Early Jazz

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THELONIOUS MONK Monk's Music Album Cover Monk's Music
THELONIOUS MONK
4.86 | 16 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall Album Cover With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
THELONIOUS MONK
4.91 | 8 ratings
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CAB CALLOWAY Hi De Hi De Ho Album Cover Hi De Hi De Ho
CAB CALLOWAY
5.00 | 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 | 6 ratings
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BUDDY RICH Rich in London (aka Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's aka At Ronnie Scotts) Album Cover Rich in London (aka Very Alive at Ronnie Scott's aka At Ronnie Scotts)
BUDDY RICH
5.00 | 3 ratings
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THELONIOUS MONK Misterioso Album Cover Misterioso
THELONIOUS MONK
4.88 | 5 ratings
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BUDDY RICH No Funny Hats Album Cover No Funny Hats
BUDDY RICH
5.00 | 2 ratings
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PINETOP SMITH Pine Top Smith Boogie Woogie Piano Album Cover Pine Top Smith Boogie Woogie Piano
PINETOP SMITH
5.00 | 2 ratings
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STAN KENTON Standards in Silhouette Album Cover Standards in Silhouette
STAN KENTON
5.00 | 2 ratings
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ARTURO SANDOVAL Swingin' Album Cover Swingin'
ARTURO SANDOVAL
5.00 | 2 ratings
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ROBERTA FLACK First Take Album Cover First Take
ROBERTA FLACK
5.00 | 2 ratings
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BEN WEBSTER The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (aka King Of The Tenors) Album Cover The Consummate Artistry of Ben Webster (aka King Of The Tenors)
BEN WEBSTER
5.00 | 2 ratings
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early jazz Music Reviews

DAN BONSANTI The 14 Jazz Orchestra : Cartoon Bebop

Album · 2021 · Big Band
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js
Dan Bonsanti is a music educator and arranger working out of the Miami area for several decades now. Since 2015 he started a big band project called The 14 Jazz Orchestra, so named for the number of musicians in the band for performances. “Cartoon Bebop” is the band’s third album, and although the album title might imply some silliness, and the band does seem to have a lot of fun, but this album is mostly really solid contemporary big band arrangements and musicianship. Usually the band relies solely on local Miami players, but due to Covid, Dan had to reach out to musicians all around the country to complete this online endeavor. Although the parts were recorded separately using remote methods, you would not be able to tell unless someone told you. All of the performances are as lively and kinetic as you would get if all the players were assembled in one room.

The opening title track gets its name from the fact that the main theme borrows from the well known Bullwinkle and Rocky cartoon theme. Oddly enough, it ends up sounding like late 70s Weather Report, which is furthered by the fact that Peter Erskine from WR supplies the drum beat and Dan used to work with Jaco in big band settings. “Got a Match” is blazing fast bebop and features a furious sax solo from Ed Calle, who throws in a few Yardbird clichés, but often recalls Randy Brecker. Misturada and Dayride have Latin flavors that fit this band well and it would have been nice if Cisco Dimas’ trumpet solo could have gone on a little longer. “Driftin”, by Herbie Hancock, sports an arrangement that is a dead ringer for Quincy Jones, and “A Day Tripper’s Blues Buffet contorts the well known Beatles melody into a Texas blues shuffle with Lindsey Blair filling in for Stevie Ray Vaughn or Billy Gibbons.

Not everything on here is high energy, Bonsanti also includes a few ballads and waltzes to show off his use of tone colors that tend toward light, transparent textures, not heavy big band bombast. Of the mellower tracks, Chick Corea’s “Duende” carries dark noir sound colors and Wayme Shorter’s “Infant Eye’s” strikes an air of mystery with its exotic guitar melody. Its very impressive that Bonsanti and crew pulled off such a warm and energetic performance while recording by remote.

HORIZONS JAZZ ORCHESTRA The Brite Side

Album · 2019 · Big Band
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js
Horizons Jazz Orchestra is a South Florida all-star big band that grew out of the remains of Lee Harris and Dennis Noday’s Superband. The last Superband album was supposed to be a tribute to Harris, their lead arranger and composer, but Lee passed away before the album could be finished and many of the band’s performers moved on to other projects. Trombonist Michael Balogh decided to finish the project by inviting some of his favorite musicians to join the remaining members of Superband thereby creating a new ensemble, Horizons Jazz Orchestra, and “The Brite Side” is their debut album. As mentioned earlier, this album is a tribute to Lee Harris and every track but one is either a Harris original composition or arrangement.

Horizons plays bright upbeat big band music with a 60s-70s pop leaning that may remind some of Quincy Jones, Maynard Ferguson and Thad Jones. Many of the band members have ties to the Stan Kenton Orchestra, so there is that influence as well. Several tracks have that Four Brothers/Woody Herman smooth sax section ensemble work which comes as no surprise since section leader Billy Ross played in the Herman band as well as with many top names in pop and RnB. Lots of instantly recognizable jazz favorites are performed here along side Harris’ originals which are easy to pick up on at first listen. The ensemble work is flawless and the solos are short and to the point, this is big band music that can easily be enjoyed by non-jazz fans and big band aficionados alike.

Some top cuts include the high energy of “After You’ve Gone, Finally” and “Fourth Dimension” which feature that smooth Woody Herman sax ensemble sound. Title track “The Brite Side” sounds like a movie soundtrack performed with a lengthy multi-sectioned 70s progressive rock arrangement and “the Sound” features a noir ballad vehicle for the tenor saxophone soloing of Billy Ross. “A Train Bossa” shows how well “Take the A Train” takes to a bossa nova rhythm and “Red Apple Sweet” is a soul jazz workout for the Hammond B3 playing of Gary Mayone.

CHARLIE PARKER The Magnificent Charlie Parker (aka The Genius Of Charlie Parker #8: Swedish Schnapps)

Album · 1955 · Bop
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js
God bless Record Store Day, not only does it help support one of civilization’s finest institutions, ie your local record store, but it has also been encouraging labels to re-release classic vinyl albums that many of us thought would be forever unattainable. If you had told me a few years ago that I would soon be able to buy pristine copies of Charlie Parker LPs, I would have thought you plumb crazy, but then, here we are with another outstanding Record Store Day release in the form of “The Magnificent Charlie Parker”. This album was originally released in the mid-50s on the Clef album and it contains much of Clef’s Parker singles from 1951 when Bird was playing at his best. It’s a wonderful collection of singles all arranged in logical succession with no weird volume or sound quality leaps as you go track to track. Those who are familiar with some Parker CD collections will know what I mean by incongruent track succession.

Side one opens with four tracks that feature a young Miles on trumpet, as well as Max Roach on drums. Miles’ playing at that time was very clean and precise, revealing the influence of Clifford Brown, as well as Miles’ classical background. All of these tracks are great, with “She Rote” being the ultimate in bebop styled abstraction and modernity. The last two cuts on this side are exotica pop numbers with a vocal choir and small orchestra arrangement. by Gil Evans. Side two features Red Rodney on trumpet, possibly Parker’s most cohesive and inspiring sideman outside of Dizzy Gillespie. This group also features a young John Lewis on piano before he became known as a purveyor of 3rd stream chamber jazz.

Every track on here is excellent and its nice that the song choices lean away from show tunes and more towards bebop originals that really bring out the witty urban flavor of one of jazz’s most creative eras. I think there are only about 3000 copies of this available, so grab it while you can.

DEODATO Artistry

Live album · 1974 · Big Band
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dreadpirateroberts
On ‘Artisry’ Deodato’s arrangements of classical covers (and his Latin, smooth jazz pieces too) are fleshed out by an orchestra and it’s great to hear them with extra depth compared to the studio recordings.

The sound is maybe a bit ‘warmer’ in a live setting and the band seem to be having a good time too, which I noticed on “St. Louis Blues” and “Superstrut” – especially John Tropea on guitar. Maybe the set list draws a little too heavily from ‘Deodato 2’ compared to what I’d hoped for but if you want a more comprehensive collection of live songs you might have to look to the latter stages of his discography.

DIZZY GILLESPIE The Small Groups 1945-1946 Original Recordings

Boxset / Compilation · 1970 · Bop
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js
If you are looking for that unmistakable sound of early bebop on vinyl and don’t want to spend a bundle, then you might want to keep an eye out for, “Dizzy Gillespie: The Small Groups {1945 - 1946}”, on the Phoenix label. This is an excellent compilation that came out in the 70s and shows up in used stores and the internet for very reasonable prices. The music on here comes from five different recording sessions, every track features Dizzy, while other tracks feature varying bebop greats such as Charlie Parker, Al Haig, Sonny Stitt, Curly Russell and more.

Side one opens with a band that is more in a pre-bop swing style, but when we hit track five, Sonny Stitt and Al Haig have stepped in to push things in a more modern direction. The big revelation all through this side is Chuck Wayne’s jaggedy swinging guitar lines. Alice Roberts guests to sing a bluesy “A Handfulla of Gimmie”, and “Blue ‘N’ Boogie” features a young Dexter Gordon on tenor sax. Side two features Charlie Parker and starts off with a band that is competent, but not quite up to what Bird n Diz are capable of. For the second half of this side, Al Haig takes the piano chair and Curly Russell picks up the bass and now we are in abstract cubist bebop heaven. The recorded sound on “Salt Peanuts” is perfect for this era, unfortunately, the next three tracks fall off a bit in the high end department, but are still enjoyable and musically superb, the best tracks on the record.

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)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
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The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
CHARLES MINGUS
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Blue Train Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
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