Early Jazz

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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Music Album Cover Monk's Music
THELONIOUS MONK
4.84 | 13 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Misterioso Album Cover Misterioso
THELONIOUS MONK
4.95 | 4 ratings
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STAN KENTON Adventures in Jazz Album Cover Adventures in Jazz
STAN KENTON
4.99 | 3 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra) Album Cover Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra)
FRANK SINATRA
4.81 | 7 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Watertown Album Cover Watertown
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 4 ratings
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CHARLIE PARKER Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique) Album Cover Bird And Diz (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #4 aka Une Rencontre Historique)
CHARLIE PARKER
4.89 | 4 ratings
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BUDDY RICH Big Swing Face Album Cover Big Swing Face
BUDDY RICH
4.95 | 3 ratings
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LOUIS ARMSTRONG Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy Album Cover Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy
LOUIS ARMSTRONG
4.87 | 4 ratings
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JOE PASS Virtuoso Album Cover Virtuoso
JOE PASS
4.93 | 3 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Brilliant Corners Album Cover Brilliant Corners
THELONIOUS MONK
4.70 | 12 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Dream Album Cover Monk's Dream
THELONIOUS MONK
4.69 | 12 ratings
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ARTURO SANDOVAL Swingin' Album Cover Swingin'
ARTURO SANDOVAL
5.00 | 2 ratings
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This And That
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OLETA ADAMS
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MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING
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Intégrale Volume 13, I remember you, 1953-1954
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SERENA JEWKES
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Live at Midday Jazz
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DAVID WHITE
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Pure
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LE BANG BANG
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Classic Albums Collection 1957-1963
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Code Noir
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CARMEN LUNDY
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ELIJAH ROCK
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RON BOUSTEAD
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One More For The Road
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CURTIS STIGERS
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Meet Me At The Movies
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Nightshade
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early jazz Music Reviews

BEATA PATER Fire Dance

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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js
Beata Pater’s first five albums could be called ‘typical’ vocal jazz albums, as they featured the usual mix of standards and originals. That’s not to say her vocal approach has not been inspired, instead, she has received high marks for her flexible and fluid style, but no previous album she has made could prepare her followers for her latest, “Fire Dance”. On this new one, Pater employed Alex Danson to write eleven new originals, which Pater then arranged for multiple wordless vocal overdubs supported by a saxophone trio and a four piece electric rhythm section. The end result is a sort of modern big band made up mostly of Pater’s voice multi-tracked up to sixteen times on some cuts. The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.

Musically this album pulls from a variety of styles including modern RnB, post bop and fusion from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. The end result is sometimes similar to Weather Report in the late 70s, or any of Joe Zawinul’s bands since WR. Imagine the Swingle Singers covering classic Weather Report material and you might have a clue as to what is going on here. Along with Pater’s lead vocals, the saxophonists occasionally take short solos, and even exchange in free three way interplay on a couple cuts.

The make or break on here is Pater’s approach to wordless vocals. No doubt this was a very risky record to make, many have a right to fear what an album based around wordless vocals might sound like, but “Fire Dance” is a success due to a very careful use of vocal sounds that never become annoying or embarrassing. Pater is also careful to never overuse the so-called ‘scatting’ technique, a decision that saves this album from potential indulgence. Instead, all of the multi-tracked vocals on here are carefully arranged, much like a complex big band chart. Top tracks include two beautifully abstract numbers that appear in the middle of the CD, title track “Fire Dance” and “The Princess”. Both feature soaring vocals that recall a pre-Renaissance European style, as well as a classic Middle Eastern sound.

ILLINOIS JACQUET Illinois Jacquet (aka Banned In Boston)

Album · 1963 · Bop
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js
Illinois Jacquet may no longer be a household name, but in the 40s and 50s he was considered one of the top saxophonists of the early bop, and later swing eras. His sound was often purposefully brusque and rough with a tendency toward piercing extreme’s in register that foreshadowed the strong over the top approach of 60s free jazzers like Albert Alyer and Archie Shepp. When 1963 rolled around, bop was becoming somewhat of an anachronism, in fact Illinois spent the first part of the year with a foray into the new soul jazz sound, but when he cut the self-titled “Illinois Jacquet” for Epic later in 63, it was for playing classic be-bop with some influences from the new hard bop sound and crowd pleasing jump blues. This record may have been somewhat out of step with 63, but removed from its time period, it now sounds like another classic bop record recorded by the originators of the sound who knew how to play it right. Like most musical genres, from country to punk, be-bop sounds best when played by those who made it up, modern players just don’t capture that enthusiastic, somewhat flippant and informed sly attitude that gives the music its main appeal.

“Illinois Jacquet” (later titled “Banned in Boston”) opens with the jump blues of “Frantic Fanny”, and then proceeds through a variety that includes bluesy swing grooves, ballads and some up-tempo be-bop fire. The ballads range from the lovely “Stella by Starlight”, to the borderline corniness of “Imagination”, but possibly the top ballad number is Jacquet’s direct and understated reading of Ravel’s “Reverie”, one of the finest versions of this popular classic that you will find. Of the be-bop numbers, nothing tops the high energy of “Indiana (Back Home Again)”, once again played by folks who know how to play this right, making this album less of an anachronism in today’s world, but more of an important time capsule. This album does not contain some of the more exuberant and fierce playing of Jacquet’s early career, but its still a good solid bop recording, albeit recorded in 1963.

MICHAEL GAMBLE Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders

Album · 2016 · Swing
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js
Mike Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders is the name of an all-star group of swing enthusiasts, and its also the name of their new album. There was a time back in the 90s, when the so-called ‘swing revival’ was in full bloom and many an aging rock musician tried to cash in by putting together what they thought was a swing band. Many of those ill-informed artists were presenting re-tread rockabilly and garage band level jump blues as if it was actually ‘swing’. Fortunately, in the new century, the trend eased off and the wannabes moved on leaving the true swing lovers to enjoy their art without any further mis-guided dilution. Which brings us to the talented Rhythm Serenaders and their new album. There are no wannabes here, these are guys who know the music and play it well, no heavy handed or cheap reproductions are allowed. Their recording techniques are authentic as well, as every tune here was recorded live on the spot with no overdubs or studio trickery.

There is a nice selection of tunes on here, and a smart avoidance of the over-played and predictable. As can be expected, it’s the top writers of the day who supply the most sassy and infectious riffs. Some of the best include; Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian’s “Seven Come Eleven”, Goodman and Lionel Hampton’s, “Pick a Rib”, Count Basie’s “Sweet”, and the Ellington influenced slinky noir of Ben Webster’s “Woke Up Clipped”. A couple tunes feature the exuberant vocals of Russ Wilson, who battles it out with busy New Orleans/Dixieland type polyphony with all the horns soloing at once. On four other tracks you get the coy Billie Holiday influenced vocals of Laura Windley. Every tune on here is at least good, there are no duds. The solos on here are good as well, but as typical with ‘revival’ bands of any genre, the soloists seem to be a little more polite and careful in their execution, as opposed to the gut busting musicians from that era.

This is music for dancing and partying, but it works well for just listening too. In an interesting side note, each track comes with a bpm number, just like a modern dance record. So basically a DJ or mixing artist could use this CD of re-constituted older jazz music in a modern dance mix.

CANNONBALL ADDERLEY African Waltz

Album · 1961 · Big Band
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siLLy puPPy
After releasing his critically acclaimed and most popular albums of his career with such classics as “Something Else” on the Blue Note label, CANNONBALL ADDERLEY spent many years after pumping out album after album with totally new lineups with many of them including AFRICAN WALTZ ending up on the Riverside label. This album is completely different than ADDERLEY’s other albums which fall on the hard bop side of jazz. For AFRICAN WALTZ he has no less than 22 musicians on board including five trumpet players, four on trombone as well as other lesser used musical timbres such as bass trombone, tuba and of course ADDERLEY’s signature alto sax sound. This big band sound comes across as brash and bold with every track being carefully crafted for a full-on larger than life experience.

The album was built around the title track which was actually a surprise hit single in the UK for Johnny Dankworth. The huge big band experience was orchestrated by Ernie Wilkins, best known for his work with Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James and Dizzy Gillespie and the well seasoned approach to taming the large musical beast shines through as everything is perfectly executed. Trombonist Bob Brookmeyer also contributed the arrangements of two tracks. While this is a big band album through and through, this was the early 60s and there is plenty of evidence of the milestones in jazz that had recently come into play. The hard bop still finds its way into the musical compositions with several bass lines lifted right out of the 50s bop scene. The modal jazz set forth by Miles Davis shines through as well.

Since the eleven tracks on board are short with none venturing over the five minute mark, they hit hard and offer a quick and to-the-point approach that focuses most of all on the melodic development and like much in the big band world of jazz don’t rely on improvisation as much as other types of the genre. The only rip roaring solos found on this one are by ADDERLEY, his brother Nat Adderley on cornet with some lesser roles by pianist Wynton Kelly. The album has a hardcore exotica feel to it as well. It sounds like a 60s movie soundtrack of some sort and despite the title really evokes nothing AFRICAN at all in mood or musical texture.

While this album delivers some extremely strong well played pieces with a unique albeit bloated lineup, to my ears it sounds extremely powerful and confident and as far as early 60s jazz goes, quite catchy without ever entering syrupy ballad territory. It captures all the best aspects of big band jazz but offers the wild swinging tapestry of instruments so common in hard bop and more improvisational types of jazz. While AFRICAN WALTZ failed to inspire the fans at the time and has since been relegated to the bottom of the pile of ADDERLEY releases, i find this to be an exciting and exhilarating big band jazz experience with every track delivering high quality performances. Woefully underrated in most jazz circles.

DUKE ELLINGTON Duke Ellington, Volume 1 - Mrs. Clinkscales To The Cotton Club (1926-1929)

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Classic (1920s) Jazz
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The lengthy title to “Duke Ellington: Mrs Clinkscales to the Cotton Club Volume 1 1926-1929” pretty much tells you what you will find on here, or does it? Actually, despite the misleading title, this massive collection of music contains many tracks from 1924 and 1925, when Ellington was part of The Washingtonians. You would think the producers of this CD would be proud of this, as many Ellington collections don’t go back that far. Why they got part of the title wrong remains a mystery, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a great collection of music that often sells for a reasonable price. If you are wondering about the rest of the title, Mrs Clinkscales is the unlikely name of the piano teacher who set young Duke on his musical journey, and the Cotton Club is where Duke will find fame in the early 30s.

Late 20s jazz is a style you rarely hear from anymore. Other early jazz styles such as Dixieland, swing and New Orleans have so many revivals and re-constitutions that they have never really left us, but the high octane exuberant nature of 20s jazz makes it hard to incorporate into other styles. The late 20s was also a time of experimentation, with arrangers staying on top of the latest developments in concert hall compositions, as well as developing some tricks of their own. Although as his career will develop, Ellington will become a master of cool and sophisticated music, in the late 20s, his compositions matched the high speed tempos and bright major key tonalities of his contemporaries. In fact, as you listen to this collection chronologically, you can hear Ellington begin to introduce his slinky minor key noire sounds when songs like “East St Louis Toodle Oo” and “Black and Tan Fantasy” start to show up. As jazz began to change in the 30s, those relaxed minor key melodies stayed in the Ellington set, while the more ‘20s’ sounding fare got left behind.

Lots of good tracks on here, if you looking for the numbers with imaginative arrangements; CD 1 has “I’m Gonna Hang Around My Sugar” and CD 2 has “Hop Head”, “Washington Wobble” and Jubilee Stomp”. CD3 has “Hot and Bothered”and CD 4 has “Tiger Rag”. If you have any curiosity about late 20s jazz, this is a great place to start. For Ellington fans, this is a chance to hear the Duke in a style that he (or anyone else) never returned to.

early jazz movie reviews

JONI MITCHELL Shadows And Light

Movie · 1980 · Vocal Jazz
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Slartibartfast
Joni Mitchell meets The Pat Metheny Group.

What can I say? This was my real introduction into the music of Joni and what a place to start! She had really entered a new phase and the tracks offered span from Court And Spark up to Mingus (and of course, the song Shadows And Light, exclusive to the live album).

The concert was an outdoors affair at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. The liner notes say that "this concert catches Joni at the height of her artistic excellence." Having explored her albums after and before this era, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. Jaco Pastorius, who had a reputation at that point of being erratic in live situations, seems to be in a good mode. The camera work is good and the concert is now available on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio all of which make for a show worthy of revisiting from time to time.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
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A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Post Bop
CHARLES MINGUS
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Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Post Bop
MILES DAVIS
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