Ah, well, over the weekend so many more of you responded to the request for your current listening choices that we can’t wrap it up today after all. If you wish to understand the genesis of these listings, go here. But–I am sorry–it’s too late to contribute. At some point, we have to get back to business as usual, whatever that is, so the arbitrary cutoff is hereby imposed. The final batch will appear in tomorrow’s Rifftides edition, or whatever you call a blog installment.
·Bob Brookmeyer’s most recent New Art Orchestra collection, Spirit Music, which has, no surprise, great brass arrangements and performances, and demonstrates that Europeans can swing.
A couple of recently remastered good ole’ good ones: The Complete Studio Recordings of the Gerry Mulligan Sextet, featuring, among others, Messrs Brookmeyer and Art Farmer; and the Mosaic box of the Phillips/Verve Dizzy Gillespie small group recordings, which is the best Father’s Day present I’ve ever received.
I’ve also been playing Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto, simply one of the most engaging pieces of new “legit” music I’ve heard in a long time. Finally, for the obvious reasons, I’ve been listening to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson’s recording of the Bach cantatas BVW 82 and 199. Those who have never heard Ms. Lierberson’s angelic voice do not know what they are missing. RIP.
Potomac, Maryland, USA
·I find as I get older that I’m listening more and more to the music that first turned me on to jazz and not so much to what’s currently being released. So today it was Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra on Decca (1936 to 1938) featuring a couple of my favorite tunes that nobody does, “Ev’ntide” and “Lyin’ To Myself”. Also Carmen McCrae Live at Donte’s, with Jimmy Rowles giving a master class in the art of the accompanist.
St. Helena, California, USA
Mr. Greensill has himself given a few master classes as the accompanist to, among others, Wesla Whitfield.
·I discovered your site just by coincidence while I googled George Mraz’s Morava. Currently I listen to Abbey Lincoln’s The World Is Falling Down (thanks a lot, Gary Giddins!), with stellar playing from Clark Terry and the late Jackie McLean. Also on the desk is the wonderful Mary Stallings with her Live at the Village Vanguard , including great playing and arrangements from Eric Reed . When will be there a follow-up from this great but neglected singer? Yes, and last but not at least there is Paul Reddick, a great Canadian singer, songwriter-poet and harmonica player. I saw him recently in a small club in Leverkusen (thats close to Cologne, Germany) playing and singing his heart out for 6 (!) listeners. His albums Rattlebag and Villanelle are marvelous stuff and offer great production and guitar playing from Colin Linden. Oh yeah, did I mention Otis Rush with his intense 1976 live recording just recently reissued by Delmark?.It’s a gas and an all-time-classic!
·Two weeks ago, I finally obtained a copy of Woody Herman’s Verve LP Woody Herman ’58 that has some Bill Harris solos, among others, with most of the writing by Gene Roland, but there is also a Bill Holman original and one by Al Cohn called “Try To Forget.”
I have also been listening to a couple of CDs that I recently acquired. One is the latest by Henry Francis’ small swing group The Swing Legacy. Superb in all respects, as was the first disc by this swinging jump band issued around 1999. Sound samples and ordering info at www.swinglegacy.com.
The other CD is called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans” and features music from the University of New Hampshire’s Traditional Jazz Series. Proceeds from sales go to Music Cares, Hurricane Relief 2005, and American Library Association, Katrina Relief Fund. Learn more at http://www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltj/. It is $20 well spent.
Kendall Park, New Jersey, USA
·Da Vida Bella – a two-CD set of wonderful solo piano performances by 30 great players from Gerald Wiggins to Gerald Clayton. The album includes a lovely “If You Could See Me Now” by Alan Broadbent, a take-no-prisoners version of “A Night In Tunisia” by Patrice Rushen and tracks from, among others, Kenny Barron, Dick Hyman, Dave Grusin, Cedar Walton, Bill Mays, Roger Kellaway, Bob Florence, Clare Fischer and Mike Melvoin, who also produced this marvelous collection. This album was recorded as a tribute to dedicated fan and patron David Abell, and released in conjunction with a concert in his honor June 2005 at UCLA. It now serves as a touching and fitting memorial, since David died in March. As far as I know, Da Vida Bella has not been released commercially and is available only from Friends of Jazz UCLA with proceeds going to the David Abell Scholarship Fund for the Jazz Studies Program. For info: e-mail Susan Townsley or call (310) 206-3269.
Also on my turntable or in the CD player this past week:
Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band – Now Hear Our Meanin’
Bruce Brown (pianist/singer/songwriter and one of the world’s great undiscovered talents) – Love Finds You
Pat LaBarbera Quintet featuring Randy Brecker – Crossing The Line (Jazz Compass)
Sandi Shoemake – Sophisticated Lady
Mulgrew Miller – With Our Own Eyes
Charles Lloyd Quartet (with Gabor Szabo, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) – Of Course, Of Course. This 1965 Columbia album was out of print for years and was never reissued on CD…until recently. Mosaic has just released it as part of their new ‘Singles’ series.
Van Nuys, California, USA
·I’ve been totally immersed in the 4-CD set, The Dutch Jazz Orchestra Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn in preparation for a course I gave this past week at the Chautauqua Institution. This is the music that the musicologist Walter van de Leur uncovered in the 1990s. Most of the music is original compositions for jazz orchestra, but there is
one full CD of gorgeous Strayhorn arrangements of standards. If you like Billy Strayhorn’s music with Ellington, you will be richly rewarded by these works which, for the most part, were never recorded or performed during Strayhorn’s lifetime.
Rochester, New York, USA
·Gerry Mulligan meets Johnny Hodges, with Claude Williamson, piano, Buddy Clark, bass, Mel Lewis, drums, July 1960. A profoundly beautiful recording–“Shady Side” as the supreme gem among gems. This won’t be dated until music itself is.
Finally in this penultimate group of listeners’ choices, we have an essay from Larry Kart, one of our most esteemed and penetrating critics. It’s a pleasure to have him aboard.
·I’m working my way through a biggish batch of Hep label reissues of 1939-53 big band material — Teddy Wilson from ’39, Charlie Barnet’s 1947 Town Hall Concert, three by Sam Donohue, ’49’-53 Claude Thornhill, Jimmy Dorsey from ’46, et al. So far I’m struck by how unique, fine, and still fresh the latish Thornhill material is (does anyone know who among Lee Katzman, Tom Patton, and Chuck Speights takes that lovely-eerie trumpet solo on “Oh You Beautiful Doll”? — it’s worthy of Bobby Hackett or Tony Fruscella); by the sheer fieryness of that ’47 Barnet band (with Clark Terry and the stratospheric yet sweet-toned Jimmy Nottingham in the trumpet section, and swinging drummer Dick Shanahan); the distinctive, throaty-reedy timbre of the Donohue band, and the classiness of featured trumpeter John Best in the band’s U.S. Navy version (his sectionmates were Conrad Gozzo, Frank Beach, and Don Jacoby); the humane warmth of the Dorsey band (I like Jimmy on alto especially) and the fact that on a track from July 1944, “All the Things You Ain’t,” trombonist Sonny Lee’s solo makes use of the “Salt Peanuts”
figure — this from a date that included a chart, “Grand Central Getaway,” that Dizzy Gillespie wrote for the band). And there’s lots more.
Thinking these thoughts, I also began to think about the life-stories behind this music — the various interactions between these leaders, their audiences, and the larger worlds (the music business, and the external social-historical world as a whole) in which these music makers made their way. About Barnet, who sank his heart and much of his ample inheritance into his bands and also into his taste for high living (no regrets for him, it seems); about Wilson (whose marvelous 1939 band failed to make its way commercially); about Donohue (whose service band was felt by many to be was superior to Artie Shaw’s [which Donohue had taken over and remade] and Glenn Miller’s but who belatedly entered a post-war market without his core musicians because of the Navy’s point system of discharges); about the equivocal, vulnerable temperaments of Dorsey and Thornhill and the relatively early deaths of those two and Donohue; about the two AFM recording bans, the wartime entertainment tax that lingered on afterwards and did much damage to live music, etc. What if we had the power to preserve and protect in all this what was worth preserving and protecting, while shunting aside or even destroying all that threatened what was lovely and living here? Perhaps to even ask the question — given the weight and the sometimes ghastly connectedness of all that we know was at stake here, not to mention all that was at stake or connected to what was at stake here that we aren’t or can’t be aware of — is a form of absurdity.
Highland Park, Illinois, USA