|Anthony “Kinda Blu” Callender|
|13 December 1999|
Eric Dolphy lives! Yes, Eric Dolphy is alive! “Eric Dolphy, The Illinois Concert”, (Blue Note 724349982628) showcases the “Wise One” with an up and coming 22 year old Herbie Hancock on piano. Joined by Eddie Khan (b) and J.C. Moses (ds), this quartet date is a classic. With just about fifteen months left in his earthly life, Dolphy stretches out in this live performance. One can hear so much of Charlie Parker in him on alto saxophone. Yet, on flute and bass clarinet he was clearly in a class of his own. Born on June 22, 1927, of West Indian descent and raised in Los Angeles, Eric Dolphy was to become one of the premier innovators of the music we call jazz. He grew up in the company of so many talented musicians – bassists Charles Mingus and George “Red” Callender, flutists Buddy Collette, and trumpeter, band leader, arranger, and personal friend Gerald Wilson.
I was drawn to Eric’s music after listening to him on bass clarinet on Coltrane’s “Spirtual” from the Vanguard recordings. This has to be one of the most memorable solos of all time. Eric is also featured prominently on several excellent Oliver Nelson recordings including the classic (must getz) “The Blues And The Abstract Truth” on the Impulse label.
His own “Outward Bound” (OJCCD-022-2) is awesome – listen to his bass clarinet solo on the track “Green Dolphin Street.” Eric must have been a wonderful person – his music tells us so. Unfortunately Eric died on June 29, 1964, in Berlin, Germany. However, he did not leave us without some measure of comfort as a host of recordings are available, but more on Eric at another time.
For more about Eric Dolphy I recommend the book “Eric Dolphy- A Musical Biography & Discography by Vladimir Simosko & Barry Tepperman, published by Da Capo Press, New York, and the documentary video entitled “Last Date.”
Two Hard Bop Mainstays
Hank Mobley and Cedar Walton co-led a hard-bop quintet in the late seventies, which can be heard on “Breakthrough” (32Jazz 32148). Hank was the heart and soul of the Blue Note label from the mid-fifties on as both a leader and sideman. He and Cedar are alumni of the Blakey University of Art. Hank was in the first graduating class of Messengers that included Kenny Dorham (tp), and Horace Silver (p). Cedar enrolled several years later with classmates Freddie Hubbard (tp), Wayne Shorter (ts) and Curtis Fuller (tb). For many, jazz in the late 60s and early 70’s suffered. However, this CD is a tribute to those who kept the flame burning through that dark and desolate period until the music blossomed again in the eighties.
Curtis Fowlkes’ “Catfish Corner Reflect” (Knitting Factory KFR 246) was recommended to me as a “burner” by a Fowlkes associate from their Brownsville, Brooklyn days, Clarence Mosley. Clarence was on the money here! Fowlkes is known as a co-leader of the Jazz Passengers along with Ray Nathanson. However, this CD is his own and it swings and burns. Check it out. Fowlkes is joined by Sam Furnace (as), Russ Johnson (tp), Ted Cruz on keyboards (sharing production credits with Mr. Fowlkes, Carlos Henderson (b), Duncan Cleary (g), and Shelia Provost (voc).
I picked up Chic Corea and Origin’s “Change” (Concord SCD-9023-2). It is a very thoughtful and thought provoking recording by a piano master. “Change” is comprised of the Chic and Bob Shepherd (ts, bcl, and fl), Steve Wilson (ss, as, fl, and cl), Steve Davis ( tb), Avishai Cohen (b), and Jeff Ballard (ds). I found this CD is a monster and is one of my favorites of this year’s releases.
Adonis Rose’s “The Unity” (Criss Cross Jazz 1173) is his second recording for the label and it is a delight. His bandmates are Tim Warfield (ts), Nicholas Payton (tp), Anthony Wonsey (p), and Reuben Rogers (b). He and his band explore two Wayne Shorter tunes, “Dolores” and “Anna Maria,” a standard “I Remember You” (listen to Nicholas on this one), a Wonsey original and three Rose originals. Tim Warfield still makes me shake my head in wonder. His creativity is boundless. And, Nicholas Payton is right there with him. Wonsey is not half-stepping and neither is Rogers. However, this is still Adonis’ CD and he guides the group from start to finish and maintains the unity of it all.
Conrad Herwig has a new release “Osteology” (Criss Cross Jazz 1176). Steve Davis (tb), David Kikoski (p), Jeff Genus (b), and Jeff “Tain” Watts (ds) join Mr. Herwig. I believe that Osteology is the study of bones and these two specialists demonstrate that they are just what the doctor ordered. You have got to hear “It ain’t necessarily So”. Kikoski is also a standout, and the CD is kicking.
For Us Blue Note Junkies
Michael Cuscuna has dug deep into the Blue Note vaults as evidenced by the labels’ recent reissues. Bobby Hutcherson’s “The Kicker” (Blue Note 21437), Dizzy Reece’s “Comin’ On” (Blue Note 22019), Art Blakey’s “Drums Around the Corner” (Blue Note 21455) and “The Lost Sessions” (Blue Note 21484) by various artists are standouts.
Vibist Bobby Hutcherson is accompanied by Joe Henderson (ts), Grant Green (g), Duke Pearson (p), Bob Cranshaw (b) and Brooklyn’s own Al Harewood (ds). The date starts off with “If Ever I should Leave You”, and the swinging doesn’t end until the last note of “Bedouin,” the closer written by Duke Pearson.
Dizzy Reece, the Jamaican-born, Great Britain-bred trumpeter is the leader on these two dates combined on one CD. On the first, he is joined by the Stanley Turrentine (ts), Bobby Timmons, (p), Jymie Merritt (b) and Art Blakey (ds). The second date pairs him with Stanley Turrentine again, Musa Kaleem (ts), Duke Jordan (p), Sam Jones (b) and Al Harewood. Dizzy could blow with the best as one can easily hear on this soulful and swinging CD, although I feel that Stanley the Steamer steals the show on both dates – check it out!
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers minus its then saxophonist, Benny Golson and augmented by drummers and percussionist such as Roy Haynes, Philly Joe Jones, showcased some of the top drummers of the day in this mostly percussion outing. Lee Morgan is the only horn on this session, but that is plenty.
“The Lost Sessions” features various artists whose recordings were either not able to complete an LP or whose music was not deemed suitable for release by Blue Note executives at that time. Nevertheless, the Lost Sessions CD contains quite a few gems in its twelve tracks of which ten have never been previously released.
My favorites here are Charlie Rouse’s (ts) “One for Five” with Freddie Hubbard (tp), McCoy Tyner (p), Bob Cranshaw (b), and Mr. Billy Higgins (ds). Four cuts from a rejected Tad Dameron date are also noteworthy. The tunes are “The Elder Speaks”, “Bevan Beeps”, Lament for the Living”, and “Aloof Spoof”. Now check out this lineup: Donald Byrd (tp), Curtis Fuller (tb), Julius Watkins (frh), Sam Rivers (ts), Brooklyn’s own Cecil Payne (bs) Tadd Dameron (p), Paul Chambers (b), and Philly Joe Jones (ds) -isn’t it unreal. The tracks with Ike Quebec (as leader and sideman) are swinging as is the rendition of “Lady Be Good” by the sultans of sax, Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt.
A friend of mine recently poked fun about us “Blue Note” junkies. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit the Note has my nose (old Brooklyn slang for being in love). And, I am not alone. Blue Note gave us a catalog of some of the finest bop ever recorded. So it is only natural that we get excited whenever a Blue Note recording date is reissued. Remember, up until a few years ago Blue Note reissues were few and far between.
Since the last edition we have lost trumpeter Art Farmer, and vibist Milt Jackson. We will miss them.
Art was not one of my favorites. I had heard a lot of his ballad-oriented records and truthfully I was not moved. In the past ten years I grew to appreciate him as I heard more of his hard-bop recordings with his own groups and the Jazztet, which he co-led with Benny Golson.
I recommend “Early Art” (OJCCCD 880-2/New Jazz 8258). Sonny Rollins is on four of the tracks, and Horace Silver and Wynton Kelly also accompany Art on piano. “When Farmer Met Gryce” (OJCCD072-2/Prestige 7085) is also recommended. This CD is made up of two sessions featuring Art and the scholarly Gigi Gryce (as) as co-leaders. On one-half of the CD Horace Silver (p), Percy heath (b), and Kenny Clarke (ds) ably assist them. Freddie Redd (p), Addison Farmer (b) (Art’s twin), and Arthur Taylor (ds) round out the band on the second date. Also consider “The Art Farmer Quintet” (OJCCD 241-2/Prestige 7017. Art and Gigi Gryce team up again, and they are joined by another of Brooklyn’s own, Duke Jordan (p), Addison Farmer (b), and the legendary Philly Joe Jones. Art and his various crews swing on these mid-fifties dates. His work with Benny Golson another great saxophonist-writer-arranger like Gryce is highly recommended.
“Meet the Jazztet” (Chess CHD91550–MCA) is a classic. This edition of the Jazztet included Curtis Fuller (tb), McCoy Tyner (p), Addison Farmer (b), and Lex Humphries (ds). Listen to “Blues March” and “Killer Joe” on this one. Another Jazztet date of note is “Here and Now” (Verve 314558052222) with Grachan Moncour III (tb), Harold Mabern (p), Herbie Lewis (b), and Roy McCurdy (ds). These were some of the many highlights of Art’s career.
I quickly became a fan of Milt “Bags” Jackson after hearing him on a commercial date from the seventies called “Sunflower” (CBS Associates ZK40800). Years later I picked up his album with Coltrane entitled “Bags and Trane” (Atlantic Jazz 1368-2). That was just the beginning, but I must name several CDs if I am going to try to do justice to Milt. Get all the Savoy recordings, yes you did not read this incorrectly, get them all! None of you will be disappointed. Get them all. They include the following: “Opus De Jazz” (Savoy SV 0109) with Frank Wess (ts) and (fl), Hank Jones (p), Eddie Jones (b), and Kenny Clarke (ds), “Meet Milt Jackson” (Savoy SV –0172) with a hold host of musicians including Lucky Thompson (ts) Kenny Clarke (ds), Frank Morgan (as), Gerald Wiggins (p), Percy Heath (b), and Roy Haynes (ds), Roll’em Bags” (Savoy SV 0110), “The Jazz Skyline’ (Savoy SV 0173), and “Jackson’s-Ville” Savoy SV 0175) both with Lucky Thompson, (ts), Hank Jones (p), Wendell Marshall (b), and Kenny Clarke (ds).
“Milt Jackson” (Blue NoteCDP 7815092) with Thelonios Monk (p), and Lou Donaldson (as) among others is another important recording. Then check out his Riverside recordings.
My favorites include “Live at the Village Vanguard” (OJCCD-309-2) with Jimmy Heath (ts), Hank Jones (p), Bob Cranshaw (b), and Al Heath (ds), and
“Invitation” (OJCCD 260-2) with Kenny Dorham (tp), Virgil Jones (tp), Jimmy Heath (ts), Tommy Flanagan (p), Ron Carter (b), and Connie Kay (ds). These recordings give a good account of Art and Milt who contributed so much to the music.
Often I use the following abbreviations to indicate the instrument played by each musician in a band:
as=alto sax, bs=baritone sax, ss=soprano sax, ts=tenor sax, fl=flute, cl=clarinet, bcl=bass clarinet, tb=trombone, tp=trumpet, cor=cornet, flgh=flugel horn, frh=french horn, g=guitar, p=piano, b=bass, ds=drums, voc=voice/vocals
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