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Old 02-09-2009, 07:40 PM   #26
MrWookie
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

See, I never really know what to do in these threads. I may listen to jazz more than than anyone on the forum other than the jazz musicians, but because I listen to stuff with an ear towards swing dancing, little of the music I'd recommend fits in with the context of where the rest of the thread has gone, which is inevitably pimping Miles Davis and John Coltrane (strangely, Charlie Parker never gets as much mention in these threads) and not, say, lesser-known tracks by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sidney Bechet, Jimmie Lunceford, Gene Harris, etc., guys who are legit jazz musicians and not just playing cotton candy fluff like Glen Miller et al. Wynton came through partially for me at least, and Zeno did name a couple. I'll recommend some of my music, and we'll see if anyone cares. Below are Rhapsody links, so anyone can listen to them.

Actually, first, I'll pimp Charlie Parker and pretend I'm staying in the context of where this thread has gone. My favorite bop song remains Charlie Parker playing Parker's Mood to this day. I don't remember if this is on Ken Burns or not. If not, listen to it.

I may try out some other stuff that borders on the avant garde (or at one point was avant garde) and the stuff that swings so hard it hurts. For my first go round, take a gander at the Ray Brown Trio playing Classical in G. This features Gene Harris on piano and Jeff Hamilton on drums. We'll hear some more from the former later.

I've also always enjoyed the Benny Green Trio's take on Down by the Riverside. Actually, you might want to listen to Louis Armstrong's take on this gospel import for context first. It's kinda fun to hear what Benny Green did with it after you know the song.

And now back to Gene Harris. His version of Summertime is the best I've ever heard. No one can really touch this, imo.

Finally, for Fish, the man who's imo the baddest trombone player currently walking the planet earth, Wycliffe Gordon. This whole CD is awesome, but in particular, you just gotta listen to It Don't Mean a Thing and Blooz ... First Thaingh 'Dis Moanin'.

I have to go now, I may post some stuff by people still alive later, or maybe go super old school. We'll see.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:09 PM   #27
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

Fish,

Here's a neat one for you, an old Walter Lanz cartoon, "The Pied Piper of Basin Street" featuring Jack Teagarden. I also saw another animated cartoon featuring a Teagarden like character, absolutely bombed.

http://www.dailymotion.com/redhotjaz...-basin-s_music
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:11 PM   #28
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Originally Posted by Fishwhenican View Post
Great Thread!

being the trombone player I was.
.
I will second what one of the other posters mentioned - Wycliffe Gordon as being an amazing trombone player. You may want to also check out JJ Johnson, Conrad Herwig, Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana to name a few.

Mentioning Conrad Herwig made me remember this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnYxRoGF6QI

Also, one more note about Contrad Herwig. his album "Another Kind of Blue" is awesome. Its a recreation of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue only done entirely in latin style.


more links:
carl fontana
JJ Johnson
Frank Rosolino

This thread has been more about small ensembles, but for those that like big band jazz it gets no better than Stan Kenton imo.
Stan Kenton
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:24 PM   #29
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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(strangely, Charlie Parker never gets as much mention in these threads)
Charlie Parker is like a deity, too awe-inspiring to discuss.

And it also seems true that most people prefer jazz post-1955. Part of the reason for that, I think, is the advances made in recording quality.

One of my favorite Miles' reported quotes:

"The history of jazz can be summed up in four words: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker."
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:57 PM   #30
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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"The history of jazz can be summed up in four words: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker."
Yeah, that's a pretty accurate quote. About the only people you could add to those names would be Duke Ellington and maybe Ornette Coleman for the free jazz movement, but those two were really behind the most important advances in jazz music.

Also, I dispute your claim that "most people prefer jazz post 1955," on two counts. One, Parker hit the scene big in 1945 and died in 1955, so there's a lot of people who like 1945 jazz, too . Second, I'd say most jazz aficionados prefer post-Parker jazz, but there are a lot of lindy hoppers out there who'll take Louis Armstrong every day of the week and twice on Sundays, not to mention people who might not get into something really cutting edge but might enjoy something that swings hard.

Last edited by MrWookie; 02-09-2009 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:47 PM   #31
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Also, I dispute your claim that "most people prefer jazz post 1955," on two counts. One, Parker hit the scene big in 1945 and died in 1955, so there's a lot of people who like 1945 jazz, too . Second, I'd say most jazz aficionados prefer post-Parker jazz, but there are a lot of lindy hoppers out there who'll take Louis Armstrong every day of the week and twice on Sundays, not to mention people who might not get into something really cutting edge but might enjoy something that swings hard.
Sure, there are lots of people who prefer swing and Bird. But I'd still venture to guess that jazz from the 1950s and 1960s is more popular in the US - at the moment - than that from earlier decades, notwithstanding Bird and Armstrong. (It certainly seems so at this forum, as you note.)

Perhaps there is a way for us to measure this and make a real comparison?
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:59 AM   #32
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

I doubt it. A lot of the people I think might prefer old school jazz are not the kind of people who want to talk about jazz on the internet, esp. when aficionados tend to dominate the discussion.

Also, listen to at least one of the tracks I posted about and tell me it's awesome. That's all I really wanted from this thread.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:02 AM   #33
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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I doubt it. A lot of the people I think might prefer old school jazz are not the kind of people who want to talk about jazz on the internet, esp. when aficionados tend to dominate the discussion.

Also, listen to at least one of the tracks I posted about and tell me it's awesome. That's all I really wanted from this thread.
Loved the version of "Summertime." This guy can handle it pretty well too.

http://www.rhapsody.com/erroll-garne...-erroll-garner
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Old 02-10-2009, 10:19 AM   #34
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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I doubt it. A lot of the people I think might prefer old school jazz are not the kind of people who want to talk about jazz on the internet, esp. when aficionados tend to dominate the discussion.

Also, listen to at least one of the tracks I posted about and tell me it's awesome. That's all I really wanted from this thread.
I own that Benny Green CD, and it is excellent. He's one of my favorite "new" pianists (i.e., someone who arrived on the scene in the last 30 years).
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:31 AM   #35
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Old 02-10-2009, 02:40 PM   #36
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Originally Posted by Fatt Albert View Post
I will second what one of the other posters mentioned - Wycliffe Gordon as being an amazing trombone player. You may want to also check out JJ Johnson, Conrad Herwig, Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana to name a few.

Mentioning Conrad Herwig made me remember this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnYxRoGF6QI

Also, one more note about Contrad Herwig. his album "Another Kind of Blue" is awesome. Its a recreation of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue only done entirely in latin style.


more links:
carl fontana
JJ Johnson
Frank Rosolino

This thread has been more about small ensembles, but for those that like big band jazz it gets no better than Stan Kenton imo.
Stan Kenton
Oh Hell Ya!!! This is great stuff!! Not that the other posts haven't had really good stuff as well. But, this is the kind of stuff I really really like. Big band stuff was really what I was doing when I was younger and playing in several big bands.

One more trombonist to add to the list that I always really enjoyed.

Bill Watrous He did a clinic at my HS and was really good in that and did a show that evening that was really good

As far as big band stuff I would add one of my favorites Maynard Ferguson. I went to a clinic he did when I was a kid and was just blown away. Saw him many times live and was always blown away not just by him but he always had a knack for assembling a great band. Pulled all kinds of great young players into it and his shows were always off the planet good. Believe I spied him in that Stan Kenton flick as well.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:46 PM   #37
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Maynard Ferguson. I went to a clinic he did when I was a kid and was just blown away. Saw him many times live and was always blown away not just by him but he always had a knack for assembling a great band. Pulled all kinds of great young players into it and his shows were always off the planet good. Believe I spied him in that Stan Kenton flick as well.
I believe Maynard played in Stan Kenton's band when he was younger. I was one of countless school aged trumpet players in the 1970's that saw Maynard play live. He toured high schools constantly.

If there was ever a more physically powerful trumpet player I haven't him. He was quite the showman.
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Old 02-10-2009, 03:43 PM   #38
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

First of all, the Wycliffe Gordon stuff was terrific. I had only really heard him as a sideman, and found his work as a leader to be, upon first and surface listening, outstanding. I will be delving in more.

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See, I never really know what to do in these threads. I may listen to jazz more than than anyone on the forum other than the jazz musicians, but because I listen to stuff with an ear towards swing dancing....strangely, Charlie Parker never gets as much mention in these threads
That's an interesting point. Two of 'em, actually. I have a good friend, a guitar player and teacher of some repute (and a major Django Reinhardt fanatic, to mention someone else who has not been brought up), who makes the case that it is often forgotten that jazz was, initially, dance music. He will make the argument that it went from music of expression (both through playing and in dance) to a cloying intellectual exercise because of Charlie Parker, or, more precisely, because of Bird's acolytes and less talented imitators. Lost in all the celebration of Bird as an innovator and musical revolutionary is that Bird was not trying to foment some musical paradigm shift. He was just expressing himself, and needed the conceptual tools to fully realize his vision. Others, who did not have the same gifts Parker did, mistook the process for the result, and bebop became more of an academic process and technical display. Basically, Bird was so good he almost ruined it for everybody else. And bebop was a contributor to the death of jazz and swing as dance music; Bird's disciples looked down on the more primal (and less complex) aspects of rhythm and blues, which became the dominant dance music for the young, while swing as dance music, absent the more adventurous voices that were concentrating on bebop, morphed into a treacly, cliche-ridden form of pop.

Another reason for Bird's absence from conversations such as these is just as mentioned. He never made an album as fully realized and powerful as those cited, simply because he died before the emergence of the album as the primary jazz medium. He produced some of the most amazing music of the twentieth century, but, again, it can (and should) be heard anthologized, with no thought to context. One of the most powerful aspects of Kind of Blue, Ah Um, etc., is the way the songs segue and complement each other, not unlike a suite or a song cycle. I think of jazz as American classical music, in terms of depth and weight if not form or surface similarity. As such, whereas, say, "Part 2-Resolution" from A Love Supreme can be listened to, enjoyed, and appreciated on it's own, it is more powerful in context of it's place in a series, and not only does it become enhanced, so do the other songs it is placed amongst. No different than listening to the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth; it can be enjoyed on it's own, but the full impact of Beethoven's vision can only be appreciated within the context of the entire symphony.

Now, that does not mean Bird's music was any less powerful or visionary than the artists cited. Far from it. But the post was asking for recommendations because Zeno mentioned he was trying to build his jazz library. So before I got into the compilations and anthologies (which can be a confusing task for even those familiar with the genre, let alone someone just starting to dig in deeper), I cited what I thought were the most essential "albums as stand-alone entities" I could think of. It should not be taken as a tacit demeaning of the contributions of Bird or Ellington or Louis Armstrong, who I think is the single most important figure in American musical history.

I almost mentioned Bird With Strings. However, in an effort to try to pick some genuinely indispensable albums, it misses the mark. Also, there has since been a reissue compilation, Charlie Parker with Strings/The Master Takes, which is a two disc set, remastered, that sounds great. A classical music aficionado, this was Bird's favorite album, and the first real merging of Bebop and a string orchestra. I love the set, but some purists don't consider it jazz. For a good intro compilation, the Rhino two-disc set, Yardbird Suite/The Ultimate Collection], has cuts from both the Savoy and Dial labels (very unusual), and has been remastered to alleviate some of the noise. This set not only showcases his most important and groundbreaking work, as well as his best known compositions, it is a set of astonishing emotional depth and expression.

Duke Ellington is a little more problematic. The sheer breadth of his work is astounding. A friend of mine is a jazz writer, and an Ellington fiend. He has been working since the early eighties on a complete Ellington discography, including live recordings and radio shows (which are his specialty as a writer and historian). Years ago, I figured I needed to listen to Duke more, and asked him for guidance on where to go next. This man, a writer and disc jockey, an acknowledged Ellington scholar, was literally at a loss. He opened his mouth and nothing came out. Part of it was, I'm sure, was he didn't want to just parrot the compilations and most famous recordings that he knew I was familiar with. He finally just laughed, shook his head, and said, in awe as much as frustration, "There's just so much".

I'm partial to an album from 1959 called Blues in Orbit, with some of playful stuff from Ellington mainstays like Ray Nance (including a violin solo on one cut), Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges. This is really a look at the Ellington Orchestra just doing what they do best. Also, you can't go wrong with the Live at Newport 56, which lives up to it's reputation. I tried to keep from citing live albums, or Newport would have been in my initial top five. This is big band jazz at it's best. It positively blisters.

Also, the series of duets he recorded with bassist Jimmy Blanton, and has been packaged and repackaged (mine are on a CD called The Jimmy Blanton Era, from the Italian "Giants of Jazz" label) are amazing, and are way ahead of their time. The Blanton-Webster edition of the band is considered by many to be Duke's very best. There are several compilations available, Never No Lament, a three-disc box set, being the best I've heard.

However, for a good introduction to Duke, or just a good compilation of his most famous compositions, the anthology from the Ken Burns series is exceptional.

This is a clip of Duke and his orchestra doing "Mood Indigo" , which I think is his finest composition.

To get off the beaten track, here's a list of some of my favorite albums. They may not be "essential" or even "great", but I enjoy them.

Sonny Stitt-Goin' Down Slow
Unjustly criticized by some as a Bird imitator (he insisted, and there is anecdotal evidence to support it, that he was playing "like Bird" before he had ever even heard him), Stitt began to shed his rep as a ditto when he began to focus more on tenor, although he played both alto and tenor throughout his career. "Miss Ann, Lisa, Sue and Sadie" is the album's centerpiece, a small string section and percussion providing a very different, but no less ferocious, kind of swing.

I can't find another clip anywhere, so here's the emusic pagewith a small sample.

Plenty, Plenty Soul- Milt Jackson
Vibraphonist for Modern Jazz Quartet, Jackson did this session with a band that included the underrated tenor man Lucky Thompson, and it's some of his finest work. Also, Horace Silver puts a hard bop spin on Jackson's work, a difference from the more scholarly approach one is used to hearing from John Lewis, the pianist and driving force behind the MJQ. Also, as a rule of thumb: if Cannonball Adderly is on it, it's worth the price.

Money Jungle-Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach
This blue note set gives Ellington bigger billing, which is understandable, given his status and fame. But it is a true trio set, just three legends playing their their tails off.

Conversin' With The Elders -James Carter
Young (at the time) tenor man Carter invites some older players (as diverse as trumpeters Lester Bowie and Harry "Sweets" Edison) to play. More fun than self-reverential.

Rainbow People- Steve Turre
Trombonist and conch shell virtuoso Turee has amassed out a high quality body of work, but this (released just last year) may be his finest. His sound is as soulful as any jazz has produced, and he's as fine a bandleader as he is a player. "Groove Blues" and "Brother Ray" stand out. I think Turre is one of the most inventive artists playing today. My favorite album of last year, of any stripe.

The Blues and the Abstract Truth -Oliver Nelson
Ostensibly an alto player, and a fine one, Nelson the arranger and bandleader was even better. Blues is melodically inventive without sacrificing expression or becoming gimmicky. Nelson later moved to Hollywood and was gaining success as a TV and film composer, in addition to his jazz pursuits, but died suddenly at only 41.

Nuclear War- Sun Ra Arkestra
This may not be the mainstream swing of the other stuff, but I like it.
Sun Ra considered the title track, recorded in 1982, a vamp with electronic sprinkling, a surefire dance floor hit. It was rejected by his record company at the time, and released on a British punk rock label. And if you can't appreciate a call and response featuring the phrase "Nuclear War/It's a motherf***er/don't you know/if they push that button/your ass gotta go/and whatchoo gonna do without your ass?", well, maybe you need to go seek out some old Lawrence Welk records to listen to.

Blue Soul-Blue Mitchell
Blue gets overlooked by labelmates Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan, and indeed, his sound was less unique and personal, if no less expressive. This set, though, is definitive hard bop, and the band here (including drummer Philly Joe Jones) is textbook in it's empathy, drive, and creativity.

I mentioned Last Date by Eric Dolphy, but if it means someone else gets exposed to it, I'll mention it again.
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Old 02-10-2009, 03:59 PM   #39
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

When I was in high school, I played in the jazz band, and we won a contest at a high school music festival. As a reward, we got to play at the awards show with Ed Shaughnessy, best known as the drummer from the Tonight Show Orchestra in the Doc Severinson days. But he played with some of the most successful big bands of the day, including Basie, and was a mainstay on the New York jazz session scene. He was a wonderful person, very encouraging to every young musician there. I got to spend a little more time with him, being the bass player, and it was a tremendous experience to play with a man of such talent and experience.

At any rate, he actually played with Charlie Parker on several gigs and sessions.

After I posted that stuff about him, it dawned on me: I am only two degrees of separation from Bird.

I think I'm hyper-ventilating.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:15 PM   #40
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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When I was in high school, I played in the jazz band, and we won a contest at a high school music festival. As a reward, we got to play at the awards show with Ed Shaughnessy, best known as the drummer from the Tonight Show Orchestra in the Doc Severinson days. But he played with some of the most successful big bands of the day, including Basie, and was a mainstay on the New York jazz session scene. He was a wonderful person, very encouraging to every young musician there. I got to spend a little more time with him, being the bass player, and it was a tremendous experience to play with a man of such talent and experience.

At any rate, he actually played with Charlie Parker on several gigs and sessions.

After I posted that stuff about him, it dawned on me: I am only two degrees of separation from Bird.

I think I'm hyper-ventilating.
One of the things I really liked about the Jazz scene was that it always seemed to be pretty supportive. Jazz guys were always listening to each other, enjoying each other, learning from each other and passing what they knew on to others as well. I know a lot of guys would go to High schools and colleges to do clinics and do show there and while I am sure they ended up making some money off of those I bet it wasn't all that much. It seemed a lot like a community of people who were all kind of rooting for each other and wanted to spread the good word.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:40 PM   #41
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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I'm partial to an album from 1959 called Blues in Orbit, with some of playful stuff from Ellington mainstays like Ray Nance (including a violin solo on one cut), Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges. This is really a look at the Ellington Orchestra just doing what they do best. Also, you can't go wrong with the Live at Newport 56, which lives up to it's reputation. I tried to keep from citing live albums, or Newport would have been in my initial top five. This is big band jazz at it's best. It positively blisters.


Money Jungle-Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach
This blue note set gives Ellington bigger billing, which is understandable, given his status and fame. But it is a true trio set, just three legends playing their their tails off.
The Live at Newport 56 is a fun recording. Duke and the band seem to be having a blast romping through hits of theirs from the big band era that Mr. Wookie seems fond of. Also a reference to a young composer, Quincy Jones, and the writer Nat Hentoff, between songs is interesting.

Money Jungle- This recording has held me in thrall for most of my life. It is widely known that Mingus held Ellington in high regard and he really seems like he is trying his best not to let him down in this recording. His playing on this album ranges from the fiery and bombastic on the title track, scene setting on Fleurette Africaine to swinging his ass off on Very Special. That is just the first 3 songs.

An older Duke seems energized by his younger counterparts on this record. On Warm Valley and Solitude he expresses more through his piano than most singers can through lyrics.

As for Max Roach, not enough can be said about him. A Little Max gives the listener just a glimpse into his genius. He played with an unmatched precision as well as a broad dynamic range of styles.
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Old 02-10-2009, 04:48 PM   #42
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Money Jungle- This recording has held me in thrall for most of my life. It is widely known that Mingus held Ellington in high regard and he really seems like he is trying his best not to let him down in this recording. His playing on this album ranges from the fiery and bombastic on the title track, scene setting on Fleurette Africaine to swinging his ass off on Very Special. That is just the first 3 songs.
Max, I think it was in Brian Priestly's Mingus biography where he talks about how nervous Mingus was in the days leading up to the sessions. I think it was the same book that mentioned that there were plans for the trio to record again, but Mingus got all bent about something (yeah...I know...Mingus? Temperamental? Naaaaaaah...) and basically balked, which in turn ticked off the others and blew the whole shebang.
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:55 AM   #43
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

We're smoking now.....

Time to hear from Cab Calloway - just to show that Jazz can swing and dance, least we forget:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...48883120539209


Calloway Boogie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfZxM...eature=related

Bee Gezindt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOtBx...eature=related


And any discussion of Jazz must include that Reefer Man:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D44pyeEvhcQ

And just for fun let's hear from Louis Jordan - Five Guys Named Moe:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7m7jXpDaK58


-Zeno
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:03 AM   #44
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Max, I think it was in Brian Priestly's Mingus biography where he talks about how nervous Mingus was in the days leading up to the sessions. I think it was the same book that mentioned that there were plans for the trio to record again, but Mingus got all bent about something (yeah...I know...Mingus? Temperamental? Naaaaaaah...) and basically balked, which in turn ticked off the others and blew the whole shebang.
Speaking of Mingus' temperament caused me to think, how might the giants of jazz had responded if they had been subjected to the media attention of today? Truly unique and fascinating personalities abounded.
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Old 02-11-2009, 07:10 AM   #45
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

On a more lighthearted note one of my favorite scenes out of the classic film "Blazing Saddles" is when Cleavon Little is riding horseback through the desert to the accompaniment of Count Basie playing "April in Paris", himself and orchestra also in the desert.
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Old 02-11-2009, 08:36 AM   #46
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Originally Posted by Max H View Post
On a more lighthearted note one of my favorite scenes out of the classic film "Blazing Saddles" is when Cleavon Little is riding horseback through the desert to the accompaniment of Count Basie playing "April in Paris", himself and orchestra also in the desert.
One day at lunch, a colleague waved me over to sit with him and his guest, who, I found out, appeared in the movie since he was the drummer with Count Basie's band. He had some pretty interesting stories to tell about traveling through the South with the entire band back in the days of segregation.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:14 PM   #47
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

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Originally Posted by kudzudemon View Post
First of all, the Wycliffe Gordon stuff was terrific. I had only really heard him as a sideman, and found his work as a leader to be, upon first and surface listening, outstanding. I will be delving in more.

That's an interesting point. Two of 'em, actually. I have a good friend, a guitar player and teacher of some repute (and a major Django Reinhardt fanatic, to mention someone else who has not been brought up), who makes the case that it is often forgotten that jazz was, initially, dance music. He will make the argument that it went from music of expression (both through playing and in dance) to a cloying intellectual exercise because of Charlie Parker, or, more precisely, because of Bird's acolytes and less talented imitators. Lost in all the celebration of Bird as an innovator and musical revolutionary is that Bird was not trying to foment some musical paradigm shift. He was just expressing himself, and needed the conceptual tools to fully realize his vision. Others, who did not have the same gifts Parker did, mistook the process for the result, and bebop became more of an academic process and technical display. Basically, Bird was so good he almost ruined it for everybody else. And bebop was a contributor to the death of jazz and swing as dance music; Bird's disciples looked down on the more primal (and less complex) aspects of rhythm and blues, which became the dominant dance music for the young, while swing as dance music, absent the more adventurous voices that were concentrating on bebop, morphed into a treacly, cliche-ridden form of pop.

...rest of post removed for brevity...
This was a really excellent post, kudzu.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Wycliffe stuff. You're right that many people who know his name know him only as Wynton Marsalis's trombone player, but I've had the privilege of hearing him live a few times now, and he can more than carry a group on his own. One of the best swing dance events I ever went to was in Philly a couple years ago. Wycliffe was the headliner for the Saturday night dance. I bought my ticket as soon as I heard that, and it was more than worth every penny. I'd heard recordings, and they were awesome, but nothing can do justice to that guy's sound when you're standing right in front of him. From the very first note he played, everyone was on their feet and would not sit down for any song he played. I still remember how, for his second song, he pulled out this oddly shaped metal mute, kinda long, skinny, but slightly bulged towards the end. I wish I could tell you precisely what it was called, but I'd never seen anything like it before. He then coupled that with a growl mute. Man, when he started playing with that, the music went straight from horn to soul to knees, making them buckle. I don't even remember exactly what the song was, but there's no forgetting that sound or how it made you feel.

I have even another fun story from that night. It happened to be Wycliffe's birthday. The organizers of the event got wind, and they made him a cake, and everyone sang for him. Now, in the lindy hop community, we have a particular custom for birthdays. Everyone will make a circle around the people with birthdays and clap (2 & 4, ldo). The people with birthdays will start out dancing with someone, but people from the circle will cut in and steal the birthday people away from their old partners, and so on through the end of the song. Now, Wycliffe wasn't much of a dancer, but we got him down for a birthday jam anyway. He had the band play something sorta medium-slow that wouldn't be too tough to dance to and he came down to join us. He wasn't ever short of a partner, that's for sure. As the song was coming to a close, many of the girls were realizing that they wouldn't get a chance to dance with him, so the birthday jam turned into a mob of girls surrounding a big black guy in the middle with everyone stepping together. It was pretty hilarious. Plenty of famous jazz men have knocked dancers, even those in the middle of the swing era (e.g., Artie Shaw), but in my experience, dancers, at least the good ones, are some of the most appreciative and attentive audiences around.

This album doesn't seem to be on Rhapsody, so I'll post an emusic link instead. It features a series of duets and some back and forth between Wycliffe Gordon and John Allred. It's worth it just to hear the West End Blues cadenza played on the trombone, but the rest of the album is pretty sweet, too .

You make an interesting point about why recommendations inevitably start out with Miles Davis and John Coltrane. I hadn't really considered the album aspect, but yeah, it's easier to tell someone to go buy "Birth of the Cool" than it is to tell them to buy any arbitrary compilation with Parker's Mood on it.

Some sweet Duke recommendations here, too. I have some of them, but the others I'll certainly be looking for, particularly Blues in Orbit. I have a live album that includes Harry Carney playing Sophisticated Lady that's just fantastic. I love his bari sax. That's also a great recording of Mood Indigo you found on YouTube. I'm not sure I could pick a favorite Ellington composition, but Mood Indigo is up there. One of the things I love about it is how the instrumentation of the opening theme changes practically every time Duke played it. Here it's two growl muted trombones and a sax, sometimes it's two saxes and clarinet, sometimes three clarinets, sometimes a trumpet and two clarinets, you never know what you're going to get. I heard a reunion concert featuring a collection of people still alive who'd all played with Duke, and they did it with a clarinet, straight mute trumpet, and a growl muted trombone -- it was fantastic.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:47 PM   #48
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

Video of Moon Indigo

This video reminds me of a PBS special on Duke I vividly recall watching about 20-25 years ago, which had tremendous footage. A quick search I did just now failed to uncover that video, which is too bad because it has some remarkable stuff.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:49 PM   #49
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

Wynton,

Your taste in Mood Indigo videos is exactly as good as Kudzu's .
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:52 PM   #50
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Re: Jazz: America's Music

And just because I can, here is a video of Johnny Hodges playing the Strayhorn classic, "Isfahan"

Incidentally, perhaps 1-2 years ago in this forum, I made a lame attempt to post jazz videos here every week. I think I lasted 2-3 weeks before realizing I was only amusing myself.
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