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Popular "Jazz" Stations

Smooth Groovers Licensed Jazz Funk Soul and Smooth Jazz Podcast Smooth Grooves of Jazz Funk Soul and Smooth Jazz with life experiences.
Doing Jazz with Lorens Chuno On this podcast, Lorens Chuno presents conversations with enterprising jazz musicians. Every now and then, an artist of another form stops by. These conversations are free-form in nature and casually explore the work life of these artists; but don't be surprised to hear their "starting out" stories, their opinions on current issues, and maybe one or two pieces of advice for people interested in their chosen art field. Come here every week for a new episode of the podcast, and find out how these inspiring jazz practitioners do jazz.
You'll Hear It - Daily Music Advice A podcast about listening to and playing music better from musicians Peter Martin and Adam Maness. Listen for a combo of actionable advice and occasional humor. A podcast from Open Studio - "Jazz Lessons from Jazz Legends." See for privacy and opt-out information.
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peace and love,
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Past Daily: World of Music Listen to World of Music as Vurbl Partner Past Daily shares recordings the L.A. Philharmonic, Steel Mill, Stan Kenton, Dizzy Gillespie, Peter, Paul & Mary.

Gordon Skene, two-time Grammy Nominee and archivist runs The Gordon Skene Sound Archive and this website, which is dedicated to preserving and encouraging an interest in history and historic news, events, and cultural aspects of our society. Past Daily is the only place on the Internet where you can hear a Nixon speech, listen to an interview with John Cassavettes or play a broadcast of Charles Munch rehearsing the Boston Symphony in 1950, all in the same place. It's living history and it's timeless.
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All "Jazz" Audio

Charlie Parker All-Stars - Live At Birdland - 1950 - Past Daily Downbeat - Bird's Swingin' Hundredth - Charlie Parker - Led the charge for Bop.

Charlie Parker All Stars - Live At Birdland - December 23, 1950 - WJZ Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Charlie Parker - legend, immortal, prime suspect, icon - all those superlatives to describe probably one of the most influential alto sax players in Jazz history; and he would be 100 this year (August 29, 1920). Here is one of his many live recordings (bootlegged, issued, reissued, restored, digitized, examined and dissected) - this one live from Birdland, featuring Red Rodney on trumpet, Kenny Drew on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Broadcast live over WJZ Radio on December 23, 1950. Collectors no doubt have just about every format and every reissue and restoration available over the years - so this one comes as no surprise - you know every nuance on this broadcast. But if you are just getting interested in Jazz - just getting turned on to it and just getting your bearings as to who to listen to and what to check out - here's one place to land and to listen. Remember, this was 70 years ago (sixty nine years and change if you're reading this post in last August). And maybe the technology for actually listening to this broadcast is a bit rusty, bordering on crude - the sentiment, the artistry and the influence are not. This is vital stuff and it points in a historic direction where and how things were evolving in Jazz at the time. This was NOT the mainstream - this was not universally embraced - this was lambasted by the established press as weird and insane music. Freedom and complexity of execution didn't enter into the conversation at this point - it was subject for ridicule and hand-wringing. But it was unstoppable and it signaled a big direction change for music in the long run. Not that the world woke up one day and accepted Be-Bop as the be-all/end-all - there was still the established genres that weren't affected and would continue. But Charlie Parker was at the forefront of what was a new and wildly engaging new genre that would influence new artists, inspire new directions and promote new conversations - what Music does and what Music will always be about.

And for a reminder . . .
Ben Webster Quartet - Live In Copenhagen - 1965 - Past Daily Downbeat Ben Webster - one of The Big Three (Photo: Getty Images)

Ben Webster Quartet - live in Copenhagen - January 10, 1965 - DRK-Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Ben Webster to chill out on a hot Summer Sunday - Recorded at Radio House by DRK in Copenhagen on January 10, 1965. Joining Webster is Kenny Drew, piano - Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, bass and Alex Riel, drums.

Ben Webster was considered one of the “big three” of swing tenors along with Coleman Hawkins (his main influence) and Lester Young. He had a tough, raspy, and brutal tone on stomps (with his own distinctive growls) yet on ballads he would turn into a pussy cat and play with warmth and sentiment.

In 1940 (after short stints in 1935 and 1936), Ben Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist. During the next three years he was on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail" (which in addition to his memorable solo had a saxophone ensemble arranged by Webster) and "All Too Soon." After leaving Ellington in 1943 (he would return for a time in 1948-1949), Webster worked on 52nd Street; recorded frequently as both a leader and a sideman; had short periods with Raymond Scott, John Kirby, and Sid Catlett; and toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic during several seasons in the 1950s. Although his sound was considered out-of-style by that decade, Webster's work on ballads became quite popular and Norman Granz recorded him on many memorable sessions. Webster recorded a classic set with Art Tatum and generally worked steadily, but in 1964 he moved permanently to Copenhagen where he played when he pleased during his last decade. Although not all that flexible, Webster could swing with the best and his tone was a later influence on such diverse players as Archie Shepp, Lew Tabackin, Scott Hamilton, and Bennie Wallace.

Webster suffered a cerebral bleed in Amsterdam in September 1973, following a performance at the Twee Spieghels in Leiden, and died on 20 September. His body was cremated in Copenhagen and his ashes were buried in the Assistens Cemetery in the Nørrebro section of the city.

Webster's private collection of jazz recordings and memorabilia is archived in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark, Odense.

Ben Webster used the same saxophone from 1938 until his death in 1973. Ben left instructions that the horn was never to be played again. It is on display in the Jazz Institute at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Ben Webster has a street named after him in southern Copenhagen, "Ben Websters Vej".

Dive back to 1965 for this radio set from one of the all-time greats.

Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus - Live In Montreal - 1995 - Past Daily Downbeat Henry Threadgill - High Priest of the Musical mashup.

Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus - live at Salle Le Ges˘Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Quebec - July 9, 1995 - Radio Canada International

Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus in concert this week. Henry Threadgill - alto saxophone, flute- Tony Cedras, accordian - Brandon Ross - guitars - Jose Davila - tuba and Pheeroan AkLaff - drums. It was recorded by Radio Canada International at the Les Ges Festival International de Jazz Montreal on July 9, 1995.

Henry Threadgill came to prominence in the 1970s leading ensembles rooted in jazz but with unusual instrumentation and often incorporating other genres of music. He has performed and recorded with several ensembles: Air, Aggregation Orb, Make a Move, the seven-piece Henry Threadgill Sextett, the twenty-piece Society Situation Dance Band, Very Very Circus, X-75, and Zooid.

He was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album In for a Penny, In for a Pound, which premiered at Roulette Intermedium on December 4, 2014

In the early 1980s, Threadgill created his first critically acclaimed ensemble as a leader, the Henry Threadgill Sextet (actually a septet; he counted the two drummers as a single percussion unit), which released three albums on About Time Records. After a hiatus, he formed New Air with Pheeroan akLaff, replacing Steve McCall on drums, and reformed the Henry Threadgill Sextett (with two t's at the end). The six albums the group recorded feature some of his most accessible work, notably on the album You Know the Number. The group's unorthodox instrumentation included two drummers, double bass, cello, trumpet, and trombone, in addition to Threadgill's alto saxophone and flute. Among the players were drummers akLaff, John Betsch, Reggie Nicholson and Newman Baker; bassist Fred Hopkins; cellist Diedre Murray; trumpeters Rasul Siddik and Ted Daniels; cornetist Olu Dara; and trombonists Ray Anderson, Frank Lacy, Bill Lowe, and Craig Harris.

During the 1990s, Threadgill pushed the musical boundaries even further with his ensemble Very Very Circus. The group consisted of two tubas, two electric guitars, a trombone or French horn, and drums. With this group he explored more complex and highly structured forms of composition, augmenting the group with Latin percussion, French horn, violin, accordion, vocalists, and exotic instruments. He composed and recorded with other unusual instruments, such as a flute quartet (Flute Force Four, a one-time project from 1990); and combinations of four cellos and four acoustic guitars (on Makin' a Move).

He was signed by Columbia Records for three albums. Since the dissolution of Very Very Circus, Threadgill has continued in his iconoclastic ways with ensembles such as Make a Move and Zooid. Zooid, currently a sextet with tuba (Jose Davila), acoustic guitar (Liberty Ellman), cello (Christopher Hoffman), drums (Elliot Kavee) and bass guitar (Stomu Takeishi), has been the primary vehicle for Threadgill's compositions in the 2000s.

Dive in and enjoy.
Artie Shaw - live At The Blue Room - 1938 - Past Daily Downbeat Artie Shaw - one of the innovators in the Big Band era.

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Artie Shaw and his band, live from The Blue Room at the Hotel Lincoln in New York, broadcast by CBS on December 6, 1938.

Mixing things up a bit this week - heading into Big Bands of the 1930s territory. Artie Shaw was a major force in the Swing era, despite being overshadowed in history by Benny Goodman, who was dubbed The King Of Swing. Shaw was an innovator in his own right, introducing strings and diverse instruments such as the Harpsichord into the mix and setting the stage for incorporating more complex and sophisticated arrangements into Jazz. Although you could argue that it was Paul Whiteman, going back to the 1920s who set the stage for the inclusion of what were viewed as "more traditional instrumentation" into the mix - it was Shaw, and those after him and his contemporaries who took the concept and ran with it.

All that said - it was still about popularity and selling records and fitting into the mainstream. And a lot of bands who were experimenting at the time got lumped into the heading of Pop Music, since Jazz (don't forget) was the outlier in the grand scheme of things.

Artie Shaw made some great records and had some memorable collaborations during the period of the 1940s, up until his self-imposed retirement shortly after the War. He resurfaced briefly in 1953 and had one album of Verve before calling it a day.

Artie Shaw recorded a lot, but he broadcast even more and his broadcast output, much of which has been saved and preserved over the years, offers a fascinating glimpse into what you can do when you have a degree of free-reign every week.

This is one of those examples - no strings yet, we're still hip-deep in Swing. Enjoy.
McCoy Tyner Quintet - Live In Berlin - 1974 - Past Daily Downbeat McCoy Tyner - cornerstone of John Coltrane's groundbreaking 1960s Quartet.

McCoy Tyner Quintet - In concert - Berliner Jazztage, Philharmonie Hall, November 1, 1974 - RBB Berlin Radio -

McCoy Tyner Quintet this weekend - recorded during Berliner Jazztage at Philharmonie Hall in Berlin on November 1, 1974. This quintet features Azar Lawrence, reeds - Juni Booth, bass -Wilbert Fletcher, drums and Gilherme Franko, percussion.

McCoy Tyner (December 11, 1938 – March 6, 2020) was primarily known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet, but enjoyed a long solo career. He was an NEA Jazz Master and a five-time Grammy winner. Not a player of electric keyboards and synthesizers, he was committed to acoustic instrumentation. Tyner, who was widely imitated, was one of the most recognizable and most influential pianists in jazz history.

Tyner's involvement with Coltrane came to an end in 1965. Coltrane's music was becoming much more atonal and free; he had also augmented his quartet with percussion players who threatened to drown out both Tyner and Jones: "I didn't see myself making any contribution to that music... All I could hear was a lot of noise. I didn't have any feeling for the music, and when I don't have feelings, I don't play". In 1966, Tyner rehearsed with a new trio and embarked on a career as a bandleader.

After leaving Coltrane's group, Tyner produced a series of post-bop albums released by Blue Note from 1967 to 1970. These included The Real McCoy (1967), Tender Moments (1967), Time for Tyner (1968), Expansions (1968) and Extensions (1970). He signed with Milestone and recorded such albums as Sahara and Echoes of a Friend (1972), Enlightenment (1973), and Fly with the Wind (1976), which included flautist Hubert Laws, drummer Billy Cobham, and a string orchestra.

His music for Blue Note and Milestone often took the music of the Coltrane quartet as a starting point. Tyner also incorporated African and East Asian elements in his music. On Sahara he played koto in addition to piano, flute, and percussion. These albums have been cited as examples of innovative jazz from the 1970s that was neither fusion nor free jazz. On Trident (1975) Tyner played the harpsichord and celeste, instruments heard rarely in jazz.

For a taste of this period in Tyner's career, here is a concert recorded in Berlin in 1974.

Enjoy and chill.
Thelonious Monk Quartet - Live In Paris - 1966 - Past Daily Downbeat Thelonious Monk - Genius of Modern Music. Word.

Thelonious Monk Quartet - Live At Maison de l'ORTF, Paris - March 20, 1966 - Radio France -

The legendary Thelonious Monk and his quartet, featuring Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums, recorded live at ORTF Paris' Maison de l'ORTF on March 20, 1966. Undoutedly not the whole concert (it abruptly cuts off around 31 minutes in), but even five minutes worth is a much-needed respite from the insanity of this day/week/month/year.

Forgive the editorializing, but the music of Thelonious Monk is a balm for the soul. Just listening to this made me forget what a completely rotten year this has been and just how much music has become essential to any sort of healing, or even distraction from the noise that fills seemingly every day lately.

That said, here's a rundown on Monk's activities during the period of the 60s, as explained by Wikipedia:
After extended negotiations, Monk signed in 1962 with Columbia Records, one of the big four American record labels of the day. Monk's relationship with Riverside had soured over disagreements concerning royalty payments and had concluded with a brace of European live albums; he had not recorded a studio album since 5 by Monk by 5 in June 1959.

Working with producer Teo Macero on his debut for Columbia, the sessions in the first week of November had a lineup that had been with him for two years: tenor saxophonist Rouse (who worked with Monk from 1959 to 1970), bassist John Ore, and drummer Frankie Dunlop. Monk's Dream, his first Columbia album, was released in 1963.

Columbia's resources allowed Monk to be promoted more heavily than earlier in his career. Monk's Dream became the best-selling LP of his lifetime, and on February 28, 1964, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine, being featured in the article "The Loneliest Monk". The cover article was originally supposed to run in November 1963, but it was postponed due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to biographer Kelley, the 1964 Time appearance came because "Barry Farrell, who wrote the cover story, wanted to write about a jazz musician and almost by default Monk was chosen, because they thought Ray Charles and Miles Davis were too controversial. ... wasn't so political. ...of course, I challenge that ," Kelley wrote.

Monk continued to record studio albums, including Criss Cross, also in 1963, and Underground, in 1968. But by the Columbia years his compositional output was limited, and only his final Columbia studio record, Underground, featured a substantial number of new tunes, including his only 3-4 time piece, "Ugly Beauty".

As had been the case with Riverside, his period with Columbia contains many live albums, including Miles and Monk at Newport (1963), Live at the It Club, and Live at the Jazz Workshop, the latter two recorded in 1964, the last not being released until 1982. After the departure of Ore and Dunlop, the remainder of the rhythm section in Monk's quartet during the bulk of his Columbia period was Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums, both of whom joined in 1964. Along with Rouse, they remained with Monk for over four years, his longest-serving band.

Hit the play button and dive in - put the world behind you for at least the next 31 minutes.
Bill Evans Trio - Live In Italy - 1979 - Past Daily Downbeat Bill Evans - inventive interpretation and huge influence continue to this day.

Bill Evans Trio (Marc Johnson, bass - Joe LaBarbera, drums) - Casale Monferrato, Italy - November 30, 1979

The legendary Bill Evans Trio this weekend. With Marc Johnson, Bass and Joe LaBarbera, drums - recorded in concert at Casale Monferrato, Italy on November 30, 1979. Big hat-tip to my friend and colleague Jean-Pierre Poirette for turning me on to this one and offering his stunning recording.

A few notes via the unofficial Bill Evans Fan page regarding this period of activity:

By Jan Stevens:
"His last trio was formed in 1978, featuring the incomparably sensitive Marc Johnson on bass and drummer Joe LaBarbera, which rejuvenated the often-ailing pianist, who was elated with his new line-up, calling it "the most closely related" to his first trio (with LaFaro and Motian). He suffered yet more family problems and upheavals in his personal life, (often due to bouts with narcotics addiction) and yet brought a new dynamic musical vitality, a surer confidence, fresh energy and even more aggressive interplay to the trio's repertoire. Evans' health was deteriorating, however, though he insisted on working until he finally had to cancel midweek during an engagement at Fat Tuesday's in New York. A few days later, he had to be taken to Mount Sinai Hospital on September 15, 1980, where he died from a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia . He is buried next to his beloved brother Harry, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While Evans was open to new musical approaches that would not compromise his musical and artistic vision -- such as his occasional use of electric piano, and his brief associations with avant-garde composer George Russell -- he always insisted on the purity of the song structure and the noble history of the jazz tradition. It was a point the highly articulate Evans was quite forthcoming about in the various interviews he gave throughout his career. Consistently true to his own pianistic standards, he continued to enhance his own singular vision of music until the very end.

In his short life, Bill Evans was a prolific and profoundly creative artist and a genuinely compassionate and gentle man, often in the face of his recurring health problems and his restless nature. His rich legacy remains undiminished, and his compositions have enjoyed rediscovery by jazz players and even some classical musicians. Even twenty-five years after his passing, Bill Evans' music continues to influence musicians and composers everywhere and all those who have been deeply touched by his expressive genius and sensitive, lyrical artistry."

A little Sunday peace, amid the madness - turn it up and tune the rest out.
Red Rodney-Ira Sullivan Quintet - Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival - 1984 - Past Daily Downbeat Ira Sullivan and Red Rodney - Post-Bop collaboration for the ages.

Red Rodney-Ira Sullivan Quintet - Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival - July 3, 1984 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Post-Bop collaboration from Red Rodney and Ira Sullivan in this Montreal Jazz Festival broadcast from July 3, 1984

A brilliant jazz improviser who performed with the swing bands of Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, and Benny Goodman before joining (1949-51) Charlie Parker’s bebop quintet, Red Rodney, distinguished by his flaming red hair, was also the first white bebop trumpeter. His innovative playing style was marked by his brilliant technique and purity of tone.

Unfortunately, like many jazz musicians of his generation, his career was cut short due to drugs. Broke and desperate, he later ran afoul of the law by impersonating an Army General and stealing $10,000 from the Atomic Energy Commission along with some secret documents. This landed him in jail where he spent 3 years.

But after a long absence from the stage, Rodney made a triumphant comeback in the early 70s returning to his former glory as a skilled balladeer and later reconnecting with his former band mate Ira Sullivan. Their collaboration led to a fruitful and much-heralded association during the 80s releasing five albums and garnering a 1982 Grammy nomination for the album Sprint.

Red Rodney died of lung cancer on May 27, 1994, at his home in Boynton Beach, Florida. He was one of the last living links to Charlie Parker and bebop, and his death marked the end of an era.

Ira Brevard Sullivan Jr. initially learned to play trumpet at age 3 from his father in his hometown of Washington, D.C., just before the family moved to Chicago. As a teenager, Sullivan learned the tenor saxophone from his mother so he could replace an absent sax player in his high school concert band. Both parents only played for recreation, and at functions like family get-togethers.

Sullivan’s early influences were trumpeters Clyde McCoy (who had a hit in the early 1950s called “Sugar Blues”) and Harry James. Dizzy Gillespie’s bebop prowess also had a profound impact, as did his touring advice. “Dizzy said, ‘Ira, if you really want to be appreciated, go overseas.’ That was around 1950, and I didn’t get over there until 1977, but everything he had told me was still true. Away from America, people are more educated and appreciative of jazz. A piano player I grew up with in Chicago, Eddie Higgins, is now a celebrity in Japan. After concerts, he’s greeted by thousands of people.”

Sullivan also taught himself the soprano saxophone, adding it to his collection of tenor and alto horns. He taught himself the flute with the aid of only one lesson, a four-hour session with former Miles Davis and Gil Evans multi-instrumentalist Eddie Caine. “Twenty years later, I was playing with trumpeter Red Rodney in California,” Sullivan says. “Eddie was living there, and he came in and said, ‘You’ve made me proud, because you’ve told everybody who you studied flute with. You’ve done a lot with it in the last 20 years.'”

For decades now, Sullivan has effortlessly switched between trumpet, flugelhorn and peckhorn; tenor, alto and soprano saxophone; and flute. He can even play drums if necessary. “I carry a pair of sticks with me,” Sullivan says, “because sometimes drummers are late. I don’t play the drums with a lot of chops, but I can swing and play in time.”

Sullivan’s dexterity helped him become a teacher after the move to South Florida, although his disdain for musical academia makes him prefer the term “nurturer.” Bassist Jaco Pastorius (who recorded on one track in 1975 for the A release Ira Sullivan) and guitarist Pat Metheny were two future icons who benefited from Sullivan’s outside-the-box ideas.

Here's a taste of what the two were up to in 1984 at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Duke Ellington - Cavalcade Of Bands - Dumont TV -1950 - Past Daily Downbeat Duke Ellington on Dumont TV - The artist who was everywhere - even on early Television.

Duke Ellington and his Famous Orchestra - Cavalcade Of Bands - Dumont TV - July 18, 1950 - Jim Stephenson Collection -

Duke Ellington in what is most probably a drop-dead rarity - if not in performance then certainly in sound.

About a week ago, my friend and colleague Jim Stephenson unveiled what was an important discovery, but also a herculean effort at pulling out salvageable sounds. A collection of discs came his way; all carefully notated and cared-for. Not normal transcription discs, and not the usual run-of-the-mill home-recording discs so often found at swap meets, but 5" discs that were recorded at 33 1/3 rpm, but cut in such a way as to enable a half-hour of recording per side (most of those small home-recording discs went from 3-5 minutes). From what Jim tells me, it took literally hours to get the right size stylus to play these things back and several more hours to get anything resembling salvageable sounds to be digitized.

The end-result is astonishing. Jim was able to get a clean transfer, preserving the integrity of the music itself, without sacrificing the quality (notably the high-end). I added some de-clicking and de-crackling and what's on the above player represents early live-television at its best.

It's possible this show, part of the Cavalcade Of Bands series from the short-lived Dumont TV Network, has survived by way of kinoscopes (actual filmed 16mm transcriptions of live TV before the advent of videotape), but the sound on those would be vastly inferior to what's presented here.

If no such record exists, then these discs (there are several others in the series that Jim is working on as we speak) are indeed rarities and the only examples of this show available in any form.

The performances speak for themselves. Ellington is in top form - the band is relaxed and having fun - the whole thing has a festive air to it. It would be great to actually see this one come together as one of the prime examples of early Television - but for the moment, all we can do is listen and be amazed.

Hopefully you'll be too.

Special thanks to Jim Stephenson for letting me run this on Past Daily - trying to get this to as many people as I can. The fun part of history.
Sonny Stitt - Umbria Jazz Festival, Italy - 1974 - Past Daily Downbeat Sonny Stitt - Sonny everywhere - and with a hundred albums to prove it.

Sonny Stitt Quartet - live at Umbria Jazz Festival - July 30, 1974 - RAI - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Sonny Stitt in concert this week - an all-too-short set from the Umbria Jazz Festival, recorded on July 30, 1974 by the venerable RAI in Rome, and broadcasting this 13 and a half minute snippet. Further evidence that even a little Sonny Stitt is better than no Sonny Stitt at all. He's joined by Georges Arvanitas, piano - Jackie Samson, bass and Charles Saudrais, drums.

Known for his warm tone, Sonny Stiff was one of the best-documented saxophonists of his generation, recording more than 100 albums. He was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" by jazz critic Dan Morgenstern because of his relentless touring and devotion to jazz. Stitt was sometimes viewed as a Charlie Parker mimic, especially earlier in his career, but gradually came to develop his own sound and style, particularly when performing on tenor saxophone.

In the 1970s, Stitt slowed his recording output slightly, and in 1972, he produced another classic, Tune-Up!, which was and still is regarded by many jazz critics, such as Scott Yanow, as his definitive record. Indeed, his fiery and ebullient soloing was quite reminiscent of his earlier playing. In 1971 he managed to record four albums; Turn It On! with Leon Spencer, Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, and Virgil Jones, You Talk That Talk! with Gene Ammons and George Freeman as new members of the group, Just The Way It Was - Live At The Left Bank with Don Patterson and Billy James, and Black Vibrations which featured the same group as in Turn It On!. Just The Way It Was - Live At The Left Bank which was released in 2000 also featured Stitt as an electric saxophone player, which was the first album which encompassed it.

Stitt's productivity dropped in the 1970s due to alcoholism. Stitt had drunk heavily since giving up heroin in the late fifties and the abuse was beginning to take its toll. A series of alcohol-induced seizures caused Stitt to abstain and kick the habit for good.

In 1975, Sonny had performed with Ron Burton, Major Holley an John Lewis at the Village Vanguard.

Stitt joined the all-star group The Giants of Jazz (which also featured Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Kai Winding and bassist Al McKibbon) and made albums for Atlantic, Concord and EmArcy. His last recordings were made in Japan. A rejuvenated Stitt also toured with Red Holloway in the late 1970s, who noted a marked improvement in his playing.

Here's a reminder of his mid-70s period via this appearance at the 1974 Umbria Jazz Festival on July 30, 1974.
Jimmy Giuffre Trio - Live In Rome - 1959 - Past Daily Downbeat Jimmy Giuffre - Pioneer in free improvisation - purveyor of freeing things up. (photo: Getty Images)

Jimmy Giuffre Trio - Live at Teatro Adriano, Rome - June 19, 1959 - RAI

Jimmy Giuffre Trio this weekend. With Jim Hall, guitar and Buddy Clark, bass - recorded by RAI on June 19, 1959.

Giuffre first became known as an arranger for Woody Herman's big band, for which he wrote "Four Brothers" (1947). He would continue to write creative, unusual arrangements throughout his career. He was a central figure in West Coast jazz and cool jazz. He became a member of Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars in 1951 as a full-time All Star along with Shorty Rogers and Shelly Manne. The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California became the focal point of West Coast jazz in the 1952–53 time period. It was during this time when he collaborated with Rogers on many of the successful charts written for the All Stars. The first recording released by the Lighthouse All Stars was a not so West Coast jazz chart named "Big Boy" which he and Rogers had put together. It was an instant hit in Los Angeles. He left the band in September 1953 and became a member of Shorty Rogers and His Giants before going solo. At this point in his career, Giuffre predominantly played tenor and baritone saxophone.

His first trio consisted of Giuffre, guitarist Jim Hall and double bassist Ralph Peña (later replaced by Jim Atlas). They had a minor hit in 1957 when Giuffre's "The Train and the River" was featured on the television special The Sound of Jazz. This trio explored what Giuffre dubbed "blues-based folk jazz". This same special matched Giuffre with fellow clarinetist Pee Wee Russell for a leisurely jam session simply titled "Blues".

When Atlas left the trio, Giuffre replaced him with valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. This unusual instrumentation was partly inspired by Aaron Copland. The group can be seen performing "The Train and the River" in the film Jazz on a Summer's Day filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.

In 1959, Giuffre led a trio featuring Hall and bassist Buddy Clark on a concert in Rome, Italy, sharing the bill with Gerry Mulligan's band, the set that's playing today.

In 1961, Giuffre formed a new trio with piano player Paul Bley and Steve Swallow on double bass, and also began to focus his attention largely on the clarinet. This group received little attention while active, but were later cited by some critics, fans and musicians as among the most important groups in jazz history. They explored free jazz not in the loud, aggressive mode of Albert Ayler or Archie Shepp, but with a hushed, quiet focus more resembling chamber music. The trio's explorations of melody, harmony and rhythm are still as striking and radical as any in jazz. Thom Jurek has written that this trio's recordings are "one of the most essential documents regarding the other side of early-'60s jazz."

Holiday weekend - maybe staying at home - hit the play button and kick back.
Carla Bley - Steve Swallow - HR Big-Band - Live In Frankfurt - 1999 - Past Daily Downbeat Carla Bley - Steve Swallow - the all-around partnership.

Carla Bley - Steve Swallow - with the HR Big Band - October 24, 1999 - Frankfurt Radio -

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Carla Bley and Steve Swallow along with the HR Big Band live at the German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt on October 24, 1999.

Two acclaimed composer/musicians in their own right, their collaboration together has been an ongoing thing since the 70s.

A highly regarded pianist, composer, and arranger, Carla Bley has been at the forefront of avant-garde jazz and modern creative music since the '60s. She initially emerged as a composer, working closely with her first husband, pianist Paul Bley, as well as progressive artists like George Russell and Jimmy Giuffre. She is a founder of the Jazz Composers' Orchestra and her long-form jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill stands as a distinct stylistic signpost of the era. Bley has worked with a host of free-jazz icons -- including Pharaoh Sanders, Steve Lacy, and Peter Brotzmann, among others -- and continued to compose challenging genre-bending works into the 21st century. Along with her many large ensemble works, she has regularly collaborated in a trio with her partner bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, issuing albums like 2013's Trios, 2016's Andando el Tiempo, and 2020's Life Goes On.

A lauded bassist and composer, Steve Swallow is an influential performer who helped define the sound of post-bop, fusion, and modern creative jazz. An individualist on his chosen instrument, Swallow is known for emphasizing high notes and often approaches the electric bass as if it were a guitar. Following his initial emergence in the 1960s playing progressive jazz with Jimmy Giuffre and George Russell, he established long associations with pianist Paul Bley, trumpeter Art Farmer, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and others. Swallow has issued albums under his own name, including 1987's Carla, 1991's Swallow, and 1996's Deconstructed. He is also a longtime member of a trio with his partner, pianist Carla Bley, and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, issuing albums like 2013's Trios, 2016's Andando el Tiempo, and 2020's Life Goes On. A gifted composer, he is also recognized for writing such songs as "Eiderdown," "Falling Grace," and "Hotel Hello."

Settle in and hit the play button - relax and repeat.
McCoy Tyner - Solo Concert - Paris, 2005 - Past Daily Downbeat: Tribute Edition McCoy Tyner - The story is over, the song goes on forever.

McCoy Tyner - in solo Concert - Jazz à la Villette, Paris - September 7, 2005 - Radio France Musique -

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McCoy Tyner in solo concert - recorded during Jazz à la Villette in Paris on September 7, 2005 and broadcast by Radio France Musique. As soon as I heard the news about the passing of McCoy Tyner, my first reaction was to post one of his quartet concerts as a way of letting the notes speak, rather than search for words. I promised I would run another concert this weekend, and I thought one of the best ways to pay tribute to the artist was to offer one of his solo concerts as not only tribute, but appreciation for the man and his limitless gifts he gave so freely to the Jazz world and to music in general.

Here's a rundown of what he plays:
01. The Greeting (Tyner)
02. For All we Know (J. Fred Coots)
03. Blues Stride (Tyner)
04. Angelina (McCoy Tyner)
05. Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit (Tyner)
06. Search for Peace (Tyner)
07. Track 7 (Tyner)
08. Ballad for AÔsha (Tyner)
09. Happy Days (Tyner)
10. Naima (John Coltrane)

This is spellbinding stuff, and as someone pointed out, is more than worth an hour of undivided attention just to absorb what was happening here.

We mourn the loss - and the outpouring of reflections and feelings has been truly overwhelming. This is an appreciation of the gift - that ability to convey a feeling - a voice without words that speaks directly to the soul and without any effort, nourishes. That's the magic of all this - it's the magic of music. Perhaps not magic so much as the spiritual connection that runs through each of us. No wonder music is often referred to as an old friend. Certainly, in this context it's the embrace of a loving source.

Enjoy and reflect. And blessings to McCoy Tyner to have walked this earth.
Harry James And His Orchestra - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Harry James - Conflicted between sweet and swing.

Harry James and his Orchestra - July 20, 1945 - Armed Forces Radio Service - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Harry James during one of his many appearances at camps and hospitals during World War 2. Recorded at The Cushing General Hospital on July 20, 1945, this program was broadcast via Armed Forces Radio Service.

I was always wondering, where do you actually put Harry James in the grand scheme of Jazz history? Harry James was a remarkable and highly influential Trumpet player, who had a technique emulated by many during the Big Band era. He won high praise from colleagues and press during the 1930s when he was with Benny Goodman and when he initially formed his own band. But that changed when strings were added and the arrangements became sweeter. Trying to grab the mainstream (i.e. Pop) audience, he became a huge commercial success, but at the cost of many fans who felt he had sold out in order to make a living.

Well, you gotta do what you gotta do, and listening to this show you can hear aspects of sweet arrangements that helped put him over the top as far as popularity was concerned. But Harry James wasn't the only one to use strings in a big band setting. Artie Shaw used strings (and harpsichords and everything else) and it only added to his popularity.

After coasting through the mid-1950s, James made a complete reevaluation of where he was heading in his musical career. Count Basie provided the impetus by making a significant comeback with his newly formed "16 Men Swinging" band, and James wanted a band with a decided Basie flavor. James signed with Capitol Records in 1955, and two years later, after releasing new studio versions of many of his previously released songs from Columbia, James recorded ten new tracks for an album entitled Wild About Harry!. This album was the first in a series released on Capitol, and continuing later on MGM, representative of the Basie style that James adopted during this period, with some of the arrangements provided by former Basie saxophonist and arranger Ernie Wilkins, whom James hired for his own band.

While James never completely regained favor with jazz critics during his lifetime in spite of his return to more jazz-oriented releases in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, contemporary opinion of his work has shifted. Recent reissues such as Capitol's 2012 7-disc set The Capitol Vaults Jazz Series: Gene Krupa and Harry James have prompted new, more favorable analyses. In 2014, Marc Myers of JazzWax commented, " band of the mid-1940s was more modern than most of the majors, and in 1949 he led one of the finest bands of the year." And on James's releases from 1958–1961, Myers noted, "The James band during this period has been eclipsed by bands led by Basie, Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton. While each served up its own brand of magnificence, James produced more consistently brilliant tracks than the others... virtually everything James recorded during this period was an uncompromising, swinging gem."

James felt strongly about the music he both played and recorded. In 1972 while in London, he did an interview with the English jazz critic Steve Voce, who asked if the biggest audience was for the commercial numbers he had recorded. James visibly bristled, replying "That would depend on for whom you are playing. If you're playing for a jazz audience, I'm pretty sure that some of the jazz things we do would be a lot more popular than 'Sleepy Lagoon,' and if we're playing at a country club or playing Vegas, in which we have many, many types of people, then I'm sure that 'Sleepy Lagoon' would be more popular at that particular time. But I really get bugged about these people talking about commercial tunes, because to me, if you're gonna be commercial, you're gonna stand on your head and make funny noises and do idiotic things. I don't think we've ever recorded or played one tune that I didn't particularly love to play. Otherwise, I wouldn't play it."

So pull up a chair and relax for the next half-hour, Harry James has it under control.
Jimmy Smith Quartet - Live in France - 1979 - Past Daily Downbeat Jimmy Smith - High Priest of The B-3

Jimmy Smith Quartet - Live At Amphithéåtre de l'Institut Catholique - Angers, France - February 13, 1979 - Radio France -

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The legendary Jimmy Smith this weekend - just what the doctored ordered for an extended stay on a desert island. He is joined in this 1979 concert by John Phillips, tenor/alto/soprano saxes and flute - Ray Crawford, guitar and Kenny Dixon, drums. It was all recorded and preserved for posterity by Radio France International on February 13, 1979.

This is from The New York Times on the occasion of his death on February 2005:
Before Jimmy Smith, the electric organ had been nearly a novelty in jazz; it was he who made it an important instrument in the genre and influenced nearly every subsequent notable organist in jazz and rock, including Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, Larry Young, Shirley Scott, Al Kooper and Joey DeFrancesco.

By 1955 -- which coincidentally was the year Hammond introduced its most popular model, the B-3 -- he had an organ trio with a new sound that would thereafter become the model for groups in what became known as "organ rooms," the urban bars up and down the East Coast specializing in precisely the kind of blues-oriented, swinging, funky music that Mr. Smith epitomized.

In the early 1950's he worked around Philadelphia, playing rhythm and blues with Don Gardner's Sonotones. In 1952, or perhaps 1953, he met Wild Bill Davis, the organ player who pioneered the organ-trio format, at a club. Mr. Smith asked him how long it would take to learn the organ; Davis replied that it would take years to learn the pedals alone. (In Mr. Smith's retelling, the number of years varied between 4 and 15.) Playing piano at night and practicing organ during the day, Mr. Smith studied a chart of the instrument's 25 foot pedals and claimed that he played fluent walking-bass lines with his feet within three months.

By 1955 he was on his way to making his new organ trio sound pervasive.

Like many other great jazz musicians, Mr. Smith insisted that the key to finding his own sound was through studying musicians who did not play his instrument.

"While others think of the organ as a full orchestra," he wrote in a short piece for The Hammond Times in 1964, "I think of it as a horn. I've always been an admirer of Charlie Parker, and I try to sound like him. I wanted that single-line sound like a trumpet, a tenor or an alto saxophone."

He made many popular records for Blue Note and Verve, among them "Groovin' at Small's Paradise," "The Cat" (with the arranger Lalo Schifrin), a few records with the guitarist Wes Montgomery and in 1965 his vocal version of "Got My Mojo Workin'," arranged by Oliver Nelson.
If you missed him the first time around, don't miss him this time. Jimmy Smith was an important voice and his legacy is laced with milestones. Check him out - and check this gig out.
Lyle Mays Trio - Live At E.J.'s - 1981 - Past Daily Downbeat: Memorial Edition (Lyle Mays: 1953-2020) Lyle Mays - founding member of The Pat Metheny Group. Merger of ideas.

Lyle Mays Trio - Live at E.J.'s - Atlanta Georgia - August 22, 1981 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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More sad news this month. Hearing of the passing of Lyle Mays, founding member of The Pat Metheny Group as well as arranger and prolific composer, who passed away on February 10th after a long illness. He was 66.

Pat Metheny has long been one of the marquee names in jazz. But the albums he made with his working band from 1978 to 2005 for ECM, Geffen and other labels were always credited to the Pat Metheny Group, never just to Mr. Metheny. And Lyle Mays was an integral part of that lean quartet from its early days, whether giving depth and color to its sound on synthesizers or soloing gracefully on grand piano.

The group gained fame by merging jazz ideas with a rock sensibility; its later incarnation as a larger ensemble incorporated musical ideas from other parts of the world, notably Brazil.

Lyle David Mays was born on Nov. 27, 1953, in Wausaukee, a village in eastern Wisconsin. His parents encouraged his interest in music and were musically inclined themselves. His father, Cecil, a truck driver, taught himself to play guitar; his mother, Doris (Olson) Mays, who worked in a bank, played piano and organ in a local church.

Lyle Mays himself began playing organ in church at 9 and developed an interest in jazz not long afterward. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he transferred to North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas), where he played piano in the school’s celebrated One O’Clock Lab Band while composing and arranging its music. He wrote all the compositions and arrangements on the band’s Grammy-nominated album “Lab 75.” He left in 1975 to tour with Woody Herman’s big band.

He met Pat Metheny in 1974 at the Wichita Jazz Festival in Kansas. They first recorded together in 1977 on Metheny's album “Watercolors” and formed the Pat Metheny group shortly afterward. The group's first album, released the next year, was titled simply “Pat Metheny Group.”

Their other ventures included writing the score for the John Schlesinger spy thriller “The Falcon & the Snowman” (1985), which starred Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton. That score included a collaboration with David Bowie, “This Is Not America,” which was a Top 40 hit.

Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny released one album as co-leaders, the atmospheric and whimsically named “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls” (1981). Reviewing it for The New York Times, Stephen Holden called it “a winning combination of electronic innovation and neo-Romantic lyricism,” and noted that Mr. Mays “dominates the record.” In a recent Facebook post, the bassist Christian McBride, another longtime Metheny associate, called it “one of the most moving documents of pure beauty ever made.”

Here is Lyle Mays in a trio setting, with Marc Johnson on bass and Danny Gottlieb on drums.

RIP: Lyle Mays. (special thanks: N.Y. Times Obituary - Feb. 12, 2020)
Gerry Mulligan Big Band - Live At North Sea Jazz 1982 - Past Daily Downbeat Gerry Mulligan - Pivotal figure in The Cool School of Jazz. (photo: Franca Mulligan)

Gerry Mulligan - Big Band - Live At The North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague - July 16, 1982 - VPRO

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Gerry Mulligan this weekend. With big band, recorded at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague on July 16, 1982 by VPRO in The Netherlands.

If there was no Gerry Mulligan would there be no Cool School of Jazz in the early 50's? Good question - and I don't want to speculate. Surely, things were heading in that direction, and Miles Davis' Birth Of The Cool certainly made it official. But Mulligan's tone and his approach (and being part of that session), not to mention his early career as an arranger and member of Claude Thornhill's band, where the concept was "Play what you would normally play loud, only soft", became the prototype for the movement. It was in direct contrast to much of what Bop was doing and an entire universe apart from what bands like Kenton's were doing in the "new concepts' department.

This was heady, luxuriant, expansive Jazz - music you listened to; not at, and it paved the way for the series of milestone Davis/Gil Evans collaborations (Evans and Mulligan were colleagues and part of the Thornhill organization early-on). Jazz has never looked back.

So Gerry Mulligan was an Elder Statesman - sadly, he left at age 68 with a lot more to say. I saw no evidence of him resting on his laurels. It was all about the journey and the exploration - and that beautiful, hypnotic tone that covered the proceedings like a warm blanket. As leader and arranger, Mulligan was a major force in Jazz. As a collaborator, his sessions are touchstones - I still consider his 1959 collaboration with Ben Webster (Webster meets Mulligan on Verve) to be one of the essential albums in every Jazz library.

So if you haven't encountered the music of Gerry Mulligan, I urge you to go on an expedition - I believe all of this albums (and there's a bunch) are reissued in one form or another. If you are familiar and are a fan - you've skipped all this anyway and headed straight to the player. At the end there is an interview with Gerry Mulligan that I left in. Announcements are in Dutch, but not a lot of announcing was going on (unlike some of our other European friends who just love to chat over music).

Hit Play and settle in.
Eddie Harris - Live In Las Vegas - 1985 - Past Daily Downbeat The Electrifying Eddie Harris.

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Eddie Harris - Live at 4 Queen's Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas - February 4, 1985

The Electrifying Eddie Harris this weekend, live at 4 Queen's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on February 4, 1985 and featuring Luis Spears on bass, Albert "Tootie" Heath, drums and Ronald Muldrow on Guitar. This set was originally broadcast as part of the "Jazz Alive" series from NPR in the 1980s.

In case ya don't know: Eddie Harris was best known for playing tenor saxophone and for introducing the electrically amplified saxophone. He was also fluent on the electric piano and organ. His best-known compositions are "Freedom Jazz Dance", recorded and popularized by Miles Davis in 1966, and "Listen Here."

In 1961, Eddie recorded his first album under the VeeJay Records label entitled “Exodus” after the motion picture of the same title. The song “Exodus” was first released as a 45 rpm and sold well over a million copies which earned Eddie – Gold status for a jazz recording. After 2 years, Eddie left Vee Jay Records and began recording for Columbia Records and then later Atlantic Records. Eddie recorded with Atlantic for over a decade. Eddie recorded “Listen Here” (a hit which coined Eddie, “The Electrifying Eddie Harris”) and composed the jazz tune “Freedom Jazz Dance” which became a standard modern work recorded by Miles Davis and countless other artists. He is noted for a very successful partnership with pianist, Les McCann in the late 1960’s; a union which produced the 1969 Atlantic LP “Swiss Movement” marking another Gold Status jazz recording. In addition, in 1970, “Swiss Movement” earned Eddie and Les a Grammy nomination at the 13th Annual Grammy Awards for the category of Best Jazz Performance/Small Group or Soloist with Small Group.

Eddie played with a light and smooth sound so he could skip over the horn faster. According to Eddie, “cats can play loud like Gene Ammons and Sonny Rollins but don’t play as fast as Sonny Stitt. When anyone else plays fast, they get softer because they can’t maintain volume going that fast.” In later years, Eddie began singing due to the restrictions he faced playing the saxophone on funk tunes. “I would play more saxophone, but I realized the fact that if I played more saxophone I’d have to play a lot more Listen Here, and that was limiting my saxophone playing, so I figured that a way that I didn’t have to play so much funk on the saxophone was to start singing.” Vocal recordings for Eddie represented pragmatism rather than fashion and provided both latitude and fulfillment for him as a jazz instrumentalist.

So with that - sit down, relax and hit the Play button. It's Sunday, after all.
Clifford Brown-Max Roach - Live At The Continental Restaurant - 1956 - Past Daily Downbeat Clifford Brown - A story of promise closed - a catalog of what-if's opened.

Clifford Brown - Max Roach Quintet - Live at The Continental Restaurant - WNOR-AM Broadcast - June 18, 1956 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The legendary Clifford Brown this weekend. In what very well may have been his last known broadcast before an untimely death from a car accident on his way to another gig. The broadcast was live by WNOR-AM in Norfolk, Virginia on June 18, 1956 - Clifford Brown's death occurred on June 26th.

News of his death sent shock waves all over the Jazz community. Here was an artist whose career was bright and filled with promise - not to mention being one of the most innovative voices in modern Jazz. His contributions, had he lived, would have been inestimable - his influence would have been far-reaching; surely more than it already was, even at the early age of 25.

At the time of his death he left behind four years' worth of recordings. He was also a composer of note: his compositions "Sandu," "Joy Spring," and "Daahoud" have become jazz standards.

Brown won the Down Beat critics' poll for New Star of the Year in 1954; he was inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1972 in the critics' poll. He influenced later jazz trumpeters such as Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, and Lee Morgan.

Clifford Brown was influenced and encouraged by Fats Navarro, whom he first met at the age of 15, sharing Navarro's virtuosic technique and brilliance of invention. His sound was warm and round, and notably consistent across the full range of the instrument. He could articulate every note, even at very fast tempos which seemed to present no difficulty to him; this served to enhance the impression of his speed of execution. His sense of harmony was highly developed, enabling him to deliver bold statements through complex harmonic progressions (chord changes), and embodying the linear, "algebraic" terms of bebop harmony. In addition to his up-tempo prowess, he could express himself deeply in a ballad performance.

His first recordings were with R bandleader Chris Powell, following which he performed with Tadd Dameron, J. J. Johnson, Lionel Hampton, and Art Blakey before forming his own group with Max Roach. The Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet was a high-water mark of the hard bop style, with all the members of the group except for bassist George Morrow contributing original songs. Brown's trumpet was originally partnered with Harold Land's tenor saxophone. After Land left in 1955 in order to spend more time with his wife, Sonny Rollins joined and remained a member of the group for the rest of its existence. In their hands, the bebop vernacular reached a peak of inventiveness.

The clean-living Brown escaped the influence of heroin and alcohol on the jazz world. Brown stayed away from drugs and was not fond of alcohol. Rollins, who was recovering from heroin addiction, said that "Clifford was a profound influence on my personal life. He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician."

The sound of this broadcast gets up to speed after a creaky start, and after about a minute and a-half it settles in. Small price to pay for what became a historic gig - one from a career that certainly conjured up a whole catalog of "what-if's".

Relax and enjoy.
Dexter Gordon Quartet - Live In Paris 1977 - Past Daily Downbeat Message from Dexter.

Dexter Gordon - Live in Paris - September 25, 1977 - Espace Cardin, Paris - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Dexter Gordon Quartet this weekend, with Al Haig on piano, Pierre Michelot on bass and Kenny Clarke on drums. All recorded and broadcast by Radio France on September 25, 1977 and rebroadcast in 2017 as part of France Musique's Legends Of Jazz series. If you haven't already, or if you haven't bookmarked it yet, head over to France Musique and check out some of the amazing Jazz they are running over there, daily. No need to thank me for it - but come back here from time to time, because I know you're going to get lost in the treasure-trove of great Jazz they offer. And you don't need to be fluent in French to enjoy it. Music and Jazz are universal languages - spoken everywhere.

On to the Man himself. Dexter Gordon found Europe in the 1960s a much easier place to live, saying that he experienced less racism and greater respect for jazz musicians. He also stated that on his visits to the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he found the political and social strife disturbing. While in Copenhagen, Gordon and Drew's trio appeared onscreen in Ole Ege's theatrically released hardcore pornographic film Pornografi (1971), for which they composed and performed the score.

He switched from Blue Note to Prestige Records (1965–73) but stayed very much in the hard-bop idiom, making classic bop albums like The Tower of Power! and More Power! (1969) with James Moody, Barry Harris, Buster Williams, and Albert "Tootie" Heath; The Panther! (1970) with Tommy Flanagan, Larry Ridley, and Alan Dawson; The Jumpin' Blues (1970) with Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones, and Roy Brooks; The Chase! (1970) with Gene Ammons, Jodie Christian, John Young, Cleveland Eaton, Rufus Reid, Wilbur Campbell, Steve McCall, and Vi Redd; and Tangerine (1972) with Thad Jones, Freddie Hubbard, and Hank Jones. Some of the Prestige albums were recorded during visits back to North America while he was still living in Europe; others were made in Europe, including live sets from the Montreux Jazz Festival.

In addition to the recordings Gordon did under his major label contracts, live recordings by European labels and live video from his European period are available. The Danish label SteepleChase released live dates from his mid-1960s tenure at the Montmartre Jazzhus. The video was released under the Jazz Icons series.

Less well known than the Blue Note albums, but of similar quality, are the albums he recorded during the 1970s for SteepleChase (Something Different, Bouncin' With Dex, Biting the Apple, The Apartment, Stable Mable, The Shadow of Your Smile and others). They again feature American sidemen, but also such Europeans as Spanish pianist Tete Montoliu and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.

Now that you're filled in on the history and where to hang-out, hit the play button and enjoy this very nice set from 1977.
Illinois Jacquet Quintet - Live In Mumbai - 1994 - Past Daily Downbeat Illinois Jacquet - one of the first Jazz saxophonists to make forays into the Jump Blues/Rock n' Roll camp.

Illinois Jacquet Quintet - Live at The Bombay Jazz Festival, Mumbai India - March 27, 1994 - Festival Soundboard - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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The legendary Illinois Jacquet this weekend, along with his quintet, featuring Rolly Mullins on trumpet, Gray Sargent on guitar, Larry Ham on piano and Clyde Lucas on drums. All recorded and miraculously preserved at the 1994 Bombay Jazz Festival in Bombay (Mumbai) India on March 27, 1994.

Although much of what he did, his honking and at times raw style became something of a trademark for early Jump-Blues and Rock n' Roll, he was thoroughly committed to Jazz and his collaborations with some of the pivotal figures in Jazz (Charles Mingus, who was an early alumnus of the Jacquet ensembles), Arnet Cobb, Dexter Gordon and Nat King Cole, confirmed that commitment.

Jacquet was born to a Black Creole mother and father, named Marguerite Trahan and Gilbert Jacquet, in Louisiana and moved to Houston, Texas, as an infant, and was raised there as one of six siblings. His father was a part-time bandleader. As a child he performed in his father's band, primarily on the alto saxophone. His older brother Russell Jacquet played trumpet and his brother Linton played drums.

At 15, Jacquet began playing with the Milton Larkin Orchestra, a Houston-area dance band. In 1939, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he met Nat King Cole. Jacquet would sit in with the trio on occasion. In 1940, Cole introduced Jacquet to Lionel Hampton who had returned to California and was putting together a big band. Hampton wanted to hire Jacquet, but asked the young Jacquet to switch to tenor saxophone.

In 1942, at age 19, Jacquet soloed on the Hampton Orchestra's recording of "Flying Home", one of the first times a honking tenor sax was heard on record. The record became a hit. The song immediately became the climax for the live shows and Jacquet became exhausted from having to "bring down the house" every night. The solo was built to weave in and out of the arrangement and continued to be played by every saxophone player who followed Jacquet in the band, notably Arnett Cobb and Dexter Gordon, who achieved almost as much fame as Jacquet in playing it. It is one of the few jazz solos to have been memorized and played very much the same way by everyone who played the song. He quit the Hampton band in 1943 and joined Cab Calloway's Orchestra. Jacquet appeared with Cab Calloway's band in Lena Horne's movie Stormy Weather. In the earlier years of Jacquet's career, his brother Linton Jacquet managed him on the chitlin circuit Linton's daughter Brenda Jacquet-Ross sang in jazz venues in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s to early 2000s, with a band called the Mondo Players.

In 1944, Illinois Jacquet returned to California and started a small band with his brother Russell and a young Charles Mingus. It was at this time that he appeared in the Academy Award-nominated short film Jammin' the Blues with Lester Young. He also appeared at the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. In 1946, he moved to New York City, and joined the Count Basie orchestra, replacing Lester Young. In 1952 Jacquet co-wrote 'Just When We're Falling in Love'; Illinois Jacquet, Sir Charles Thompson, S. K. "Bob" Russell. Jacquet continued to perform (mostly in Europe) in small groups through the 1960s and 1970s. Jacquet led the Illinois Jacquet Big Band from 1981 until his death. Jacquet became the first jazz musician to be an artist-in-residence at Harvard University, in 1983.

This particular recording is something of a miracle - the history of it is a study in perseverance. As was told to me by a few collector friends, the tape was badly damaged from neglect and adverse conditions and was broken in several places. By painstaking restoration this performance wound up being resurrected and the job was so well done that the horror story that originally accompanied it seems hard to believe. Sadly, having been in those exact situations myself (with more than a few historic recordings), it makes perfect sense and a hats off to the person who sweat bullets pulling rabbits out of hats.

Enjoy this slice of history - it may just as easily been lost forever.
The Modern Jazz Quartet With Charles Mingus - Live At Nice Jazz Festival 1972 - Past Daily Downbeat. Modern Jazz Quartet - MJQ - Whatever you called them, they were the pinnacle of eloquence and essential to the Jazz experience. (Photo: Gjon Mili)

Modern Jazz Quartet with Charles Mingus - Live At The Nice Jazz Festival, France - 1972 - ORTF, France -

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The Modern Jazz Quartet along with the legendary Charles Mingus in concert at the 1972 Nice Jazz Festival in 1972 and preserved for posterity by the equally legendary ORTF broadcasting outlet in France.

You might think this pairing of The MJQ with Charles Mingus, almost two different schools of thought, would be strange. No - the exact opposite. True, they were all well-versed musicians who knew and worked with other individually and whose experiences touched on just about every facet. They had also been associated with the Third Stream movement since its inception. Bassist Percy Heath had studied with Mingus early on in his career. But where Mingus took the harder edge, MJQ took the more cerebral one. How that would gel into a cohesive unit was up for speculation. But what resulted was something of a revelation and probably no surprise to many. True, when The MJQ got started, they were dismissed by a number of critics as being too "classical" and too "Bach influenced", and even Milt Jackson who became a trademark for the MJQ sound wanted the group to head in a more jump-blues direction.

By all appearances, this is the only recorded live collaboration between Mingus and The Modern Jazz Quartet, which is a shame as it gives further evidence of just how big and all-encompassing the tent of Jazz has always been. One of my favorite of the early MJQ albums was their collaboration with Sonny Rollins in 1956, so these "summit meetings" as it were, have been nothing new. Still, makes for great listening.

Perfect for some Sunday listening - hit the play button -relax and enjoy.

Charles Mingus - the heir to Ellington.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Live In Copenhagen - 1963 - Past Daily Downbeat Rahsaan Roland Kirk - A particularly inventive tornado.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Live in Copenhagen - Club Montmartre - October 24, 1963 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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The inimitable Rahsaan Roland Kirk this week. Live in Copenhagen and with a quartet that features, Tete Montoliu, piano, Niels Henning-Pedersen on bass and J.C. Moses on drums (with Alex Riel, subbing for Moses on Basie Eyes) - and recorded on October 24, 1963 for DK Radio.

Geoffrey Himes, in his 2008 JazzTimes article, gives a pretty solid account and assessment of Kirk's work - here's an excerpt:
Any new musical technique-whether it is the electric guitar, saxophone dissonance or the musical saw-seems a gimmick when it first appears. No one thinks of electric guitar and saxophone dissonance as novelties anymore, because too much great music has been made with them. The musical saw, by contrast, still seems a gimmick, because the instrument has yet to find the genius who might unleash its possibilities. Kirk’s innovations-the multiple horn playing, the circular breathing, the flute singing, the uncommon instruments-have been imitated by a few musicians. But he doesn’t require followers to prove the worth of his breakthroughs because he has already proven great music can be made with them.

Kirk didn’t invent his techniques any more than Charlie Christian invented amplification or John Coltrane dissonance. There had long been musicians who would play multiple horns or employ circular breathing in carnivals and juke joints for the sheer “wow” factor of the spectacle. But because such practices were disdained they were also free from expectations, and Kirk, like Christian and Coltrane before him, could write his own rules in the absence of any precedents. In other words, the very weirdness of the techniques was not incidental to the resulting innovations, but served as the door through which the breakthroughs walked. “His willingness to try such unusual methods was part of his creativity,” maintains Kirk’s longtime friend Jimmy Heath. “Anyone who tries something new finds themselves having to justify themselves. The whole bebop generation went through that. Whenever someone comes out with something else, the new movement is belittled by people who are doing what they think should be done. But any movement that comes along has something to offer.”

It’s useful to remember that most of Kirk’s unusual techniques were not adopted when he was an adult professional trying to find an edge in a competitive business but were taken up when he was a teenager trying to find his musical voice. They were not extraneous additions to his playing; they were at the core of his sound from the beginning. “The basic gestalt of his music-the joy, the overwhelming virtuosity, the experimentation-was all there in the ’50s,” insists Kirk’s childhood friend Todd Barkan. “In his youth, he adapted the day-to-day objects of his environment for music-making purposes-even a garden hose became the black mystery pipes. When I traveled with him in the ’70s, he didn’t seem substantially different from the person I’d known in the ’50s, only more organized and focused.”

Kirk had been blind from infancy, but his mother Gertrude made a point of making him as independent as possible. She encouraged him to travel on his own and to pursue his music without fear. Though she died when she was 36, she instilled such pride in her son that he often bristled at any slight. “He disliked the word ‘blind’ profusely,” his widow Dorthaan Kirk points out. “He’d say, ‘I’m not blind; I just don’t see the way the rest of you do.’ When we’d go down the street and see a sightless person with a cup begging for money,’ he never wanted to put money in the cup, because he thought everyone should be as independent as he was. I’d tell him, ‘Not everyone can be as confident as you are.’

“One of the things I hated most was going to a restaurant with him. The waitress would inevitably ask, ‘What does he want?’ He would get so angry. He’d say, ‘Miss, maybe I can’t see, but I can talk and I know what I want.’ OK, so we get the food, but then the check comes and who do you think the waitress gives the check to? He’d say, ‘Miss, do you think because I can’t see I don’t have any money?’ He probably had more money in his pocket than anyone else there.”

Though he was blind, he loved to go as a teenager to the Gaetz Music Store in Columbus and have the owner pull out strange instruments and describe them. That’s how Kirk found the mangled saxello, pulled from the shop’s cellar, that he turned into the “moon zellar” or “manzello,” and the straight alto that he customized as a “stritch.” When he was about 16, Kirk had a dream of playing his tenor sax and his two new acquisitions at once, and he immediately set out to figure out how to do it in his waking life.

This created a pattern that would continue the rest of his life. Kirk was always picking up unlikely instruments and bending them to his will. Jimmy Heath remembers the time he received a shakuhachi, a Japanese wooden flute, as a present from his brother Tootie. Not long after, Jimmy went to see his old friend Kirk at Pep’s, the Philadelphia nightclub. “I told Rahsaan, ‘My brother Tootie gave me this shakuhachi but I can’t get a sound out of it,'” Heath remembers. “I handed it to Rahsaan and he immediately got a sound out of it. That was embarrassing enough, but I went back there three days later and he said from the stage, ‘Jimmy Heath, I’m going to play a song on the shakuhachi.’ He had already mastered it and was already making music with it.”

Hit the play button and enjoy.

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Jimmy McGriff And Hank Crawford - Live At The Fairmont - 1994 - Past Daily Downbeat Jimmy McGriff - insisted he was more a Blues Musician than a Jazz artist. But . . .

Jimmy McGriff with Hank Crawford - live at The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco - July 29, 1994 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection-

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One of the legendary masters of the Hammond B-3 Jimmy McGriff with legendary alto Hank Crawford in two sets, recorded at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco on July 29, 1994.

The collaboration between McGriff and Crawford got started in 1986 and it produced several notable albums during the late 1980s.

Unlike Jimmy Smith, who had launched his career at jazz clubs like New York's Cafe Bohemia and at the Newport Jazz Festival, McGriff was already an organist veering toward the Hammond's increasingly popular R incarnation. It was not coincidental that the legendary Stax Records house rhythm section, organist Booker T and the MGs, also released a Hammond version of I Got a Woman in 1962.

McGriff recorded throughout the 1960s, with his materials broadening to include Count Basie swing hits - pianist Basie, occasionally an organist himself, was also an early McGriff influence - movie themes and pop covers. He toured extensively, moved to New Jersey and opened a supper club, the Golden Slipper, where he recorded his 1971 live album The Black Pearl.

In 1968 McGriff came close to another success with The Worm, an engaging piece of jazz-funk featuring the heated trumpet sound of Blue Mitchell, and he performed with a big band on the following year's Electric Funk. He also became an attraction in the big band led by swing drummer Buddy Rich.

The organist briefly retired in 1972, but with the rise of disco, he had discovered another dance form that could benefit from his Hammond treatment. The albums Stump Juice (1975), Red Beans (1976) and Outside Looking In (1978) represent this shift, and though the materials are often thin, the sessions are lifted by McGriff's coolly grooving lines and stalking-cat deliberation.

When he moved to the Milestone label in the 1980s, McGriff mingled more jazz with his soul sound, playing alongside Hank Crawford and "Fathead" Newman, who had also been Ray Charles's sideman.

Hank Crawford was an American R, hard bop, jazz-funk, soul jazz alto saxophonist, arranger and songwriter. Crawford was musical director for Ray Charles before embarking on a solo career releasing many well-regarded albums on Atlantic, CTI and Milestone.

In 1958, Crawford went to college at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. While at TSU, he majored in music studying theory and composition, as well as playing alto and baritone saxophone in the Tennessee State Jazz Collegians. He also led his own rock 'n' roll quartet, "Little Hank and the Rhythm Kings". His bandmates all thought he looked and sounded just like Hank O'Day, a legendary local saxophonist, which earned him the nickname "Hank". This is when Crawford met Ray Charles, who hired Crawford originally as a baritone saxophonist. Crawford switched to alto in 1959 and remained with Charles' band—becoming its musical director until 1963.

When Crawford left Ray Charles in 1963 to form his own septet, he had already established himself with several albums for Atlantic Records. From 1960 until 1970, he recorded twelve LPs for the label, many while balancing his earlier duties as Ray's director. He released such pre-crossover hits as "Misty", "The Peeper", "Whispering Grass", and "Shake-A-Plenty".

He also has done musical arrangement for Etta James, Lou Rawls, and others. Much of his career has been in R, but in the 1970s he had several successful jazz albums, with I Hear a Symphony reaching 11 on Billboard's Jazz albums list and 159 for Pop albums.

David Sanborn cites Crawford as being one of his primary influences. Crawford is recognized by saxophonists as having a particularly unique and pleasing sound. In 1981, he featured, with fellow horn players Ronnie Cuber and David Newman, on B.B. King's There Must Be a Better World Somewhere.

In 1983 he moved to Milestone Records as a premier arranger, soloist, and composer, writing for small bands including guitarist Melvin Sparks, organist Jimmy McGriff, and Dr. John. In 1986, Crawford began working with McGriff. They recorded five co-leader dates for Milestone Records: Soul Survivors, Steppin' Up, On the Blue Side, Road Tested, and Crunch Time, as well as two dates for Telarc Records: Right Turn on Blue and Blues Groove. The two toured together extensively.

The new century found Crawford shifting gears and going for a more mainstream jazz set in his 2000 release The World of Hank Crawford. Though the songs are compositions from jazz masters such as Duke Ellington and Tadd Dameron, he delivers in that sanctified church sound that is his trademark. Followed by The Best of Hank Crawford and Jimmy McGriff (2001).

Dial yourself back to 1994 - hit the play button and relax.

Hank Crawford - The collaboration between Crawford and McGriff was a gathering of kindred spirits.
Bill Evans And Friends - Live In Nice, 1978 - Past Daily Downbeat Bill Evans - continues to be a prevailing influence, some 39 years after his death.

Bill Evans Trio (and friends) - Live in Nice, France at Grande Parade du Jazz festival - July 6-15, 1978 - Radio France/NPR -

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Bill Evans Trio (Evans, Marc Johnson and Philly Joe Jones) and an all-star lineup of friends, sitting-in; Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Curtis Fuller and Christian Escoudé - recorded by Radio France at Arènes et Jardins de Cimiez during the Grande Parade du Jazz 1978 and broadcast in the U.S. by NPR for their much-loved an much-lamented Jazz Alive! series.

From the Bill Evans Webpages blog, a very well put together and loving tribute:

His last trio was formed in 1978, featuring the incomparably sensitive Marc Johnson on bass and
drummer Joe LaBarbera, which rejuvenated the often-ailing pianist, who was elated with his new line-up, calling it "the most closely related" to his first trio (with LaFaro and Motian). He suffered yet more family problems and upheavals in his personal life, (often due to bouts with narcotics addiction) and yet brought a new dynamic musical vitality, a surer confidence, fresh energy and even more aggressive interplay to the trio's repertoire. Evans' health was deteriorating, however, though he insisted on working until he finally had to cancel midweek during an engagement at Fat Tuesday's in New York. A few days later, he had to be taken to Mount Sinai Hospital on September 15, 1980, where he died from a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia . He is buried next to his beloved brother Harry, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

While Evans was open to new musical approaches that would not compromise his musical and artistic vision -- such as his occasional use of electric piano, and his brief associations with avant-garde composer George Russell -- he always insisted on the purity of the song structure and the noble history of the jazz tradition. It was a point the highly articulate Evans was quite forthcoming about in the various interviews he gave throughout his career. Consistently true to his own pianistic standards, he continued to enhance his own singular vision of music until the very end.

In his short life, Bill Evans was a prolific and profoundly creative artist and a genuinely compassionate and gentle man, often in the face of his recurring health problems and his restless nature. His rich legacy remains undiminished, and his compositions have enjoyed rediscovery by jazz players and even some classical musicians. Even twenty-five years after his passing, Bill Evans' music continues to influence musicians and composers everywhere and all those who have been deeply touched by his expressive genius and sensitive, lyrical artistry.
Sit back and take Sunday off.
Ben Webster Quartet - Live in Denmark - 1965 - Past Daily Downbeat Ben Webster - Left New York for London in 1964 and never came back.

Ben Webster Quartet - live at Frederiksberg, Denmark - January 10, 1965 - Danish Radio (DR) -

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Ben Webster and his quartet, consisting of Kenny Drew on piano, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, bass and Alex Riel drums recorded at the broadcast Studio of Danish Radio on January 10, 1965.

Webster started out as a Coleman Hawkins disciple, but under the influence of Ellington his style matured and became more personal. In quick tempos his solos contained great rhytmic momentum, a rasping timbre and an almost brutal aggressiveness, while his ballad playing was breathy and sensual, delivered with one of the most beautiful sounds ever captured on a tenor saxophone.

A few words via the official Ben Webster Biography:
"After leaving Ellington, Webster formed his own small groups or played with other small ensembles, e.g. John Kirkby in 1944 in New York. In late 1948 he rejoined Ellington for a short year, after which Webster returned to Kansas City to play with Bus Moten, Bob Wilson and Jay McShann. From 1952 he spent his time between Los Angeles and New York playing with his own groups, freelancing, or recording with a variety of soloists, among them singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, and Jimmy Witherspoon with whom Webster toured reguarly around 1960.

Webster toured with Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic in the fall of 1953 and 1954, and it was also Granz who was instrumental in giving Webster a recording contract that gave his career a new lift with excellent albums such as King of the Tenors (1953) and Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson (1959.

In early December 1957 Webster took part in the now legendary CBS TV broadcast The Sound of Jazz where he both performed with Count Basie and with Billie Holiday, and in the latter he was united with the other two swing era tenor saxophone greats, Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young, the only occasion they played together ever. Everyone played excellently on Fine and Mellow, Young very moving, Hawkins with self-confidence, and Webster intense and emotional.

Despite fine reviews of his albums, it was difficult for Webster to find steady work in New York during the early 1960’s, and when an offer to play for a month at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London turned up in late 1964 he accepted and sailed to England.

Webster never returned to the United States. In Europe he found plenty of work, and after the successful London gig, he flew to Scandinavia for weeklong residences in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo, settled in Amsterdam (1966-69) and then in Copenhagen. He toured frequently, mostly in Northern Europe, playing in clubs or at festivals with local bands or with expatriate or visiting American musicians, such as Benny Carter, Bill Coleman, Don Byas, Kenny Drew, Teddy Wilson, Red Mitchell, Charlie Shavers, Carmell Jones, Brew Moore, Dexter Gordon, Clark Terry, and Buck Clayton."

Dive in and enjoy.
Betty Carter - Live In Paris - 1976 - Past Daily Downbeat Betty Carter - astonishing originality and boundless imagination - no wonder Carmen McRae said Betty Carter was the ONLY Jazz singer".(photo: Enrique Vinuela)

Betty Carter - in concert from Paris - recorded at Maison de la Radio, Paris - November 5, 1976 - Radio France -

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The immortal Betty Carter this weekend. A concert recorded at the legendary Studio 104 on November 5, 1976 by Radio France and featuring Carter, along with John Hicks, piano - Dennis Irwin, bass and Clifford Barbaro, drums.

The energy and innovation Carter brought to the table prompted comments from her peers, such as Carmen McRae to declare "There's really only one jazz singer—only one: Betty Carter".

To give you some idea of the impact Betty Carter has had on music and Jazz in particular,The NEA's Jazz Masters website page ran this bio and tribute:
Betty Carter developed a legendary reputation, along with Art Blakey, as one of the great mentors for young jazz musicians. Equally legendary was her singing prowess, creating a distinctive style of improvisation that could transcend any song.

Carter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory, a skill that served her well later in her career in writing original songs. Growing up in Detroit, she was exposed to numerous jazz greats who passed through town, even getting a golden opportunity as a teenager to sit in with Charlie Parker. Carter's big break came in 1948, when she was asked to join the Lionel Hampton band. Developing her vocal improvisations during the three years with the band led to her singular singing style. Hampton, impressed with her saxophone-like improvisatory vocals, dubbed her "Betty Bebop." After leaving Hampton's band, she worked variously with such greats as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, and Sonny Rollins before creating her own band.

Although she recorded for major record labels early in her career, Carter became increasingly frustrated with record company dealings and disparities and formed her own label Bet-Car in 1971, one of the first jazz artists to do so. Selling her own recordings through various distributors, she was able to sustain her performing career. Carter was uncomfortable with studio recordings, but live recordings, like The Audience with Betty Carter, demonstrate her remarkably inventive singing and her ability to drive the band.

Carter's bands served a dual purpose: to create her own great music and to help young musicians develop their craft. Many of the musicians who passed through her groups went on to lead their own groups, such as Geri Allen, Stephen Scott, Don Braden, and Christian McBride. She also developed a mentoring program called Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead through links with organizations like the International Association for Jazz Education, 651 Arts, and the Kennedy Center. The program was a one- to two-week teaching seminar where nationally selected promising young jazz musicians learned from Carter and other seasoned musicians, culminating in a final concert of instructors and students together. Jazz Ahead was one of Carter's proudest achievements, and she worked with the program up until her death. She received the National Medal of Arts in 1997.

If you aren't already, give a listen and get acquainted. She's the real deal.
McCoy Tyner Quartet - Live In Boston - 1973 - Past Daily Downbeat McCoy Tyner - A Career of innovations - a long association with John Coltrane. A celebrated purveyor of Post-Bop.

McCoy Tyner Quartet - live at Jazz Workshop, Boston - December 11, 1973 - WBCN-FM - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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McCoy Tyner Quartet this weekend. In a live gig recorded on his 35th birthday, December 11, 1973, Tyner is joined by Azar Lawrence on tenor and soprano saxophone - Billy Hart on drums and Alex Blake on bass.

Tyner is considered to be one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 20th century, an honor he earned during and after his time with Coltrane. Although he was a member of Coltrane's group, he was never overshadowed by Coltrane. He complemented and inspired Coltrane's open approach. His style of piano is comparable to Coltrane's maximalist style on saxophone. Tyner and Coltrane used similar scales, chordal structures, melodic phrasings, and rhythms.

Tyner, who is left-handed, plays with a low bass left hand in which he raises his arm high above the keyboard for an emphatic attack. His right-hand soloing is detached and staccato. His melodic vocabulary is rich, ranging from raw blues to complexly superimposed pentatonic scales; his approach to chord voicing (most characteristically by fourths) has influenced contemporary jazz pianists, such as Chick Corea.

His music for the Blue Note and Milestone labels often took the music of the Coltrane quartet as a starting point. Tyner also incorporated African and East Asian elements in his music. On Sahara he played koto in addition to piano, flute, and percussion. These albums have been cited as examples of innovative jazz from the 1970s that was neither fusion nor free jazz. Trident (1975) is notable for Tyner's use of harpsichord and celeste, instruments heard rarely in jazz.

During the 1980s and 1990s Tyner worked in a trio that included Avery Sharpe on bass and Louis Hayes, then Aaron Scott, on drums. He made solo albums for Blue Note, starting with Revelations (1988) and culminating in Soliloquy (1991). After signing with Telarc, he recorded with several trios that included Charnett Moffett on bass and Al Foster on drums. In 2008, he toured with a quartet of Gary Bartz, Gerald L. Cannon, and Eric Kamau Gravatt.

Relax and enjoy.
Mal Waldron/Christian Burchard Quartet - Live In Germany - 1968 - Past Daily Downbeat Mal Waldron - Hard Bop and Post-Bop, but Free Jazz called to him.

Mal Waldron/Christian Burchard Quartet - Live in Lörrach, Germany - December 6, 1968 - WDR - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Mal Waldron this weekend, collaborating with vibraphonist Christian Burchard, along with Karl Theodore Geier on bass and Ivor Thorpe on drums in a gig recoded in Lörrach, Germany on December 6, 1968 and broadcast by West German Radio.

Waldron started playing professionally in New York in 1950, after graduating from university. In the following dozen years or so Waldron led his own bands and played for those led by Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, among others. During Waldron's period as house pianist for Prestige Records in the late 1950s, he appeared on dozens of albums and composed for many of them, including writing his most famous song, "Soul Eyes", for Coltrane. Waldron was often an accompanist for vocalists, and was Billie Holiday's regular accompanist from April 1957 until her death in July 1959.

A breakdown caused by a drug overdose in 1963 left Waldron unable to play or remember any music; he regained his skills gradually, while redeveloping his speed of thought. He left the U.S. permanently in the mid-1960s, settled in Europe, and continued touring internationally until his death.

In his 50-year career, Waldron recorded more than 100 albums under his own name and more than 70 for other band leaders. He also wrote for modern ballet, and composed the scores of several feature films. As a pianist, Waldron's roots lay chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time he gravitated more towards free jazz. He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and distinctive later playing style, which featured repetition of notes and motifs.

Christian Burchard is probably best known as the founder of the musical collective Embryo which has been active since 1969, although its story started in the mid-1950s in Hof where Christian Burchard and Dieter Serfas met for the first time at the age of 10. It was one of the most important German jazz-rock bands during the 1970s and has also been described as "the most eclectic of the Krautrock bands." Burchard died in 2018.

Get ready for an interesting sonic adventure - not what you'd expect.
Charles Lloyd Trio - Live At The Pompeii Jazz Festival - 1983 - Past Daily Downbeat Charles Lloyd - Word.

Charles Lloyd Trio - Live at Pompeii Jazz Festival - July 1983 - RAI-Rome.

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The Charles Lloyd Trio, featuring Michael Petrucciani on piano and Palle Danielsson on bass at the 1983 Pompeii Jazz Festival.

Lloyd is given credit for anticipating world music by incorporating music from other cultures into his compositions, as early as the late 1950s. He describes his music as having "danced on many shores". Peter Watrous stated, "Lloyd has come up with a strange and beautiful distillation of the American experience, part abandoned and wild, part immensely controlled and sophisticated."

Despite recording several albums during the 1970s and occasionally appearing as a sideman, he practically disappeared from the jazz scene. During the 1970s Lloyd played extensively with the Beach Boys both on their studio recordings and as a member of their touring band. He was a member of Celebration, a band composed of members of the Beach Boys' touring band as well as Mike Love and Al Jardine. Celebration released two albums.

Lloyd returned to the jazz world in 1981 when he toured with Michel Petrucciani. British jazz critic Brian Case called Lloyd's return "one of the events of the 1980s." The group produced a special edition cassette, Night Blooming Jasmine, and two live records, Montreux 82 and A Night in Copenhagen, which also features Bobby McFerrin. After the tour, Lloyd again retreated to Big Sur.

In 1986, after being hospitalized with a nearly fatal medical condition, Lloyd rededicated himself to music. When he regained his strength in 1988 he formed a new quartet with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson. When Lloyd returned to the Montreux Festival in 1988, Swiss critic Yvan Ischer wrote: "To see and hear Charles Lloyd in concert is always an event, not only because this saxophonist has been at quite a few crossroads, but also because he seems to hold an impalpable truth which makes him a thoroughly original musician...This is what we call grace."

For a taste of what he was up to in 1983, here is the Trio during the Pompeii Jazz Festival.

Crank it up and relax.
Artie Shaw Swings Camp San Luis Obispo - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Artie Shaw - one of the cornerstones of the Swing Era.

Artie Shaw and His Orchestra/Gramercy Five - Camp San Luis Obispo - September 26, 1945 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Artie and his Orchestra, along with his Gramercy Five in an appearance at Camp San Luis Obispo from September 26, 1945 and captured for posterity by Armed Forces Radio as part of their series Spotlight Bands.

This is one of several dates Shaw and his band appeared for AFRS between September and October 1945. I've posted some of the other shows from that period and this is a continuation from that series.

It's interesting that Artie Shaw hasn't achieved the same stature as Benny Goodman, who also did wonders for popularizing the Clarinet. Some say it was because his actual commitment to Jazz was uncertain. It may have been Shaw's experimenting with different instrument combinations (the harpsichord, for example) that led some to believe he wasn't serious and that his use of strings was more of a Pop/mainstream contribution than using instrumentation that was considered synonymous with Jazz.

It's ironic that just about every Jazz musician of note since then has recorded at least one album with Strings and that it created a whole new landscape to work with.

It could also be that Artie Shaw was something of a Renaissance Man; enjoying several careers rather than focus strictly on one. He did drop out of Music for a while. Aside from one album on Verve, Artie Shaw's reputation consisted primarily of reissues of his earlier Big Band period and he did nothing to hide his disdain for the Music Business in general (further evidence it's been that way a long-long time).

But the fact of the matter is, Shaw was a brilliant musician and forward thinking artist. One whose contributions offered a new path of expression that paved the way for a lot of innovation to come.

It certainly begs the opportunity to dig beyond the surface to see what else was influential at the time; conscious or not - it might be surprising.

In any event, if you haven't listened to the other Shaw posts I've put up the past few years, this one might be worth a listen, if nothing else but as a stepping off point to further investigation.

The Universe of Music is vast.
Milt Jackson Quintet - Live At Tompkins Square - 1995 - Past Daily Downbeat Milt Jackson - the inimitable Bags, holding court at Tompkins Square.

Milt Jackson Quintet - live at The Charlie Parker Festival, Tompkins Square Park, N.Y. - August 27, 1995 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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The legendary Milt Jackson this weekend. Recorded in concert during the 1995 Charlie Parker Jazz Festival at Tompkins Square Park in New York on August 27, 1995. Bags is joined by Hank Jones on Piano, Charles McPherson on alto-sax, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums.

Jackson was born on January 1, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Manley Jackson and Lillie Beaty Jackson. Like many, he was surrounded by music from an early age, particularly that of religious meetings: "Everyone wants to know where I got that funky style. Well, it came from church. The music I heard was open, relaxed, impromptu soul music" (quoted in Nat Hentoff's liner notes to Plenty, Plenty Soul). He started on guitar when he was seven, then on piano at 11.

While attending Miller High School, he played drums in addition to timpani and violin and also sang in the choir. At 16, he sang professionally in a local touring gospel quartet called the Evangelist Singers. He took up the vibraphone at 16 after hearing Lionel Hampton play the instrument in Benny Goodman's band. Jackson was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie, who hired him for his sextet in 1945, then his larger ensembles. Jackson quickly acquired experience working with the most important figures in jazz of the era, including Woody Herman, Howard McGhee, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker.

Jackson was one of the founding members of the legendary MJQ. The MJQ had a long independent career of some two decades until disbanding in 1974, when Jackson split with Lewis. The group reformed in 1981, however, and continued until 1993, after which Jackson toured alone, performing in various small combos, although agreeing to periodic MJQ reunions. From the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, Jackson recorded for Norman Granz's Pablo Records, including Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company (1983), featuring Jackson with J. J. Johnson on trombone, Ray Brown on bass, backed by Tom Ranier on piano, guitarist John Collins, and drummer Roy McCurdy.

Hit the play button and relax, it's Sunday after all.
Harold Mabern Trio - Live At The Village Vanguard - 2018 - Past Daily Downbeat: Tribute Edition (Harold Mabern: 1936-2019) Harold Mabern (1936-2019)- Percussive fire and boundless soul.

Harold Mabern Trio - Village Vanguard - August 26, 2018 -

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Harold Mabern (1936-2019) - With the sad news earlier this week of the passing of the much loved and admired Piano giant Harold Mabern, I thought it would only be fitting and proper to run one of his concerts as way of tribute to this remarkable artist and to be reminded of who we lost.

It's been such a terrible year for loss of so many pivotal figures in so many walks of life that a week doesn't go by where news flashes across a desktop or a friend tells you the bad news. And sometimes, especially these times, where so much chaos and uncertainty dominate our day-to-day lives, someone passes and we don't immediately notice. Sadly, Jazz is not high on America's collective radar - baffling though that is, it is a perplexing fact. So when a figure with the grace and stature of Harold Mabern leaves us suddenly, you would think it would be the lead story on most newscasts. But no, news of his passing comes through friends, associates, his Facebook page; people who know and love Jazz and who are devastated by the loss of yet another important figure in music.

This gig - recorded lovingly by a fan, at The Village Vanguard on August 26, 2018 features his trio: John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. It's a gorgeous set, a little over 77 minutes. The room is emotionally warm and intimate and the audience is rapt. Oh, if all gigs could be like this . . .

In case you aren't familiar, or just discovering the vast world of Jazz, radio station WBGO put together an obit that lays it all out - here's a taste:
"Mabern had a strong yet supple attack at the piano, with a penchant for block chords that combined McCoy Tyner’s modal coloration with the ringing affirmations of the gospel church. His upbringing in Memphis, Tenn., was always present in his style, with unshakable rhythmic assurance and a casually profound connection to the blues.

Reviewing a quartet gig by tenor saxophonist George Coleman for The New York Times in 1986, John S. Wilson wrote that Mabern’s solos were “surging, dancing explosions of huge, hammered chords, slightly softened by the staggered, hanging rhythm that Erroll Garner used or trills that echo Earl Hines.”

For more than 60 years, Mabern was a Rock-of-Gibraltar presence in modern jazz, rising to the first rank of sidemen — with Coleman, guitarist Wes Montgomery, trumpeter Lee Morgan and myriad others — and building a substantial if often undervalued body of work himself.

He made his first album, A Few Miles From Memphis, for Prestige in 1968. Fifty years later, its title track was a featured highlight of his final album, The Iron Man: Live at Smoke. Released on Smoke Sessions, The Iron Man features tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth — younger musicians with whom he worked closely and often over the last quarter-century".

You can catch the whole obit here (
Sad loss, but grateful for the prodigious body of recordings he has left for fans-yet-to-be to discover and for the rest of us to be reminded.
Yusef Lateef - Live At Davenport Jazz Festival - 1971 - Past Daily Downbeat Yusef Lateef - Jazz Master and for good reason.

Yusef Lateef Quartet - Davenport Jazz Festival - October 22, 1971 - The Netherlands - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Yusef Lateef live Groendaal Restaurant during the Davenport Jazz Festival, October 22, 1971. The quartet consists of Kenny Baron on piano, Bob Cunningham and bass and Tootie Heath on drums. The concert was recorded by VPRO in The Netherlands.

A little bit about Yusef Lateef (if you're just getting acquainted) via his website:
"Yusef A. Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on October 9, 1920 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved with his family to Detroit in 1925. In Detroit’s fertile musical environment, Yusef soon established long-standing friendships with such masters of American music as Milt Jackson, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, Donald Byrd, the Jones brothers (Hank, Thad and Elvin), Curtis Fuller, Kenny Burrell, Lucky Thompson and Matthew Rucker. He was already proficient on tenor saxophone while in high school, and at the age of 18 began touring professionally with swing bands led by Hartley Toots, Hot Lips Page, Roy Eldridge, Herbie Fields and eventually Lucky Millender. In 1949 he was invited to join the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra.

In 1950 he returned to Detroit, where he began to study composition and flute at Wayne State University, receiving his early training in flute from Larry Teal. He also converted to Islam in the Ahmadiyya movement and took the name Yusef Lateef. From 1955–1959 he led a quintet including Curtis Fuller, Hugh Lawson, Louis Hayes and Ernie Farrell. In 1958 he began studying oboe with Ronald Odemark of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Returning to New York in 1960, Yusef undertook further studies in flute with Harold Jones and John Wummer at the Manhattan School of Music, from which he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music in 1969 and his Master’s Degree in Music Education in 1970. Later, as a member of the school’s theory department in 1971, he taught courses in autophysiopsychic music. From 1972–1976, he was an associate professor of music at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

As an instrumentalist with his own ensemble, Yusef Lateef performed extensively in concert halls and at colleges and music festivals throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Japan and Africa, often conducting master classes and symposia in conjunction with his performances. Dating from the release of the double CD “Influence” with the Belmondo Brothers in 2005, his engagements at international music festivals increased significantly. Over the years his touring ensembles included such master musicians as Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Hugh Lawson, Albert Heath, Roy Brooks, Ernie Farrell, Cecil McBee, Bob Cunningham, Adam Rudolph, Charles Moore, Ralph Jones and Federico Ramos as well as Lionel and Stéphane Belmondo."

Now that you know, hit the Play button and relax.

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Teddy Wilson In Oslo - 1973 - Past Daily Downbeat Teddy Wilson - The Definitive Swing Pianist.

Teddy Wilson - Live in Oslo, Norway - Recorded At Down Town - 1973 - NRK Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Teddy Wilson, live in Oslo this weekend. Recorded by the Norwegian Radio Network NRK in 1973 at the Down Town Club. Described by critic Scott Yanow as "the definitive swing pianist", Wilson's sophisticated and elegant style was featured on the records of many of the biggest names in jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. With Goodman, he was one of the first black musicians to appear prominently with white musicians. In addition to his extensive work as a sideman, Wilson also led his own groups and recording sessions from the late 1920s to the 1980s.

Jazz producer and writer John Hammond was instrumental in getting Wilson a contract with Brunswick, starting in 1935, to record hot swing arrangements of the popular songs of the day, with the growing jukebox trade in mind. He recorded fifty hit records with various singers such as Lena Horne, Helen Ward and Billie Holiday, including many of Holiday's greatest successes. During these years, he also took part in many highly regarded sessions with a wide range of important swing musicians such as Lester Young, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Shavers, Red Norvo, Buck Clayton, Sarah Vaughan and Ben Webster. From 1936 to 1942 he recorded for Brunswick Records and Columbia Records. In the 1950s he recorded on Verve Records.

Wilson formed his own short-lived big band in 1939, then led a sextet at Café Society from 1940 to 1944. He was dubbed the "Marxist Mozart" by Howard "Stretch" Johnson due to his support for left-wing causes: he performed in benefit concerts for The New Masses journal and for Russian War Relief, and he chaired the Artists' Committee to elect Benjamin J. Davis (a New York City council member running on the Communist Party USA ballot line). In the 1950s, Wilson taught at the Juilliard School. Wilson can be seen appearing as himself in the 1937 motion picture Hollywood Hotel and in The Benny Goodman Story from 1955. He also worked as music director for the Dick Cavett Show.

Wilson lived quietly in suburban Hillsdale, New Jersey. He was married three times, including to the songwriter Irene Kitchings. He performed as a soloist and with pick-up groups until the final years of his life, including leading a trio with his sons Theodore Wilson on bass and Steven Wilson on drums.

In 1979, Wilson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.

Wilson died in New Britain, Connecticut, on July 31, 1986; he was 73. He is buried at Fairview Cemetery in New Britain. In addition to Theodore and Steven, Wilson had three more children, William, James (Jim) and Dune.

Over to you to hit the Play button and jump in.

Benny Goodman On The Air - 1939 - Past Daily Downbeat Benny Goodman (with Gene Krupa) - Swing in its heyday.

Benny Goodman and His Orchestra - CBS Radio - Camel Caravan - November 18, 1939 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Benny Goodman for this Holiday weekend. 80 years ago this was the state of Popular Music in America. Big Band Swing was in its heyday and Benny Goodman was one of its principle practitioners. This series, sponsored by Camel Cigarettes (who sponsored a LOT of music and variety shows throughout the 1930s and 40s) was one of the most popular at the time. In addition to Goodman, there were numerous guest artists appearing, forming a virtual who's who of Big Band Jazz in the 1930s.

It wasn't until our entry into Word War 2 in 1941 and the subsequent recording bans that Swing eventually began to lose it's appeal. But shows like this were essential, not only to be re-broadcast to the Armed forces, but also as a way of keeping Pop music fresh and vital during those periods of commercial inactivity. Complicating matters was the sudden drop in personnel of these bands by way of the military draft which drained many bands of talent. Some musicians performed in the service, or in cases such as Glenn Miller, had bands formed for them as a way of boosting morale.

Needless to say, the state of Popular music during this period was in flux. Bear in mind that Big Band Swing was the equivalent to Rock n' Roll of a later generation. Not only were the musicians of draft age, but so were most of the audience. Music would go through enormous changes after the war years. But for right now, for November 1939 with a war going on in Europe and America not involved (for the moment), Swing was at its height and Benny Goodman was its acknowledged King.

The Camel Caravan shows are an amazing glimpse of the time - because the sound of this broadcast is so good, it peels away the layer of dim-distant antiquity many artifacts of the past are straddled with. You can, if you care to imagine, put yourself in the middle of it, listening to this broadcast as if it were made earlier in the day and not 80 years ago.

Sometimes history does that.
Stan Kenton - Concert In Miniature - 1952 - Past Daily Downbeat Stan Kenton - bringing the message of Modern Jazz to the masses - the masses were perplexed.

Stan Kenton and His Orchestra - NBC Radio - Concert In Miniature -August 12, 1952 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Stan Kenton: A name synonymous with the revolution in Modern Jazz by taking it from the dance hall to the concert hall and achieving mixed results in the process.

The Post World War 2 period probably experienced the biggest upheaval and change in music and direction of any time before and possibly since. Jazz, which had been largely confined to dancing and Popular entertainment, was experiencing some changes as early as the late 1930s when icons such as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman took to the concert hall (i.e. Carnegie Hall) in order to create a broader appeal for a genre of music that had much more going for it than tapping out something to dance to. The seeds were already planted by the time Kenton arrived - but what Kenton did was take a form which relied on impulse and improvisation and put it in intellectual terms - taking it from the heart and translating it to the head, so to speak. And even though it was new and it experienced considerable appeal, especially to High School and College students, the mass audience; those people who relied on something with a consistent beat and a tune to go along with it, were left largely cold by the experience.

And for that reason, this broadcast, part of a series put together by NBC Radio called Stan Kenton's Concert in Miniature tried to get the message across via Network radio. And as you'll hear peppered through this half-hour, both Kenton and the announcer go to great lengths to prompt the audience to "keep an open mind" over what they were about to hear, as if to apologize for their insistence the music be listened to, not at.

In retrospect this is all pretty tame stuff and even at the time, during the 40's and 50's, smaller ensembles and the revolutionary changes in Jazz were being well-documented. NBC as well as the other major networks were regularly airing club dates with such soon-to-be-legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, The MJQ, to name just a few.

Kenton had fans, but he also had detractors - everything from racial makeup of the band (critics said it was too "white' to be relevant) to reliance on musical pyrotechnics to get the point across came under fire from many journalistic corners. The bottom line was the audience - it was Youth Culture at the time where his fan base was, not the mainstream.

But in 1952, the Youth Culture was not as potent or influential as it was to become - the older generation still held sway over the tastes of society. But even that would change as the decade wore on.

To get an idea of what was being tried, here is one episode in that weekly series Stan Kenton's Concert In Miniature, as it was broadcast on August 12, 1952 over NBC Radio.

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Shelly Manne - Live At Elancourt - 1977 - Past Daily Downbeat Shelly Manne - One of the most imaginative drummers in Jazz.

Shelly Manne Quartet - Live at La Maison Pour Tous, Elancourt - November 11, 1977 - Radio France -

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Shelly Manne, along with alto sax Lee Konitz, Mike Wofford on Piano and Chuck Domanico on bass, recorded live at Maison Pour Tour in Elancourt, France by the ever-present and reliable Radio France on November 11, 1977.

Shelly Manne was an institution. Known primarily as one of the innovative figures in West Coast Jazz, Manne stretched out to include a wide variety of genres and an impressive list of collaborators from both coasts. He was active from the late 1930s all the way up until his death in 1984.

Manne is often associated with the once frequently criticized West Coast school of jazz. He has been considered "the quintessential" drummer in what was seen as a West Coast movement, though Manne himself did not care to be so pigeonholed. In the 1950s, much of what he did could be seen as in the West Coast style: performing in tightly arranged compositions in what was a cool style, as in his 1953 album named The West Coast Sound, for which he commissioned several original compositions. Some of West Coast jazz was experimental, avant-garde music several years before the more mainstream avant-garde playing of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman (Manne also recorded with Coleman in 1959); a good deal of Manne's work with Jimmy Giuffre was of this kind. Critics would condemn much of this music as overly cerebral.

Another side of West Coast jazz that also came under critical fire was music in a lighter style, intended for popular consumption. Manne made contributions here too. Best known is the series of albums he recorded with pianist André Previn and with members of his groups, based on music from popular Broadway shows, movies, and television programs. (The first and most successful of these was the My Fair Lady album based on songs from the musical, recorded by Previn, Manne, and bassist Leroy Vinnegar in 1956.) The recordings for the Contemporary label, with each album devoted to a single musical, are in a light, immediately appealing style aimed at popular taste. This did not always go over well with aficionados of "serious" jazz, which may be one reason why Manne has been frequently overlooked in accounts of major jazz drummers of the 20th century. Much of the music produced on the West Coast in those years, as Robert Gordon concedes, was in fact imitative and "lacked the fire and intensity associated with the best jazz performances". But Gordon also points out that there is a level of musical sophistication, as well as an intensity and "swing", in the music recorded by Manne with Previn and Vinnegar (and later Red Mitchell) that is missing in the many lackluster albums of this type produced by others in that period.

West Coast jazz, however, represented only a small part of Manne's playing. In Los Angeles, and occasionally returning to New York and elsewhere, Manne recorded with musicians of all schools and styles, ranging from those of the swing era through bebop to later developments in modern jazz, including hard bop, usually seen as the antithesis to the cool jazz frequently associated with West Coast playing.

Manne refused to play in a powerhouse style, but his understated drumming was appreciated for its own strengths. In 1957, critic Nat Hentoff called Manne one of the most "musical" and "illuminatively imaginative" drummers. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Bob Cooper called him "the most imaginative drummer I've worked with". In later years this kind of appreciation for what Manne could do was echoed by jazz notables like Louie Bellson, John Lewis, Ray Brown, Harry "Sweets" Edison, and numerous others who had worked with him at various times. Composer, arranger, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist Benny Carter was "a great admirer of his work". "He could read anything, get any sort of effect", said Carter, who worked closely with Manne over many decades.

Though he always insisted on the importance of time and "swing", Manne's concept of his own drumming style typically pointed to his melody-based approach. He contrasted his style with that of Max Roach: "Max plays melodically from the rhythms he plays. I play rhythms from thinking melodically".

Manne had strong preferences in his choice of drum set. Those preferences, however, changed several times over his career. He began with Gretsch drums. In 1957, intrigued by the sound of a kind of drum made by Leedy (then owned by Slingerland), he had a line made for him that also became popular with other drummers. In the 1970s, after trying and abandoning many others for reasons of sound or maintainability, he settled on the Japanese-made Pearl Drums.

For a reminder, here is a set recorded in France in 1977 featuring the legendary Lee Konitz on alto sax. Dig in and enjoy.
VSOP II (Marsalis, Hancock, Carter And Williams) - Live In Tokyo - 1983 - Past Daily Downbeat VSOP II - First incarnation was so much fun, Hancock had to do another one.

VSOP II - Live in Tokyo - recorded at NHK Hall - May 19, 1983 - NHK-FM -

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VSOP II in concert from Tokyo this weekend. Recorded at NHK Hall in Tokyo on May 19, 1983 and broadcast by NHK. This one isn't new or newly discovered - it's been around for a while in various forms from various sources. The CD has been apparently out of print for a while, so if you missed it the first time around, here's a chance to catch up.

VSOP II was the brainchild of Herbie Hancock, who originally formed his "Very Special One-Time Performance" band in 1976. In 1983, he put together a revised line-up featuring Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Branford Marsalis (tenor and soprano saxophone), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums).

Herbie Hancock toured with Williams and Carter in 1981, recording Herbie Hancock Trio, a five-track live album released only in Japan. A month later, he recorded Quartet with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, released in the US the following year. Hancock, Williams, and Carter toured internationally with Wynton Marsalis and his brother, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, in what was known as "VSOP II". This quintet can be heard on Wynton Marsalis's debut album on Columbia (1981). In 1984 VSOP II performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival as a sextet with Hancock, Williams, Carter, the Marsalis Brothers, and Bobby McFerrin.

In 1982 Hancock contributed to the album New Gold Dream by Simple Minds, playing a synthesizer solo on the track "Hunter and the Hunted".

In 1983, Hancock had a pop hit with the Grammy-award-winning single "Rockit" from the album Future Shock. It was the first jazz hip-hop song and became a worldwide anthem for breakdancers and for hip-hop in the 1980s. It was the first mainstream single to feature scratching, and also featured an innovative animated music video, which was directed by Godley and Creme and showed several robot-like artworks by Jim Whiting. The video was a hit on MTV and reached No. 8 in the UK. The video won in five categories at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. This single ushered in a collaboration with noted bassist and producer Bill Laswell. Hancock experimented with electronic music on a string of three LPs produced by Laswell: Future Shock (1983), the Grammy Award-winning Sound-System (1984), and Perfect Machine (1988).

Turn off the news, turn on the stereo and hit the play button - take an hour off from the madness.

Jacques Loussier Trio - Live In Hannover- 1965 - Past Daily Downbeat Jacques Loussier (with Pierre Michelot and Christian Garros) - Took Bach to swinging places and never stopped.

Jacques Loussier Trio - Live in Hannover, Germany - February 18, 1965 - North German Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Jacques Loussier in concert for a Sunday. With the sad news earlier this year of the passing of Jacques Loussier, I was reminded how wildly popular he was in the 1960s, while being isolated by two musical camps at the same time. What Loussier became known for, to many millions of fans worldwide, were his interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach for Jazz trio. Putting a Popular slant on Classical music has been around for a while; the 1930s were jammed with swing adaptations of various composers. But Loussier was doing something different; he wasn't riffing on a single theme, but rather looking at an entire piece and dissecting it, transposing it and presenting it in such a way as to give the impression that, if Bach were around in the 1960s, he would have approved of this take on his work and would, in all likelihood, be experimenting with it himself.

That drew the ire of the Classical Music camp as well as the Jazz camp - the critics and pundits primarily - the musicians themselves saw this as a logical extension and freeing-up of a genre that came loaded with preconceptions, usually from the observers and not from the actual musicians in the trenches. The Classical pundits saw this as a horrible bastardization of sacred and lofty music - the Jazz pundits saw this as a betrayal of the African roots of Jazz.

Both spoke to the rigidity of expectations and pre-conceived notions - neither saw the notes as an expression of pure form, something that was up for interpretation and point-of-view, subject to a whole galaxy of appreciation and discovery.

But over the years Jacques Loussier, and his trio (from inception until the 1980s, Pierre Michelot and Christian Garros) persisted and produced an enduring legacy of recordings known as Play Bach which sold in the millions.

Loussier went on to a career as composer of numerous scores for Film and Television as well as writing symphonies, concertos and a considerable amount of "cross-over music" with a wide range of collaborators.

If you aren't familiar with the music of Jacques Loussier, here's a good place to start; a broadcast from North German Radio of a concert given on February 18,1965 in Hannover.

Hit the play button and dive in.
Benny Goodman - Live From Philadelphia - 1939 - Past Daily Downbeat Benny Goodman - mixing mainstream with innovation. Helped put the wheels in motion.

Benny Goodman - Camel Caravan program - February 14, 1939 - NBC Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Benny Goodman and a dose of Swing this weekend. Listening to this broadcast, made some 80 years ago, you wonder what the status of Popular music was during this time. Goodman represented a departure from the mainstream dance band, while still being considered a dance band, who was a reliable hit maker and record seller. But there was this other side; the small ensemble, the setup that would become an ingredient to the prototype of Jazz during the Postwar period, which would give way to Bop and the avalanche of modern Jazz to come. One significant aspect was Goodman's breaking of the color barrier, prevalent in popular music during this period. Difficult to imagine, but commonplace at the time, were segregated recording sessions - as union session sheets clearly asked if the session were "white' or "colored". Goodman set a precedent, and in doing so contributed greatly to the freeing up of the exchange of musical points of view and the broadening of audiences and cultivating new and fresh ideas that would serve as the jumping off place in the years to come. But Goodman was able to do that, based on his massive popularity and clout at the time. Artie Shawm for example couldn't, when he attempted to bring Billie Holiday into his band as singer was met with stiff resistance from club owners and radio networks alike, forcing Shaw to abandon the idea - much to our historic loss. So it wasn't an easy road, but it was a necessary one if Jazz was to make the leap from dance music to a compelling and adventurous genre in the decades to come.

But this 1939 example gives you an idea of the immense popularity Benny Goodman had at the time for mainstream audiences. It's interesting, and important to note, and I've stressed this before, the sponsor of this program was Camel Cigarettes, a company that spent heavily advertising on music and sporting events, as cigarette advertising in general was one of the biggest sources of revenue for broadcasting outlets at the time. Cigarette advertising was banned from Radio and TV, starting in 1971 - up to that point, it was commonplace to have all sorts of ads for cigarettes and cigarette manufacturers sponsoring whole shows. Even though ads for vaping are creeping into our current media (social as well as broadcast), cigarettes are still taboo. I know people object to hearing these ads, no matter how historic and significant they are in the grand scheme of things, running on posts such as these. But in order to gain a better understanding of our culture at the time, and in an effort not to censor or whitewash history as a way of rewriting it, I have left and will continue to leave cigarette advertising in - I think the historic nature of our cultural heritage, warts and all, is better served unvarnished than to portray a period of time as something that never occurred.

Now hit the play button and jump in.
Erroll Garner Trio - Live In Paris - 1962 - Past Daily Downbeat Erroll Garner - one of the most important musical voices of the 20th century.

Erroll Garner Trio - Live In Paris - June 12, 1962 - France Musique - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Erroll Garner this weekend. Recorded live in Paris on June 12, 1962 and preserved for posterity by Radio France. Lucky for everyone, the broadcasting outlets in Europe felt strongly about broadcasting and preserving American Jazz over the years. Something America became less and less interested in the last few decades. From an embarrassment of riches from the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s, it started to taper off, with less and less radio stations actually presenting Jazz as a format and virtually no network (aside from the occasional appearance and NPR's short-lived Jazz Alive series in the 70s) has supplied any live Jazz broadcasts today. So the onus is on Europe, as it has been largely since the post-World War 2 years.

If everyone took the same attitude that American broadcasters took, we would never have live broadcasts of so many Jazz legends of the past as we do today; so many important and one-of-a-kind collaborations that were part of the fabric of a live performance. I've always maintained that, even though there is validity in the controlled studio atmosphere and the alternate takes, there is something about a live performance that brings a sense of anticipation and discovery along with it. Even the wrong notes can be useful stepping off points where a live performance is concerned.

From his website:
"Garner released music on over 40 labels, received multiple Grammy nominations, and recorded one of the greatest selling jazz albums of all time, Concert By The Sea. His published catalog contains nearly 200 compositions including “Misty”, which was named #15 on ASCAP’s list of the top songs of the 20th century. He scored for ballet, film, television, and orchestra. One of the most televised Jazz artists of his era, Garner appeared on TV shows all over the world, including: Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavitt, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, and many others. His prolific career began on Allegheny riverboats and spanned from the clubs of 52nd street to the top concert halls of the world.

Erroll Garner’s musical and cultural legacy is perhaps stronger today than at any point since his untimely passing in 1977, when Erroll lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 55. Thanks to the renewed efforts of Octave Music—the successor and namesake of the company Garner formed with his manager Martha Glaser in 1952— and it’s Erroll Garner Jazz Project, his music is once again finding fresh audiences through a series of new record releases, multimedia performances, and creative partnerships."
Hit the play button and relax.

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Woody Herman - Live At Cafe Rouge - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat - Woody Herman - Became famously known for his succession of "herds".

Woody Herman - Live at Cafe Rouge, New York - July 23, 1945 - AFRS One Night Stand Series - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

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Woody Herman this weekend, jumping into some Big Band of the 1940s. Herman was a child prodigy who sang and danced in vaudeville at age six. Soon after, he began playing the saxophone and later the clarinet. Billed as the “Boy Wonder of the Clarinet,” he cut his first record, “The Sentimental Gentleman from Georgia,” at age 16. After studying music at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a term, Herman became a touring musician, joining the Tom Gerun band in 1929. In 1934 he became part of the Isham Jones Juniors; when it disbanded in 1936, Herman used its most talented sidemen to form his own ensemble, which he publicized as the “Band That Plays the Blues.” The group was propelled to stardom in 1939 with the success of “Woodchopper’s Ball.” More than a million copies of the song were sold, and it became Herman’s theme.

During the 1940s Herman’s band, then known as Herman’s Herd, was noted for its exuberance and technical brilliance. It had its own radio show, appeared in motion pictures (such as New Orleans, 1947), and in 1946 performed Igor Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto at Carnegie Hall. As did many other bandleaders after World War II, Herman dissolved his band in 1946, but within months he formed his Second Herd, featuring tenor saxophonists Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. (Getz attained stardom with his solo on Herman’s “Early Autumn.”) The band pioneered the combination of three tenor saxophones and one baritone saxophone and became identified with the song “Four Brothers,” which used that grouping. Herman at this time was also one of the few big band leaders to incorporate bebop-tinged material into his repertoire, as on the hit “Caledonia,” which featured Herman’s eccentric vocals. After the Second Herd disbanded in 1949, Herman continued to form and lead his “Thundering Herds.”

To get an idea of what Woody Herman was up to in 1945, here is a sampling by way of Armed Forces Radio and their legendary One Night Stand series (a virtual who's who of Big Band Jazz throughout the war and into the 1950s, most of which have thankfully survived), performing at the Cafe Rouge in New York on July 23, 1945.

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Stan Kenton - Live From Birdland -- 1953 - Past Daily Downbeat Stan Kenton - Latest in the Modern Jazz Sweepstakes of the early 1950s.

Stan Kenton and His orchestra -live from Birdland, New York City - June 20, 1953 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

A little reminder:

Stan Kenton and his orchestra, live from Birdland in New York and broadcast on June 20, 1953 by NBC Radio as part of their All-Star Parade Of Bands series.

Variously described as Modern America's Man Of Music, Stan Kenton and his orchestra were part of a wave that virtually re-defined Jazz, taking it from the dance floor to the concert hall - making it music to 'be listened to" and not music "to be listened at'. It was also during this period of time that Big Bands, whose hey-day during the years just prior to World War Two to just after, had since begun to wane - not only on economic grounds but on the grounds of desire for musical progression. New blood and new ideas were on the horizon and Kenton sought to be part of that wave.

After a year's hiatus, in 1950 Kenton finally put together the large 39-piece Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra that included 16 strings, a woodwind section, and two French horns. The music was an extension of the works composed and recorded since 1947 by Bob Graettinger, Manny Albam, Franklyn Marks and others. Name jazz musicians such as Maynard Ferguson, Shorty Rogers, Milt Bernhart, John Graas, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, Laurindo Almeida, Shelly Manne, and June Christy were part of these musical ensembles. The groups managed two tours during 1950–51, from a commercial standpoint it would be Stan Kenton's first major failure. Kenton soon reverted to a more standard 19-piece lineup.

In order to be more commercially viable, Kenton reformed the band in 1951 to a much more standard instrumentation: five saxes, five trombones, five trumpets, piano, guitar, bass, drums. The charts of such arrangers as Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Richards, and particularly Bill Holman and Bill Russo began to dominate the repertoire. The music was written to better reflect the style of cutting edge, be-bop oriented big bands; like those of Dizzy Gillespie or Woody Herman. Young, talented players and outstanding jazz soloists such as Maynard Ferguson, Lee Konitz, Conte Candoli, Sal Salvador, and Frank Rosolino made strong contributions to the level of the 1952–'53 band. The music composed and arranged during this time was far more tailor made to contemporary jazz tastes; the 1953 album New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm is noted as one of the high points in Kenton's career as band leader. Though the band was to have a very strong "concert book", Kenton also made sure the dance book was made new, fresh and contemporary. The album Sketches on Standards from 1953 is an excellent example of Kenton appealing to a wider audience while using the band and Bill Russo's arranging skills to their fullest potential. Even though the personnel changed rather rapidly, Kenton's focus was very clear on where he would lead things musically. By this time producer Lee Gillette worked well in concert with Kenton to create a balanced set of recordings that were both commercially viable and cutting edge musically.

To get some idea of what the band during its early 1950s tenure sounded like - here is one of what became a massive number of broadcasts Stan Kenton did with his band for NBC Radio from the early to mid 1950s.

A fascinating glimpse into music and how it was evolving in the 1950s.

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Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet - Live At Newport 1960 - Past Daily Downbeat Art Farmer and Benny Golson - springboard for a galaxy of talent.

Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet - Live At Newport Jazz Festival 1960 - Voice Of America Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The cool and swingin' sounds of Art Farmer and Benny Golson with their legendary Jazztet, recorded at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival and broadcast by The Voice Of America.

The Jazztet was co-founded in 1959 by trumpeter Art Farmer and tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, always featuring the founders along with a trombonist and a piano-bass-drums rhythm section. In its first phase, the Jazztet lasted until 1962, and helped to launch the careers of pianist McCoy Tyner and trombonist Grachan Moncur III. Farmer and Golson revived the group in 1982 and it again toured extensively. Each generation of the group recorded six albums, which were released on a variety of labels.

Following their first appearance in Chicago (at the Orchestra Hall) on February 12, 1960, the Jazztet made its television debut, on The Steve Allen Show, on February 15. Their first record contract, with Argo Records, was announced in March, 1960; by this time, Lex Humphries had replaced Bailey on drums, with the latter stating that he left because "outside forces" had pressured the two leaders to use the name "the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet". This is the band that recorded the Jazztet's first album, Meet the Jazztet, on February 6, 9 and 10. The album was reported as having good sales, and a single from it, "Killer Joe", with "Mox Nix" on the B side, reportedly sold over 40,000 copies in a few months. By May the same year, Tyner had left to join John Coltrane's band; he was replaced by Duke Pearson. The band played at the Newport Jazz Festival on June 30, 1960 and the first Atlantic City jazz festival two days later.

Also in 1960, the Jazztet won Down Beat Magazine's International Critics Poll New Star award for jazz groups. By July the same year, Tom McIntosh had replaced Fuller on trombone, with the other five members being the same. By the following month, however, the drummer had changed: Albert Heath replacing Humphries. The personnel continued to change: by early September, Addison Farmer had left, being replaced on bass by Tommy Williams, and pianist Cedar Walton had taken over from Pearson. The rapid turnover of personnel was attributable in large part to differences of opinion on financial aspects of the band's existence. Norton reported that the two co-leaders had invested considerably in the band, as the time commitment required meant that their sideman appearances fell considerably, as did the number of compositions Golson created for other leaders. This sextet recorded three albums: Big City Sounds (September 16, 19 and 20, 1960); The Jazztet and John Lewis (December 20 and 21, 1960, and January 9, 1961, featuring compositions and arrangements by John Lewis); and the May 15, 1961 concert recording entitled The Jazztet at Birdhouse. Critic Bob Blumenthal's comment on Meet the Jazztet and Big City Sounds was that "too many features for supporting band members and the resulting programming clutter make imperfect representations of the band's first year", although "they offer a clear enough picture of the unit's character", which combined numerous, unexpected written sections that helped to gel each piece and its improvised parts together. On July 1, 1961, the Jazztet again played the Newport Jazz Festival.

For a reminder of that first Newport appearance, here is that show, as it was recorded on June 30, 1960.

Hit the Play button and settle back.
Earl "Fatha" Hines - Live From The Grand Terrace, Chicago - 1938 - Past Daily Downbeat Earl "Fatha" Hines -Man of many hats - revolutionized the Stride style of piano playing.

Earl Fatha Hines - live at The Grand Terrace, Chicago - August 3, 1938 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Earl "Fatha" Hines and his band at a club date in Chicago, from August 3, 1938 and broadcast by the NBC Red Network.

Earl Kenneth Hines, universally known as Earl "Fatha" Hines, was one of the most influential figures in the development of jazz piano and, according to one major source, is "one of a small number of pianists whose playing shaped the history of jazz".

The trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (a member of Hines's big band, along with Charlie Parker) wrote, "The piano is the basis of modern harmony. This little guy came out of Chicago, Earl Hines. He changed the style of the piano. You can find the roots of Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, all the guys who came after that. If it hadn't been for Earl Hines blazing the path for the next generation to come, it's no telling where or how they would be playing now. There were individual variations but the style of ... the modern piano came from Earl Hines."

The pianist Lennie Tristano said, "Earl Hines is the only one of us capable of creating real jazz and real swing when playing all alone." Horace Silver said, "He has a completely unique style. No one can get that sound, no other pianist". Erroll Garner said, "When you talk about greatness, you talk about Art Tatum and Earl Hines".

Count Basie said that Hines was "the greatest piano player in the world".

From the Grand Terrace, Hines and his band broadcast on "open mikes" over many years, sometimes seven nights a week, coast-to-coast across America – Chicago being well placed to deal with live broadcasting across time zones in the United States. The Hines band became the most broadcast band in America. Among the listeners were a young Nat King Cole and Jay McShann in Kansas City, who said his "real education came from Earl Hines. When 'Fatha' went off the air, I went to bed." Hines's most significant "student" was Art Tatum.

The Hines band usually comprised 15-20 musicians on stage, occasionally up to 28. Among the band's many members were Wallace Bishop, Alvin Burroughs, Scoops Carry, Oliver Coleman, Bob Crowder, Thomas Crump, George Dixon, Julian Draper, Streamline Ewing, Ed Fant, Milton Fletcher, Walter Fuller, Dizzy Gillespie, Leroy Harris, Woogy Harris, Darnell Howard, Cecil Irwin, Harry 'Pee Wee' Jackson, Warren Jefferson, Budd Johnson, Jimmy Mundy, Ray Nance, Charlie Parker, Willie Randall, Omer Simeon, Cliff Smalls, Leon Washington, Freddie Webster, Quinn Wilson and Trummy Young.

Occasionally, Hines allowed another pianist sit in for him, the better to allow him to conduct the whole "Organization". Jess Stacy was one, Nat "King" Cole and Teddy Wilson were others, but Cliff Smalls was his favorite.

For a taste of the early stuff, here is one of those Grand Terrace broadcasts from August, 1938.

Gil Evans Orchestra - Live In Lugano - 1986 - Past Daily Downbeat Gil Evans - One of the Greatest Orchestrators in Jazz. And there's proof.

Gil Evans Orchestra - Live In Lugano - March 5, 1986 - RSI Rete Due, Switzerland -

Gil Evans Orchestra in concert this week. Recorded in Lugano, Switzerland on March 5, 1986 by RSI Rete Due.

When you hear that Gil Evans has been considered one of the greatest orchestrators in Jazz, all you have to do is put on a copy of Birth Of The Cool and it all becomes clear that this distinction is no exaggeration.

Best known for his work with Miles Davis, played an important role in the development of cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz, and jazz fusion. Between 1941 and 1948, Evans worked as an arranger for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. Even then, early in his career, his arrangements were such a challenge to musicians that bassist Bill Crow recalled that bandleader Thornhill would bring out Evans’s arrangements "when he wanted to punish the band." Evans' modest basement apartment behind a New York City Chinese laundry soon became a meeting place for musicians looking to develop new musical styles outside of the dominant bebop style of the day. Those present included the leading bebop performer, Charlie Parker, as well as Gerry Mulligan and John Carisi. In 1948, Evans, with Miles Davis, Mulligan, and others, collaborated on a band book for a nonet. These ensembles, larger than the trio-to-quintet "combos", but smaller than the "big bands" which were on the brink of economic unviability, allowed arrangers to have a larger palette of colors by using French horns and tuba. Claude Thornhill had employed hornist John Graas in 1942, and composer-arranger Bob Graettinger had scored for horns and tubas with the Stan Kenton orchestra, but the "Kenton sound" was in the context of a dense orchestral wall of sound that Evans avoided.

The Miles Davis-led group was booked for a week at the "Royal Roost" as an intermission group on the bill with the Count Basie Orchestra. Capitol Records recorded 12 numbers by the nonet at three sessions in 1949 and 1950. These recordings were reissued on a 1957 Miles Davis LP titled Birth of the Cool.

Later, while Davis was under contract with Columbia Records, producer George Avakian suggested that Davis could work with any of several arrangers. Davis immediately chose Evans. The three albums that resulted from the collaboration are Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy and Bess (1958), and Sketches of Spain (1960). Another collaboration from this period, Quiet Nights (1962) was issued later, against the wishes of Davis, who broke with his then-producer Teo Macero for a time as a result. Although these four records were marketed primarily under Davis's name (and credited to Miles Davis with Orchestra Under the Direction of Gil Evans), Evans's contribution was as important as Davis's. Their work coupled Evans's classic big band jazz stylings and arrangements with Davis's solo playing. Evans also contributed behind the scenes to Davis' classic quintet albums of the 1960s.

From 1984 until his death on 20 March 1988, Evans and his Monday Night Orchestra played weekly at the Sweet Basil club in New York, and the atmosphere at their performances can be relived via, Live At Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 & 2 (1984), and Bud And Bird (1986), the latter winning his one-and-only Grammy Award, for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band. He also scored the soundtracks for Absolute Beginners and The Color Of Money.

Henry Lowther, a trumpeter in Evans’ band during his later years, said, “Gil was an absolutely lovely man. He was modest and unassuming, but he was terribly disorganised and a chaotic bandleader…although there’s no doubt in my mind that Gil was the most important writer in jazz history after Duke Ellington.”

For a reminder or for an introduction, here is that broadcast from Lugano on March 5,1986 with The Gil Evans Orchestra.
Tito Puente And The Golden Men Of Latin Jazz - Live At Lugano - 1993 - Past Daily Downbeat Tito Puente - King Of Latin Jazz. Word. (photo: Peter Maiden)

Tito Puente And The Golden Men Of Latin Jazz - Live in Lugano - July 3, 1993 - RSI - Rete Uno -

Heading into a Latin Jazz direction, this Cinco de Mayo (although we're talking more Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican here, technically speaking). From a concert recorded live in Lugano Switzerland by RSI on July 3, 1993 during the Estival Jazz at Piazza Della Riforma in Lugano. An all-star lineup, to be sure: Tito Puente - timbales, percussion, vocals - Mongo Santamaria - bongo, percussion - Giovanni Hidalgo - congas, percussion - James Moody - saxophone, flute - Charlie Sepulveda - tromba - Dave Valentine - flute - Hilton Ruiz - piano - Andy Gonzales - electric bass and Ignacio Berroa - drums.

In case you don't already know: Ernesto Antonio "Tito" Puente (April 20, 1923 – May 31, 2000) was an American musician, songwriter and record producer. The son of Ernest and Ercilia Puente, native Puerto Ricans living in New York City's Spanish Harlem, Puente is often credited as "The Musical Pope", "El Rey de los Timbales" (The King of the Timbales) and "The King of Latin Music". He is best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions that endured over a 50-year career. He and his music appear in many films such as The Mambo Kings and Fernando Trueba's Calle 54. He guest-starred on several television shows, including Sesame Street and The Simpsons two-part episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?". His most famous song is "Oye Como Va". During the 1950s, Puente was at the height of his popularity, and helped to bring Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds like mambo, son, and cha-cha-chá, to mainstream audiences. Puente was so successful playing popular Afro-Cuban rhythms that many people mistakenly identify him as Cuban. Dance Mania, possibly Puente's most well known album, was released in 1958.

Among his most famous compositions are mambo "Oye como va" (1963), popularized by Latin rock musician Carlos Santana and later interpreted, among others, by Julio Iglesias, Irakere and Celia Cruz.

In early 2000, he appeared in the music documentary Calle 54. After a show in Puerto Rico on May 31, 2000, he suffered a massive heart attack and was flown to New York City for surgery to repair a heart valve, but complications developed and he died on May 31, 2000. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Tito Puente's name is often mentioned in a television production called La Epoca, a film about the Palladium era in New York, Afro-Cuban music and rhythms, mambo and salsa as dances and music and much more. The film discusses many of Puente's, as well as Arsenio Rodríguez's, contributions, and features interviews with some of the musicians Puente recorded with Alfonso "El Panameno" Joseph.

Puente's son Richard "Richie" Puente was the percussionist in the 1970s funk band Foxy. Puente's youngest son, Tito Puente Jr., has continued his father's legacy by presenting many of the same songs in his performances and recordings, while daughter Audrey Puente is a television meteorologist for WNYW and WWOR-TV in New York City.

This is one to crank up and dance to - it swings in all the best possible ways.
GUAI - Live In Portugal - 2017 - Past Daily Soundbooth: World Edition GUAI - The mesmerizing spirit of Samba.

GUAI - Nega Nego - live on Portuguese TV, Lisboa - August 2, 2017 -

GUAI in performance on Portuguese TV tonight. Taking it down a few notches, because it is Jazz Day and because it just seemed like the right thing to do; offering some peace and calm in what has been a stormy and uncertain week so far.

As much as people complain about the current state of Music, how the mainstream has become rather faceless and generic, it makes you wonder what else is going on in the rest of the world, or what's going on outside the mainstream for that matter. And I'm here to say there is a lot going on, and it's passionate and inspiring. Truths to tell, I did not have to go very far to discover GUAI and her enchanting voice; it actually showed up as a friend request. GUAI (whose full name is Karol Guaitolini, but GUAI rolls off the tongue much better) is a gifted and relatively new artist on the Brazilian music scene. Her debut album, Dama de Paus was released only this last November. It's gotten great reviews and she has gotten a good following around Europe, as well as her native Brazil. She sent a note asking if I would be interested in hearing what she's doing. And never one to say no to a request, I was happy to oblige. Sometimes, the problem when you agree to listen to something, or read something, is that the promise is more interesting than the reality - and then you spend a goodly amount of time thinking of "nice but not enthusiastic" things to say. That didn't happen listening to a sample of GUAI's work. A lovely voice with top-notch collaborators and a genre of music that is classic in every sense. She had me after the first 20 seconds. When something grabs your attention, it happens almost instantly - it doesn't need to be coaxed or warmed up to. GUAI made an instant impression and made a compelling case to hear more and to hear often.

This is wonderful music. In her case, a mix of Jazz and Samba that is luxuriant and captivating, with a rich and full voice and an energy and passion that is thoroughly enjoyable.

Sadly, this is a short sample; a little under four minutes. I am hoping to get some additional live material over the coming weeks. In the meantime, go over to her site and check out her debut album and read more.

Good things, good music, good sounds. Just what you need right now.

Fletcher Henderson And His Orchestra - Live In Culver City - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Fletcher Henderson and confreres laying a solid on Washington Boulevard.

Fletcher Henderson - live at Casa Mañana - Culver City - September 1945 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Dipping into the archives this weekend for a club date from 1945 with the legendary Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra, recorded at Casa Mañana in Culver City, California in September of that year.

Fletcher Henderson (December 18, 1897 – December 29, 1952) was an American pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer, important in the development of big band jazz and swing music. He was one of the most prolific black musical arrangers and, along with Duke Ellington, is considered one of the most influential arrangers and bandleaders in jazz history. Henderson's influence was vast. He helped bridge the gap between the Dixieland and the swing eras. He was often known as "Smack" Henderson (apparently because of his skill as a batter playing baseball in college).

Henderson, along with Don Redman, established the formula for swing music. The two broke the band into sections (sax section, trumpet section etc.). These sections worked together to create a unique sound. Sometimes, the sections would play in call-and-response style, and at other times one section would play supporting riffs behind the other. Swing, its popularity spanning over a decade, was the most fashionable form of jazz ever in the United States.

Henderson was also responsible for bringing Louis Armstrong from Chicago to New York in October 1924, thus flipping the focal point of jazz in the history of the United States (although Armstrong left the band in November 1925 and returned to Chicago).

Henderson also played a key role in bringing improvisatory jazz styles from New Orleans and other areas of the country to New York, where they merged with a dance-band tradition that relied heavily on arrangements written out in musical notation.

Henderson differed from other musicians in his time. He made the idea of playing jazz exclusively popular to ambitious, young, black musicians. He made it financially stable and a way to seize cultural power during the time. Henderson was genuine when it came to the appearance of the band. He was all for making an impact on the era. Henderson would intensely see to it that each member had a clean-shaven face, a tuxedo, and polished shoes. It was recorded that he would do this before every performance, especially ones in predominantly white communities, such as Times Square. The men in his band had strong connections to the emerging group of blacks in Harlem. Henderson created a band that was capable of playing dance music and complex arrangements. Louis Metcalf said, "The sight of Fletcher Henderson's men playing behind music stands brought on a learning-to-read-music kick in Harlem which hadn't cared before it. There were two years of real concentration. Everybody greeted you with 'How's studying?'"

Click on the player and jump in.

Casa Mañana - Legendary Los Angeles nightspot.
Ralph Towner And John Abercrombie - Live At The Blue Note - 1997 - Past Daily Downbeat Ralph Towner and John Ambercrombie - Strikingly different styles but remarkably compatible.

Ralph Towner and John Amberbrombie - Live at The Blue Note, New York City - March 5, 1997 -Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Taking a turn for the mellow this weekend with Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie live at the Blue Note in New York on March 5,1997.

One of the great collaborations, the style and playing of Towner and Abercrombie couldn't be more different yet despite, or maybe because of that, they were a seamless duo of great subtlety.

Best known as the lead composer, guitarist, and keyboardist for the acoustic jazz ensemble "Oregon", Towner has also had a rich and varied solo career that has seen fruitful and memorable musical collaboration with such great modern musicians as Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Egberto Gismonti, Larry Coryell, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, and Gary Peacock.

Towner was born in Chehalis, Washington on March 1st, 1940 into a musical family, his mother a piano teacher and his father a trumpet player. Towner and his siblings were raised in a nurturing and empowering environment that encouraged free musical experimentation and expression. In 1958, Towner enrolled in the University of Oregon as an art major, later changing his major to composition. He soon thereafter met bassist Glen Moore who would become a lifelong musical partner in the band Oregon.

It was about this time that Towner discovered the early LPs of Bill Evans, whom Towner emulated and whose influence he began to incorporate into his own piano style and composition. It was not much longer until Towner also bought a classical guitar on a lark and became entranced enough with the instrument that the early 1960s saw him heading to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit. In 1968 Towner moved to New York City and immersed himself in the New York jazz scene, eventually landing a position with the Paul Winter Consort where the friendships and musical partnering with Glen Moore, Paul McCandless, and Collin Walcott were forged, a musical chemistry which was destined to alchemize into the band Oregon. Paul Winter also bestowed Towner with his first 12-string guitar. Towner has since coaxed the 12-string into imbuing his work with such a characteristic uniqueness that most jazz fans, given the two keywords "12-string" and "jazz" would immediately blurt the name Ralph Towner.

Towner’s working relationship with producer Manfred Eicher of ECM Records began in 1972 and would provide a forum for his growth as a leader and collaborator with other jazz giants, all while concomitantly breaking open musical frontiers with Oregon throughout the intervening years. ECM’s roster of low-volume acts was decidedly contrary to the amplified popular zeitgeist of the era, and provided Towner an opportunity to connect and create with some of the more iconoclastic and innovative artists of the musical culture in the 1970s. Towner’s ECM years also saw his most minimalist, yet most bold, endeavor. "Solo Concert", released in 1980 on ECM, was conceptually elemental, a solo live guitar recital. Yet, no one to date had ever synthesized classical contrapuntal composition with improvisational and oddly-metered jazz like this before, especially in such a risky arena as a live performance. Such solo work would later become Towner’s signature on recordings such as "Ana" and "Anthem", or augmented only by Gary Peacock’s bass on "Oracle" and "A Closer View".

Born in 1944 in Port Chester, New York, John Abercrombie grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he began playing the guitar aged 14. He started out imitating Chuck Berry licks, but the bluesy music of Barney Kessel soon attracted him to jazz. Abercrombie enrolled at Boston's Berklee College of Music and teamed up with other students to play local clubs and bars. After graduating, he went to New York, where he quickly became one of the city’s most in-demand session players and recorded with Gil Evans, Gato Barbieri and Barry Miles, among many others.

The 1990s and 2000s marked a time of constantly changing associations. In 1992, Abercrombie, drummer Adam Nussbaum, and Hammond organist Jeff Palmer made a free-jazz album. He then started a trio with Nussbaum and organist Dan Wall and released While We Were Young (1992), Speak of the Devil (1994), and Tactics (1997). He added trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, violinist Mark Feldman and saxophonist Joe Lovano to the trio to record Open Land (1999). The Gateway band reunited for the album Homecoming (1995).

Abercrombie continued to tour and record and remained associated with ECM, with whom he had a relationship for more than 40 years. While firmly grounded in the jazz guitar tradition, he also experimented with electronic effects. As he said in an interview, "I'd like people to perceive me as having a direct connection to the history of jazz guitar, while expanding some musical boundaries."

Abercrombie died of heart failure in Cortlandt Manor, New York, at the age of 72.

Hit the Play button and settle in for the next 44 or so minutes. Well worth it.
Archie Shepp - Quintet And RAI Big Band - Live In Italy 1980 - Past Daily Downbeat Archie Shepp - Saxophone player, composer, pianist, singer, politically committed poet, playwright; legend.

Archie Shepp - Quintet With The RAI Big Band - Live In Venice, Italy - March 3, 1980 - RAI Radio -

Archie Shepp this weekend. In Concert from Venice, Italy on March 3, 1980 featuring his Quintet (Archie Shepp, tenor and soprano saxophones, voice, and PIANO on Round Midnight, Charles Greenlee, trombone, all arrangements, Dave Burrell, pianoforte, Cameron Brown, double bass and Charlie Persip, drums. Along with the RAI Big Band - all recorded and preserved for posterity by RAI Radio in Rome.

For those of you not familiar (and you need to be) Addeo Music International has put together a very cool bio on Archie Shepp, which should get you up to speed and over to your record store:
Archie Shepp was born in 1937 in Fort Lauderdale in Florida. He grew up in Philadelphia, studied piano and saxophone and attended high school in Germantown ; he went to college, became involved with theatre , met writers and poets, among them, Leroy Jones and wrote : « The Communist », an allegorical play about the situation of black Americans . In the late fifties, Archie Shepp also met the most radical musicians of the time : Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, Jimmy Garrisson, Ted Curson, Beaver Harris… his political consciousness found an expression in plays and theatrical productions which barely allowed him to make a living. In the beginning sixties he met Cecil Taylor and did two recordings with him which were determining. In 1962 he signed his first record with Bill Dixon as co-leader. During the following year, he created the New York Contemporary Five with John Tchichai, made four records for Fontana, Storyville and Savoy and travelled to Europe with this group.

Starting in August 1964, he worked with Impulse and made 17 records among which, Four For Trane, Fire Music, and Mama Too Tight, some of the classics of Free Music. His collaboration with John Coltrane materialized further with Ascension in 1965, a real turning point in Avant-Garde music. His militancy was evidenced by his participation in the creation of the Composers Guild with Paul and Carla Bley , Sun RA, Roswell Rudd and Cecil Taylor.

In July 1969 he went for the first time to Africa for the Pan African Festival in Algiers where many black American militants were living. On this occasion he recorded Live for Byg the first of six albums in the Actual series.

In 1969 he began teaching Ethnomusicology at the University of Amherst, Massachusetts; at the same time he continued to travel around the world while continuing to express his identity as an African American musician.

The dictionary of Jazz (Robert Laffont, Bouquins) defines him in the following way : « A first rate artist and intellectual, Archie Shepp has been at the head of the Avant- Garde Free Jazz movement and has been able to join the mainstream of Jazz, while remaining true to his esthetic . He has developed a true poli-instrumentality: an alto player, he also plays soprano since 1969, piano since 1975 and more recently occasionally sings blues and standards. »

He populates his musical world with themes and stylistic elements provided by the greatest voices of jazz: from Ellington to Monk and Mingus, from Parker to Siver and Taylor. His technical and emotional capacity enables him to integrate the varied elements inherited by the Masters of Tenor from Webster to Coltrane into his own playing but according to his very own combination : the wild raspiness of his attacks, his massive sound sculpted by a vibrato mastered in all ranges, his phrases carried to breathlessness, his abrupt level changes , the intensity of his tempos but also the velvety tenderness woven into a ballad. His play consistently deepens the spirit of the two faces of the original black American music: blues and spirituals. His work with classics and with his own compositions (Bessie Smith’s Black Water Blues or Mama Rose) contributes to maintaining alive the power of strangeness of these two musics in relationship to European music and expresses itself in a unique mix of wounded violence and age-old nostalgia.

The scope of his work which registered in the eighties a certain urgency (at the cost of a few discrepancies) is a witness to the fact that in 1988 Archie Shepp was with Sonny Rollins one of the best interpreters in the babelian history of jazz.

With his freedom loving sensitivity Archie Shepp has made an inestimable contribution to the gathering, the publicizing and the inventing of jazz.
Now all you have to do this minute is sit down, hit the play button and relax!
Artie Shaw And His Orchestra And Gramercy Five - Live - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Artie Shaw - One of the touchstones of the Big Band era.

Artie Shaw and his Orchestra and Gramercy Five - Spotlight Bands - September 19, 1945 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Artie Shaw this weekend. Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists", Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his 1938 recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine". Before the release of "Beguine", Shaw and his fledgling band had languished in relative obscurity for over two years and, after its release, he became a major pop artist within short order. The record eventually became one of the era's defining recordings. Musically restless, Shaw was also an early proponent of what became known much later as Third Stream music, which blended elements of classical and jazz forms and traditions. His music influenced other musicians, such as John Barry in England, with the vamp of the James Bond Theme, possibly influenced by "Nightmare", which also has a similar vamp to Kurt Weill's "Lonely House" (and Cuban singer Celia Cruz's 1954 'Plegaria a La Roye').

Shaw also recorded with small jazz groups drawn from within the ranks of the various big bands he led. He served in the US Navy from 1942 to 1944, (during which time he led a morale-building band that toured the South Pacific amidst the chaos of World War II) and, following his discharge in 1944, he returned to lead a band through 1945. Following the breakup of that band, he began to focus on other interests and gradually withdrew from the world of being a professional musician and major celebrity, although he remained a force in popular music and jazz before retiring from music completely in 1954.

This one is from a series of broadcasts Shaw did for the Spotlight Bands series from September 19, 1945, live from Fort Ord in California.

Crank it up and sway gently.
Cecil Young Quartet - Live At Seattle Women's Club - 1951 - Past Daily Downbeat Cecil Young Quartet - the bastion of Bop in Seattle.(photo: Traff Hubert Memorial page-Facebook)

Cecil Young Quartet - Live At Seattle Women's Club - March 11, 1951 - Burt Porter Collection -

Cecil Young Quartet - in concert from 1951. Aficionados no doubt already have this or have heard about it - it comes from an amateur engineer in the Seattle area, who was also a distributor for Ampex tape; Burt Porter. He had the foresight to record, not only this show, but two others, including a gig by Ernestine Anderson - all up-and-comers from the Seattle area. All the concerts are available via Soundcloud and you really need to do yourself a favor and check them all out.

Coming in just shy of two hours, this is historic stuff - not only does it sound great it is, in the words of centennial birthday celebrant, Nat "King" Cole, "The swinginest Bop I've ever heard". It's a musical feast and both artist and audience are 100% into it.

Shortly after this show, King Records head Sid Nathan got wind of the tapes and signed Young and the Quartet to the label. A later Seattle concert, from June of 1951 served as the basis for Young's debut lp, Concert Of Cool Jazz on king. Via some initial singles, including the memorable "Who Parked The Car?" they achieved national prominence and decided to head east for the loftier climes of New York where they toured as opener for Sarah Vaughan - and that's when things started going south. The anticipated sales for Young's album failed to materialize, along with the usual sidelines (drugs and alcohol) and the band splintered off. Cecil Young never came back to Seattle, although he continued playing and was rumored to still have been active up to the time of his death in 1975.

Far from being one of the first casualties during the Bop era of Jazz, Cecil Young's meteorite rise and brief prominence on the regional Jazz scene left many scratching their heads. You can never really explain why some things click and some things don't. Cecil Young had all the earmarks of someone who would be a household name in a short time. Problem was, it just didn't happen. Such is the fickle nature of music - no matter what genre you're talking about.

But that should be no deterrent to digging the hell out of this concert, as it was recorded on March 11, 1951.

Buckle up and relax for the next 2 hours.
Charles Mingus - Eric Dolphy - Live In Stuttgart - 1964 - Past Daily Downbeat Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus - exploring all the possibilities.

Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus - Live in Stuttgart - Recorded April 28, 1964 - SWDR Radio -

Legendary pairings this weekend - Eric Dolphy with Charles Mingus, along with Clifford Jordan and tenor sax, Jaki Byard, piano and Dannie Richmond, drums.

This broadcast comes roughly a month after the famous and long-thought-lost Cornell Concert (Cornell was in March and this one is from April). It's also part of a well documented group of concerts that took place during 1964.

Much ink has been spilled and many pages have been devoted to this pairing, along with the support team involved. It is, considered by many to be a pivotal point in Modern Jazz - and as such, pretty much all the recordings from this tour have been available in one form or another; officially or unofficially. This one comes via Southwest German Radio, who originally broadcast the concert.

A general assessment of the tour, as well as a rundown on some of the many recorded documents from it, is summed up in a very informative article via The Guardian's John Fordman in 2007 on the Cornell University concert from March of 1964 - here's a sample:
"In 1964, the great composer/bassist Charles Mingus formed what was to be one of his finest bands, and with it toured Europe to great acclaim. No Mingus period is better documented - though alto sax/bass clarinet genius Eric Dolphy's contribution has acquired an unwelcome poignancy since he died in Berlin at the end of the trip. But for all the alternative availability of the material, these newly discovered tapes are a unique glimpse of the band in its exuberant first weeks playing a selection of Ellington and Mingus classics. Pianist Jaki Byard throws in Yankee Doodle, Boogie Stop Shuffle and the funeral march, trumpeter Johnny Coles sounds intensely inspired by the Miles of Sketches of Spain, and Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond ruthlessly badger and cajole. A riotous account of Take the A Train makes you feel you're right in the exhilarated crowd, and Dolphy's unexpectedly diaphanous flute arrangement of Fats Waller's Jitterbug Waltz modernises the piece. Mingus's bass is recorded a little muddily here and there, the only downside."
With the exception of Johnny Coles not being part of this Stuttgart concert (sidelined by a stomach ailment), this is essentially the same lineup. For those who may not know, and as was mentioned in the article, this would some of the last recordings Eric Dolphy would make just prior to his death in Berlin in June of that year.

Significant as well as poignant - definitely worth a listen, and another, and another. (note: the top few bars at the beginning are missing because of damaged original tape . . .sorry!)
Kid Ory - Live At The Beverly Cavern, Los Angeles - 1949 - Past Daily Downbeat Kid Ory - One of the most influential trombonists in early Jazz - it starts here.

Kid Ory and his Band - live At The Beverly Cavern, Los Angeles - KGFJ-Armed Forces Radio - June 28, 1949 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Kid Ory - live at The Beverly Cavern in Los Angeles and broadcast live over KGFJ and Armed Forces Radio in 1949. A lot of you, especially those of you just getting into Jazz, are going to listen to this and wonder what it's doing here. You may not think this has a place alongside the John Coltrane's, Sonny Rollins and Charles Mingus's of the world. But you would be wrong - in fact Charles Mingus directly cites Kid Ory as a major influence in his musical upbringing.

Kid Ory was at Ground Zero - he goes back to the earliest days of Jazz; at its humble and raucous beginnings, in his band with the likes of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong which served as the launchpad for a number of Jazz greats who went on and forged paths of their own. This is the Roots Music of Jazz - much the same as just about every Rock Guitarist owes some level of playing or influence to Charlie Christian or Robert Johnson - it goes back that far.

Jazz is very much the same way. And even though you may want to dismiss this particular genre of music as "not very Jazz-like" from someone who may have grown up on a diet of Parker and Coltrane, you'd be missing the boat on one of the most essential elements - the springboard from which all that came later happened.

Kid Ory was an extraordinary musician with a long and legendary career. He was born in La Place, Louisiana in 1886. He started playing music with homemade instruments in his childhood, and by his teens was leading a well-regarded band in southeast Louisiana. He kept LaPlace, Louisiana, as his base of operations because of family obligations until his twenty-first birthday, when he moved his band to New Orleans. He was one of the most influential trombonists of early jazz.

Ory was a banjo player during his youth, and it is said that his ability to play the banjo helped him develop "tailgate", a particular style of playing the trombone with a rhythmic line underneath the trumpets and cornets.

Ory had one of the best-known bands in New Orleans in the 1910s, hiring many of the great jazz musicians of the city, including the cornetists Joe "King" Oliver, Mutt Carey, and Louis Armstrong, who joined the band in 1919; and the clarinetists Johnny Dodds and Jimmie Noone.

In 1919, he moved to Los Angeles — one of a number of New Orleans musicians to do so near that time—and he recorded there in 1921 with a band that included Mutt Carey, the clarinetist and pianist Dink Johnson, and the string bassist Ed Garland. Garland and Carey were longtime associates who would still be playing with Ory during his 1940s comeback. While in Los Angeles, Ory and his band recorded two instrumentals, "Ory's Creole Trombone" and "Society Blues", as well as a number of songs. They were the first jazz recordings made on the West Coast by an African-American jazz band from New Orleans. His band recorded with Nordskog Records; Ory paid Nordskog for the pressings and then sold them with his own label, "Kid Ory's Sunshine Orchestra", at Spikes Brothers Music Store in Los Angeles.

In 1925, Ory moved to Chicago, where he was very active, working and recording with Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Oliver, Johnny Dodds, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and many others. He mentored Benny Goodman and, later, Charles Mingus.

During the Great Depression Ory retired from music and did not play again until 1943. He ran a chicken farm in California. From 1944 to about 1961 he led one of the top New Orleans–style bands of the period. His sidemen during this period included, In addition to Carey and Garland, the trumpeters Alvin Alcorn and Teddy Buckner; the clarinetists Darnell Howard, Jimmie Noone, Albert Nicholas, Barney Bigard, and George Probert; the pianists Buster Wilson, Cedric Haywood, and Don Ewell; and the drummer Minor Hall. All but Buckner, Probert, and Ewell were originally from New Orleans.

The Ory band was an important force in reviving interest in New Orleans jazz, making popular 1940s radio broadcasts—among them a number of slots on The Orson Welles Almanac program (beginning March 15, 1944). In 1944–45 the group made a series of recordings for Crescent Records, which was founded by Nesuhi Ertegun for the express purpose of recording Ory's band. Ory retired from music in 1966 and spent his last years in Hawaii, with the assistance of Trummy Young. Ory died in Honolulu on January 23, 1973. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

So, as a way of adding to your historic perspective on Jazz (if you aren't already familiar) or to give you a sample of what the rather extensive Jazz scene was sounding like in Los Angeles in the 1940s, here is a broadcast from June 28, 1949 featuring Kid Ory and his band at the legendary Beverly Cavern in L.A. (long since gone).

Music History - pivotal moments - prime examples.
Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd - Live In Berlin - 1981 - Past Daily Downbeat Ellis, Byrd and Kessel - The Jazz Guitar's answer to the Million Dollar Trio.

Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd - Three Great Jazz Guitarists In Concert - Jazzfest Berlin - November 8, 1981 - RBB Radio Berlin -

A summit meeting of legendary Jazz Guitarists this weekend. Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd and Barney Kelles in concert at the 1981 Jazz Berlin - recorded at Philharmonie Hall, Berlin - November 8, 1981 and preserved for posterity by RBB Radio Berlin.

Also known as Great Guitars, the trio interchanged on various occasions to include other guitarists of note. Great Guitars was a supergroup formed by jazz guitarists Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis, and Barney Kessel in 1973.

The trio performed intermittently from 1973 and released several live albums: Great Guitars (1975), Great Guitars 2 (1976), Great Guitars at the Winery (1980), Great Guitars: Straight Tracks (1991), Return of the Great Guitars (1996), Great Guitars Concord Jazz (2005). After a stroke ended Kessel's career in 1992, Ron Escheté, Mundell Lowe, Larry Coryell, and Tal Farlow variously joined Byrd and Ellis in later concerts.

The following are a few words from Scott Yanow at Pandora:

An excellent bop-based guitarist with a slight country twang to his sound, Herb Ellis became famous playing with the Oscar Peterson Trio during 1953-1958. Prior to that, he had attended North Texas State University and played with the Casa Loma Orchestra , Jimmy Dorsey (1945-1947), and the sadly under-recorded trio Soft Winds. While with Peterson , Ellis was on some Jazz at the Philharmonic tours and had a few opportunities to lead his own dates for Verve, including his personal favorite, Nothing But the Blues (1957). After leaving Peterson , Ellis toured a bit with Ella Fitzgerald ; became a studio musician on the West Coast; made sessions with the Dukes of Dixieland , Stuff Smith , and Charlie Byrd ; and in the 1970s became much more active in the jazz world. He can be heard on the first three releases issued by the Concord label, interacting with Joe Pass on the initial two, and he toured with the Great Guitars (along with Byrd and Barney Kessel ) through much of the 1970s into the ’80s. After a long series of Concord albums, Ellis cut a couple of excellent sessions in the 1990s for Justice, as well as 1999′s Burnin' on Acoustic Music. After battling Alzheimer’s disease, Herb Ellis died at the age of 88 at his home in Los Angeles on March 28, 2010. ~ Scott Yanow

Goes well with Sunday - click on the player and relax - nothing else to do today, I swear.
Raymond Scott And His Orchestra - 1944 - Past Daily Downbeat Raymond Scott - a man perhaps convicted of wearing too many hats.

Raymond Scott and His orchestra - June 22/24, 1944 - Armed Forces Radio Service - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Raymond Scott - a name associated with a lot of genres of music, a seemingly never-ending inventor and innovator and an artist whose contributions to music were largely forgotten about until recently.

Most Jazz aficionados will no doubt look at this post and wonder why it's being included in a feature almost exclusively devoted to Jazz. And, truths to tell, Jazz critics going back to the 1940s often objected to the music Raymond Scott was contributing being considered Jazz, saying Scott was responsible for "Novelty cartoon music" and not much else.

Problem was - Raymond Scott did a lot of things and was a lot of people, some of them all at once. He was the perfect example of defying pigeonholes or what we would now term as "multi-tasking".

Raymond Scott was, among so much else, a band leader. In many ways, he was groundbreaking, not only by experimenting with arrangements and orchestration, but also breaking through barriers - most notably, Raymond Scott was one of the first band leaders to break the color barrier as early as 1937. Many of his recordings from the 1940s on consisted of a virtual who's who of Jazz (i.e. - Ben Webster, Milt Hinton, Billy Taylor, to name only a few).

But because he was known primarily as "the guy from the Warner Bros. Cartoons" it was a label not easily avoided, and he spent a goodly part of his career dodging those insinuations and quietly changing the subject in interviews.

That he was also a ceaseless inventor and innovator in sound recording was cause for confusion - that much of his middle-career was involved in film scoring and creating an indelible niche in Radio (and later TV) advertising jingles only added to it.

By the 1980s, Raymond Scott had become all but a footnote in music history - his big band and Jazz recordings went largely unnoticed and certainly overlooked; he languished in a goodly amount of unnecessary obscurity which was largely rescued just prior to his death in February of 1994.

This broadcast, part of a series Raymond Scott did for CBS Radio during the years of World War 2 heavily leans on Big Band quasi-dance music and hits of the day. He could be misconstrued as a "sweet band" - but again, there is something of a fine-line as to what constitutes "sweet music" in the idiom of Jazz.

So however you feel about it - or are wondering how a page devoted to Jazz can play Eric Dolphy one week and Raymond Scott the next justify the almost whiplash quality to musical changes within a form; it's an effort to give a wide view to an all-encompassing form of music that is one of Americas truly original art forms. And that's big stuff.

So keep an open mind and just check it out if you aren't familiar. Jazz, you will find, is amazing and it goes a whole lot of places with very little effort.

Have a listen and see what you think.
Wayne Shorter Featuring Larry Coryell - Live At Montreux - 1990 - Past Daily Downbeat Wayne Shorter - A leading figure in the Jazz idiom for a very long time.

Wayne Shorter Group - Featuring Larry Coryell - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival - July 20, 1990 - RTS-Radio Switzerland

Wayne Shorter this weekend, featuring the late Larry Coryell in a concert recorded live at Montreux on July 20, 1990.

Here's what Bluenote has to say about Wayne Shorter:
Though some will argue about whether Wayne Shorter's primary impact on jazz has been as a composer or as a saxophonist, hardly anyone will dispute his overall importance as one of jazz's leading figures over a long span of time. Though indebted to a great extent to John Coltrane, with whom he practiced in the mid-'50s while still an undergraduate, Shorter eventually developed his own more succinct manner on tenor sax, retaining the tough tone quality and intensity and, in later years, adding an element of funk. On soprano, Shorter is almost another player entirely, his lovely tone shining like a light beam, his sensibilities attuned more to lyrical thoughts, his choice of notes becoming more spare as his career unfolded. Shorter's influence as a player, stemming mainly from his achievements in the '60s and '70s, was tremendous upon the neo-bop brigade who emerged in the early '80s, most notably Branford Marsalis. As a composer, he is best known for carefully conceived, complex, long-limbed, endlessly winding tunes, many of which have become jazz standards yet have spawned few imitators.
And a few words about the Amazing Mr. Coryell via his Memorial site:
As one of the pioneers of jazz-rock -- perhaps the pioneer in the ears of some -- Larry Coryell deserves a special place in the history books. He brought what amounted to a nearly alien sensibility to jazz electric guitar playing in the 1960s, a hard-edged, cutting tone, phrasing and note-bending that owed as much to blues, rock and even country as it did to earlier, smoother bop influences. Yet as a true eclectic, armed with a brilliant technique, he is comfortable in almost every style, covering almost every base from the most decibel-heavy, distortion-laden electric work to the most delicate, soothing, intricate lines on acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, a lot of his most crucial electric work from the '60s and '70s is missing on CD, tied up by the erratic reissue schemes of Vanguard, RCA and other labels, and by jazz-rock's myopically low level of status in the CD era (although that mindset is slowly changing).
If you know about these two already, you aren't reading this or do you need to - if you're just discovering both of these legendary talents - hopefully this will prompt you to go exploring and discovering the very rich and fertile musical ground these two have walked on.

Go for it.
Elliot Lawrence Big Band - Live From Meadowbrook - 1951 - Past Daily Downbeat Elliot Lawrence (at the piano) - Critics have said if he was born about ten years earlier he would have been at the forefront.

Elliot Lawrence and His Orchestra - live at Frank Daily's Meadowbrook Club, New Jersey - 1951 - Mutual Broadcasting/Armed Forces Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Elliot Lawrence and his Orchestra, live in 1951. Originally broadcast by the Mutual network and rebroadcast for the military by the Armed Forces Radio Service.

Elliot Lawrence is an interesting figure in the progression and history of Jazz. Active during a period of time where Big Bands were heading into their twilight years - sometimes misjudged by purists and critics as "a sweet band" because of commercial demands to play music for dancing and not really for listening. Bands that became temporary homes for the likes of Gerry Mulligan and other notables of the Cool Jazz and Be-bop genres (Mulligan was a Lawrence alumnus as well as occasional arranger for the band) and Bands that stretched the envelope while managing to keep feet in both waters, so to speak. Elliot Lawrence was doing interesting and innovative things during the late 1940s/early 1950s while still maintaining popularity as leader of a band for dancing. That he went from labels like Columbia to Fantasy gave some indication there were other elements and interests afoot. Some critics lamented the fact that he should have been born about ten years earlier, as he would have fit right into the major changes taking place in Jazz during the War and shortly after as bands splintered and small groups flourished.

That he's gone largely overlooked by the greater Jazz community is a shame, as much of what he did was notable despite a certain pigeonholing that has often plagued musicians in all genres throughout history.

Initially, I was of two minds about running this gig as some might consider this broadcast bordering on Pop. But the more I listened the more I realized Elliot Lawrence was into something else and the dance music side paid the bills.

At any rate, I decided to include this as part of the Downbeat series and let you decide how you feel about it. Fortunately, Elliot Lawrence is still very much with us and very active, although he's stepped back from Jazz since 1960 and has devoted most of his time and talents to TV, Film and Stage and is currently Music Director of the Tony Awards. In addition to composing the scored to such classic films as Network and The French Connection - so the story has a happen ending.

To get an idea of this other side of Elliot Lawrence, the side that was active and saying something to a Jazz audience, here is that gig originally broadcast in early 1951 as a reminder.
Wild Bill Davis Quartet - Live In Paris - 1976 - Past Daily Downbeat Wild Bill Davis - High priest of the B-3.

Wild Bill Davis Quartet - live in Paris - January 24, 1976 - ORTF-Paris - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Wild Bill Davis in concert this weekend. Featuring Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on Tenor, Billy Butler on guitar and Oliver Jackson on drums. the Concert was recorded in Paris on January 24, 1976 and rebroadcast last year via Radio France Musique as part of their excellent Legends of Jazz series.

Davis was born in Glasgow, Missouri. He is best known for his pioneering jazz electronic organ recordings and for his tenure with the Tympany Five, the backing group for Louis Jordan. Prior to the emergence of Jimmy Smith in 1956, Davis (whom Smith had reportedly first seen playing organ in the 1930s) was the pacesetter among organists.

Davis originally played guitar and wrote arrangements for Milt Larkin's Texas-based big band during 1939–1942, a band which included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Tom Archia on horns. After leaving the Larkin orchestra, Davis worked in Chicago as a pianist, recording with Buster Bennett in 1945. He played a crucial role as the pianist-arranger in Jordan's Tympany Five (1945–1947) at the peak of their success. After leaving Jordan, he returned to Chicago for a time, recording again with Buster Bennett and working with Claude McLin. After switching from piano to organ, Davis moved to the East Coast. In 1950, he began leading an influential trio of organ, guitar, and drums, which recorded for OKeh Records.

Davis was originally supposed to record "April in Paris" with Count Basie's Orchestra in 1955 but when he could not make the session, Basie used his arrangement for the full band and had a major hit.

In addition to working with his own groups in the 1960s, Davis made several albums with his friend Johnny Hodges, leading to tours during 1969–1971 with Duke Ellington. In the 1970s he recorded for the Black Blue Records label with a variety of swing all-stars, and he also played with Lionel Hampton, appearing at festivals through the early 1990s. Davis died in Moorestown, New Jersey.

Here's a reminder. Hit the Play button and relax, you're covered.
Past Daily: Dizzy Gillespie - 70th Birthday Concert - Vienna - 1987 - Past Daily Downbeat Dizzy Gillespie this weekend. In a concert given on his 70th birthday at Arkadenhof Rathuas in Vienna on July 17, 1987 and recorded by Austrian Radio.
It's no exaggeration to say Dizzy Gillespie is one of the greatest trumpeters the Jazz world has produced. And that says a lot and it probably triggers a lot of debate among those who list Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis with that distinction. Suffice to say we're just lucky to be around as that particular batch of legends strode the earth - seeing their like again fades with each given moment.
Lionel Hampton - Live From Oakland - 1944 - Past Daily Downbeat Lionel Hampton - A career that spanned decades and influenced countless.

Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra - From Civic Auditorium, Oakland - June 4, 1944 - AFRS: One Night Stand - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Lionel Hampton this weekend. Probably one of the most recognized names of the Big Band era, he also went on to work with a wide range of artists throughout his career. Hampton worked with jazz musicians from Teddy Wilson, Benny Goodman, and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1996.

Lionel Hampton began his career playing drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboys' Band (led by Major N. Clark Smith) while still a teenager in Chicago. He moved to California in 1927 or 1928, playing drums for the Dixieland Blues-Blowers. He made his recording debut with The Quality Serenaders led by Paul Howard, then left for Culver City and drummed for the Les Hite band at Sebastian's Cotton Club. One of his trademarks as a drummer was his ability to do stunts with multiple pairs of sticks such as twirling and juggling without missing a beat. During this period he began practicing on the vibraphone. In 1930 Louis Armstrong came to California and hired the Les Hite band, asking Hampton if he would play vibes on two songs. So began his career as a vibraphonist, popularizing the use of the instrument in the process. Invented ten years earlier, the vibraphone is essentially a xylophone with metal bars, a sustain pedal, and resonators equipped with electric-powered fans that add tremolo.

While working with the Les Hite band, Hampton also occasionally did some performing with Nat Shilkret and his orchestra. During the early 1930s, he studied music at the University of Southern California. In 1934 he led his own orchestra, and then appeared in the Bing Crosby film Pennies From Heaven (1936) alongside Louis Armstrong (wearing a mask in a scene while playing drums).

In November 1936, the Benny Goodman Orchestra came to Los Angeles to play the Palomar Ballroom. When John Hammond brought Goodman to see Hampton perform, Goodman invited him to join his trio, which soon became the Benny Goodman Quartet with Teddy Wilson and Gene Krupa completing the lineup. The Trio and Quartet were among the first racially integrated jazz groups to perform before audiences, and were a leading small-group of the day.

The performance, part of the Armed Forces Radio series One Night Stand features Hampton and his orchestra at the Civic Auditorium in Oakland and broadcast on June 4, 1944.

I have run concerts from his later period but not from the Big Band era which he really became synonymous with. This glimpse should give you some idea of how wide and influential his talent was - I plan to dig up some of his small group performances with Benny Goodman to further illustrate what Lionel Hampton was all about.

In the meantime, dig in and enjoy. Sound is dicey in spots - but I hope I sound this good when I'm 75.
Wes Montgomery In Session With The NDR Big Band, Hamburg - 1965 -Past Daily Downbeat Wes Montgomery - one of the seminal figures in Jazz Guitar playing.

Wes Montgomery with The NDR Big Band - In Session - April 28, 1965 - North German Radio, Hamburg - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Wes Montgomery this weekend. One of the seminal figures in Jazz guitar, who pioneered the genre of Smooth Jazz and did a lot to introduce non-Jazz audiences to Jazz.

I ran another Montgomery/MDR Big Band post a few years ago. That one, I believe was the end result of this session. The broadcast date on that was April 30, 1965 and this session comes from April 28, 1965. So logic would dictate . . .

In any event, this is the raw session, with false starts and conversation between numbers. As is always the case with these sessions, there's two schools of thought; one is only the "circled takes" should be listened to, and the other is that everything should be listened to and absorbed - even if it means there are 30 takes of something. Depending on what your listening habits are, they are both valid points. Certainly in Pop music, listening to endless takes can be frustrating especially if there is no really discernible difference between take 1 and take 21. Jazz; it's a different story - things happen, ideas spring forth from mistakes, a number is sculpted and developed during the course of a session and it's an interesting series of events that lead to the end result. Sometimes it misses the mark, and sometimes it's pivotal.

In the case of Wes Montgomery, anything he did sparked interest - he was an artist of many moods - and even though during this point (1965) he was heading into more Pop territory, he was still true to his roots as is evidenced by working with this top-notch German big band. Sadly, Wes Montgomery died only three years after this session - at the time, he was riding a wave of mainstream success and his influence was spreading far and wide. You can always go crazy pondering the "what if's".

He left behind a body of vital and essential music to absorb - and that's enough to keep you going a good long time.

An update: thanks to Charles Tomaras and the NDR Big Band Facebook page - I got this clarification on the session and the session personnel - this is great stuff!
Koller, Hans (as)
Griffin, Johnny (ts)
Scott, Ronnie (ts)
Ross, Ronnie (bs)
Solal, Martial (p)
Montgomery, Wes (g)
Gaudry, Michel (b)
Stephenson, Ronnie (dr)

As always, information like this is essential and much appreciated in the grand historic scheme of things!
Claude Thornhill And His Orchestra - Live At Glen Island Casino - 1947 - Past Daily Downbeat Claude Thornhill - led a band mistakenly diagnosed as "sweet"

Claude Thornhill - live at Glen Island Casino - June 23, 1947 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Claude Thornhill and his band, recorded live at Glen island Casino in New York on June 23, 1947. Thornhill's music has fortunately weathered well with age. Almost completely mis-diagnosed as a "Sweet Band" during the 40's and 50s, Thornhill was an innovator who didn't get the props at the time to gain the freedom he needed to pursue what became revolutionary ideas. That came from the people who worked with him; most notably Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan (among many others), who laid the groundwork for Cool Jazz and Be-Bop during the post-war years through the early 1950s, when Jazz was going through an upheaval of sorts.

One of the things Thornhill stressed, and you can hear it in all his material, was the ability to play effectively quietly rather than forcefully. The prevailing theory being that anyone can get a message across by yelling, but it took some talent to do it in a quiet way - and you can hear this theory being put to good use in milestone albums like Birth Of The Cool which, if you look at the personnel on those sessions, the name Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan pop up - proteges of Thornhill and bearers of the torch.

But on the face of it, and listening to this club date, you might not be convinced. The 40s were still about dance bands, and Claude Thornhill was still pursuing success in a commercial world. He didn't have the freedom say, a Sten Kenton did (Capitol at that time was a much smaller label, compared to Columbia which was Thornhills label and a major at the time), but instead had to work around it, injecting ideas in the midst of potboilers and standards - but, you gotta do what you gotta do - and if you consider yourself a professional and dedicated to your craft, you have to do a lot of things you may not agree with in order to eat. And that appears to be the situation with this artist. For the most part, Claude Thornhill did not get the recognition he so richly deserved during his lifetime - and its only been in recent decades that his music has been rediscovered and re-evaluated.

So, lest you think this is a strange and somewhat ill-suited choice for a Jazz entry, I suggest you do what Claude Thornhill always stressed - listen quietly and with open ears. The magic will be revealed.

Enjoy, and get ready for 2019.
An MJQ Kind Of Christmas - Modern Jazz Quartet With Paul Desmond - Live At Carnegie Hall - 1971 - Past Daily Downbeat: Christmas Edition MJQ - Eloquence personified - makin' merry.

Modern Jazz Quartet w/Paul Desmond - live at Carnegie Hall - Christmas Day 1971 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The MJQ and a special Christmas Concert featuring Paul Desmond, recorded live at Carnegie Hall on Christmas day, 1971. This concert has been released in various forms and in various formats over the years, but the message is timeless and the sentiments are heartfelt. The Modern Jazz Quartet came to epitomize that essence of Cool Jazz all throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s. And even though they all had stellar careers individually, collaborating with a who's who of Jazz legends over the years, the MJQ were legends in their own rite as an ensemble. Cool, not frantic - mellow and contemplative. And joined here by saxophonist Paul Desmond, himself a cornerstone member of Dave Brubeck's Quartet - it is, without question, the perfect companion to a festive holiday season.

And maybe you're not festive this year, as I know many aren't - this concert doesn't make you get up and do anything - doesn't wring every last ounce of holiday cheer out of you - doesn't hammer home the manufactured joy of the season. No. It takes the true meaning of the holiday, the time of quiet reflection and stock-taking and wraps you in a warm blanket of comfort and assurance.

Or maybe you've just had a bit too much eggnog at the annual get-together or office party - and you're waking up with a massive hangover, and the least little sound is capable of striking bolts of indescribable pain up and down your spine. This concert won't jar your nerves and will help keep breakfast down.

It is all music for all-occasions and the beauty that has always been The Modern Jazz Quartet is the effortless dive into a soul-enriching experience.

So, depending on what your holiday mood is - a subtle blast of this legendary concert will do you a world of good.


Just try it.
Ella Fitzgerald - In Concert From Helsinki - 1965 - Past Daily Downbeat Ella Fitzgerald - First Lady Of Song . Word.

Ella Fitzgerald - In Concert From Helsinki - March 23, 1965 - YLE-Finnish Radio -

The First Lady Of Song this weekend. The inimitable Ella Fitzgerald, in concert from Helsinki recorded in March 1965 and recorded by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting network.

There's not much you can add about the life and career of Ella Fitzgerald that hasn't already been well documented in books, albums, essays and articles. She has been a national institution and a worldwide treasure for decades - a voice of enormous range and purity of tone.

And even some 22 years after her death, her music and her popularity continue, pretty much without break. She is an endless source of discovery and inspiration for generations of singers who have come after her.

In the odd event you aren't familiar - drop everything and make a discovery today. This concert, recorded in Helsinki was one of an exhaustive series of tours Fitzgerald did over the years. This concert is in a small group setting, with Tommy Flanagan on piano, Keter Betts on bass and Gus Johnson on drums. She was equally at home in a big band setting, but the small group and its intimate nature offers a real glimpse into the artist at work.

The material runs a wide range, from standards to then-current pop tunes. But in her hands they get the Fitzgerald touch.

I can't remember the first time I heard Ella Fitzgerald - I know I was a kid and it was a 78 and it was one of her earlier Decca records. Over the years they've turned into albums and CD's and Streams, but there's always been some vestige of Ella Fitzgerald in my collection - as I'm sure its the same with most music fans. I can't really imagine what it would be like, not having Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday in my collection. That's the stuff that grabs you and doesn't let go.

Hearing her live recordings - whether in clubs or concert halls, is just icing on an amazing cake.

Hit the Play button and maybe you'll feel the same way.
Roy Hargrove (And Strings) - Live At The Detroit Jazz Festival - 2016 - Past Daily Downbeat - Memorial Edition (RIP Roy Hargrove - 1969-2018) Roy Hargrove - joining that ever-increasing family of those who went-too-soon.

Roy Hargrove Quintet w/The Detroit Festival Orchestra - Live at The Detroit Jazz Festival - September 3, 2016 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

More sad news this week. In a year that has already seen unfathomable loss of so many iconic artists, we can add the name Roy Hargrove to that painful ledger. Sadder, because his was one of those passings which went under the somber heading "gone way too soon".

One of the things almost synonymous with any Jazz Artist is the long-standing desire to play with a string section, or a whole orchestra - it's historic and has gone back almost to the beginnings of Jazz as a genre. Something about adding a string section to the mix creates a whole new dimension to the proceedings - and, in an abstract way, cements the notion that Jazz is Americas Classical Music. It's done a lot - I wish it was done a lot more - I happen to be one of those people who believe its a beautiful marriage.

But, to focus on Roy Hargrove, because this post is a memorial to him and his contribution to the music world.

When I first heard of Hargrove's passing, I went looking for more information, who else was writing about it. I found this pice from the NPR website that pretty much encapsulates Roy Hargrove as a man and musician. Here's taste of that obituary:

By Nate Chinen - NPR News
Roy Anthony Hargrove was born on Oct. 16, 1969, in Waco, Texas, to Roy Allan and Jacklyn Hargrove. He grew up in Dallas, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, an arts magnet that also produced Erykah Badu and Norah Jones.

The first jazz musician who made a substantial impression on him was David "Fathead" Newman, a tenor saxophonist best known for his long tenure with Ray Charles; he was a Dallas-area native, and Hargrove heard him at a junior high assembly. Then in 1987, Wynton Marsalis heard a teenaged Hargrove in a clinic at Booker T. Washington and was so impressed that he invited the young trumpeter to sit in on his gig that week in Fort Worth.

Hargrove attended the Berklee College of Music on scholarship for 18 months, before transferring to the New School in New York. In jazz's close-knit musician community, the meteoric force of his arrival was comparable only to that of Marsalis' about a decade earlier.

Hargrove was a two-time Grammy winner, in two illustrative categories: best jazz instrumental album in 2003 for Directions in Music, featuring a post-bop supergroup with pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Michael Brecker; and best Latin jazz performance in 1998 for Habana, a groundbreaking Afro-Cuban project recorded in Havana.

Early in his New York experience, in 1992, Hargrove and a business partner, Dale Fitzgerald, signed a lease on a loft in Lower Manhattan with the intention of finding a place for practicing and rehearsals. Three years later, Hargrove and Fitzgerald partnered with Lezlie Harrison to convert it into a nonprofit performance space, The Jazz Gallery. Though it moved to a new location in 2013, The Jazz Gallery continues to be an integral hub for the music. Hargrove continued to play there, just as he never stopped being a late-night fixture at Smalls.

He is survived by his wife, singer and producer Aida Brandes; a daughter from a previous relationship, Kamala Hargrove; his mother, Jacklyn Hargrove; and his younger brother, Brian Hargrove.

Along with his quintet — a sterling hard-bop unit that released an album called Earfood in 2008, and was recorded at The Village Vanguard in 2011 by WBGO and NPR Music — Hargrove intermittently led a big band. He often stood in for one of his many trumpet totems in the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. And he continued to sit in and pop up as a special guest; he's prominently featured on an album released last year by singer and pianist Johnny O'Neal.

For a number of years, Hargrove struggled with substance abuse and its attendant problems. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in Manhattan criminal court and was sentenced to two days of community service.

But those close to Hargrove say he had recently made great strides with any issues of dependency. "Whatever it was for a lot of years, it was radically, drastically curtailed over the last year or two," attests Clothier. "He was playing great; he really had himself back together. This last run we did in Europe, it was as good as I heard him play in the last 10 years."

Hargrove had been scheduled to perform on Saturday, Nov. 3, in a jazz vespers service at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.
Here, as a memorial and reminder is a recent (2016) performance of his Quintet and String Orchestra from the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival.

RIP: Roy Hargrove - the melody is interrupted, but the song continues.
Toronto Digs Jazz - August 1953 - Dial Twisting And Jazz Unlimited - Past Daily Weekend Gallimaufry What was hip and happening around Toronto in August of 1953.

CJVC-Toronto/CBC Dominion Network - Jazz Unlimited - August 1953 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The airwaves around the world in the 1950s were filled with concerts and club dates of every kind and type. But what about the disc-jockey programs; the ones where they just played records, those pieces of vinyl that spun around at 33 1/3 or 78 rpm?

We didn't have Rock n' roll quite yet, and mainstream Pop was pretty bland for the most part. So it was up to the small stations, the non-network affiliated stations, to do the musical exploring. In this case, it was CJVC in Toronto, Ontario, which could be heard well into New York State and who offered an interesting program; Jazz Unlimited. Later on, programs like this would become the mainstay of FM Radio, which had been gaining popularity since the end of the War and with the advent of the lp. There were a lot of these kinds of stations all over the country (here as well as Canada), and they played a whole range of disc-jockey programs, from Rhythm & Blues to Country-Western - Jazz fit right in there.

Jazz Unlimited, as far as I can suss out, was a daily program presented in some five parts - and I believe it was carried by the CBC Dominion Network across Canada. I'm not 100% certain, but I do know the program originated at CJVC in Toronto. The Jazz they offered ran the gamut from traditional to Bop, and even a word or two from Al "Jazzbo" Collins by way of his then-latest record "Three Little Pigs".

This was the state of Disc-jockey programs prior to the dawn of Top-40. So to get an idea of what the climate was like, here is a one-hour extract from Jazz Unlimited from CJVC in Toronto, Canada on August, 1953.
Boyd Raeburn And His Orchestra - 1944 - Past Daily Downbeat Boyd Raeburn - In retrospect, considered one of the most avant-garde band leaders of his time.

Boyd Raeburn - Rhythms By Raeburn Radio Series - circa 1944 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

A few months ago, I ran another Boyd Raeburn program, that one, a club date from El Morocco in Hollywood. A lot of people responded to it favorably, completely up-ending my previous notion that Raeburn was a figure in Jazz largely obscure and mostly unnoticed.

And then I ran across this 1979 article written in The Washington Post by W. Royal Stokes which pretty much confirmed what I had suspected; that I was wrong, and a lot of people had heard of or were influenced by the music and musical point of view of Boyd Raeburn.

In case you missed the article, here's a taste of it to get some idea, if you are one of those people just making the discovery and wanting to find out a little bit more on Boyd Raeburn, and how come he's not a household name:
"The Boyd Raeburn Orchestra is remembered by those who heard it in the 1940s as a band with a very new sound-it was, in fact, ahead of its time. Its harmonic concepts were advanced, it made use of fluctuating time signatures (4/4, 7/4, 11/9 in one piece), it resembled a symphonic group on stage with flutes, oboes, bassoons, alto and bass clarinets. English horns and harp supplemented its standard swing band instrumentation, and it sometimes employed classical themes. Buddy DeFranco, with the band in the late '40s, recalls the arrangements as the most difficult music he has ever played.

Many musicians of merit, and some of international fame, passed through the Raeburn Orchestra during its peak years of 1943-1948. Among those were DeFranco, Dizzy Gillespie, Tommy Young, Don Lamond, Oscar Pettiford, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Harris, Hal McKussick, Al Cohn, Serge Chaloff, Frankie Sokolow, Johnny Bothwell, Dodo Marmarosa-and Al Swope, Steve Jordan and Angelo Tompros, three from the Washington area. Featured vocalists of the band included Ginnie Powell, who became Raeburn's wife.

Boyd Raeburn's associations through the '30s had been largely with hotel dance bands of little distinction, some of which he led. Toward the end of the decade his band moved in the direction that the major swing orchestras of the day were taking. Circumstances, both cultural and personal, conspired to transform him into the director of an organization, the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra, that was on the leading edge of advanced musical expression of its time.

A new body of musical thought was coming to the fore in the early '40s; for want of a better term we now call it "modern jazz." The big dance/swing bands still dominated the scene, both popular and jazz, but several of these were listening with interest to the new music coming to be known as be-bop. Woody Herman changed the image, and the sound, of his orchestra from "The Band That Plays the Blues" to the first of the "Herds." Stan Kenton incorporated bop into his offerings, styling his new approach "Progressive Jazz."

No one claims that Boyd Raeburn was a creative artist of great stature; he himself was heard to remark, "For a musical idiot I've got a great band. But few who are familiar with the music of his period will deny that his band ranked with the best of the innovative groups of the era, including those of Kenton and Herman.

But Raeburn was creative in one sense: He was adept at recognizing talent and he both knew what he liked and wanted to improve his band. A crucial change of direction for his purposes occurred here in Washington when a number of local musicians were hired for a performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in January 1944. As was often the case on such "gigs, the performance was broadcast on the radio. Among those who joined the band on this occasion was the new arranger Eddie Finckel, whose harmonic innovations and orchestral design would dominate the scores for the rest of that year."
Sadly, precious little of his work was commercially recorded. It would appear there are more live recordings of him available than commercially released ones. That could explain the relative obscurity, but leaves it on the shoulders of the nutcase collectors, who dig through vast piles of 16" Radio Transcriptions (myself being one), to unearth these historic milestones and share them to the world in general.

So in keeping with my promise to post more music by Boyd Raeburn, enjoy this offering from 1944 - hopefully more pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place.

Gary Burton Quartet - Live In Utrecht - 1976 - Past Daily Downbeat Gary Burton - If two Mallets were good - Four Mallets were sensational.

Gary Burton Quartet - Live In Utrecht - Dec. 30, 1976 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Gary Burton Quartet this weekend. Trying to inject some calm (or at least sanity) into the weekend, adding a generous dollop of mellow and simmering with a side of serene. Forgive the food analogy, but Music offers a level of comfort, not at all unlike the proverbial bowl of Chicken soup served smack in the middle of a cold or the flu. It energizes and stimulates and it takes you to places far away from the present confusion and madness; any confusion and madness, no matter when.

It's always been that way for me, and I suspect I am not alone in seeking the solace of the Treble and Bass Clef.

I remember hearing Gary Burton for the first time when Duster came out. Already his 10th album - but by 1967 he was heading into a lot of places that fit right in with the musical atmosphere of the time. It added further proof, at least to me, that there was a lot of music that had something to say and that the message was universal. Didn't matter if you were knee-deep in Blue Cheer or The Mothers Of Invention, Gary Burton as well as the veritable army of Jazz musicians in the 60s who were active were a seamless and essential ingredient in broadening musical horizons. It's a level of open-mindedness that has been the backbone of my musical journey, as it has with a lot of people, certainly colleagues and friends who would often show up at each others houses or at parties, beaming "hey, did you check this out?"

So Gary Burton has always been part of that "journey enriching" experience that I sometimes feel is missing from our current climate. But I am often surprised. 99.9% of what I am doing is what has been done for me by friends, people who shared an unwavering love of Music since I was old enough to go to a record store. It continues to this day - only now, it's friends I have made via Social Media in distant places like Barcelona, Strasbourg or Warsaw beaming "Hey, have you checked this out?" - the journey is forever rich and continuously exciting. And in my own weird way, I am trying to do the same thing for you that's been done for me.

Gotta share what you got - the world benefits.
Artie Shaw - Live In Santa Barbara - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Artie Shaw - Innovator, Virtuoso, Pop-Culture icon who was married 8 times - two out of three ain't bad.

Artie Shaw - live in Santa Barbara - October 10, 1945 - Coca-Cola Victory Parade Of Bands - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Artie Shaw this week - another in a month long series of broadcasts Shaw and his orchestra did for the Coca-Cola Victory Parade Of Bands broadcasts from 1945. This one at the Santa Barbara Army Ground and Services Forces Redistribution Station from October 10, 1945.

No question, Shaw was an outstanding virtuoso musician, as well as composer and innovator, taking the confines of the classic big band lineup and expanding it, trying different instrumental combinations along the way. He left an indelible mark in the genre of Jazz, which at times has been overlooked, but traced back to his early days you can sense he was doing things a bit differently than his compatriots.

He was also a Pop-Culture icon, married some 8 times to some of the higher profile stars in Hollywood of the day. He was engaged as an actor, and appeared regularly in that capacity on some of the more popular Radio programs in the late 1930s and 1940s. Being a Pop Culture icon wasn't his favorite thing - but it was a means to an end - and Shaw used that popularity to further his concepts and ideas to a larger audience. It was easier for him to make the case for using a Harpsichord in a big-band context than it would have been for say, a Boyd Rayburn who didn't have the clout or record sales.

But here we are, some 70 years after the heyday of the Big Band era and we tend to gloss over what many of these bands and bandleaders were all about and were trying - we have even forgotten just exactly who was who - tending to lump everyone together under the banner of nostalgia. But Shaw made a difference, and I am not entirely sure the world of Jazz would have taken the myriad directions it had later on, had it not been for the Artie Shaw's of the world experimenting and shaping an already acknowledged Popular music form and taking it a few steps further into the future.

Just a theory - enjoy.
Anthony Braxton Quartet - Live At Chateuvallon Festival - 1973 - Past Daily Downbeat Anthony Braxton - Jazz takes the cerebral turn.

Anthony Braxton - Live at Chateauvallon Jazz Festival - August 22, 1973 - Radio France International -

Anthony Braxton at the Chateauvallon Jazz Festival in 1973 this week. Heading into the direction of the Avant-Garde and explorations into Free-Jazz. Admittedly this isn't for everyone, especially those whose taste in Jazz runs to the conservative - Free-Jazz has always had its legion of detractors - in fact, so has Modern Jazz in general. Maybe this just goes under the heading of Anything Different Is Going To Get Grief - the same applies to Pop Music, Art, Writing, Cinema - just about anything that exhibits a form of creativity often comes under fire for working outside the acknowledged norms - that it seemingly appears to be random and without discipline, often soliciting dismissals as 'noise for noise's sake'. But - when you take the time, keep an open mind, lose all the preconceived notions and approach this like you would anything else you've never experienced before, it's a journey and its a complex one. It begs you to hear things differently.

Okay, the above was for people not familiar with Anthony Braxton, Free-Jazz or the Avant-Garde. Those of you who know, know that Anthony Braxton is widely regarded as a pioneer; to use a well-over-used word, a visionary and one of the foremost and most widely respected figures in Modern Music.

With over 100 albums to his credit, Anthony Braxton's music is difficult to categorize, and because of this, he likes to refer to his works (and the works of his collaborators and students) as simply "creative music". He has claimed in numerous interviews that he is not a jazz musician, though many of his works have been jazz and improvisation oriented, and he has released many albums of jazz standards. For example, in an interview Braxton explains, "even though I have been saying I'm not a jazz musician for the last 25 years; in the final analysis, an African-American with a saxophone? Ahh, he's jazz!" In addition to these, Braxton has released an increasing number of works for large-scale orchestras, including two opera cycles.

Braxton's music combines an ecstatic, primal vigor with highly theoretical and mystically influenced systems. He is the author of multiple volumes explaining his theories and pieces, such as the philosophical three-volume Triaxium Writings and the five-volume Composition Notes, both published by Frog Peak Music. While his compositions and improvisations can be characterized as avant-garde, many of his pieces have a swing feel and rhythmic angularity that are overtly indebted to Charlie Parker and the bebop tradition.

With all that in mind - dive in.
Sonny Rollins - Live In Stockholm - 1974 - Past Daily Downbeat Sonny Rollins - a living, breathing institution and national treasure.

Sonny Rollins Quintet - live in Stockholm - October 27, 1974 - Sveriges Radio

Sonny Rollins for a Sunday afternoon (or evening, depending on where you are). From a concert given in Stockholm on Ocotber 27, 1974 and recorded for posterity by Swedish radio outlet Sveriges Radio.

Sonny Rollins has long been considered one of the cornerstones in the development of Modern Jazz - and with the passage of time, has become one of its last representatives. Rollins has had an unquestionably brilliant career going back to the late 1940s. He has collaborated with just about every milestone Jazz artist of the 20th century and to this day, as elder statesman, he is still one of its most vocal proponents.

Some of the reasons for his long and enduring career is his singleness of purpose, his point of view and his continuing to grow - I think these are essential ingredients in any artist - with Sonny Rollins, they are givens. What has always been the magic element in his career is his unwillingness to settle - that sometimes compelling desire to rest on laurels - to no longer find it necessary to continue seeking and discovering but to stay frozen in a place and time.

At the risk of dragging out an often mis-used/over-used and randomly applied phrase to the artistry of Sonny Rollins; visionary is probably the most apt - and he really fits that description. And at 88, resting on laurels is not in the cards.

But to remind you of an earlier incarnation; one some 40 years ago - here is a gig he performed in Stockholm on October 27, 1974 with a group consisting of Rufus Harley on soprano sax and bagpipes - Yoskhiaki Masuo, guitar and Gene Perla bass.

A little background on this period via his webpage:
“I was getting into eastern religions,” he remembers. “I’ve always been my own man. I’ve always done, tried to do, what I wanted to do for myself. So these are things I wanted to do. I wanted to go on the Bridge. I wanted to get into religion. But also, the Jazz music business is always bad. It’s never good. So that led me to stop playing in public for a while, again. During the second sabbatical, I worked in Japan a little bit, and went to India after that and spent a lot of time in a monastery. I resurfaced in the early 70s, and made my first record in `72. I took some time off to get myself together and I think it’s a good thing for anybody to do.”

In 1972, with the encouragement and support of his wife Lucille, who had become his business manager, Rollins returned to performing and recording, signing with Milestone and releasing Next Album. (Working at first with Orrin Keepnews, Sonny was by the early ’80s producing his own Milestone sessions with Lucille.) His lengthy association with the Berkeley-based label produced two dozen albums in various settings – from his working groups to all-star ensembles (Tommy Flanagan, Jack DeJohnette, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams); from a solo recital to tour recordings with the Milestone Jazzstars (Ron Carter, McCoy Tyner); in the studio and on the concert stage (Montreux, San Francisco, New York, Boston). Sonny was also the subject of a mid-’80s documentary by Robert Mugge entitled Saxophone Colossus; part of its soundtrack is available as G-Man.
Head over to his bio and check out more if you're interested.

In the meantime, stick around and dive in.
Randy Weston Live In Paris - 1976 - RIP: Randy Weston (1926-2018) - Past Daily Downbeat: Tribute Edition Randy Weston (1926-2018) - Proved that Jazz had its roots in African music.

Randy Weston Sextet - Live at Maison de la Radio - February 4, 1976 - Radio France Musique -

With the sad news that Randy Weston passed away yesterday at age 92, the Jazz world lost one of its most gifted and profound practitioners; who successfully argued that Jazz did, in fact have its roots in African music.

From Giovanni Russonello's remarkable and heartfelt New York Times Obituary from earlier today:

Randy Weston, an esteemed pianist whose music and scholarship advanced the argument — now broadly accepted — that jazz is, at its core, an African music, died at his home in Brooklyn on Saturday. He was 92.

His death was confirmed by his lawyer, Gail Boyd, who said the exact cause was still being determined.

On his earliest recordings in the mid-1950s, Mr. Weston almost fit the profile of a standard bebop musician: He recorded jazz standards and galloping original tunes in a typical, small-group format. But his sharply cut harmonies and intense, gnarled rhythms conveyed a manifestly Afrocentric sensibility, one that was slightly more barbed and rugged than the popular hard-bop sound of the day.

Early on, he exhibited a distinctive voice as a composer. “Hi-Fly,” which he first released in 1958 on the LP “New Faces at Newport,” became a standard. And he eventually distinguished himself as a solo pianist, reflecting the influence of his main idol, Thelonious Monk. But more than Monk, Mr. Weston liked to constantly reshape his cadences, rarely lingering on a steady pulse.

Reviewing a concert in 1990, The New York Times’ Peter Watrous wrote of Mr. Weston: “Everything he played was edited to the essential notes of a phrase, and each phrase stood on its own, carefully separated from the next one; Mr. Weston sat rippling waves of notes down next to glossy and percussive octaves, which led logically to meditative chords.”

Even before making his first album, Mr. Weston was giving concerts and teaching seminars that emphasized the African roots of jazz. This flew in the face of the prevailing narrative at the time, which cast jazz as a broadly American music, and a kind of equal-opportunity soundtrack to racial integration.

“Wherever I go, I try to explain that if you love music, you have to know where it came from,” Mr. Weston told the website All About Jazz in 2003. “Whether you say jazz or blues or bossa nova or samba, salsa — all these names are all Africa’s contributions to the Western hemisphere. If you take out the African elements of our music, you would have nothing.”

As countries across Africa shook themselves free of colonial exploitation in the mid-20th century, Mr. Weston recorded albums such as “Little Niles,” in 1958, and “Uhuru Afrika” (Swahili for “Freedom Africa”), in 1960, explicitly saluting the struggle for self-determination. The latter of those recordings included lyrics written by Langston Hughes, and sales were banned in South Africa by the apartheid regime.

Both albums — and others throughout his career — featured the marbled horn arrangements of the trombonist Melba Liston, who left an indelible stamp on Mr. Weston’s oeuvre.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words and a note is worth a thousand pictures, here's a sample of the late Randy Weston at work, from this 1976 concert for Radio France, rebroadcast just this past year.

Enjoy and remember. Remember and celebrate.
Johnny Griffin Quartet - Live In Bremen - 1980 - Past Daily Downbeat Johnny Griffin - Little Giant. That's Mr. Little Giant to you.

Johnny Griffin Quartet - Live in Bremen - March 6, 1980 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The Tenor sax of Johnny Griffin this weekend, aided and abetted by his compatriots, Ronnie Matthews on piano, Ray Drummond and bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Recorded live in Bremen on March 6, 1980 by Nordwestdeutches Rundfunk in Germany.

Johnny Griffin (April 24, 1928 – July 25, 2008) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Nicknamed "the Little Giant" for his short stature and forceful playing, Griffin's career began in the early 1940s and continued until the month of his death. A pioneering figure in hard bop, Griffin recorded prolifically as a bandleader in addition to stints with pianist Thelonious Monk, drummer Art Blakey, in partnership with fellow tenor Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and as a member of the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band after he moved to Europe in the 1960s. In 1995, Griffin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music.

Griffin was leader on his first Blue Note album Introducing Johnny Griffin in 1956. Also featuring Wynton Kelly on piano, Curly Russell on bass and Max Roach on drums, the recording brought Griffin critical acclaim.

The album A Blowin' Session (1957) featured John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. He played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers for a few months in 1957, and in the Thelonious Monk Sextet and Quartet (1958). During this period, he recorded a set with Clark Terry on Serenade to a Bus Seat featuring the rhythm trio of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones.

At that stage in his career, Griffin was known as the "fastest tenor in the west" for the ease with which he could execute fast note runs with excellent articulation. After three albums for Blue Note, Griffin, who did not get along with the label's house engineer Rudy Van Gelder, recorded for Riverside Records. From 1960 to 1962 he and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis led their own quintet, recording several albums together.

Griffin moved to France in 1963 and to the Netherlands in 1978. His relocation was the result of several factors, including income tax problems, a failing marriage and feeling "embittered by the critical acceptance of free jazz" in the United States, as journalist Ben Ratliff would write. Apart from appearing regularly under his own name at jazz clubs such as London's Ronnie Scott's, Griffin became the "first choice" sax player for visiting US musicians touring the continent during the 1960s and '70s. He briefly rejoined Monk's groups (an Octet and Nonet) in 1967.

Griffin and Davis met up again in 1970 and recorded Tough Tenors Again 'n' Again, and again with the Dizzy Gillespie Big 7 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 1965 he recorded albums with Wes Montgomery. From 1967 to 1969, he was part of the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band and in the late '70s recorded with Peter Herbolzheimer and His Big Band, which also included, among others, Nat Adderley, Derek Watkins, Art Farmer, Slide Hampton, Jiggs Whigham, Herb Geller, Wilton Gaynair, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Rita Reys, Jean "Toots" Thielemans, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Grady Tate, and Quincy Jones as arranger. He also recorded with the Nat Adderley Quintet in 1978, having previously recorded with Adderley in 1958.

On July 25, 2008, Johnny Griffin died of a heart attack at the age of 80 in Mauprévoir, near Availles-Limouzine, France, His last concert was in Hyères, France on July 21, 2008.

If you aren't already familiar, by all means, dive in and get acquainted.
Bob Brookmeyer Sextet - Live In Norway - 1981 - Past Daily Downbeat Bob Brookmeyer - one of the notable Cool-School practitioners - possessor of immaculate valve trombone chops.

Bob Brookmeyer Sextet - live at Reenskaug Hotel, Drøbak Norway, 1981 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Bob Brookmeyer this weekend. In a live date from Drøbak Norway in 1981, Brookmeyer and a Norwegian ensemble consisting of John Paul Inderberg, sax - Atle Hammer, trumpet/flugelhorn - Per Hasby, piano and Espen Rud on drums. This gig is the end result of Brookmeyer spending a week with a top-flight group of Norwegian musicians - it was also the subject of a documentary done for Norwegian TV.

A short, (21 minutes) but very tasty example of Brookmeyer at work with an inspired group of musicians.

Bob Brookmeyer was widely known as one of the essential figures in the Cool-School movement of Jazz, whose career got started with the Claude Thornhill band and later branched out into working with Gerry Mulligan (a Thornhill alumnus) along with Stan Gets and Jimmy Giuffre. His list of collaborations reads like a Jazz Who's Who and he was active all the way up until his death in 2011.

In 1965 Brookmeyer became a founding member of the famed Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, dividing his time between arranging and playing lead trombone. In April of the same year, he joined the Merv Griffin Show as staff musician, but found the work especially dissatisfying. In 1968 he moved to the west coast and took a decade-long break from jazz recording.

From 1968-77, although relatively inactive as a jazz musician, Mr. Brookmeyer worked as a session musician and staff arranger in Los Angeles, playing for motion pictures and television. He came out of retirement in 1978 with the album Back Again (Sonet Productions) and returned to New York. After playing with the Stan Getz Sextet on their European tour (1978), Brookmeyer formed his own quartet and began making new recordings. In 1979 he became musical director of Mel Lewis’s reorganized Jazz Orchestra, was awarded another Grammy® nomination for Arranging and Best Album (Bob Brookmeyer: Composer, Arranger Live at the Village Vanguard, Gryphon), and, in 1980, received his first NEA grant for Jazz Composition.

In the 1980s Mr. Brookmeyer established himself as a prominent educator in the US and internationally. He was appointed to the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music (1988), served as Director of the BMI Composer’s Workshop (1989), and appeared as a clinician at various colleges and universities. In 1991 he moved to Rotterdam, where he organized the World School for New Jazz and taught composition and improvisation at Rotterdam Conservatory. In 1994 he was appointed musical director the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival Big Band, a worldwide jazz-based ensemble dedicated to new music. Over the next few years, this ensemble evolved into Brookmeyer’s award-winning NewArt Orchestra. In 1996 he was named artistic director of the Composition Workshop at Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen. Returning to the US, in 1997 Brookmeyer began teaching full-time at the New England Conservatory, where he chaired the department of jazz composition and created the NEC’s Jazz Composers’ Workshop Orchestra before his retirement in 2007.

Brookmeyer boasts an extensive discography, appearing both as leader and sideman on dozens of albums, including numerous recordings with US jazz icons. He was a multiple Grammy Award winner and three-time grant recipient for composition from the National Endowment for the Arts. As an internationally recognized composer and arranger, Brookmeyer received commissions from the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Swedish Radio Symphony, WDR Big Band, Metropole Orchestra in the Netherlands, The Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, Chamber Music America, The American Jazz Orchestra, and the New York Council on the Arts, among others. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Missouri-Kansas City (1991) and the New England Conservatory (2008) and was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 2006.

Mr. Brookmeyer’s last recording, Standards, was released a few weeks before his death in 2011. It featured his own NewArt Orchestra with vocal soloist Fay Claassen.

A taste for those not familiar and a reminder for those who do, here is Bob Brookmeyer and his Sextet, live in Drøbak Norway in 1981.
Louis Prima And His Orchestra - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Louis Prima - The days before Zooma-Zooma.

Louis Prima -Coca-Cola Spotlight Bands - January 15, 1945 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Louis Prima this weekend. In the days before Call Of The Wildest and his legendary stints in Vegas, Louis Prima was a staple of the Big-Band era, writing a string of classic songs and, as legend has it, coined the word Swing to describe the flavor of Jazz becoming popular in the mid-1930s.

During World War II, Prima was deemed unfit for military service because of a knee injury, so he continued performing. In 1939 he was under contract to appear in black theatres in New York, Baltimore, Boston and Washington D.C. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt attended his performance in Washington D.C., and formally invited him to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday celebration. He appeared in photographs with the President, which ultimately boosted his publicity.

By the mid-1940s, Prima was experiencing great success. People were purchasing tickets early in the morning for shows later on that evening. Despite the anti-Italian sentiment during the war, Prima continued to record Italian songs, the most famous being "Angelina", named after his mother. Others included "Please No Squeeza Da Banana", "Baciagaloop (Makes Love on the Stoop)", and "Felicia No Capicia."

He performed the Italian songs at the Strand Theatre in New York. He brought in $440,000 in six weeks.In Detroit he could bring in about $38,000 for an afternoon performance. With all of this success, he decided to go back to Chicago to prove himself; he sold out the "Panther Room" in that city.

Prima had several big hits in the summer of 1945 including, "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and "Bell-Bottom Trousers".= As his career grew, however, his marriage with Alma Ross simultaneously failed. They got a divorce when she discovered he had been cheating on her with another actress. Alma was supposed to receive $15,000 a year or 7.5% of his earnings. Prima ignored the payments until they piled up to about $60,000, which forced him to write a settlement check of $45,000 plus $250 per week. Later he married his secretary, Tracelene Barrett.

By the end of the war years, the popularity of big band music was diminishing, and by 1947 Prima was playing more jazzy versions of his music. Under a new contract with RCA Victor, he recorded "Civilization"; "You Can’t Tell the Depth of the Well"; "Say it with a Slap"; "Valencia"; "My Flame Went Out Last Night"; "Thousand Islands"; "Mean To Me"; and "Tutti Tutti Pizzicato".

In 1948 Prima and Barrett had a baby girl. He continued to work in the northeast, but cut down the size of his orchestra.

This broadcast, part of the weekly series Coca-Cola Spotlight Bands featured Prima several times during the war years. This one was recorded on January 15, 1945.

The legendary era with Keely Smith and Sam Butera would be a few years off - but here's a reminder Louis Prima was a huge influence for a very long time starting long before.
Artie Shaw And His Orchestra - 1945 - Past Daily Downbeat Artie Shaw - innovator and color-line breaker.

Artie Shaw and his Orchestra - Spotlight Bands - October 3, 1945 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Artie Shaw and his orchestra this weekend. I've spent a lot of time going on about the post-war demise of the Big Band and the emergence of the small group and the beginnings of Be-Bop and the spreading popularity of Jump-blues. But I haven't really spent a whole lot of time on the Big Band era itself - probably because there's been so much ground covered, and a lot has given itself over to nostalgia and the broad-stoke definitions of Big Bands as purely dance outfits, with only a scant few names being the focus and reference. But truth of the matter; there were just as many sub-genres and innovations going on within the Big Band platform as anywhere else at the time.

Take Artie Shaw for instance; a very popular and influential figure in Jazz of the late 30s-1940s, Shaw introduced strings and non-traditional instruments into the mix - notably the Harpsichord - and that gave band leaders a lot of ideas. Although it's hard to pinpoint who did what/when - listening to things like the Alec Wilder Octet from the late 1930s and the heavy use of harpsichord or Claude Thornhill from roughy the same time, introducing French Horns and more sophisticated arrangements probably had something to do with what Shaw was up to around this time. One thing is certain; he was one of the first, if not the first prominent White band leader to break the color-barrier, hiring Billie Holiday as his featured singer (although some would argue Benny Goodman may have been the first to break the color barrier with Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton) - still, these are innovations in music and culture that had far-reaching affects over the decades.

And even though we don't think of the Clarinet as an instrument synonymous with Pop Music, both Shaw and Goodman were some of its most eloquent practitioners.

In this broadcast, one done for the Armed Forces Radio Service in October of 1945, the emphasis here is on dancing and entertainment, but even with that, you get an indication there was a lot more going on here. Artie Shaw was an important and integral part of the changing face of Jazz in this country - it's also a period which could use a bit of looking at purely from a musical and artistic standpoint of view.

If you're not familiar, check it out. If you are already familiar; it's preaching to the choir and you've already stopped reading this after the first sentence.
Coleman Hawkins - Live From Birdland - 1952 - Past Daily Downbeat Coleman Hawkins - The Hawk Talks and leaves a message.

Coleman Hawkins Quintet - live At Birdland - September 1952 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Legends in Jazz this weekend - Coleman Hawkins, one of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument, as Joachim E. Berendt explained: "there were some tenor players before him, but the instrument was not an acknowledged jazz horn". While Hawkins is strongly associated with the swing music and big band era, he had a role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.

Fellow saxophonist Lester Young, known as "Pres", commented in a 1959 interview with The Jazz Review: "As far as I'm concerned, I think Coleman Hawkins was the President first, right? As far as myself, I think I'm the second one." Miles Davis once said: "When I heard Hawk, I learned to play ballads."

No faint praise - Coleman Hawkins was the real deal and influenced untold numbers of musicians from the 1940s all the up until his death in 1969.

This broadcast, part of the NBC Radio series All-Star Parade Of Bands, was recorded live at the legendary Birdland club on 52nd street in New York in September of 1952. Alongside Hawkins are Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Horace Silver on piano - Curley Russell on bass and Art Blakey on drums. Truly, a stellar lineup.

After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a big band in the early 1940s, Hawkins led a combo at Kelly's Stables on Manhattan's 52nd Street with Thelonious Monk, Oscar Pettiford, Miles Davis, and Max Roach as sidemen. Hawkins always had a keen ear for new talent and styles, and he was the leader on what is generally considered to have been the first ever bebop recording session in 1944 with Dizzy Gillespie, Pettiford and Roach. Later he toured with Howard McGhee and recorded with J. J. Johnson and Fats Navarro. He also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic.

After 1948 Hawkins divided his time between New York and Europe, making numerous freelance recordings. In 1948 Hawkins recorded "Picasso", an early piece for unaccompanied saxophone.

In the 1950s, Hawkins performed with more traditional musicians such as Red Allen and Roy Eldridge, with whom he appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival and recorded Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster with fellow tenor saxophonist Ben Webster along with Oscar Peterson (piano), Herb Ellis (guitar), Ray Brown (bass), and Alvin Stoller (drums).

Hawkins directly influenced many bebop performers, and later in his career, recorded or performed with such adventurous musicians as Sonny Rollins, who considered him as his main influence, and John Coltrane. He appears on the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (Jazzland/Riverside) record.

Perfect Summer/Sunday sitting around-checking out the newspaper (yes, there are still newspapers around), jumping into cup-of-coffee-number-4, forgetting the world spinning wildly out of control around you.

Music hath charms.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Jazz Workshop - Live In Boston - 1972 - Past Daily Downbeat Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Black Classical Music

Rahsaan Roland Kirk The Vibration Society - Jazz Workshop - Live October 29, 1972 - WBCN-FM, Boston - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The artistry of Rahsaan Roland Kirk this weekend. Featuring The Vibration Society, consisting of Robert Shy and drums, Henry Pete Pearson on bass, Ron Burton on piano and Arthur Perry on percussion. Broadcast live and Recorded for posterity by WBCN-FM in Boston on October 29, 1972. Needless to say, it's a relaxed and loose set and Kirk is more than aware everybody within earshot have fingers poised over the record button on their cassette machines at home. Rahsaan Roland Kirk was more than a cult figure, he was widely admired and appreciated by a large swath of people - FM Underground Rock stations routinely played his albums - the most famous (and memorable cut) during this period was one that came off his 1970 album Rahsaan, Rahsaan for Atlantic - his medley "Goin' Home" and "Sentimental Journey". People who had never heard him before were astonished, and it prompted a whole lot of exploring of his earlier material to realize he was the real deal.

It's interesting that Rahsaan Roland Kirk referred to his compositions as "Black Classical Music that some people call Jazz". It resonated with a lot of people, and still does to a degree. No one has come along since to breathe that much into a collection of horns all at once.

Here's a little exposition and light shed on him via Wikipedia:

His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop, but Kirk's knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw from many elements of the music's past, from ragtime to swing and free jazz. Kirk also absorbed classical influences, and his artistry reflected elements of pop music by composers such as Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach, as well as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and other jazz musicians. The live album Bright Moments (1973) is an example of one of his shows.

Kirk played and collected a number of musical instruments, mainly various saxophones, clarinets and flutes. His main saxes were a standard tenor saxophone, stritch (a straight alto sax lacking the instrument's characteristic upturned bell) and a manzello (a modified saxello soprano sax, with a larger, upturned bell). A number of his instruments were exotic or homemade. Kirk modified instruments himself to accommodate his simultaneous playing technique. Critic Gary Giddins wrote that Kirk's tenor playing alone was enough to bring him "renown".

He typically appeared on stage with all three horns hanging around his neck, and at times he would play a number of these horns at once, harmonizing with himself, or sustain a note for lengthy durations by using circular breathing. He used the multiple horns to play true chords, essentially functioning as a one-man saxophone section. Kirk insisted that he was only trying to emulate the sounds he heard in his head. Even while playing two or three saxophones at once, the music was intricate, powerful jazz with a strong feel for the blues.

Kirk was also an influential flautist, including recorders. According to Giddins, Kirk was the first major jazz innovator on flute after the 1964 death of Eric Dolphy. Kirk employed several techniques that he developed himself. One technique was to sing or hum into the flute at the same time as playing. Another was to play the standard transverse flute at the same time as a nose flute.

He played a variety of other instruments, like whistles; often kept a gong within reach; the clarinet, harmonica, English horn, and was a competent trumpeter. He had unique approaches, such as using a saxophone mouthpiece on a trumpet.

He also used many non-musical devices, such as alarm clocks, sirens, or a section of common garden hose (dubbed "the black mystery pipes"). From the early 1970s, his studio recordings used tape-manipulated musique concrète and primitive electronic sounds before such things became commonplace.

Kirk was a major exponent of circular breathing. Using this technique, he was not only able to sustain a single note for an extended period; he could also play sixteenth-note runs of almost unlimited length, and at high speeds. His circular breathing ability enabled him to record "Concerto for Saxophone" on the Prepare Thyself to Deal with a Miracle LP in one continuous take of about 20 minutes' playing with no discernible "break" for inhaling. His long-time producer at Atlantic Jazz, Joel Dorn, believed he should have received credit in The Guinness Book of World Records for such feats (he was capable of playing continuously "without taking a breath" for far longer than exhibited on that LP), but this never happened.

The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio Color was a unique album in jazz and popular music recorded annals. It was a two-LP set, with Side 4 apparently "blank", the label not indicating any content. However, once word of "the secret message" got around among Rahsaan's fans, one would find that about 12 minutes into Side 4 appeared the first of two telephone answering machine messages recorded by Kirk, the second following soon thereafter (but separated by more blank grooves). The surprise impact of these segments appearing on "blank" Side 4 was lost on the CD reissue of this album.

He gleaned information on what was happening in the world via audio media like radio and the sounds coming from TV sets. His later recordings often incorporated his spoken commentaries on current events, including Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal. The 3-Sided Dream album was a "concept album" which incorporated of "found" or environmental sounds and tape loops, tapes being played backwards, etc. Snippets of Billie Holiday singing are also heard briefly. The album even confronts the rise of influence of computers in society, as Rahsaan threatens to pull the plug on the machine trying to tell him what to do.

In the album Other Folks' Music the spoken words of Paul Robeson, another outspoken black artist, can be briefly heard.

If you aren't familiar - go exploring - do it today - don't wait.
Les Brown - Live At Zardi's - 1956 - Past Daily Downbeat Les Brown - even with Rock n' Roll fast approaching - there were still fans among teenagers.

Les Brown (And His Band Of Renown) - Live At Zardi's - All-Star Parade Of Bands - June 11, 1956 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Jazz of the mainstream variety this weekend. As 1956 brought a wave of change in mainstream Pop Music, those stalwarts among the Big Band era were still hanging on; not everyone took to innovation or direction change - there were those who still liked the big dance band, or "sweet bands" as they were known. Although the venues for live gigs were less and less, and the expense of keeping a 17-20 piece band together and on the road grew prohibitive, there was still an enduring level of popularity among the audience.

Les Brown kept things going probably longer than any other band leader of the day - from its inception in 1938 to its final gig in 2000, he maintained a visibility and became a household name to many, even to those who didn't care for his style of music.

Brown was born in Reinerton, Pennsylvania. He enrolled in the Conway Military Band School (later part of Ithaca College) in 1926, studying with famous bandleader Patrick Conway for three years before receiving a music scholarship to the New York Military Academy, where he graduated in 1932. Brown attended college at Duke University from 1932–1936. There he led the group Les Brown and His Blue Devils, who performed regularly on Duke's campus and up and down the east coast. Brown took the band on an extensive summer tour in 1936. At the end of the tour, while some of the band members returned to Duke to continue their education, others stayed on with Brown and continued to tour, becoming in 1938 the Band of Renown. The band's original drummer, Don Kramer, became the acting manager and helped define their future. In 1942, Brown and his band concluded work on an RKO picture, "Sweet and Hot"; played at the Palladium Ballroom, Hollywood. A few years later, in 1945, this band brought Doris Day into prominence with their recording of "Sentimental Journey". The song's release coincided with the end of World War II in Europe and became an unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans. The band had nine other number-one hit songs, including "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm".

Les Brown and the Band of Renown performed with Bob Hope on radio, stage and television for almost fifty years. They did 18 USO Tours for American troops around the world, and entertained over three million people. Before the Super Bowls were televised, the Bob Hope Christmas Specials were the highest-rated programs in television history. Tony Bennett was "discovered" by Bob Hope and did his first public performance with Brown and the Band.

The first film that Brown and the band appeared in was Seven Days' Leave (1942) starring Victor Mature and Lucille Ball. Rock-A-Billy Baby, a low-budget 1957 film, was the Band of Renown's second, and in 1963 they appeared in the Jerry Lewis' comedy The Nutty Professor playing their theme song "Leapfrog".

Brown and the Band were also the house band for The Steve Allen Show (1959–1961) and the Dean Martin Show (1965–1972). Brown and the band performed with virtually every major performer of their time, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. The annual Les Brown Big Band Festival, started March 2006 in Les' hometown, features area big bands preserving the songs of the big band era. At the 2012 festival celebrating the 100th birthday anniversary, the town of Reinerton renamed the street near Les' birthplace to Les Brown Lane. In 2013 the his hometown of Reinerton, PA adopted as the town's official slogan: Reinerton: The Town of Renown in honor of Les and his band.

Les Brown died of lung cancer in 2001, and was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. He was survived by his wife Evelyn, son Les Jr., and daughter Denise. He was 88 years old at the time of his death.

For a sample of what Les Brown was doing in 1956 - here he is, playing a gig at the legendary Zardi's restaurant/night club on Hollywood Boulevard (near Vine) on June 12, 1956. BTW - the announcer for the show is the legendary Joe Adams, who was an integral part of the Black music scene in the 1940s and 50s' in Los Angeles, as well as becoming Ray Charles manager from 1958 on.

Note: Right after posting this, it was learned that Joe Adams died at age 94 earlier today.
Wild Bill Davis Quartet - Live In Paris 1976 - Past Daily Downbeat Wild Bill Davis - one of Louis Jordan's esteemed Tympany Five.

Wild Bill Davis Quartet - live in Paris - January 24, 1976 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

To the sultry B-3 stylings of Wild Bill Davis this week. Featuring his quartet; Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on tenor sax, Billy Butler on guitar and Oliver Jackson on drums - recorded by the venerable RFI in Paris at Studio 105 of the famed Maison de la Radio on January 24, 1976.

In case ya didn't know: Wild Bill Davis was best known for his pioneering jazz electronic organ recordings and for his tenure with the Tympany Five, the backing group for Louis Jordan. Prior to the emergence of Jimmy Smith in 1956, Davis (whom Smith had reportedly first seen playing organ in the 1930s) was the pacesetter among organists.

Davis originally played guitar and wrote arrangements for Milt Larkin's Texas-based big band during 1939–1942, a band which included Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, and Tom Archia on horns. After leaving the Larkin orchestra, Davis worked in Chicago as a pianist, recording with Buster Bennett in 1945. He played a crucial role as the pianist-arranger in Jordan's Tympany Five (1945–1947) at the peak of their success. After leaving Jordan, he returned to Chicago for a time, recording again with Buster Bennett and working with Claude McLin. After switching from piano to organ, Davis moved to the East Coast. In 1950, he began leading an influential trio of organ, guitar, and drums, which recorded for OKeh Records.

Davis was originally supposed to record "April in Paris" with Count Basie's Orchestra in 1955 but when he could not make the session, Basie used his arrangement for the full band and had a major hit.

In addition to working with his own groups in the 1960s, Davis made several albums with his friend Johnny Hodges, leading to tours during 1969–1971 with Duke Ellington. In the 1970s he recorded for the Black Blue Records label with a variety of swing all-stars, and he also played with Lionel Hampton, appearing at festivals through the early 1990s. Davis died in Moorestown, New Jersey on August 17, 1995.

Aside from this concert, Davis left behind an enormous legacy of recordings, not only as leader but as collaborator. People often cite Jimmy Smith as the pioneer in Jazz B-3 - but take a gander back further to see where those influences came from.

Dig in and enjoy.
Ahmad Jamal In Concert - 1984 - Past Daily Downbeat Ahmad explains it all to you.

Ahmad Jamal Trio - Live at Tralfamadore, Buffalo New York - November 16, 1984 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The sultry sounds of Ahmad Jamal this weekend. Recorded live for NPR's Jazz Alive! Series at Tralfamadore in Buffalo New York on November 16, 1984.

If you are new to the music of Ahmad Jamal, take a minute to dive into this bio, from Jamal's website - instructive, straight-forward and tells you all you need to know to get the discovery ball rolling:
Ahmad Jamal was born on July 2nd., 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of, many artists known the world over for their work and contributions to both European Classical Music and American Classical Music (what Mr. Jamal prefers Jazz to be called).

He began playing the piano at age 3, the same age Erroll Garner started. They both attended the same elementary and high schools. Mr. Jamal started his formal studies with Mary Cardwell Dawson, noted educator, and the person responsible for placing the first African Americans in The Metropolitan Opera Company. When Madame Dawson moved to Washington, DC., he continued his studies with James Miller, a contemporary of Earl Wild, both Pittsburgh natives.

Mr. Jamal was composing and orchestrating at 10 years of age, and performing works by Franz Liszt and exploring the music of Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Erroll Garner, and a host of others, learning the repertoire that comprises the American Song Book. He became so proficient at amassing a huge repertoire that he was employed by Pittsburgh masters three and four times his age and joined the AFof M (American Federation of Musicians) at 14, the minimum age requirement at that time was 16.

He left home at the request of the George Hudson Orchestra at the age of 17, and began touring the country. The George Hudson Orchestra included Clark Terry and orchestrator Ernie Wilkins. The touring schedule included major theaters throughout the United States. Notably, the historic Apollo Theater in NYC, and The Howard Theater in Washington, DC. Mr. Jamal arrived at The Apollo with the orchestra at 18 years of age.

He formed his own group in 1951 and with the help of John Hammond started his recording career with Okeh Records. That career has continued for over six decades and has resulted in one of the most successful recordings in the history of Instrumental music. "The Ahmad Jamal Trio, at The Pershing". Used by Clint Eastwood in "The Bridges Of Madison County" and featured prominently in "The Wolf Of Wall Street". It is also used in dance companies all over the world, and continues to make musical history.

His many, many awards can be found on his web page, and includes The NEA Masters Award, French Government Awards, Malaysian Awards, Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa, New England Conservatory Of Music, which reads:" Ahmad Jamal, Jazz pianist, one of foremost leaders of small ensembles. An innovative great, who drew from and influenced idioms from the big band era to bebop to cool jazz to electronic styles. An American Jazz Master who inspired such important figures as Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock. Renowned for his exquisite touch, profound grace, and mercurial improvisational choices. For seven decades he's been sharing his inimitable and unique voice with jazz lovers the world over."

His career spans many eras of The Art Form, big band, the Parker / Gillespie era, the electronic age, etc. and is one of the most sampled composers and recording artists in the world. He is still recording and producing young artists, and has just released "Jamal Plays Jamal" on his own label, available from his web site,

Ahmad Jamal has been a Steinway Artist for over a half century.

"American Classical Music" - amen to that. It IS and always has been.

Jump in; head first.
Carla Bley Big Band - Live In Vennes - 2009 - Past Daily Downbeat Carla Bley - Free Jazz would have been nonexistent without her.

Carla Bley Big Band - live in Vennes, France - July 30, 2009 - Radio France Musique- Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Pardon me while I plug some Desert Island music this weekend - Carla Bley has been a favorite in all her various endeavors for quite some time now. As composer, pianist and bandleader she's dipped her musical brush in a galaxy of colors and come up with an astonishing rainbow. She is probably one of the best exponents in the genre of Free Jazz and is part of that pioneering batch of musicians who have changed the course of modern music by several degrees. She is also part of that slowly expanding sorority of Women in Jazz who have ground the glass ceiling into dust and have put the form in its rightful place of being the unbiased, unprejudiced, non-judgmental avenue of creativity it was always meant to be. Which is why I have always considered the notes to be the purest form of expression there is. My two cents.

There is a brilliant article written by Ethan Iverson, published this past May in the New Yorker, which pretty much nails how a lot of people (myself included) feel about Carla Bley and her contribution to Jazz and Music in general. Here's a taste:

Every jazz fan knows the name of Carla Bley, but her relentless productivity and constant reinvention can make it difficult to grasp her contribution to music. I began listening to her in high school when I was enamored with the pianist Paul Bley, whose seminal nineteen-sixties LPs were filled with Carla Bley compositions. (The two were married.) My small home-town library also had a copy of “The Carla Bley Band: European Tour 1977,” a superb disk of rowdy horn soloists carousing through instantly memorable Bley compositions and arrangements. Some pieces change you forever. The deadly serious yet hilarious “Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs,” from that 1977 recording, celebrates and defaces several nationalistic themes, beginning with the American national anthem recast as Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata. From the first notes onward, I was never quite the same again.

The novelist and musician Wesley Stace has a similar story: “Aged sixteen, and full only of rock and pop music, I came upon Carla Bley by chance through a Pink Floyd solo project, Nick Mason’s ‘Fictitious Sports,’ which I only bought because the vocals were by my favorite singer, Robert Wyatt, once of Soft Machine. It’s a Carla Bley album in all but name: her songs embellished with brilliant and witty arrangements. I wanted to hear more. ‘Social Studies’ (also from 1981) thus became the first jazz album I ever bought, opening up a whole world I knew nothing about. ‘Utviklingssang’ is perfect, all gorgeous melody and abstraction, no words required. She’s everything I want from instrumental music.”

In the last half decade, many of Bley’s remaining peers from the early years have died: Paul Bley, Charlie Haden, Roswell Rudd, Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian. At eighty-two, Bley is still composing and practicing the piano every day. But it also felt like it was high time to rent a car, visit a hero, and try to get a few stories on the official record.

Here's where you can find the rest of it - A Lifetime Of Carla Bley. Go there - and go exploring.

In the meantime, hit the Play button and enjoy.
Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers - Live In Zurich 1958 - Past Daily Downbeat Art Blakey - Whipping up a heaping helping of cool.

Art Blakey - Jazz Messengers - Live In Zurich - December 4, 1958 - Swiss Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Art Blakey this weekend. A concert recorded in Zurich Switzerland on December 4, 1958 and broadcast by Swiss Radio.

A few well-chosen words from The Estate Of Art Blakey website:

Art’s driving rhythms and his incessant two and four beat on the high hat cymbals were readily identifiable from the outset and remained a constant throughout 35 years of Jazz Messengers bands. What changed constantly was a seeming unending supply of talented sidemen, many of whom went on to become band leaders in their own right.

In the early years luminaries like Clifford Brown, Hank Mobley and Jackie McLean rounded out the band. In 1959, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson joined the quintet and — at Art’s behest — began working on the songbook and recruiting what became one of the timeless Messenger bands — tenor saxman Wayne Shorter, trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jymmie Merritt.

The songs produced from ’59 through the early ’60s became trademarks for the Messengers — including Timmon’s Moanin’, Golson’s Along Came Betty and Blues March and Shorter’s Ping Pong.

By this time, the Messengers had become a mainstay on the jazz club circuit and began recording on Blue Note Records. They began touring Europe, with forays into North Africa. In 1960, the Messengers became the first American Jazz band to play in Japan for Japanese audiences. That first Japanese tour was a high point for the band. At the Tokyo airport, the band was greeted by hundreds of fans as Blues March played over their airport intercom and their visit was televised nationally.

This concert most likely marks some of the first appearances of Benny Golson, who was to become a mainstay with the band for quite a while after.

Considering the insanity of the week - and the loudness that's been attached to it, this excursion to the world of Cool, Calm, Collected is a lifesaver right about now.

Crank it up, relax and enjoy.
Martial Solal Big Band - Live In Paris - 1984 - Past Daily Downbeat Martial Solal - What Jazz from other places was bringing to the mix.

Martial Solal Big Band - featuring Jacques DiDonatto, Clarinet - Live from Maison de la Radio, Paris - 1984 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Lest you think Jazz is seldom seen and heard and has all but vanished from the musical landscape - not so in Europe, or throughout the rest of the world in general. It's alive and well and thriving and jammed full of American ex-pats who have found a home and an audience and fan bases. For their part, the World of Jazz has opened up and brought many new voices into the mix. In this case, Martial Solal, a French pianist born in Algeria, has been prominent on the Jazz scene since the 1950s has been one of the more influential voices. His recorded output borders on the legendary and his collaborations read like a Who's Who in Jazz.

This session, one of numerous sessions Solal has done for French radio, both as soloist and Band leader, comes from 1984. It features the work of fellow-Frenchman Jacques Di Donatto on clarinet - and even though the set is short (I suspect an extraction from a longer session), it gives you some idea of what's been going on in Europe, and has been since the 1920s.

A little background via Wikipedia, in case you aren't familiar and would like to get up to speed.
Solal was the son of an opera singer and piano teacher, and learned the instrument from the age of six. After settling in Paris in 1950, he soon began working with leading musicians including Django Reinhardt and expatriates from the United States like Sidney Bechet and Don Byas. He formed a quartet (occasionally also leading a big band) in the late 1950s, although he had been recording as a leader since 1953. Solal then began composing film music, eventually providing over twenty scores. He is probably best known for the music he wrote for Jean-Luc Godard's debut feature film Breathless (À bout de souffle, 1960).

In 1963 he made a much admired appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island; the Newport '63 album purporting to be a recording of this gig is actually a studio recreation. At this time, his regular trio featured bassist Guy Pedersen and drummer Daniel Humair. From 1968 he regularly performed and recorded with Lee Konitz in Europe and the United States of America.
You can also dive straight into his voluminous output, simply by Googling his name or heading over to Wikipedia and checking out his partial discography. Lots of great stuff and a lot of memorable collaborations.

Crank it up and relax.
Joachim Kuhn Trio And Big Band - Live At Jazzfest Berlin 2010 - Past Daily Downbeat Joachim Kuhn - Out Of The Desert and stirring up a big pot of sultry. (photo: Christoph Heubner)

Joachim Kuhn - Trio and Big Band - Jazzfest Berlin - November 6, 2010 - WDR-Radio

Checking out the atmosphere in recent strides, German Jazz pianist and Bandleader Joachim Kuhn brought down the house at the Berlin Jazzfest in 2010.

Here's what The Guardian had to say about that gig:
The Guardian - John Fordham Live Review

One of Germany's relatively few internationally celebrated jazz stars from the 1960s, Joachim Kühn remains an elemental jazz force at a keyboard. He has plenty of opportunities to confirm that, on this 2010 live big-band concert, and his searing extended improvisations are the high points here. The previous year in Rabat, Kuhn had made the award-winning album Out of the Desert with singer and guembri player Majid Bekkas, Spanish drummer Ramon Lopez and a group of local Berber musicians. That success led to this version with Bekkas, Lopez, and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band at last year's JazzFest Berlin – but Kuhn's compositions are new, designed to catch the same spirit, but with the orchestra's special resources. The smaller version was perhaps more sharply focused, since this version's occasional ponderous passages and some big-band melodic intricacies narrow the earlier cinematic eloquence. But Bekkas and Lopez remain very compelling in their solo features, trumpeter Axel Schlosser evokes Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis on Fresh Air. Kühn playing with a ruminative Tony Lakatos and then a storming Julian Arguelles may well clinch it for many listeners.
Kühn was a musical prodigy and made his debut as a concert pianist, having studied classical piano and composition with Arthur Schmidt-Elsey. Influenced by his elder brother, clarinetist Rolf Kühn, he simultaneously got interested in jazz. In 1961 he became a professional jazz musician. With a trio of his own, founded in 1964, he presented the first free jazz in the GDR. In 1966 he left the country and settled in Hamburg. Together with his brother he played at the Newport Jazz Festival and recorded with Jimmy Garrison for Bob Thiele's Impulse! Records.

Kühn has lived in Paris since 1968, and worked with Don Cherry, Karl Berger, Slide Hampton, Phil Woods, Michel Portal, Barre Phillips, Eje Thelin, Ray Lema, Hellmut Hattler, and Jean-Luc Ponty. As a member of Pierre Courbois's Association P.C., he turned to electronic keyboards. During the second half of the 1970s he lived in California and joined the West Coast fusion scene and recorded with Alphonse Mouzon, Billy Cobham, Michael Brecker, and Eddie Gómez.

Having settled near Paris again, he played in an acoustic trio with Jean-François Jenny-Clark and Daniel Humair since 1985. In the summer of 1996, he joined Ornette Coleman for two concerts at the Verona and Leipzig festivals, which opened the way for his Diminished Augmented System. More recently he has toured with Rabih Abou-Khalil and Joachim Kühn Trio with Christian Lillinger and Johannes Fink.

That's Joachim Kuhn, in a nutshell. He's had a very active career, not only as leader of his own Trio and Big Band, but as a sideman working on a wide range of sessions.

Spend Sunday checking this concert out. Turn it up and relax.
Dave Brubeck Quartet - Live In London - 1966 - Past Daily Downbeat Dave Brubeck - The foremost exponent of Cool Jazz - and most stereos will agree with you.

Dave Brubeck Quartet in Concert from London - November 1966 - BBC

Taking a decided turn for the Cool this weekend with a 1966 concert by The Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Paul Desmond on sax, Joe Morello and drums and Gene Wright on bass. Broadcast live (at the time) and preserved by the BBC in November 1966.

For those of you just getting your feet wet in Jazz, or are finding your way around this labyrinth of amazing Music, here's some background on Dave Brubeck via the Dave Brubeck website:
Dave Brubeck, designated a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, was one of the most active and popular musicians in both the jazz and classical worlds. With a career that spanned over six decades, his experiments in odd time signatures, improvised counterpoint, polyrhythm and polytonality remain hallmarks of innovation.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s recordings and concert appearances on college campuses in the ‘50s and early ‘60s introduced jazz to thousands of young people. The Quartet’s audiences were not limited to students, however. The group played in jazz clubs in every major city and toured in package shows with such artists as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzerald, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. The Dave Brubeck Quartet repeatedly won top honors in trade magazines and critic’s and reader’s polls. In 1954 Dave Brubeck’s portrait appeared on the cover of Time Magazine with a story about the jazz renaissance and Brubeck’s phenomenal ascendancy.

In 1958 the Quartet made their first of many international tours. The U.S. State Department sponsored the Quartet’s performances in Poland, India, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. Exposure to many different cultures was reflected in the group’s repertoire that sometimes incorporated exotic elements. The 1959 recording “Time Out” experimented in time signatures beyond the usual jazz 4/4. To everyone’s surprise “Time Out” became the first jazz album to sell over a million copies and “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Take Five” (now in the Grammy Hall of Fame) began to appear on jukeboxes throughout the world.

Early in his career Brubeck wrote primarily for this Quartet, and some of those pieces, such as “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke” became part of standard jazz repertoire. His first orchestral composition, “Elementals“, written for an improvising jazz combo and symphony orchestra was premiered and recorded in 1962. Choreographed by Lar Lubovitch, “Elemental Brubeck” is currently in the repertoire of the San Francisco Ballet and several other dance companies.

Throughout his career Brubeck experimented with integrating jazz into classical forms. In 1959 his Quartet premiered and recorded his brother Howard’s “Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra” with the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein conducting. In 1960 he composed “Points on Jazz” for the American Ballet Theatre, and in later decades composed for and toured with the Murray Louis Dance Company. His musical theater piece “The Real Ambassadors” starring Louis Armstrong and Carmen McRae was recorded and performed to great acclaim at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival.
I could go on, but I would urge you to check out the Brubeck site to get the full rundown instead. Besides, those of you who already know have skipped it anyway and are probably five minutes into the concert by now.

Enjoy - it's Sunday after all.
Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra - Live In Berlin - 1982 - Past Daily Downbeat Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra - no if's, and's or but's.

Charlie Haden's Liberation Music orchestra - Jazzfest, Berlin - RBB Berlinradio - Nov. 4, 1982

When Charlie Haden passed from the scene in July of 2014, I was looking all over the archive for something that would be a representation of what Charlie Haden was all about. I can't believe I skipped right past this one and missed it the first time around. But since we are such uncertain and potentially tumultuous times, it seems like the timing, almost four years later, is perfect to run one of the concerts from this legendary artist's career.

Couple of important and well-worth reading side-notes on Charlie Haden, via his Wikipedia page:
While he did not identify himself with a specific religious orientation, Haden was interested in spirituality, especially in association with music. He felt it was his duty, and the duty of the artist, to bring beauty to the world, to make this world a better place. He encouraged his students to find their own unique musical voice and bring it to their instrument. He also encouraged his students to be in the present moment: "there's no yesterday or tomorrow, there's only right now", he explained. In order to find this state, and ultimately to find one's spiritual self, Haden urged one to aspire to have humility, and respect for beauty; to be thankful for the ability to make music, and to give back to the world with the music they create. He claimed that music taught him this process of exchange, so he taught it to his students in return. Music, Haden believed, also teaches incredibly valuable lessons about life: "I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you're in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow—there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance."

Haden also viewed jazz as the "music of rebellion" and felt it was his responsibility and mission to challenge the world through music, and through artistic risks that expressed his own individual artistic vision. He believed that all music originates from the same place, and because of this, he resisted the tendency to divide music into categories. He was democratic in his tastes and musical partners, and was interested in musical collaboration with individuals who shared his sensibilities in music and life. His music (specifically the music he created with the LMO), was based on the music of peoples struggling for freedom from oppression. Haden spoke to this in reference to his 2002 album American Dreams, stating: “I always dreamed of a world without cruelty and greed, of a humanity with the same creative brilliance of our solar system, of an America worthy of the dreams of Martin Luther King, and the majesty of the Statue of Liberty...This music is dedicated to those who still dream of a society with compassion, deep creative intelligence, and a respect for the preciousness of life—for our children, and for our future.”
Jazz as "Music Of Rebellion" - I don't want to forget that - and that pretty much sums up the music of this concert.

Not that I'm asking you to grab a gas-mask and lead a demonstration, I am asking you to take a listen and be inspired, maybe not to protest but to lead by example of how you want to see the world. Fair 'nuff?
Miles Davis "Lost Quintet" - Live In Berlin - 1969 - Past Daily Downbeat Miles Davis - One of the most important musicians of the 20th century. No question.

Miles Davis Quintet - Live At Berliner Jazztage - November 7, 1969 - RBB Radio Berlin - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Miles Davis this Sunday. Playing favorites. Legends and important voices this weekend. And one of the most important of the 20th century was Miles Davis, no question. I am going back and thinking of hearing music that stopped me dead in my tracks throughout my life; music that produces the collective "whoa" - music that suspends time and place because what it has to say and how it's going about saying it is an imperative - you're powerless to stop it; you can't turn it off. I remember having that feeling when I first heard Sketches Of Spain, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson - that memorable earth-stopping collaboration between Davis and John McLaughlin. The list goes on and on. What I always found interesting about listening to Miles Davis was the fact that, listening to him impacted and enhanced what I heard from other people - other genres. He was an eye-opener and he prompted you to listen to music in different ways than you heard it before. I remember having that "ah-ha moment" listening to the Bach unaccompanied cello suites after sitting down with his music from the film Ascenseur pour l'échafaud and hearing it differently - as if another wrapping of gauze was removed. That's what the music of Miles Davis did for me - I am dead-certain people have been affected in other ways by his music - that was the power of it.

This concert, considered by many to be part of the "Lost Quintet" recordings, which features Dave Holland on bass, Chick Corea on piano an Jack DeJohnette on drums, comes from a concert in Berlin. It was recorded and preserved by RBB Berlin Radio on November 7, 1969 - part of the Berliner Jazztage festival. Because Miles Davis was such a widely admired and revered artist, particularly in Europe, there are most likely tons of broadcast recordings which were made and are either available through various channels, or are waiting to be dusted off and put on a tape machine. In any event, every note is worth exploring; every shade, every phrasing - there are messages and answers to be found.

Have a sit-down and a listen.
Dial-Hopping In Toronto On An April In 1954 - Past Daily Weekend Gallimaufry And in 1954, a healthy and hip Jazz club scene.

CJVC-Toronto - Around April/May 1954 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

One thing about Popular culture, it's everywhere. And as long as there has been a desire to be hip and "in the know", it's always been that way.

And radio, since its inception up to the late 70s/early 80s, has been the bellwether of Pop Culture, imparting knowledge and turning people on to things that may find important.

When radio became more localized, after World War 2 and during the advent of television, the audience depended more on the messengers; those people who knew what was going on, knew where it was going on and knew when it was going on, were depended upon to deliver all the much needed information and latest news about those events we really needed to be aware of.

And this slice of radio, from radio station CJVC in Toronto covered a lot of the bases at the time. It was, if anything, a snapshot view of what people were listening to casually, and what they were paying attention to intently. And towards the end of this two-hour glimpse, the hits of the day come on, sharing air-space with the latest offerings from Count Basie and Chet Baker, beside Roy Hamilton or The Hilltoppers - even down to an Eartha Kitt rendition of the Halo Shampoo song. It's a slice and it's happening in real time.

And like most radio at the time, it was only as good as where you lived. No streaming - FM only if you could afford it, and Jerry-rig an antenna to keep the signal from fading in and out every time a car passed by. So the sound is going to be a bit iffy over the next two hours - it's just what you had to contend with in order to get your daily dose of Pop Culture.

Later in the 50s there were the revolutionary Transistor Radios, that bulged out of your pocket and produced an earphone that bore a strong resemblance to a hearing aid. That was a very big deal. And if you were a kid, you could conveniently hide one under your pillow and listen to radio all night.

But for now - for 1954, this is what was happening and this was something that would most likely shape your cultural life.
The Heath Brothers - Live At Sweet Basil - 1986 - Past Daily Downbeat The Heath Brothers (w/Stanley Cowell) - before the Marsalis Family, there were the Heaths.

The Heath Brothers - live at Sweet Basil, New York - Broadcast August 1, 1986 - NPR: Jazz Alive! - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The Heath Brothers, recorded live at Sweet Basil in New York and broadcast as part of the excellent, and very much missed NPR series Jazz Alive! which offered an essential education in Jazz from the 1970s through to the mid-1980s.

Time was, this sort of live broadcast from various venues around the country (and the world) was a regular staple in the American radio diet. They offered rare opportunities as well as a chance to listen to Jazz on a regular basis and make discoveries if you were new to the form and able to enhance your musical experience - and to the artist, a different perspective on things. Not so now. And at a time when musical variety has been proven to be a crucial ingredient in modern music, the lack of that broad musical experience leaves a lot of explorations missing.

People complain that modern Pop music is dead, or it has finally achieved that law of diminishing returns, where each genre is a variation on the genre just before it, and that musical references have pretty much stopped at around 1988. There are exceptions to that, primarily coming from places other than the mainstream. But mainstream music, that form which has usually been the distillation and full-flavored stew of musical forms before it, has hit a dead end. Why? Because of access. Sure, with streaming audio and iTunes and Spotify and all the music download services currently available, you would think the musical world would now be an embarrassment of riches. But only if you know where to look and know what you're looking for and have the propensity to dig. We still need to be pointed in directions and we still need to keep an open mind. The only way contemporary music is going to survive is by looking at the contributions which came down decades, if not centuries, before us.

Rant over.

Now on to The Heath Brothers: Formed in 1975 in Philadelphia, by the brothers Jimmy (tenor saxophone), Percy (bass), and Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums), and Jimmy's son Mtume (percussion); along with non-family members pianist Stanley Cowell. Tony Purrone (guitar). Tootie left in 1978, and was replaced by Akira Tana for a short period before returning in 1982. They also added other sidemen for some of their recording dates.

The group still exists with just two of the brothers, Jimmy and Tootie, and additional sidemen as needed. The DVD, Brotherly Jazz: The Heath Brothers, recorded in 2004, shortly before Percy Heath's death, was one of the last times the three brothers played together, and chronicled the Heath Brothers' personal lives as well as socio-political issues many jazz musicians dealt with in the later 20th century, including jail, drugs, discrimination and segregation. The 2009 CD Endurance was the first without Percy, and features seven original numbers by Jimmy, including "From a Lonely Bass", composed in memory of his late brother.

They have recorded some 9 albums, in addition to the 2009 release. Percy Heath was one of the founding members of The Modern Jazz Quartet, another musical dynasty. Tootie and Jimmy have extensive careers with other groups as well as solo works and collaborations.

All in all, a remarkable family with a profound and pivotal history.

Give a listen.
Thelonious Monk Quartet - Live From Bremen - 1965 - Past Daily Downbeat Thelonious Monk - High priest of Cool - Crown Prince of Bop.

Thelonious Monk Quartet - Sendesaal, Radio Bremen - Bremen, Germany - March 8, 1965 - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The legendary, inimitable, pioneering Thelonious Monk for an Easter Sunday. Can't think of a better occasion to celebrate this joyous, astonishing and thoroughly captivating music from one of the innovators of the form and one of the great voices in Jazz.

This concert, recorded by Radio Bremen on March 8, 1965 features Monk's Quartet: Charlie Rouse, tenor sax - Larry Gates, bass and Ben Riley, drums.

The music of Thelonious Monk; when he first arrived on the scene he was hailed by many as The Genius Of Modern Music - I think Bluenote Records had something to do with that from a marketing standpoint. But, for as many fans as Monk made in those early years, he had more than his fair share of detractors. Some critics declared his style to be revolutionary and that his point of view was, in fact genius. Others decried his style - contending that he really didn't know the piano at all, but was faking it - and faking it produced some successful, if not inconsistent results. Even traditionalists branded this genre (along with other practitioners of Bop at the time) as "Chinese Music" (a derogatory term used to describe anything dissonant or off-beat - Guzheng players would beg to differ).

But like all revolutionary changes in music, you're going to have the ones who don't like it for a lot of reasons, but mostly out of fear of change. Bop came along and freed everything up, giving expression and individuality a forum in which to flourish. Not everybody eventually flocked to Bop - far from it. There were still traditionalists, still the ones who saw ensemble playing as the sole property of the Big Band. And that prevailed throughout the 50s and into the 60s - living alongside those newer ideas - making converts as time went on.

But the thing that stands out for me - listening to this concert from 1965, a good twenty years since Bop took center stage, is that this stuff still sounds fresh. As much or as many times as I've heard Monk, there is still something to discover with each hearing. That speaks volumes about the timeless quality of innovation and individuality - like a good book, good film, good work of art - good music is something that you visit over and over again and it continues to feel new.

If you're coming to the music of Thelonious Monk now, or made the discovery just recently - he's part of a vast and fascinating world that will feed your soul. Fans already know - the choir doesn't need to be preached to. The notes just speak for themselves.

Crank it up and enjoy.
John Abercrombie And Ralph Towner - Live In Hamburg - 1984 - Past Daily Downbeat John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner - Goin' places.

John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner - In Concert at NDR Funkhaus - Hamburg, Germany - May 8, 1984 - NDR-Transcription -

The heady and soothing sounds of John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner this weekend. Completely apropos and a wonderful reminder of what a talent John Abercrombie was and how much he is missed, since his passing in August of last year. John Abercrombie had a career that touched on many genres, as was evidenced by the collaborations he was involved in since the late 1960s and the extraordinary number of albums he recorded since that time. But he was known for an understated style that came into its own when he began his long association with Manfred Eicher and the ECM label.

Abercrombie began experimenting with a guitar synthesizer in 1984 while recording in a trio with Marc Johnson on bass and Peter Erskine on drums and while working with Paul Bley in a free jazz group. He played the guitar-synth until around 1990. The synthesizer allowed him to play, as he described it "louder, more open music." Abercrombie's trio released three albums during this time showcasing the guitar-synth: Current Events (1986), Getting There (1987) with Michael Brecker, and John Abercrombie, Marc Johnson, Peter Erskine (1989).

The 1990s and 2000s marked a time of constantly changing associations. In 1992, Abercrombie, drummer Adam Nussbaum and Hammond organist Jeff Palmer made a free-jazz recording. He then started a trio with Nussbaum and organist Dan Wall and released While We Were Young (1992), Speak of the Devil (1994), and Tactics (1997). He added trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, violinist Mark Feldman and saxophonist Joe Lovano to the trio to record Open Land (1999). The Gateway band reunited for the album Homecoming (1995).

Abercrombie continued to tour and record and remained associated with ECM, with whom he had a relationship for more than 40 years. While firmly grounded in the jazz guitar tradition, he also experimented with electronic effects. As he said in an interview, "I'd like people to perceive me as having a direct connection to the history of jazz guitar, while expanding some musical boundaries."

Ralph Towner has made notable recordings of jazz, third stream under strong influence of folk and world music. He began his career as a conservatory-trained classical pianist, who picked up guitar in his senior year in college, then joined world music pioneer Paul Winter's "Consort" ensemble in the late 1960s. Along with bandmates Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, and Collin Walcott, Towner left the Winter Consort in 1970 to form the group Oregon, which over the course of the 1970s issued a number of highly influential records mixing folk music, Indian classical forms, and avant-garde jazz-influenced free improvisation. At the same time, Towner began a longstanding relationship with the influential ECM record label, which has released virtually all of his non-Oregon recordings since his 1972 debut as a leader Trios / Solos. Towner has also made numerous appearances as a sideman, perhaps most famously on jazz fusion heavyweights Weather Report's 1972 album I Sing the Body Electric.

This particular collaboration, in a concert recorded at North German Radio's Funkhaus (broadcasting studio) in Hamburg on May 8, 1984 made its way to release via NDR's in-house label. If you haven't had a chance to hear it, now's your opportunity.

Enjoy and relax.
Arthur Blythe Quartet - Live In Berlin - 1980 - Past Daily Downbeat Arthur Blythe - One of the most recognizable sounds in Modern Jazz.

Arthur Blythe Quartet - Live In Berlin - November 1, 1980 - Berliner Jazztage - RBB, Berlin Radio -

The Arthur Blythe Quartet this weekend. Performing live at the Jazz Festival in Berlin on November 1, 1980 and preserved for posterity by RRB Radio in Berlin.

Blythe may not be a household name to many casual Jazz listeners, but to those in the know, he was one of the more important figures on the Jazz scene in the 1970s.

Here is a little bit about him, via his New York Times Obit, from March 30 of last year:
Arthur Murray Blythe was born on July 5, 1940, in Los Angeles, the middle child of three sons. (A fourth brother died as an infant.) His father was a mechanic, his mother a homemaker and part-time seamstress.

His parents soon divorced, and when he was 4 he moved with his mother to San Diego. At 9, inspired by the rhythm-and-blues and swing records she often played, he asked her for a trombone. She gave him an alto saxophone instead.

He studied with Kirkland Bradford, who had played with the Jimmie Lunceford big band, and developed a trilling style reminiscent of postwar saxophone stars like Earl Bostic.

Mr. Blythe worked in RB bands throughout his teens, learning to cut through the volume of electric guitars while maintaining a romantic lyricism. That mixture of sultry and strident came to define his style.

When he was 19, he moved back to Los Angeles, where he met the pianist and bandleader Horace Tapscott and became affiliated with the Union of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension, Mr. Tapscott’s Pan-African alliance of innovators.

In 1974, frustrated with the Los Angeles jazz scene’s limitations, Mr. Blythe left for New York, determined to make his mark.

He arrived with a nickname that reflected his self-affirmation and his uncompromising spirit: Black Arthur. He was known in Los Angeles for his racial pride and his willingness to speak boldly on behalf of other black people, despite an otherwise understated demeanor. Mr. Murray recalled him standing up fearlessly to police officers who had hassled him.

Mr. Blythe embraced the nickname, even calling himself Black Arthur Blythe on the cover of a 1978 album, “Bush Baby.”

Soon after arriving in New York, he began assembling bands with unusual instrumentation. When not playing with a straight-ahead quartet, he favored chunky, percussive backdrops that offset his tuneful improvising.

In 1977, The New York Times critic Robert Palmer praised Mr. Blythe, writing, “He is sly; he teases the beat, toys with polyrhythms and leaves gaping holes in the fabric of the music, only to come roaring back in with plangent held tones or crisp, punching riffs.”

Even after signing with Columbia, Mr. Blythe insisted on creative autonomy, releasing nine albums across a range of styles. He continued to record and perform regularly, often with the tuba player Bob Stewart and the drummer Cecil Brooks III, after Columbia declined to renew his contract in 1987.

He moved back to California in 1998 to take care of his children after his second marriage ended. He performed less frequently but released a handful of albums on the Savant label in the early 2000s before failing health eventually forced him to stop performing.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Blythe is survived by his daughter, Odessa Blythe, and two sons, Chalee and Arthur Jr., all from his second marriage; two half brothers, Bernard Blythe and Adrich Neal; and a half sister, Daisy Neal. His first two marriages ended in divorce.

“The music that I deal with has elements of bebop to ballad, swing to sweet, blues to boogie, and pop to rock,” Mr. Blythe told the musician and oral historian Ben Sidran in 1986. “If I have the ability to do that, I should be able to do whatever I want to do in those areas — because I am dealing with the tradition, and my culture, and my heritage.”
Now that you have some background, check out the man and his sound. This performance features his Quartet - consisting of: Bob Stewart, Tuba - Abdul Wadud, cello and Bobby Battle, drums.

Crank it up and relax - or continue recovering from celebrating St. Patrick's Day yesterday.
The Amazing Keystone Big Band - Django Extended - Live At Salle Pleyel - 2018 - Past Daily Downbeat Extra Q confers with Keystone. In some places they call it a lovefest. Here, we call it Gettin' Down With It.

The Amazing Keystone Big Band - Live At Salle Pleyel, Paris - March 10, 2018 - France Musique -

As an extra-added bonus, and as a sort of companion to the Coleman Hawkins Munich concert from 1950, The Amazing Keystone Big Band, live in concert just yesterday from Paris, recorded live from the stage at the legendary Salle Pleyel and presented as a kind of release party for their latest album Django Extended and also as a remembrance of violinist Didier Lockwood, who passed away only a few days earlier.

If anything, it gives every indication that Jazz is alive and well and kicking up a storm, and its probably more popular and revered in Europe than it is in the U.S. at the moment. French Jazz has always been just a little different than in other parts of the world, going back to the early part of the last century, and it's never really gone away.

Here's the rundown on the group via their website (gist translation, so . . .):
"Created six years ago, the bubbling Amazing Keystone Big Band expresses both the spirit, the soul of the great formations of the swing-king era, and the inventiveness, openness, insolent virtuosity of the today's jazz.

Accomplices from the Conservatory, pianist Fred Nardin, saxophonist Jon Boutellier, trombonist Bastien Ballaz and trumpet player David Enhco provide direction and arrangements for the orchestra.

The 17 cadors who pianffe behind the desks of this turbulent jazz machine are not content to make allegiance, class, to Count Basie, Duke Ellington or Thad Jones. They especially consider that this orchestra of friends handpicked allows them to experiment with new ideas, while revisiting the pearls of an unsinkable repertoire.

The Amazing Keystone Big Band perpetuates this wave music while giving free rein to the creativity of its musicians, their arrangements, compositions, and solos.

On trumpets: Vincent Labarre, Thierry Seneau, Félicien Bouchot and David Enhco.
With trombones: Benoit Aloïs, Loïc Bachevillier, Sylvain Thomas and Bastien Ballaz
On the saxophones: Pierre Desassis, Kenny Jeanney, Eric Prost, Jon Boutellier and Ghyslain Regard.
Rhythmic side: Thibaut François (guitar), Fred Nardin (piano), Patrick Maradan (double bass), and Romain Sarron (drums).

Since 2010, the Orchestra has had the opportunity to collaborate and write music for internationally renowned artists such as Quincy Jones, James Carter, Rhoda Scott, Stochelo Rosenberg, Liz McComb, Michel Hausser, Bill Mobley, Cécile McLorin Salvant, ZAZ, etc."
I was struck by how fresh this band sounded, that this is going on in 2018 is pretty incredible - there are certainly solid foundations and the presence of the vibe of Gil Evans as well as occasional collaborator Quincy Jones is unmistakable. But those are stepping off places. This is something new with its own distinctive point of view. And it's refreshing. And what's better- it's broadcast live.

Check it out.
Coleman Hawkins All-Stars - Live In Munich 1950 - Past Daily Downbeat The Hawk speaks - All-Star get-together and a blissed-out German audience.

Coleman Hawkins All-Stars - Live at Deutches Museum, Munich - Jan. 19, 1950 - Bavarian Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

The legendary Coleman Hawkins this weekend, at a superb-sounding concert from 1950, recorded by Bavarian Radio and rebroadcast in 2009 and subsequently issued privately and not-so-privately over the years.

An amazing show with Hawkins at the helm of a truly astonishing line-up of American cohorts as well as French up-and-comers at the time.

Here's the lineup:
Coleman Hawkins, James Moody - tenor sax
Nat Peck, trombone
Hubert Fol, alto sax
Jean-Pierre Mengeon, piano
Pierre Michelot, bass
Kenny Clarke, drums
And here's the track rundown:
- Introduction
2 - Allen's Alley
3 - Rifftide
4 - El Sino
5 - It's the Talk of the Town
6 - Lady Bird
7 - Robbin's Nest
8 - Disorder at the Border
9 - Body and Soul
10 - Epistrophy
11 - Sweet Georgia Brown
12 - Sophisticated Lady
13 - Stuffy
14 - The Man I Love
15 - How High the Moon
16 - The Squirrel
Needless to say, the German audience is ecstatic, as American Jazz overtook Europe in ways few art forms did until Rock n' Roll arrived in the early 1950s.

Hawkins always had a keen ear for new talent and styles, and he was the leader on what is generally considered to have been the first ever bebop recording session in 1944 with Dizzy Gillespie, Pettiford and Roach. Later he toured with Howard McGhee and recorded with J. J. Johnson and Fats Navarro. He also toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic.

After 1948 Hawkins divided his time between New York and Europe, making numerous freelance recordings. In 1948 Hawkins recorded "Picasso", an early piece for unaccompanied saxophone.

Hawkins directly influenced many bebop performers, and later in his career, recorded or performed with such adventurous musicians as Sonny Rollins, who considered him as his main influence, and John Coltrane. He appears on the Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane (Jazzland/Riverside) record. In 1960 he recorded on Roach's We Insist! suite.

This concert affirms his keen ear for new talent, in Europe as well as stateside. The introduction of such French notables as Jean-Pierre Michelot and Hubert Fol was typical of the new talent he was spotting and putting center-stage.

I originally posted this several years ago as part of the old site - it's been upgraded and sounds much better than the post in 2012. But they are the same, so don't think I've made an additional discovery. The concert fades out toward the end of The Squirrel - the reason: the original tape ran out before the show was completed.

Enjoy nonetheless.
Eddie Harris - Live At Lugano -1989 - Past Daily Downbeat The Electrifying Eddie Harris. Word.

Eddie Harris Quartet - Live at Lugano, Switzerland - July 1, 1989 - RTS - Switzerland - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Eddie Harris this weekend. Don't know about you, but my first encounter with Eddie Harris was by way of Exodus To Jazz, an album he did for Vee-Jay Records in 1961. His take on the theme for the then-hit movie Exodus made for a huge crossover hit, and was for many people, a first taste of Jazz in a top-40 format and one of the first Jazz discs to hit Gold. It was not without some friction within the hard-core Jazz community who regarded that kind of crossover as something of a sell-out, but the bigger picture was, he got people interested and people listening - and I'm sure made a lot of converts along the way.

The next big moment came a few years later with a collaboration between Harris and keyboardist Les McCann - that one produced the iconic "Compared To What?" - between those two was his composition Freedom Jazz Dance which was popularized by Miles Davis in 1966.

His introduction to audiences of amplifying his tenor sax, rightfully dubbing him The Electrifying Eddie Harris, after his hit album for Atlantic in 1968 was another page-turner in an already extraordinary career.

Harris has a long discography to his credit, with numerous collaborations and milestones along the way. A native of Chicago, Harris was also known for fusing jazz and rock with a variety of invented electrical instruments. He called one, an electrical sax with a trombone mouthpiece, the "saxobone."

From his Obituary in the November 8, 1996 issue of the L.A. Times:
"A lot of musicians are suspicious of electronics," he once told jazz critic Leonard Feather. "They call it gimmickry, but I can understand that, because you always have opposition upon change. . . . (But) amplification will add 10 years to your life span, because you don't have to exert yourself as much."

As a teenager, Harris played piano backup for tenor saxophone giant Gene Ammons. Harris also toured Europe in the 1950s with the 7th Army Symphony Orchestra.

He wrote much of the music heard on "The Bill Cosby Show," which ran from 1969 to 1971. His compositions also included "Please Let Me Go," "Ten Minutes to Four" and "Eddie Sings the Blues."

The versatile instrumentalist, composer and singer wrote several books on music theory, including "How to Play Reed Trumpet" and "The Intervalistic Concept for All Single Line Instruments."

Harris moved to Los Angeles in 1974. Asked in 1995 if he continued to practice, Harris once remarked: "Are You kidding me? I practice eight hours a day. How do you think I can play all the things I play."
As a reminder, here is a concert he did at Lugano, Switzerland during the Jazz Festival there in 1989.

Pull up a chair. Put on some headphones. Chill out.
Mal Waldron - Jackie McLean - Live In Verona - 2001 - Past Daily Downbeat Mal Waldron - Jackie McLean - masters of  free style.

Mal Waldron - Jackie McLean duet - Recorded at Piazzo Dante, Verona Italy - June 25, 2001 - RAI-Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection -

Two legends of Free Jazz this weekend; pianist Mal Waldron and alto-player Jackie McLean in one of their many collaborations, recorded live at Piazzo Dante in Verona Italy on June 25, 2001 by Italian Radio/TV network RAI.

Mal Waldron started playing professionally in New York in 1950, after graduating from university. In the following dozen years or so Waldron led his own bands and played for those led by Charles Mingus, Jackie McLean, John Coltrane, and Eric Dolphy, among others. During Waldron's period as house pianist for Prestige Records in the late 1950s, he appeared on dozens of albums and composed for many of them, including writing his most famous song, "Soul Eyes", for Coltrane. Waldron was often an accompanist for vocalists, and was Billie Holiday's regular accompanist from April 1957 until her death in July 1959.

A breakdown caused by a drug overdose in 1963 left Waldron unable to play or remember any music; he regained his skills gradually, while redeveloping his speed of thought. He left the U.S. permanently in the mid-1960s, settled in Europe, and continued touring internationally until his death.

In his 50-year career, Waldron recorded more than 100 albums under his own name and more than 70 for other band leaders. He also wrote for modern ballet, and composed the scores of several feature films. As a pianist, Waldron's roots lay chiefly in the hard bop and post-bop genres of the New York club scene of the 1950s, but with time he gravitated more towards free jazz. He is known for his dissonant chord voicings and distinctive later playing style, which featured repetition of notes and motifs.

As a young man, Jackie McLean recorded with Gene Ammons, Charles Mingus on the seminal Pithecanthropus Erectus, George Wallington, and as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. McLean joined Blakey after reportedly being punched by Mingus. Fearing for his life, McLean pulled out a knife and contemplated using it against Mingus in self-defense. He later stated that he was grateful that he had not stabbed the bassist.

His early recordings as leader were in the hard bop school. He later became an exponent of modal jazz without abandoning his foundation in hard bop. Throughout his career he was known for a distinctive tone, akin to the tenor saxophone and often described with such adjectives as "bitter-sweet", "piercing", or "searing", a slightly sharp pitch, and a strong foundation in the blues.

McLean was a heroin addict throughout his early career, and the resulting loss of his New York City cabaret card forced him to undertake a large number of recording dates to earn income in the absence of nightclub performance opportunities. Consequently, he produced an extensive body of recorded work in the 1950s and 1960s. He was under contract with Blue Note Records from 1959 to 1967, having previously recorded for Prestige. Blue Note offered better pay and more artistic control than other labels, and his work for this organization is highly regarded and includes leadership and sideman dates with a wide range of musicians, including Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark, Lee Morgan, Ornette Coleman, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Redd, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Grachan Moncur III, Bobby Hutcherson, Mal Waldron, Tina Brooks and many others.

Two legendary figures of the Jazz world you need to check into further, both individually and collectively. Although this concert comes toward the end of Waldron's life (he died a year later) and McLean would follow in 2006, it sacrifices nothing in the way of vibrant, committed playing and youthful energy.

Great concert with some noteworthy banter at the end of the show, compliments of an open mike. Good times.
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