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Jazz – Dig We Must!

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Bill Evans Trio With Herb Geller – Live In Hamburg – 1972 – Past Daily Downbeat Bill Evans this weekend. His trio and guest Herb Geller, recorded in Hamburg by North German Radio on February 14, 1972. In 1966, Bill Evans met Puerto-Rico born, Julliard-graduated bassist Eddie Gómez. In what turned out to be an eleven-year stay, Gómez sparked new developments in Evans’s trio conception. One of the most significant releases during this period is Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival (1968), which won him his second Grammy award. It has remained a critical favorite, and is one of two albums Evans made with drummer Jack DeJohnette. Other highlights from this period include “Solo – In Memory of His Father” from Bill Evans at Town Hall (1966), which also introduced “Turn Out the Stars”; a second pairing with guitarist Jim Hall, Intermodulation (1966); and the solo album Alone (1968, featuring a 14-minute version of “Never Let Me Go”), that won his third Grammy award. In 1968, drummer Marty Morell joined the trio and remained until 1975, when he retired to family life. This was Evans’s most stable, longest-lasting group. Evans had overcome his heroin habit and was entering a period of personal stability. Between 1969 and 1970, Evans recorded From Left to Right, featuring his first use of electric piano. Between May and June 1971, Evans recorded The Bill Evans Album, which won two Grammy awards. This all-originals album (four new), also featured alternation between acoustic and electric piano. One of these was “Comrade Conrad”, a tune that had originated as a Crest toothpaste jingle and had later been re-elaborated and dedicated to Conrad Mendenhall, a friend who had died in a car accident. Other albums included The Tokyo Concert (1973); Since We Met (1974); and But Beautiful (1974; released in 1996), featuring the trio plus saxophonist Stan Getz in live performances from the Netherlands and Belgium. Morell was an energetic, straight-ahead drummer, unlike many of the trio’s former percussionists, and many critics feel that this was a period of little growth for Evans. After Morell left, Evans and Gómez recorded two duo albums, Intuition and Montreux III. Here is a performance from 1972 featuring Bill Evans, along with Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell with special guest, Herb Geller. Take it slow today.
Charles Mingus Quintet – Live At Chateauvallon – 1976 – Past Daily Downbeat. The music of Charles Mingus this weekend – with Jack Walrath, trumpet – Ricky Ford, tenor sax – Danny Mixon, piano – Dannie Richmond, drums and the Man Himself on double Bass. All recorded and preserved by Radio France at Chateauvallon on August 17, 1976. Wikipedia writes: Charles Mingus is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Herbie Hancock. His compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop, drawing heavily from black gospel music and blues, while sometimes containing elements of Third Stream, free jazz, and classical music. He once cited Duke Ellington and church as his main influences. Charles Mingus espoused collective improvisation, similar to the old New Orleans jazz parades, paying particular attention to how each band member interacted with the group as a whole. In creating his bands, he looked not only at the skills of the available musicians, but also their personalities. Many musicians passed through his bands and later went on to impressive careers. He recruited talented and sometimes little-known artists, whom he utilized to assemble unconventional instrumental configurations. As a performer, Mingus was a pioneer in double bass technique, widely recognized as one of the instrument’s most proficient players. Because of his brilliant writing for midsize ensembles, and his catering to and emphasizing the strengths of the musicians in his groups, Mingus is often considered the heir of Duke Ellington, for whom he expressed great admiration and collaborated on the record Money Jungle. Dizzy Gillespie had once said Charles Mingus reminded him “of a young Duke”, citing their shared “organizational genius”. Sit back, relax and press Play.
Benny Goodman Sextet – On The Air – 1942 – Past Daily Downbeat. Benny Goodman this week. Heading in a small-combo Swing direction with Goodman’s Sextet, consisting of Johnny Guarnieri, piano – Charlie Christian, guitar – Georgie Auld, sax – Cootie Williams, trumpet – Artie Bernstein on bass and David Tough on drums. This was a session, part of an episode of America in Swingtime whch aired over WNYC and WOR in February of 1942. By the 1940s, some jazz musicians were borrowing from classical music, while others, such as Charlie Parker, were broadening the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic vocabulary of swing to create bebop (or bop). The bebop recordings Benny Goodman made for Capitol were praised by critics. For his bebop band he hired Buddy Greco, Zoot Sims, and Wardell Gray. He consulted his friend Mary Lou Williams for advice on how to approach the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Pianist Mel Powell was also an adviser in 1945. Goodman enjoyed bebop. When he heard Thelonious Monk, he said, “I like it, I like that very much. I like the piece and I like the way he played it … I think he’s got a sense of humor and he’s got some good things there.” He also admired Swedish clarinetist Stan Hasselgård. But after playing with a bebop band for over a year, he returned to his swing band because he concluded that was what he knew best. In 1953, he said, “Maybe bop has done more to set music back for years than anything … Basically it’s all wrong. It’s not even knowing the scales … Bop was mostly publicity and people figuring angles.”  Not sure if this Benny Goodman Sextet session has made the rounds. It most likely has as there’s very little of Benny Goodman’s work that hasn’t been unearthed and reissued in one form or another. This session came very damaged and required a lot of surgery to get into playable shape – so if it sounds a bit strange in places, you should have heard it before. But enjoy nonetheless.
Carla Bley With The Stewart Forbes Big Band – Glasgow 1992 – Past Daily downbeat. The Inimitable Carla Bley this weekend, with the Stewart Forbes Big Band – live at The Tramway in Glasgow during the 6th Glasgow Jazz Festival on July 10, 1992 and preserved for posterity by BBC Scotland. A lot has been written about Carla Bley; her approach to Jazz, her lasting impression, her growing audience. She’s been around a while and has brought a fresh perspective, along with a dose of humor and a sense of the outrageous. Purists give a sideways glance, while peers enthusiasts and a wide ranging audience view her contributions as essential and an integral part of the ever-growing and enveloping platform that Jazz inhabits and has for at least the past 40 years. Her profound dedication to her art and audience, have continually placed her on music’s cutting edge. As an entrepreneur in the recording and publishing businesses, her creativity and financial savvy have nurtured the careers of many new artists who, because of their reluctance to conform to set standards of commerciality, found difficulty securing financial support from traditional channels. That she accomplished her success with no formal training—and in a male-dominated field—is proof of her talent and perseverance. Here’s a blurb via that pretty much nails her unique and engaging style: Bley’s method of composing and arranging is considered among the most eclectic of all jazz artists. Her work has displayed an instantly recognizable style that combines musical elements of swing, bebop, marches, rock and roll, waltzes, and even German cabaret music. Yet in spite of her unconventional style, she has always remained something of a conservative in her melodies and harmonic structures; as Gary Burton told a Down Beat correspondent, “I know a Carla Bley tune the minute I hear it. It’s direct. It is not complicated. It is not layer upon layer of subtle interaction. It’s very strong melody, very strong harmony, simply constructed. Carla wants her music to hit you square between the eyes.” If you’re not familiar with the music of Carla Bley, you can start here but I urge you to go exploring. Her music is a veritable feast and soother of souls. Trust me.
Bill Evans Trio With Lee Konitz – Live In Italy – 1978 – Past Daily Downbeat Bill Evans Trio this weekend, featuring Lee Konitz on alto sax, guesting in during the 1978 Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy.

A few words about Bill Evans via his Wikipedia page:

“Bill Evans is credited with influencing the harmonic language of jazz piano. Evans’s harmony was itself influenced by impressionist composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. His versions of jazz standards, as well as his own compositions, often featured thorough reharmonizations. Musical features included added tone chords, modal inflections, unconventional substitutions, and modulations.

An example of Evans’s harmonies. The chords feature extensions like 9ths and 13ths, are laid around middle C, have smooth voice leading, and leave the root to the bassist. Bridge of the first chorus of “Waltz for Debby”. From the 1961 album of the same name.
One of Evans’s distinctive harmonic traits is excluding the root in his chords, leaving this work to the bassist, played on another beat of the measure, or just left implied. “If I am going to be sitting here playing roots, fifths and full voicings, the bass is relegated to a time machine.” This idea had already been explored by Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, and Red Garland. In Evans’s system, the chord is expressed as a quality identity and a color.[9][67] Most of Evans’s harmonies feature added note chords or quartal voicings.Thus, Evans created a self-sufficient language for the left hand, a distinctive voicing, that allowed the transition from one chord to the next while hardly having to move the hand. With this technique, he created an effect of continuity in the central register of the piano. Lying around middle C, in this region the harmonic clusters sounded the clearest, and at the same time, left room for contrapuntal independence with the bass.

Evans’s improvisations relied heavily on motivic development, either melodically or rhythmically. Motives may be broken and recombined to form melodies. Another characteristic of Evans’s style is rhythmic displacement. His melodic contours often describe arches. Other characteristics include sequenciation of melodies and transforming one motive into another. He plays with one hand in the time signature of 4/4 and the other momentarily in 3/4.”

And a few words about Lee Konitz:

Lee Konitz performed successfully in a wide range of jazz styles, including bebop, cool jazz, and avant-garde jazz. Konitz’s association with the cool jazz movement of the 1940s and 1950s includes participation in Miles Davis’s Birth of the Cool sessions and his work with pianist Lennie Tristano. He was one of relatively few alto saxophonists of this era to retain a distinctive style, when Charlie Parker exerted a massive influence. Like other students of Tristano, Konitz improvised long, melodic lines with the rhythmic interest coming from odd accents, or odd note groupings suggestive of the imposition of one time signature over another. Other saxophonists were strongly influenced by Lee Konitz, s
Emily Remler Trio – Live At The Blue Note – 1985 – Past Daily Downbeat. The Emily Remler Trio this weekend – recorded live at The Blue Note in New York City on August 10, 1985 and featuring Paul Socolow on bass and Bob Moses on drums. Possibly not a name many Jazz aficionados might be familiar with – probably because a phenomenal guitarist with a promising future wound up being a victim of addiction and dying at an early age (32) of what was listed as a Heart Attack could very well have been an overdose. But it doesn’t matter – a loss is still a loss, no matter how it’s interpreted. An excellent and informative article in the Jazz Magazine Premier Guitar by Tzvi Gluckin in 2014 sheds more light: “In 1990 she was on tour in Australia. She took something—probably an opiate like heroin or dilaudid—and died. The New York Times obituary called it a heart attack. She was only 32. “I may look like a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey, but inside I’m a 50-year-old, heavyset black man with a big thumb, like Wes Montgomery,” Remler told People Magazine. She was talking about an aesthetic, a sound and style she aspired to. It was funny. But in reality, Remler was a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey. She was positive. She loved music. Her appreciation for other musicians and styles was genuine. She heard a musician’s personality in their playing. And she wasn’t self-righteous—not about her art, not about her audience, and not about other musicians. According to Ra-Kalam Moses, “Humility and openness, that was her core.” Her focus was music. She had to deal with prejudice and stupidity, but she wasn’t bitter. She just got good. She lived in a world that made gender an issue, so she proved that it wasn’t. Emily Remler’s legacy is not that she was a great woman in jazz. She was simply a remarkable musician.” If you’re not familiar, by all means, press Play – if you are, you’re well into the gig by now.
Gerry Mulligan Quartet – Live in Milan – 1956 – Past Daily Downbeat Gerry Mulligan Quartet this weekend. A (short) live set from Teatro della Fierra in Milan and recorded for posterity by RAI. On hand are Jon Early, trumpet – Bob Brookmeyer, Trombone – Zoot Sims, tenor sax – Bill Crow, bass and Specs Bailey, drums. A few words from the Gerry Mulligan website, which is jammed with insights, information and sounds: One of the most widely respected and admired jazz musicians of our time, Gerry Mulligan occupies a unique place in the American musical scene. Recognized as an important 20th century composer, arranger, saxophonist, and conductor, he has played a vital role in the history of modern jazz and contemporary music. Mulligan has performed with such jazz immortals as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lester Young, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Jack Teagarden, Dave Brubeck, and Billie Holiday. He was consistently voted number one in jazz polls around the world and has won a record twenty-nine consecutive Down Beat Readers Poll awards. Really, not too much more can be added to one of the innovators and leading lights in the Modern Jazz movement of the 20th century. Gerry Mulligan’s work and his musical example have been major influences for numerous Jazz musicians over the years. Even though this is a short set (I understand there was a lot more recorded during this gig, but this is all I’ve managed to get hold of), this is prime Gerry Mulligan and certainly an excellent example of what the Cool Jazz period was all about. Enjoy without reservation.
Frank Strozier Quartet – Live in The Netherlands – 1977 – Past Daily Downbeat Frank Strozier Quartet live in The Netherlands this weekend. Featuring Harold Mabern on piano, Stafford James on bass and Louis Hayes on drums – all recorded by VPRO in The Netherlands for their Sesjuns series on December 1, 1977. A few notes via Noal Cohen’s Jazz History Website (a valuable place to check out and find information): “Strozier grew up among a wealth of talented young musicians from his home town including pianists Harold Mabern and Phineas Newborn, saxophonist George Coleman, trumpeter Booker Little and bassist Jamil Nasser (George Joyner). His first instrument was piano to which he would return much later in his career. It was in Chicago that he first gained attention as an alto saxophonist recording with a quintet known as the MJT+3 (Modern Jazz Two + 3) which included pianist Mabern, the outstanding but under-recognized trumpeter Willie Thomas, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Walter Perkins. This unit recorded several LPs for the Vee Jay label which, in hindsight, reveal the ensemble to be one of the most innovative of the many hard bop working bands of the late 1950s. It was also during this period that Strozier first revealed his great talents as a composer. After moving to New York, all the members of the MJT+3 went their separate ways, beginning long and memorable careers. Strozier worked over the years with Roy Haynes, Miles Davis (briefly in a version of the great trumpeter’s band that also included George Coleman), Chet Baker and after relocating for a time to Los Angeles, drummer Shelly Manne. He also participated in many studio sessions on both coasts. Strozier continued to perform and record through the 1970s, often with the George Coleman Octet. But similar to the experiences of many musicians of his bent, he found jazz work becoming more and more difficult to rely upon. Finally, by the mid-1980s, his frustration with the scene combined with an inability to obtain high quality reeds led him to stop playing alto and return to the piano. On March 31, 1990, he made his piano debut in a trio setting at Weill Recital Hall in New York which was favorably reviewed by a critic in Cadence Magazine. But since then, little has been heard of Strozier who left music to become a teacher of math and/or science in schools in Westchester County, NY.” Insights aplenty – hit the Play button and give your mind a rest.
Gerald Wilson and His Orchsertra – live in San Francisco – 1950 – Past Daily Downbeat. Gerald Wilson, one of the most dynamic and original forces in Jazz from the mid-century on. I ran across this never-before-released live concert by Gerald Wilson and his orchestra, during a critical but not well-documented period of Wilson’s career. This concert, recorded in experimental stereo in early 1950 at the Veterans Memorial in San Francisco features Gerald Wilson leading a band of what could only be described as giants of their day; such luminaries as Ernie Royal, Melba Liston, Sonny Criss, Gerald Wiggins, Red Callender, Wardell Gray, Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. Because it’s experimental stereo, and 1950, this otherwise stellar recording has a few flaws and bumps here and there – announcements by Wilson are hard to hear because the band is miked but not the announcer. But it doesn’t detract from what is essential listening and a glimpse into the workings of a band and their leader who are in the midst of something big. What’s more interesting is that Gerald Wilson didn’t record under his own name between 1947-1961, when the legendary Pacific Jazz period started. And Wilson’s last band was in 1947 when he was recording for a few small labels in the Los Angeles area. I can’t think of a better tribute to the lasting memory of a great artist than to present him during a rare and vibrant period and in a charged and exciting setting. Wrap yourself around this one and dive into something special.
John McLaughlin, Elvin Jones, Joey DeFrancesco – live in France – 1996 – Past Daily Downbeat – Tribute Edition Memorable concerts and tributes this week. The sadly missed Joey Francesco, along with John McLaughlin and Elvin Jones in concert at Juan les Pins Jazz Festival and captured for posterity by Radio France Musique on June 25, 1996. Joey DeFrancesco was indeed a bright light on the Jazz horizon. With an impressive list of collaborations as well as a 30 album discography, he was a much needed breath of fresh air and widely respected artist of many talents. In addition to some 30 albums under his own name, he recorded extensively as a sideman with such leading jazz performers as trumpeter Miles Davis, saxophonist Houston Person, and guitarist John McLaughlin. DeFrancesco signed his first record deal at the age of 16 and over the years recorded and toured internationally with David Sanborn, Arturo Sandoval, Larry Coryell, Frank Wess, Benny Golson, James Moody, Steve Gadd, Danny Gatton, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Cobb, George Benson, Pat Martino, Tony Monaco, John Scofield, Lee Ritenour, Joe Lovano, and had prominent session work with a variety of musicians, including Ray Charles, Bette Midler, Janis Siegel, Diana Krall, Jimmy Smith, and Van Morrison. DeFrancesco was 16 years old when he signed an exclusive recording contract with Columbia Records. The following year he released his first record, titled All of Me. His performance on All of Me has been attributed as helping bring back the organ to jazz music during the 1980s. That same year, DeFrancesco joined Miles Davis and his band on a five-week concert tour in Europe. He followed up with playing keyboard on Davis’ album Amandla, which reached No. 1 on the Contemporary Jazz Albums chart in 1989. DeFrancesco started playing the trumpet around the same time, inspired by the sound of Davis. DeFrancesco was originally spotted by Davis during a performance on the television show called Time Out. He was performing on the set along with high school classmate Christian McBride when Davis asked the show’s host, “what’s your organ player’s name”, referring to DeFrancesco. DeFrancesco’s recording deal with Columbia included the release of 5 albums. In addition to All of Me, he released Where Were You in 1990, Part III in 1991, Reboppin in 1992, and Live at the 5 Spot in 1993. DeFrancesco’s music style was referred to as a swinging Philly sound which he “embellished with his own ferocity and improvisation.” He played 200-plus nights a year throughout the course of his career, a feat that he cut back on as of 2013. He received numerous accolades for his performances, including being called the best B3 player on the planet by JazzTimes. The New York Times described DeFrancesco as a “deeply authoritative musician, a master of rhythmic pocket, and of the custom of stomping bass lines beneath chords and riffs.” Chicago Tribune praised the musicianship of DeFrancesco, stating that “He dominated the instrument and the field as no one of his generation has.” DeFrancesco was also involved in musical instrument development, especially product designs and endorsements related to technological advancements in digital keyboards and electronic organ both in the United States and internationally. Sadly, Joey DeFrancesco passed away at his home in Phoenix on the 25th of August. A heart attack was the cause. And now we’re left with a legacy. And in tribute here is one of the many collaborations he did with John McLaughlin and Elvin Jones from 1996. Enjoy and give thanks for his brief stay on this planet. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the bio materials (as always).