When you get up in the morning, you must have a song - Ray Charles

Friday, December 24, 2010

John Hicks - s/t

Every so often you end up with a recording that a friend gives you just because he thinks it is something you might like, not necessarily something you had been asking about. This record falls completely into this category. I assume the impetus was a shared admiration for Bobby Hutcherson coupled with a recent discussion about his work. What ever the reasoning, he was correct in his assessment of my taste. I like this little lp a lot.
I knew Hicks' name as he has been around awhile, floating in and out of The Jazz Messengers at times, but I was oblivious to any solo career which started rather late in his career. I knew he had done a Maybeck Recital session and a session with David Murray. Even though this is self titled, it appears to be his 4th lp as a leader.
While this session is not essential or life changing, we all have a lot of those very sessions laying about. This record relaxes me, untwisting the knots, smiling even, at some of the twists particularly from the leader. I'm glad it was passed along. I'm glad I have friends like that.

John Hicks

1. Pas De Trois (Dance for Three)
2. Steadfast
3. For John Chapman
4. Star-Crossed Lovers
5. Littlest One Of All
6. After The Morning
7. That Ole Devil Called Love
8. Gypsy Folk Tales
9. Beantown Blues

John Hicks - piano
Bobby Hutcherson - vibes
Walter Booker - bass


Evidence ECD 22224

This friend has contributed several recordings and has offered more. Make sure to thank Six String in the comments.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shorty Rogers - Chances Are It Swings

Shorty Rogers records often took, and maybe still do take some heat from the "serious" jazz critics. Me? I've always dug him. He stood by his conviction to continue in the swinging big band traditional long after it had fallen out of favor. His arrangements always feel fun.
Let's be honest here, just how serious do you think Rogers took himself? Lps about martians and outer space!! The dude definitely had a sense of humor about it. I think that's is why the lps feel the way they do.
On this session all the songs were written, or co-written by a single composer, Robert Allen. For me Allen's claim to fame will always be the Christmas tune "Home For The Holidays". The performers themselves are only credited as the "Orchestra featuring the Giants." The solos are all shorty and punchy in keeping with the feel of the whole lp which is rather short itself. - In retrospect the lp is not all that short but it seems to fly by far too quickly - hook
Released on the Living Stereo imprint, I'm betting this lp was the tits (which is way better than the cat's meow) when it was first released. It's always been my pleasure to do my part to keep this stuff alive!

Shorty Rogers - Chances Are It Swings

1. Chances Are
2. No Such Luck
3. It's Not For Me To Say

4. Lilac Chiffon

5. I Just Don't Need You

6. Who Needs You

7. Everybody Loves A Lover

8. Come To Me

9. My Very Good Friend In The Looking Glass

10. You Know How It Is

11. A Very Special Love

12. Teacher, Teacher

The personnel of the orchestra cannot be found anywhere on the sleeve, so it seems worth while to list it here. Shorty Rogers was directing Al Porcirio, Pete Candoli, Conte Candoli, Ray Triscari and Ollie Mitchell (trumpets); Harry Betts, Dick Nash, Kenny Shroyer and Bob Enevoldsen (trombones); Bill Holman, Bud Shank, Richie Kamuca, Chuck Gentry and Paul Horn (reeds); Pete Jolly (piano), Mel Lewis (drums) and Red Norvo or Gene Estes (vibes). Don Fagerquist (trumpet) and either Barney Kessel or Howard Roberts (guitar) are featured in a small group ("The Giants") which is heard on some tracks.

Personnel info was taken from a Gramaphone article.

Recorded Hollywood, 12/12 and 12/20, 1958 (I was a squalling six month old.)


My lp has the Living Stereo bar across the top AND the blue" for jazz fans" box in the corner. Can't find a picture with both, and even sharing that with you means I am a geek.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eddie Bert - Kaleidoscope

C'mon now. Admit it, Eddie Bert looks so freaking cool on this cover. Far hipper than Kai Winding, the other white dude playing trombone with any recognition at the time. Just dig that mustache. That mustache alone is worth the price of admission.

I love this Savoy session for a ton of reasons. First off, Savoy had a grittier sound than the more popular BN releases. And they tended to showcase lesser appreciated artists of their time. Eddie Bert was kinda second string trombone at the time. Eddie was probably aware of that. It didn't stop him from making some fine music. He appears on many fine recordings as a sideman. Yet when he takes center stage here, he really allows this to be a group effort. I never get the feeling he needs to be the star even though he is the de facto leader on these dates.

If I was hard pressed, I would say the most overlooked player on the dates is Duke Jordan. His piano is an integral part of the bebop revolution and he shines here.
And while I would normally frown upon a vocal track as a novelty, Bert doesn't embarrass himself on the single outing included here.

Look for Joe Morello of Brubeck Quartet fame on the last session.

Eddie Bert - Kaleidoscope

1. Love Me Or Leave Me
2. Little Train
3. Prelude To A Kiss
4. Conversation Piece
5. Interwoven
6. Around Town
7. Kaleidoscope
8. Broadway
9. Melting Pot
10. Ripples
11. Conversation
12. He Ain't Got Rhythm
13. Cherokee

Eddie Bert - Trombone; Duke Jordan - piano; and Clyde Lombardi - bass with...

1-4: Sal Salvatore - guitar; Mel Zelnick - drums
recorded 5/11/53 - Van Gelder studios, NJ
5-8: Vinnie Dean - alto sax; Art Madigan - drums
recorded 8/20/54 - NYC
9-13: Vinnie Dean - alto sax: Joe Morello - drums; EB - vocals (12)
recorded 11/3/54 - NYC

Savoy Jazz SJL 1186

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dollar Brand - African Portraits

I have been digging this guy's recordings so much lately that it was a welcome surprise when, as I was filing away some vinyl that I ran across this. I was a bit stunned. I had forgotten even finding it.
Sometimes life is a grand!

A solo outing from Toronto in 1973, this is the second of two volumes. There is no apparent breaks between songs so each side is presented as originally recorded. A superb recording. From Canada! Who knew?

Dollar Brand - African Portraits

1. Cherry / Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro

2. Blues For Hughie / Kippie / Gafsa - Life I s For The Living, Death Is For Us All / Little Boy / Easter Joy / Jabulani / Xaba

Abdullah Ibrahim - piano

recorded 2/18/73, Toronto

Sackville ST3009

Monday, December 13, 2010

Skip Martin's Scheherajazz

OK - so I never promised this thing would only be high art, and if we poll the critics among you, I doubt this would qualify as the first exception. Although it may be the most obvious example...yet.

This is only of those completely geek lps that contain as much info on the back cover about the recording process as it does the musician's involved. Except of course, the now completely unknown arranger who was, nominally I would bet, in charge of the session.
In this case we have Skip Martin, saxophonist with stints in the bands of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Charlie Barnett. Add a few Basie arrangements and this guy should be a household name. Instead we are informed that at the time he was a bachelor, sharing his apartment with a dog, flies his own planes and collects dames, Aston-Martins and empty bottles. Dudes like him had no use for match.com!

Before I get into the personnel on the session, let's touch base on the all important recording details.

"This is the first in a series of classical works for symphony orchestra and jazz band to be released on Stereo-Fidelity records." Yup - that's what it says. And just so know they are serious, the label informs us "This stereophonic 33 1/3 R.P.M long playing record has been mastered employing the Westrex cutter head system driven by a Scully lathe." There's more but they do not claim full fidelity when played on a monaural phonograph, in case you were contemplating such foolishness.

About the musicians - all were West Coast session men - some far more recognizable than others. I can't imagine this originating anywhere else. Many of these fellows found work in the burgeoning Hollywood scene. Now lest you think these fellows did this just for the cash, let me leave you with this last blurb...
Scheherajazz is just not another recording - it is a jazz project that by it's very dimension and unique nature immediately fired the enthusiasm of all concerned with producing it.

Despite all the hyperbole, this is actually quite fun, in a lazy afternoon sorta way, even though it was very late at night when I put this together. Pshaw - high art, indeed!!

adapted from Rimsky-Korsokov's Scheherazade

1. First Movement
2. Second Movement
3. Third Movement
4. Fourth Movement

Gus Binova, Ted Nash, Paul Horn, Jules Jacob, Chuck Gentry - reeds; Conrad Gozzo, Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Frank Beach, Joe Trescari - trumpets; Joe Howard, Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, George Roberts - trombones; Vince DeRosa, Jack cave, Dick Perissi - french horns; Clarence Carella - tuba, Al Hendrickson - guitar; Jimmy Rowles - piano; Larry Bunker, Irv Cottler, Lou Singer - drums; Red Callender - bass; Eudice Shapiro - solo violin; Ed Lustgarten - first cello.

Recorded in Hollywood by the Studio Symphony and the Video All-Stars
Skip Martin - conducting


Monday, December 6, 2010

Sam Rivers - Contrasts

I realize this makes an occasional appearance out there in blogland but it's been awhile since I have seen it. And for some reason I never grabbed it, so I was beside myself when my friend Six String sent me a copy. A giant thanks to him for ripping this.

For many many years I avoided ecm because of their reputation for, well, what I considered "pastoral landscapes". I may have been a bit harsh and ecm seems to have found a warm corner in my heart.

This lp definately sounds like an ecm record, and yet it var more brazen than most. I seem to be among a fair group that is mystified at the non cd release of this incredible set.

Seven original Rivers' tunes, all single word titles that typify the recordings themselves. The trombone and bass weave in and about Rivers' almost slinky lines. A fantastic record.

Sam Rivers

1. Circles
2. Zip
3. Solace
4. Verve
5. Dazzle
6. Images
7. Lines

Sam Rivers - soprano & tenor sax, flute
George Lewis - trombone
Dave Holland - bass
Thurman Baker - drums, marimba

recorded 12/79

ecm 1-1162