Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes

Gigi Gryce’s “Nica’s Tempo” and all about Pannonica de Koenigswarter

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Nica’s Tempo” is considered to be a Jazz classic album and should be found in every Jazz lovers musical library. It offers a rare compilation of three 1955 recording sessions that took place on two dates, October 15, 1955 and October 22, 1955. All the sessions were lead by Gigi Gryce on his alto sax and featured a boat load of other greats! They assembled and created beautiful masters  , read more here for more on the album concerning the combination of musicians. them so many musicians names are listed on the album cover.  The one session on October 15 was a quartet consisting of Gigi with Thelonious Monk on piano, Percy Heath on bass and Art Blakey on drums. The songs recorded on were: “Shuffle Boil,” “Brakes Sake,” “Gallop’s Gallop” and “Nica’s Tempo.” The one session on October 22 featured Gigi with Art Farmer on trumpet, Jimmy Cleveland on trombone, Gunther Schuller on french horn, Bill Barber on tuba, Danny Bank on baritone sax, Horace Silver on piano, Oscar Pettiford on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. ENJOY!

About the album:

Originally released on Savoy (12137). Includes liner notes by Ira Gitler.
Oh…if these sessions could have only been issued in separate long forms with the bands that are included. Nica’s Tempo comprises six tracks with Gigi Gryce’s groundbreaking big band, and another four ostensibly as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet, all from 1955. Each band showcases the estimable compositional and arranging genius of Gryce, as well as his unique sound on the alto saxophone. In this CD format, the music serves a purpose in displaying Gryce’s many talents, but ultimately leaves the listener wanting more. What the orchestra tracks offer in terms of an advanced concept paired with extraordinary musicianship is indisputably brilliant. The combination of Gryce with Monk is unparalleled in another way, the brief but fruitful joining of jazz masters that helped both of them grow, while attaining a symbiosis that Monk only reached briefly with Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and later in extensia with Charlie Rouse. Gryce is perfectly situated in his element, able to not only exploit the individualism of his bandmates, but play his slightly tart alto sax in a manner that very few have ever imagined. His shining charts emphasize lower octave tones by baritone saxes, trombones, French horns, tuba, the lone trumpet of Art Farmer, and no extra woodwinds. This larger band, averaging ten pieces, is influenced by Duke Ellington during the fully flowered ballad “In a Meditating Mood,” or traditional Irish music on the short and sweet, perfectly layered, bluesy swinger “Kerry Dance.” Dizzy Gillespie’s complex bop visage is present for the nifty, sub-toned, dynamically controlled in mezzo piano, hard surfaced and simmering “Smoke Signal,” with clever meter switchings from 4/4, 3/4, or 2/4, while Bill Barber’s tuba lurks underneath. The opener “Speculation” reflects its title, with the composer Horace Silver’s piano solo intro nicely drawn out, merging into warm simple horn charts with off-minor flourishes — a great jazz composition — especially engaging….Read More

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All about Pannonica de Koenigswarter:

In the 19th century, the English branch of the powerful and immensely rich Rothschild family built the most famous of their country houses in the Vale of Aylesbury, which is why, one misty morning in late March, I find myself at Waddesdon Manor, a picture-perfect Victorian replica of a French chateau. “I think this house will give you a sense of how the family used to live,” says Hannah Rothschild, my host. “The blinds and curtains drawn to protect the art, the panelling and drapes creating a deadening effect. These were houses that killed noise, even the noise of children.” Overflowing with servants – at Tring Park, down the road, footmen were required to carry cherry trees to the table, that diners might pick their fruit straight from the branch – and run to a routine as immutable as marble, growing up in such a house was like living in a gilded cage…..Read More

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More links on Nica:

1. Wikipedia read here

2. The Jazz Baroness, read here

3. NPR.org, read here

4. Book: The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild

5. Book : Nica’s Dream

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