Content tagged 'Jazz'
The Shape of Jazz to Come (Album of the Day)
THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME may have seemed a bold title for Ornette Coleman's Atlantic Records debut, but the music on the 1959 collection absolutely justifies it. With an emphasis on melody and improvisation over chords and harmony (Coleman called his approach “harmolodic”), these six originals introduce the standard “Lonely Woman,” and offer the quartet – which includes future stars Don Cherry on cornet and Charlie Haden on bass - plenty of room to strut their instrumental stuff. A cornerstone of the free jazz movement, the album was initially controversial, but its landmark status is now unquestioned, and it has been named to both the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. Ornette Coleman passed away on this day in 2015 and we'll remember the pioneering performer with THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME.
I've Been Doin' Some Thinkin' (Album of the Day)
Fifty years ago today, Mose Allison entered Annex Recording Studios in Hollywood to begin work on I'VE BEEN DOIN' SOME THINKIN', the singer-songwriter's sixth album for Atlantic Records. Mose was one of the greatest lyricists in jazz history; when he started thinking, you were wise to start listening, and his sly wit sparkles on such originals as “Just Like Livin',” “Your Molecular Structure” and the wickedly barbed ballad “Everybody Cryin' Mercy” (there's also a sharp cover of “You Are My Sunshine” among these dozen tracks). Bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Bill Goodwin supply rhythm here, and Allison attacks the keyboard with particular gusto on the 1968 collection. This is cool jazz with some fire to it, and I'VE BEEN DOIN' SOME THINKIN' ranks with the performer's best.
My Favorite Things (Deluxe) (Album of the Day)
Rhino's John Coltrane anthology was subtitled “The Last Giant,” and that's no exaggeration - the saxophonist grew from accomplished sideman to sonic revolutionary before his untimely death from liver cancer on this day in 1967. Trane came into his own as a composer and group leader during his tenure with Atlantic Records, and MY FAVORITE THINGS, his 1961 album for the label, remains a highlight of his career. Along with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Steve Davis and drummer Elvin Jones, Coltrane employed extended improvisations to reinvent four standards, turning the title track into one of jazz music's signature recordings; the Deluxe Edition of MY FAVORITE THINGS includes the two-part single version of that song as a bonus.
My Feeling For the Blues (Album of the Day)
Freddie King, beloved by blues aficionados as “The Texas Cannonball,” was born on this day in 1934. While the performer had his biggest hits on the fabled King Records label during the 1960s, fans are quick to point out that King's end-of-the-decade stint on Atlantic produced work that was just as memorable. Case in point: MY FEELING FOR THE BLUES. The 1969 set, helmed by sax great King Curtis and featuring horn arrangements by Donny Hathaway, frames King's amazing axework perfectly, but the real revelation on these 11 tracks is how soulful Freddie was as a singer. From the opening “Yonder Wall” to the closing title track, the underrated MY FEELING FOR THE BLUES will have you feeling them, too.
The Best is Yet to Come (Album of the Day)
Born on this day 75 years ago, saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. was a pioneer of smooth jazz whose records remain wonderful listening. Case in point: 1982's THE BEST IS YET TO COME, which reached the R&B Top 10 as well as the No.1 slot on the Jazz chart. As with Washington's earlier WINELIGHT, the collection includes an irresistible single; the title track is driven by one of Patti Labelle's best-ever vocals. While Bobby McFerrin is also among the guest singers (“Things Are Getting Better”), it's the instrumental work by Grover and company – bassist Marcus Miller, keyboardist Richard Tee and percussionist Ralph McDonald are among the players here – that keeps the grooves flowing. Mellow, soulful and featuring a variety of tempos and arrangements that are always light on their feet, THE BEST IS YET TO COME is a terrific display of Washington's talents as songwriter, producer and performer.
Jump! (Album of the Day)
As a composer, performer and arranger, Van Dyke Parks has championed the rich history of American popular music in all its forms for nearly half a century, and JUMP! is one of his most delightful creations. The 1984 Warner Bros. collection uses the Uncle Remus folktales of Joel Chandler Harris as a jumping-off point, with Br'er Rabbit and his brethren as central characters in a song cycle of the South. Like the soundtrack to a Broadway musical of your dreams, the album couches Park's witty wordplay in such styles as bluegrass, ragtime, hot jazz and Tin Pan Alley, with a strong studio band (including such friends as Jennifer Warnes, Danny Hutton and Jim Keltner) behind the singer-songwriter. As Van Dyke Parks just celebrated a birthday, it's the perfect time to JUMP! into this rewarding record.
Bags & Trane (Album of the Day)
As vibraphonist for the Modern Jazz Quartet, Milt Jackson represented a more traditional approach to jazz than did John Coltrane at the beginning of the 1960s – the latter's “sheets of sound” approach placed the tenor saxophonist closer to the avant-garde. Yet somehow the pair's Atlantic album BAGS & TRANE was a match made in heaven. Recorded 60 years ago today, this outstanding collaboration was produced by Nesuhi Ertegun and engineered by Tom Dowd; its five tracks were supplemented by three bonus cuts in the digital era. MJQ drummer Connie Kay, bassist Paul Chambers and pianist Hank Jones provide remarkably sympathetic support on BAGS & TRANE, and the playing on such tracks as “Stairway To The Stars” is among the most evocative of Coltrane's career.
King Size Soul (Album of the Day)
A brilliant saxophone player, bandleader and producer, King Curtis was the secret weapon on many a recording session, and the artists he's backed would fill an entire wing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Curtis was a star in his own right with a string of releases on Atlantic, and 1967's KING SIZE SOUL remains one of his most enjoyable. With Atlantic stalwarts like Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd in the booth and his band The Kingpins joining him at the mic, the sax sensation cut ten tracks touching on rock and country as well as R&B, and both “Ode To Billie Joe” and signature song “Memphis Soul Stew” became Top 40 singles. King Curtis was born on this day in 1934, so we'll cue up KING SIZE SOUL to pay tribute to musical royalty.
Inside Your Love (Album of the Day)
George Benson is a superb singer as well as a gifted guitarist, and both sides of his talent are on full display on LIVIN' INSIDE YOUR LOVE. The 1979 Warner Bros. collection, helmed by producer Tommy LiPuma, is actually a double album, with a dozen tracks that let the man stretch out and play. With such greats in the band as drummer Steve Gadd and fellow fretman Earl Klugh (who penned the title track), the instrumental work is immaculate. Yet given the eclectic mix of material – which includes Goffin-King and Sam Cooke covers as well as three Benson originals - there are also some fine vocal numbers. A super-smooth fusion of pop, jazz and R&B, the gold-certified LIVIN' INSIDE YOUR LOVE is well worth revisiting this Black History Month.
Nocturnes (Album of the Day)
For multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef, jazz was a starting point for journeys that ventured into world music and beyond; his 1989 release NOCTURNES came on the heels of a Best New Age Album Grammy. As tough as the Atlantic collection is to pigeonhole, it's well-titled; the dozen tracks here evoke the mood of dark evenings with playing that ranges from stark dissonance to calm beauty. Lateef's flute, sax and keyboard work is complemented by a fine band including trumpeter Hugh Schick, and standouts include “Compassion Duration” and “Warm Intensity.” NOCTURNES celebrates its 30th anniversary this month, and its often ominous soundscapes still make for terrific late-night listening.