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
4.87 | 4 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
4.71 | 13 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Dream Album Cover Monk's Dream
THELONIOUS MONK
4.66 | 13 ratings
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CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho Album Cover Hi De Hi De Ho
CAB CALLOWAY
5.00 | 2 ratings
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early jazz Music Reviews

JONI MITCHELL Hejira

Album · 1976 · Vocal Jazz
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progshine
Flashback: About 15 years ago it was not as easy as today, the internet world already existed and already gave all the signs of what the future would be like for music, but it still was not what it is today: a click and we heard a record...

So, my first real exposure to the music of Joni Mitchell was with what I could lay my hands on: and it was the 'Dog Eat Dog' album that I accidentally found in a second hand shop in the center of São Paulo for less than a dollar.

Well, now I know that this is not even close the best way to know Joni's music, Dog Eat Dog is pretty bad.

Back to the present. A few days ago I was watching for the second time the documentary Jaco and she appeared there talking about the album Hejira (in which Jaco Pastorius plays), and suddenly I remembered how much I love her music and that I had not yet heard Hejira.

Joni Mitchell has always been a goddess as a songwriter, her way of playing the guitar (with several different tunings) open new melodies and her compositions gain an even more original air. It's no different in Hejira. This record sounds so modern and up to date, even today. It fits in with Jazz Fusion, which had been developed a few years prior and was about to open doors with names like Weather Report, Return to Forever and Al Di Meola, but it is also Folk and it works, very well!

Hejira is a pleasure to hear from beginning to end and worth the hearing.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Dizzy Gillespie - Stan Getz Sextet : More Of The Diz And Getz Sextet

Album · 1954 · Bop
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js
The late 1953 recording session that brought us “The Dizzy Gillespie-Stan Getz Sextet” yielded enough top notch material that the folks at Verve quickly followed that one with “More of the Diz and Getz Sextet”, which was made up of four more tracks from that initial recording session, plus one newer track that Dizzy recorded with a different band. The quality of the tracks on “More of Diz and Getz” is fairly comparable to the first album, if they are slightly lesser tracks, it isn’t by much.

This album opens with a high speed blues-bop jam that builds in intensity as the solos are passed from Oscar to Herb, then Stan and finally Dizzy. When Gillespie hits his ride, Herb Ellis’ loud ferocious comping pushes Dizzy to new heights in a wonderfully chaotic buildup. This track is followed by a mellow blues original by Dizzy which he recorded with a different lineup from the all-star cast that makes up the rest of this album. This doesn’t mean there is a drop off in the quality of the playing though, Oscar Peterson may be a technically brilliant player, but Wade Legge’s more lyrical approach may be more interesting. The third cut, “Girl of my Dreams”, continues with the mellow vibe, this time with the all-star support group back on board. The final two cuts are two different versions of “Siboney”, first played as an up-tempo bop number, and secondly, in a Latin jazz style. These final two tracks are probably the highlight of the album as Stan and Dizzy both turn in inspired solos. Its also interesting to note that Stan and Diz will continue their interest in Latin jazz, with Diz going in an Afro-Cuban direction, while Stan will pursue the Bossa-Nova fad.

In later years, these two different albums of material by this sextet will be combined into one album under various re-issue titles. Whatever the title, any of these albums are highly recommended for fans of high quality be-bop.

DIZZY GILLESPIE The Dizzy Gillespie - Stan Getz Sextet

Album · 1954 · Bop
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js
“The Dizzy Gillespie-Stan Getz Sextet” may not seem like a particularly imaginative album title, but when this album came out in the early 50s, grouping those two artists together was all it took to grab people’s attention in anticipation of what they may come up with. In those days, Dizzy was the master of east coast high energy be-bop, while Getz was the king of west coast cool, this may have seemed like an unlikely pairing at first, but when they recorded together, they meshed and pushed each other to come up with a sum that was even greater than its talented parts. Adding to the attention grabbing aspects of this record, the backup band is an all-star one with Max Roach on drums, Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Herb Ellis on guitar.

The album opens on fire as they take on a high speed bopped out version of Ellington’s “It don’t Mean a Thing…”, Getz shows he can hang with some of the best high speed soloists of the time as his fiery solo is sandwiched in between Dizzy and Oscar’s euphoric rides. This number is followed by the recognizable melody of Ellington’s “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”, which finds the band in a more relaxed mode. This swing groove will also carry over to the following track, “Exactly Like You”. On both of these numbers Dizzy often plays in a softer mode, possibly a nod to Stan’s west coast sensibilities. Throughout the entire record, Stan and Diz engage in creative interplay, often both will state a melody at the same time in their own style which then comes together in unexpected ways. Max Roach’s interesting and unorthodox approach to the drums also adds to that element of surprise. The album closes with the ballad, “Talk of the Town”, on which Getz’s main talent shows through as he was already becoming known as one of the smoothest ballad players since Lester Young.

This is an ‘album’ from the early days, which means a 10” record and about twenty minutes of music. In later years, this record, plus other material that was recorded that day, will come out on various LPs, often with tiles such as “Diz and Getz”. This session features some of the best jazz musicians of all time in a one time only get together, and they don’t disappoint as they work together as if they had been together a long time. Its the relaxed and creative musical conversation that takes place among the participants that puts this album on the 'genius' level.

MICA BETHEA Stage 'N Studio

Album · 2017 · Big Band
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js
The days of traveling big bands going from town to town and entertaining dancing patrons passed long ago, but in the last couple decades, big bands have been making a comeback as a vehicle for composer/arrangers to display what they can do with tone color and part arranging to achieve music that can not be done with a smaller ensemble. This leads us to Mica Bethea, an ambitious composer/arranger who works out of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Maybe its because Mica isn’t associated with NYC that his name is not as well known yet, but his new CD, “Stage ‘n Studio”, should help change that. This is an excellent modern big band recording with complex music that is both challenging, but also loads of fun too. Not only is Mica a top notch arranger for pieces by well known composers such as Herbie Hancock, Harold Arlen and George Gershwin, but his original compositions are often better than the aforementioned better known composers.

“Stage n’ Studio’ is a tale of two CDs in one package. CD one consists of eight tunes recorded in the studio, while CD two contains many of the same tunes, plus a couple different ones, recorded live. For my money, I think the live CD is the stronger of the two, not only is the playing more loose and energetic, but even the sound mix and production have a stronger congruence than CD one. The tunes on the two CDs are roughly 80% the same, but once again, where there are differences, the choice of tunes on CD two is better. The range of music on here is varied from fusion to bop, plus a couple ballads as well. Bethea sites Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, Thad Jones and Maria Schneider as influences, and you can hear all that, plus on “Frahm out of Nowhere” you can hear a hard driving Quincy Jones TV theme effect, and that is most definitely a complement. Other top tracks include, “Birth Rite”, a beautiful Bethea original ballad that shows the Gil Evans influence, as well as a taste of French composers like Maurice Ravel. The arrangement of Herbie’s well known funk classic “Hang Up Your Hang Ups” is a total gas, excellent music to crank up in the car as you beat the traffic. “Jonesin for Thad” is another top notch Micah original that swings like crazy as complex horn lines intersect in a tribute to the arranging style of Thad Jones.

I can’t say enough good things about this CD, this is very exciting music and highly recommended for fans of modern big band. Give Micah a chance to engage your ears (and dancing feets), I don’t think you will be disappointed.

TAL COHEN Tal Cohen & Danielle Wertz : Intertwined

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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Carmel
The voice of an angel, supported by an able and crafty pianist is what you will get when listening to Intertwined, joined on tracks “Beautiful Love,” and “Autumn Leaves,” by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, the trio, which is mostly a duo, have created a deliciously engaging offering.

Why is it special you ask? This answer is found in Wertz voice, she has a pure and crystalline tone, each word is given meaning. As a listener, I found myself constantly being entranced by her voice. Unlike many of her contemporaries there is truth in her voice, it’s not prattled with theatrics, or acrobatics, hers is a voice that just speaks through beauty, as if each word is like honey dripping from her lips. Many of the vocalists that are so long lasting in our minds, exhibit these same qualities, it is their ability to honestly convey the lyric that is so appealing. Though young in age, Wertz is matured in her delivery, rounded in her ideas, and savory in her lines.

Fine examples of this are exhibited on tunes like “Beautiful Love,” opened by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, whose tone is refined and unaffected. Augmented by pianist Tal Cohen, the three work through the nuances of the tune, with hits and accents that embellish the lyric with interest. Wertz uses her voice as a vehicle that conveys the lyric, but also as a unified instrument contributing to the overall success of the track.

The title track “Intertwined,” is a wordless melody that Wertz works with the dynamics of her voice, just as a horn in a duo setting. She opens and closes her voice and uses swells to create useful texture changes, passages and solo lines with pianist Tal Cohen, which I might add are very effective. The two meld as a perfect instrument of song. Many times, with duo recordings, you find yourself noticing the spaces a bit too much. Cohen’s colorizations support and add interest and Wertz interacts with seamless resolve.

A bit father into the program we stop at “Manhattan in the Rain,” a moody reflective piece written by Duncan Lamont. Wertz’ delicate treatment is convincing, while Cohen creates a canvas of beautiful flowing lines, almost like a windy day with raining streams. You can hear the smile and joy in Wertz voice as the blossom of love, is in the air.

Overall, Intertwined is a delightful intertwining of what is best about young artists. Untarnished by the politics of music, what is brought forth is pure, innocent and simply beautiful. The promise of the moment, and being able to be free enough to live it, in the moment. This is a lasting work for a debut offering, and certainly it makes sense why Wertz was semi-finalists in the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. She certainly has won me over.

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.

Artists with Early Jazz release(s)

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