Remembering a Lyrical and Soooooo Sweet Trumpeter
|Remembering a Lyrical and Soooooo Sweet Trumpeter|
"I remember as a child, hearing my father play his jazz records . . . most of which didn't sound like much to me then."
Just listened to Disc IV of the "Complete Blue Note Blue Mitchell Sessions" (Mosaic MD4-178). We lost Blue Mitchell to cancer in 1979 at the age of only forty-nine. It does not seem like Blue's been gone these past twenty years. I believe it was lung cancer that took Blue out. So many of our great musicians have succumbed to this and other smoking related diseases.
And, the shame is that they are so easily preventable - don't smoke, or stop smoking. Art Blakey, Don Byas, Nat "King" Cole, Duke Ellington, John Gilmore, Sun Ra, Charlie Rouse, Billy Strayhorn and Sarah Vaughn are but a few of the more prominent jazz artists who smoked themselves to death in one way or another. The only thing that should be smoking is the music -- let's not hurt ourselves and others. O.K.
Enough of the social commentary for now and back to the music.
Blue was born in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1930 and was brought to public attention by the Adderley brothers. I mean this brother has such a sweeeeeeet sound! Blue joined the funky Horace Silver quintet along with the fabulous Junior Cook. Soon afterward Blue started his own group, which was basically the Silver band minus Horace. Chic Corea was added on piano. The Mosaic box set chronicles Blue's time with the Note as a leader that lasted from 1963 to 1967. Included therein are Blue's "Step Lightly" (Blue Note LT-1092),
"The Thing To Do" (Blue Note BST 84178), "Down With It" (Blue Note BST84214), "Bring It Home To Me" (Blue Note 84228, "Boss Horn" (Blue NoteBST84257), and "Heads UP" (Blue Note BST 84272). I highly recommend the Mosaic box set. Other personal favorites of mine are "Blue's Moods" (Riverside) and "The Cup Bearer" (Riverside). Both are dynamite sessions. The first is a quartet date with the wondrous Wynton Kelly (p), Sam Jones (b) and Roy Brooks (ds). Check out the cut "Avars". I've only heard this tune played twice, once on Mitchell's Blue's Moods" and once by another trumpet standout, Kenny Dorham (don't let me start on him). The ballad "When I fall in Love" gets a groove going. The second is by a quintet where Junior Cook (ts) joins Blue, Cedar Walton (p), Gene Taylor (b) and Roy Brooks (ds), again! Blue and Junior were some team, and hearing this music moves one back to the early sixties when jazz was jumping! Blue's music is great, and he is greatly missed.
As a child I remember hearing my father play his jazz records, most of which didn't sound like much to me then. However, there were a few of his records that affected me even in my Motown-saturated youth. One such recording was Eddie Harris' "Exodus to Jazz" (VeeJay).
First, Eddie had a sound on the saxophone which was big, full and beautiful (one that he would later alter with electric amplification)! This is probably his finest album, as all the selections are performed well. But the title cut taken from the movie of the same name is probably one of the baaaaaaaadest pieces of music ever recorded in the jazz idiom. This is a must-getz!
Another must-getz is Tina Brooks' "True Blue" (Blue Note CDP724382897521). This thoroughly enjoyable bop romp is currently unavailable, however, I am sure that Blue Note plans to re-release it as a 24bit CD sometime this year. Tina is joined by Freddie Hubbard (tp), Duke Jordan (p), Sam Jones (b) and Art Taylor (ds). Tina (Harold Floyd) Brooks got the nickname from his stature in his youth. He became one of the few distinctive tenor voices of the early sixties. He can be heard on a number of other Blue Note records, but I believe he is best appreciated on this CD. My personal favorites are "Good Old Soul", "Theme For Doris" and the title cut "True Blue". I think many will agree that this is one of the finest Blue Note albums ever made. The CD is out of print now, but maybe Blue Note will reissue it. Tina's brother "Bubba" is still alive and is a fine tenor saxophonist in his own right. I checked him out live at a pool party in St. Albans (Queens), New York, earlier this summer. He has a CD out titled "Smooth Sailing" (TCB Records 97702), which is worth getting.
Also, truly a must-getz if there ever was one is Stan Getz's classic "Jazz Samba" (Verve 810-061-2) with Charlie Byrd. I do not know where to begin about this artist -- Getz is one of the all-time greats. Unfortunately, our culture is into duality on so many levels, thus, people get into discussions about west coast jazz versus east coast jazz, which are really code words for white jazz vs. black jazz. Some of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived are white. Some of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived are black. However, I have discovered over time that all of the greatest jazz musicians are human beings first! O.K. Again, enough of the social commentary for now. Stan Getz was one of the most lyrical saxophonists ever, and "Jazz Samba" is but one example of his greatness. He was just too cool with the moods he set. Full appreciation of the music we call jazz would be impossible if you never heard Stan Getz - a must!
New & Noteworthy
We are being exposed to many Cuban music and musicians for the first time. Francisco Aguabella has been in the United States since 1957, and has spent most of his time in California. He has played with the likes of Mongo Santamaria, but on this recording, you hear him up front and personal. His recent release, "agua de cuba" (CuBopCBCD018) is long overdue.
Be a Catalyst
Last issue I provided you guys and gals with a listing of the Catalyst catalogue. Well, did you find any of the titles interesting? If so, then please contact as many record labels as you can (check the web) and ask if any are willing to get hold of this material and get it back into circulation in the near future!
Shake Dem Bones
"We also need to recognize Clifford Adams, Dick Griffin, Conrad Herwig, Frank Lacy, Robin Eubanks, Steve Davis and Craig Harris as outstanding artists and innovators on the trombone."
No, I'm not into shooting dice. I first heard J.J. Johnson on a Clifford Brown (tp) record about sixteen years ago. At first I thought I was listening to another trumpet, as the notes were so clear and precise. However, the tone was definitely not produced by a trumpet. What I heard was unbelievable, and from that moment I was hooked. Within a few days I had purchased the Eminent Jay Johnson Volumes 1 & 2 (Blue Note).
Quickly, I became a Johnson freak and the ‘bone was my instrument of choice for a long time. And, then I heard Bennie Green, who comes from a big band sound but "rolls" his sound with an energy that shakes any small group he's a part of. Listen to Bennie on "Bennie Green Blows His Horn" (Prestige OJCCD1728-2) and you will hear what I mean.
And then there's Frank Rosolino, Curtis Fuller, Al Grey and Eddie Bert, who play their individual and collective behinds off. Unfortunately, the ‘bone has been under-appreciated throughout most of its history in jazz. However, we have many Latino musicians to thank for keeping this unique instrument alive. They include Jimmy Bosch, Steve Turre, J.P. Torres, William Cepeda and Papo Vasquez, to name a few. In Latin bands, the ‘bone is considered an important instrument that produces a big brass sound. We also need to recognize Clifford Adams, Dick Griffin, Conrad Herwig, Frank Lacy, Robin Eubanks, Steve Davis and Craig Harris as outstanding artists and innovators on the trombone. Right now I am going back and listening to Jack Teargarden, a Dixieland legend, and he is serious too! Start with J.J. and Bennie and see where that leads you.
More on Naxos
Don't know how long its going to last, but in some parts of this universe (J&R Records in Manhattan) you can pick up the Naxos Jazz titles for as much as $5.99.
This is Serious!!!!!!!!!!!!
Charles Sullivan's "Kamau" (Arabesque Jazz AJ0121) is wonderful, simply joyous. I'm here trying to get this out, and he and Craig Handy (ts), Kenny Barron (p), Rod Whitaker (b) and Victor Lewis (ds) are tearing up a cut called "Looking for Love" on this 1996 recording. These guys are playing.
To be honest, I never heard of Mr. Sullivan before today when I picked this CD at Academy on W 18th Street (a great place to buy, sell or trade). I made the right move. The tunes are imaginative, accessible and haunting - and everyone stretches out. Is that enough for you? Sullivan, Craig Handy and Kenny Barron are outstanding - the chemistry is there and they swing to the high heavens. Mr. Sullivan uses several cliches throughout the disc, but they work. He lets go on "Carefree" with a freedom that knows no bounds. Check out the rhythm section before Handy goes off, followed by some of the smoothest Barron I have heard -- and I have heard a lot! Hear him muted on "Malcolm," a tribute to the shining black prince who in the end sought freedom for all.
We Make Requests
There is a recording entitled "Out of Many, One People" (Antilles 7 90681-2) that, I believe, is currently out of print. It is by the Jazz Warriors, an Afro-British orchestra, under the leadership of noted multi-reedist Courtney Pine, that cooks. It is a live date and you can hear the crowd going wild in appreciation of the music. I hope that there are plans to make this invigorating CD available again for a new crop of jazz enthusiasts. I would hate to think that music lovers would never have an opportunity to hear this. It is a musical and cultural delight. The cuts are "Warriors," "In Reference to our Forefather's Dreams," "Minor Groove," "Saint Maurice (of Argon)" and "Many Pauses." Please bring this one back.
"I was proud to be present and accounted for when Jackie McLean and Gary Bartz, two alto masters, burned a flag-waver at the conclusion of the Charlie Parker Festival on Sunday, August 29, 1999 in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park, NYC..... Jackie Mac and Bartz turned the bad-boy out. It was a hot, hot day, and after they finished, a cool breeze swept through the Park. I think Bird liked what he heard."
The name of the book is "Hard Bop" (Oxford) by David H. Rosenthal. It looks at one aspect of this universal and awe-inspiring music we call jazz - hard bop, and it does it well! While not giving novices an overview of "The Music," it does justice to what evolved from Charlie Parker's contribution to American music. Art Blakey, Max Roach and Horace Silver were its leaders. The Blue Note sound of the late fifties and early sixties was the vehicle of the bold, in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, swaggering music put forth by the likes of Hank Motley, Jackie McAllen, Lee Morgan, Freddie Huber and so many others. It is a fast and interesting read on the wonderful music called hard-bop!
Original Jazz Classics (OJCCD-1021-2) reissued some 70's soul-jazz classics. One is a Charles Earland date with the incomparable, but ill-starred, Lee Morgan. Billy Harper and others support these two outstanding artists. Adding two tunes, Lee Morgan's "Lowdown" and "Speedball," enhanced the reissue. These recording were made just days before the legendary, but ill-starred trumpeter died at the hands of his female companion on a cold winter night outside of Slug's in the East Village.
Gene Ammons "Live In Montreux" (OJCCD-1023-2) is a solid record. Hampton Hawes plays electric piano on this date. The rest of the band is comprised of Bob Cranshaw (el-b), Kenny Clarke ("Klook") (ds) and Kenneth Cash on congas. Check out the Boss Tenor's rendition of "Yardbird Suite." The last track, "Treux Blue," swings and is no joke. On it, Gene is joined for some serious playing by the all-star frontline of the Brothers Adderley -- yes, Julian (as), ("Cannonball") and Nat (cor), and the immortal Dexter Gordon (ts).
Sonny Criss was a monster on alto. He could always be counted to raise the temperature a few degrees. He surely burns on the reissue entitled "Rockin' In Rhythm" (OJCCD 1022-2). Check him out on "Eleanor Rigby." OJC has done a fine job of making available so much of Criss' music.
In Passing, Into the Lord's Hands
Trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison passed away several weeks ago. We miss him.
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