lloyd, Paul Bley, Scott LaFaro, and Curtis Amy. (Hutcherson’s first full-length album as a sideman was with Amy and Frank Butler, titled Groovin’ Blue.) Later, after moving to San Francisco, Hutcherson joined an ensemble co-led by Al Grey and Billy Mitchell, and the band went on to record several albums in both of the leaders’ names. During this time, Hutcherson frequently played chords using a four-mallet technique (now more commonly associated with vibist Gary Burton) because there was no pianist in the group. However, since the end of the 1960′s, Hutcherson has only occasionally used this technique and has focused instead on more horn- like, linear playing…….Read More

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Latest Update 11/3/2013:

The stream has successfully updated to a new location. To listen just click on the “Listen Live” Box on the top of the blog,  iTune Radio listeners can now hear the broadcast, no problem! Thank you for your patience.

Original Announcement:

This is an important announcement for all the Jazz Con Class Radio listeners! My stream hosting company is changing the streaming server to an even better one. I have no control at all of this sudden and unexpected change but everyone will be able to listen to the stream by tuning in through the website here (The “Listen Live” Box) or through any other portal of their choice. This change will take place at Midnight tonight (New York time) and will be quick and smooth except for iTune Radio listeners. All iTunes Radio listeners will have to wait a few days if they want to listen on iTunes because Apple takes longer to make these changes. I’m sorry for the inconvenience and I will keep everyone up-to-date whenever any new changes occur. Thank you for your patience!

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If you are a fan of Avant-Garde and its mid 60’s explosion into notoriety, then this album is for you. Sam Rivers was considered to be one of the best tenor saxophonists of his time by other jazz musicians but like many others he was spoken about. Most likely because his style leaned too much towards the “Free Jazz” side of the spectrum. This album “Contours” was appreciated more because it was recorded with Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Joe Chambers. It is an excellent Avant-Garde album with constant motion, there’s never a boring moment and very innovative. This 1965 album can be used as a perfect example of the direction jazz was heading to, adding more complexity in sound and veering somehow away from the Hard Bop style. If you are a Hard Bop only listener, it would be a good thing to take a listen to this album, great stuff!

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Biography of Sam Rivers:

Arkansas-raised tenor saxophonists Sam Rivers (1923), who had studied at a conservatory of music, represented the highbrow alter-ego of Ornette Coleman’s free jazz. Relocating in 1964 to New York, Rivers debuted with Fuchsia Swing Song (december 1964), featuring a quartet with teenage drummer Tony Williams, pianist Jaki Byard and bassist Ron Carter, that was poised halfway between hard bop and free jazz. Rivers struck an unlikely balance within each piece, particularly Luminous Monolith and Downstairs Blues Upstairs, that do not seem to belong any known genre except that they evoke everything from blues to swing to free. Even in relatively straightforward tracks such as Ellipsis and Fuchsia Swing Song Rivers compensated for the simpler material with a style that was an elegant (if somewhat stiff and highbrow) synthesis of styles. The dynamic range was further broadened on Contours (may 1965), featuring a quintet with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Joe Chambers. The five players engaged in some of the most cerebral counterpoint of the era in four lengthy tracks: the nine-minute Point of Many Returns, the ten-minute Dance of the Tripedal, the twelve-minute Euterpe, the nine-minute Mellifluous Cacophony. The sophisticated, austere, atonal Rivers persona came out vividly on the six compositions of Dimensions And Extensions (march 1967), for a sextet with Donald Byrd (trumpet), James Spaulding (alto saxophone, flute), Julian Priester (trombone), Cecil McBee (bass) and Steve Ellington (drums). While a lot less “humane” than John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman, Rivers was no less bold and innovative. In fact, he added the sensibility of the European avantgarde to the creative furor of free jazz. His progression towards a more abstract sound culminated in the 48-minute live improvisation of Streams (july 1973), that basically wed the painful exuberance of free jazz with the surgical explorations of the classical avantgarde. He employed a 64-piece…..Read More

About the album:

Saxophonist Sam Rivers certainly assembled a team of hot soloists for this album. However, his compositions are more than just vehicles for improvisation. Rivers’s largely angular, even jarring, melodies clearly seek to define a new direction in jazz; they do not fall back on bebop forms or hard-bop funkiness. Each composition contains an abstract “head” and the harmonic underpinning flatly rejects the usual chord progressions found in most standard repertoire. On this 1965 date, Rivers and his band also avoid the blues format. “Mellifluous Cacophony” (performed twice here) is one such example. On this composition, Rivers begins with an asymmetrical melody that suggests atonality. However, the soloing remains firmly rooted in the jazz lexicon, as pianist Herbie Hancock, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and Rivers himself rip into these changes with abandon. “Euterpe” is an ethereal ballad……..Read More

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