Ashley Kahn is a stickler for flavor and historical accuracy. His talking tour through the great New York clubs of the 20th century lends eye-witness accuracy to clubs that he’s never set foot in. This is a fun and informative survey of clubs whose ambiance and welcome arms made a difference in jazz.
This early ‘90s BBC 2 appearance by Big John Patton is a real rarity. Patton with what seems to be a band of very capable and reverential Brits performs his 1962 classic “Funky Mama.” Like Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne,” this piece became a standard among blues bands.
Ben Webster: Founding Emperor of the Tenor Saxophone
You’d have to go on Ebay or some other source to capture Mosaic’s limited edition box set Complete Verve Johnny Hodges Small Group Sessions 1956-61. For those of you lucky enough to have our set or can snare one, here’s Whitney Balliett’s piece for The New Yorker which pays special attention to Ben Webster and his outstanding contribution on these discs.
Max Roach 1965: with Abbey Lincoln, Clifford Jordan
Max Roach’s quartet with his then wife Abbey Lincoln perform “All Africa” from Roach’s “Freedom Now Suite. The piece begins with an intricate, subtle rhythm played just on the rim of the sane drum over which Abbey Lincoln’s powerful vocal sails. There are great solos by Clifford Jordan, Eddie Khan and pianist Coleridge Perkinson, who was choir master and arranger for vocal projects by Donald Byrd and Roach.
The composer and bandmaster known to generations as the “March King,” John Philip Sousa, predicted that jazz was just a craze, that would meet the same demise as other musical fads like the Gavotte. Hardly anyone can justly accuse Sousa’s work, like Stars and Stripes Forever or my favorite Sousa march, Semper Fidelis, of lacking longevity. Yet Sousa made his prediction in an Arizona newspaper article in 1922; Louis Armstrong was but 20 years old at the time, and would record West End Blues and change the music world — maybe forever — six years later.
Betty Carter was known for her fierce independence, but she was evidently no stranger to appearing on national television. We shared a clip earlier in the Gazette in which Betty wakes up the Today Show (see that clip here). Now, we share a clip of Betty on NBC’s Tonight Show in 1992, performing her composition Tight, and scatting brilliantly in tandem with Branford Marsalis’s tenor saxophone. A treasure.
Mosaic Armstrong Set to Open Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans
On the eve of Louis Armstrong’s historical birthday of August 1, Mosaic’s Scott Wenzel and Ricky Riccardi, Armstrong biographer and archivist for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, will kick off the 2014 Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans. At the sold-out opening reception and keynote dinner on July 31, Scott and Ricky will host a keynote discussion on the making of Mosaic’s box set The Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars. Check out this article from the New Orleans Times-Picayune about Ricky, Scott and the Mosaic set at Summerfest.
The Mosaic Armstrong set will be on sale at the Satchmo Summerfest all weekend. Can’t make it to New Orleans? Not to worry: listen to highlights and order your set here.
Cannonball Adderley Sextet 1964: with Charles Lloyd
The 1964 edition of the Cannonball Adderley Sextet was controversial because Charles Lloyd replaced Yusef Lateef and exhibited a very different set of sensibilities and goals than his predecessor. Both were outside the realm of the Adderley Brothers’ music, but Charles was much further out of orbit than Lateef. This particular set, taped for London’s Club 625 television program for the BBC, is more harmonious than most of their performances.
Here’s a beautiful duet by Charles Lloyd and Jason Morgan from the 2013 Montreal Jazz Festival. That same year they recorded a duo album “Hagar’s Song”on ECM. Charles Lloyd is a musician of many talents, but his tender inner lyricism is what makes him so special as an artist.
Two Greats Together: Lucky Thompson and Hank Jones
Lucky Thompson was one of the truly great tenor saxophonists who got little recognition in his lifetime (Don Byas is another). When I went into Charlie Ponte’s on 48th Street in New York to buy a Selmer Mark IV tenor, Ponte turned around and said, “Hey Lucky, Yusef, want to pick out a horn for this kid?” And they did pick out a beauty that got stolen some six years later. This JazzWax posting celebrates Thompson and his ‘60s collaborations with the consummate Hank Jones.
Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson: Two Giants Together
A man of few notes and a man of many notes, Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson had very different musical careers but they grew from the same embryo: Nat King Cole and the King Cole Trio. On this 1974 Canadian television show, they unite to celebrate their commonality.
Memphis-born George Coleman, like his friend Booker Little, first made his mark as a member of the Max Roach Quintet. But through the years, he has made his mark playing with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Slide Hampton, Lee Morgan and many others. He is a consummate musician and improviser whose primary outlet is his own quartet and occasionally his octet. Here’s a wonderful performance of Bobby Watson’s “Conservation” from a 1981 British concert with Watson, Harold Mabern and Billy Higgins among the octet members.
Jimmy Witherspoon and Ben Webster’s quartet taped this Jazz Casual show in San Francisco in the early ‘60s. This performance of “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness” is a lesson in pacing and in the blues. They unfold this classic song in a slow, measured tempo, and build in dynamics and drama as they move along in their own unhurried way.
Wild LA Party: Story with Charlie Parker. But About Him?
The myths that build around people and events are usually based on a kernel of truth and embellished to titillate our imaginations about the goings-on of the brilliant and the famous (not always overlapping). This story is just such an example. Outsiders within various sectors of the art/music world come together, behave badly and create legendary nonsense out of scenes that erupted in revolt of boredom. Sorry, but most of what happens in such circumstances has little to do with the creative output of the artist or musician at the heart of the story. Did any accounts of Andy Warhol’s Factory come up with more than “some member of the Velvet Underground almost OD’d last Thursday”? Give me a break and let’s get on with it.