Jaki Byard - The Jaki Byard Experience

Jaki Byard The Jaki Byard Experience (Prestige 1969)

The Jaki Byard Experience is not for the faint-hearted.

Jaki Byard - The Jaki Byard Experience

Personnel

Jaki Byard (piano), Roland Kirk (tenor saxophone, clarinet, manzello), Richard Davis (bass), Alan Dawson (drums)

Recorded

on September 17, 1968 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PR 7615 in 1969

Track listing

Side A:
Parisian Thoroughfare
Hazy Eve
Shine On Me
Side B:
Evidence
Memories Of You
Teach Me Tonight


No doubt, those that long for the continuous flow of the sounds of surprise go to Jaki Byard and Roland Kirk. In particular The Jaki Byard Experience, which most likely brings about shock, curiosity, delight and finally surrender. Two distinctly unconventional individuals for the price of one. The quartet of Byard’s eleventh album on Prestige is completed by bassist Richard Davis and drummer Alan Dawson, a sublime duo that bonded with Byard for the first time in 1963 and whose instincts are cooperative instead of merely supportive.

Although active in the Boston area since the late 40s, Byard made his mark in New York with Charles Mingus in the early 60’s, dazzling listeners and audiences with his eclectic style. Kirk burst on the same scene around that time; blind one-man-band playing tenor sax and exotic saxes that he found in shops like the stritch and manzello, adding whistles that hung on his chest, shoulder, hip or even ear, appearing to be a sideshow attraction to the general audience, a musician with exceptional declarations of independence to cogniscenti and colleagues.

Both shared the gift of mining the multi-faceted tradition and simultaneously pushing it to its outer limits, both were unique personalities that refused to take indiscriminately the innovations of Ornette Coleman, playing a kind of hide and seek with avant-garde instead of merely engaging in ersatz Free Jazz. Byard’s encyclopedic knowledge of early jazz forms is legendary. Kirk, who also landed a place in Charles Mingus’s band in the early 60’s, mixed blues with modernity and unusual virtuosity. Their music is a world unto its own. And it brims with enthusiasm. Like Thelonious Monk’s music.

An improviser should work with the fixed material in a piece to avoid hackneyed phrases.

That’s Monk, the Buddha of jazz, occasionally breaking silence with conceptions that are at once practical and enigmatic. Paradoxically, what seems to be a knockdown argument led him down the path of “rooted freedom” as opposed to freedom for freedom’s sake. Freedom for freedom’s sake is a dead end street. Free love is ok but mostly equates with detachement. The opportunities inherent to mass consumption suck: fast food and sugar are killers. Both conceptions ultimately exhaust themselves in the need to preserve meaning. The equilibrium of passion and reason cannot blossom in the absence of transcendence. Monk may have been a puzzling personality but he most likely had rooted freedom on his mind while teaching beautiful and original alternate chords to friends and journeymen, and writing Trinkle Tinkle and Criss Cross.

And Byard and Kirk understood. As a result, one gets served a dish of delicious music that while worked out within the textures of harmony and melody, sends mysterious scents out the backyard into the alley and teases the palate with an abundance of spicy flavors; implicit loyalty to unpredictability and deeds of gutsy passion that keeps any negative sensation of self-consciousness out the door.

One gets a rebellious version of Bud Powell’s Parisian Thoroughfare, which is introduced by a turbulent intro in the root key, segues crisply into the theme and is developed with the thunderous blasts of Kirk’s solo’s on, respectively, manzello and tenor saxophone. Manzello Kirk is a scudding jaguar. Tenor Kirk is the leader of the buffalo tribe, deceptively light on his feet and howling with fatherly authority. On both instruments, Kirk’s sense of old-fashioned swing is palpable and his timing is angular and agile throughout his long story, which ends with a roar on simultaneously played horns.

Byard throws himself into battle with hammering bass notes, shrewd combinations of distorted chords, endless staccato bop motives and a climax of tart Earl Hines-ish embellishments. His rubato interaction with Alan Dawson’s snare rolls is one of the examples of the quartet’s sublime and lively interaction. As is the high energy of bassist Richard Davis. Davis has his share of storytelling, mixing strong arco bass with mischievous dissonance and bended notes on multiple strings. This is jazz that rivals the archetypical rock bands of the late 60’s. Mind you, on acoustic instruments!

It makes sense that Byard included a composition of Monk, himself a master of dedication. Evidence is the session’s second example of controlled mayhem. Perhaps the curious balancing act of Kirk, a rollercoaster ride of phrases that are wrenched from his gut and purposefully evade the changes, may be hard to digest. Regardless, it is a rare feat. Kirk apparently only takes a breath twice. Cat with the lungs of a whale.

One gets the hefty boogaloo treatment of the traditional Shine On Me, romantic and sardonic piano-bass duet of Hazy Eve, twisted Fats Waller homage of Memories Of You. Coasting is absent in Byard’s case. He’s the guy that wears haute couture on top and shorts beneath, strollin’ on the snow-bound path. Kirk’s the man on the barstool whom everyone tells his stories too. And he’ll remark: “Never end your sentences on a vowel.” They are the proud underdog. One wonders if Byard’s recorded vocal that precedes the opening of Parisian Thoroughfare and the record – “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” – is pride or pastiche.

Definitely the things they’re saying so loud are of the utmost excitement and authority.

Shirley Scott - Hip Soul

Shirley Scott Hip Soul (Prestige 1961)

Hip couple, hip soul. Finding a hip crowd for the collaborations between wife and husband Shirley Scott and Stanley Turrentine was a cinch.

Shirley Scott - Hip Soul

Personnel

Shirley Scott (organ), Stanley Turrentine (tenor saxophone), Herbie Lewis (bass), Roy Brooks (drums)

Recorded

on June 2, 1961 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as PRLP 7205 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
Hip Soul
411 West
By Myself
Side B:
Trane’s Blues
Stanley’s Time
Out Of This World


Organist Shirley Scott released no less than eighteen albums on Prestige from 1958-61, including the subsidiary label Moodsville. Excluding six albums that the company released from 1965-67, when Scott had already become part of the Impulse label roster. Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine, married to Scott in 1961 and divorced in 1971, guest-starred on five albums by Scott on Prestige and Impulse. In turn, Scott was featured on four of her husband’s Blue Note albums.

They not only had grown accustomed to each other’s faces on daily bases, meshing musical styles hardly posed a problem. Scott had started her organ combo career with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and therefore had plenty experience of playing with a highly original tenor saxophonist. The collaboration of Scott and Turrentine is about the blues and a fair share of standards and modern jazz. It comes as no surprise that the prolific recording duo was a popular attraction in the circuit of clubs of the soul jazz era.

The beautiful Shirley Scott looked great on a record cover, and high-spirited. Don’t mess with Shirley. Music-wise, her tasteful, driving playing style demands attention. Largely ignoring the revolution of Jimmy Smith, Scott preserved an orchestral approach during her years on Prestige, the settings of her organ ‘old-fashioned’ almost like Wild Bill Davis, the style full of gospel and swing and with few tinges of bop. It is only during her tenure on Impulse that Scott expands her territory with more elaborate single lines and a more modern sound.

Hip Soul is as good an example as any of the Scott/Turrentine combinations on Prestige. The group, including bassist Herbie Lewis and drummer Roy Brooks, performs the mid-tempo, down-home blues of Hip Soul, the sophisticated melody of Benny Golson, 411 West, the pleasurable standard By Myself, John Coltrane’s (surprise pick) Trane’s Blues, the catchy blues line by Turrentine, Stanley’s Time and Arlen/Mercer’s Out Of This World. Sounds like an appropriate second set at, say, New Jersey’s Club Harlem or Chicago’s Theresa’s Lounge, the crowd in anticipation of another hour of lurid down-home jazz.

They take their time to stretch out during the course of the very enjoyable 11 minutes of Out Of This World. Scott’s solo consists almost strictly of chords, the suspense hinging on voicing, her meaty touch and gospel feeling. Turrentine, the Single Malt of tenor saxophonists, all peat, oak, berries, cutting the phlegm and leaving a layered taste in the palate, demonstrates his unique way of bending blues-infested notes, sometimes stretching them as little but imposing wails, a hypnotizing brew. He swiftly phrases through his finest story of the album.

Stanley Turrentine passed away in 2000. Shirley Scott in 2002.

Stan Levey - Grand Stan

Stan Levey Grand Stan (Bethlehem 1957)

Stan Levey’s Grand Stan is a crackerjack example of West Coast hard bop.

Stan Levey - Grand Stan

Personnel

Stan Levey (drums), Conte Candoli (trumpet), Richie Kamuca (tenor saxophone), Frank Rosolino (trombone), Leroy Vinegar (bass)

Recorded

in November 1956 in Los Angeles, California

Released

as Bethlehem 71 in 1957

Track listing

Side A:
Yesterdays
Angel Cake
Why Do I Love You
Grand Stan
Side B:
Hit That Thing
Blues At Sunrise
A Gal In Calico
Tiny’s Tune


Steam came out of Gerry Mulligan’s ears. It took a couple of years to evaporate. On account of his popular piano-less quartet with Chet Baker, the baritone saxophonist became synonymous with West Coast Jazz. But, assuming that West Coast Jazz was, opposed to the edgy and hot East Coast Jazz, polished, arranged and cool, it dealt Mulligan, regardless of his contributions to ‘cool’ music, very short. To say that West Coast was white and East Coast black isn’t entirely accurate. To say that it is laid-back and relaxed as a result of the sunny climate, as Shelly Manne suggested, is open for debate. Ever heard that argument in a discussion of West and East Coast rap music in the 90’s? Momentarily, who knows, until that fateful day everybody killed everybody in a battle royale.

Music that relied heavily on arrangement and composition instead of individual expression may have been predominant, largely created by musicians that came from the bands of Claude Thornhill, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton and mostly on Capitol, Contemporary and Pacific. But the Brooklyn-born, extraordinary drummer and club owner Shelly Manne is responsible for one of the greatest series of live hard bop recordings – Live At The Blackhawk Vol. 1-5 – in jazz. Les McCann released his gospel truths on Pacific Jazz. Shorty Rogers was in fact a smokin’ trumpeter, Bud Shank turned out to be a gritty saxophone player in his later years. L.A.’s Central Avenue was a hotbed of bebop in the late 40’s and of great influence on the next generation. The City of Angels was a place where Eastern expatriates Harold Land and Elmo Hope recorded some of their best work. Labeling, part human impulse, part sales ploy, has the tendency to confuse rather than clarify.

And Stan Levey? Stan Levey was hot! Born in Philadelphia in 1926, the drummer made his first important mark in the mid-40’s as a collaborator of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford, one of the earliest white colleagues of the fathers of bebop, expanding on the rhythmic example set by Kenny Clarke. Levey moved to the West Coast in 1954 after a stint with Stan Kenton, joining the Howard Rumsey All-Stars and building one of the most prolific West Coast careers in jazz and the Hollywood studios. In a career that spanned approximately thirty years – Levey retired in 1974 to become a professional photographer – Levey performed and recorded with an iconic who’s who of jazz, from Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Art Pepper, Oscar Peterson to Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.

Levey recorded a couple of cookin’ solo albums as well, among those Grand Stan, released on Bethlehem in 1957. Bethlehem: odd but great-sounding name for a record label. Founded, by the way, in New York City by Swiss émigre Gus Wildi in 1953. Interesting label. Would’ve been appropriate if it had recorded Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, the Jesus Christ of Jazz, part rebel rouser, part Messiah, at least once before he stepped on a rainbow or, more appropriately, flew the coop. Bethlehem presented great sleeves and Grand Stan, designed by the widely admired Burt Goldblatt, is no exception. It furthermore offers a lovely in-joke title and a cast that features trumpeter Conte Candoli, tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca, trombonist Frank Rosolino, pianist Sonny Clarke and bassist Leroy Vinegar – all of them, excluding Sonny Clarke, California-based at that time, all of them warm-blooded swingers.

Like so many records from the 50’s, Grand Stan should be considered excellent material for young students of the drums. Levey’s firecracker introductions are worked out in the melodic spirit of the compositions. The crisp drive of his hi-hat, combined with sparse, spot-on accents, is alternated with tension-heightening ride cymbal, developed into a package that is both supportive and possessed with a steam all its own. Punch, spirited teamwork and a keen melodic ear. So many post-war European drummers have benefited from the likes of Levey: Daniel Humair, Alex Riel, et al. Listening to Grand Stan, I’m practically hearing veteran Dutch drummer Eric Ineke play. Ineke’s individual and highly propulsive re-enactment of ‘American drumming’ has enchanted us for many years now. Great teacher, by the way.

Levey tackles a book of songs that by way of standards, riffs, bop and the blues is short on ambition to travel beyond common mainstream practice but pleasantly surprises with the ease and depth of its execution. It is of particular interest that four tunes feature strictly one soloist, which gives each a chance to thoroughly stretch out, and lively to boot. Few trombonists move through Yesterdays with the bounce, purposeful pace and clarity of line and sound than Frank Rosolino, whose tragic life – the troubled Rosolino killed himself after shooting both sons in their sleep, one died, one survived but remained blind – overshadowed his brilliance as one of the unheralded modern giants of jazz trombone.

The momentum of the riff-based Angel Cake is sustained throughout by Richie Kamuca, whose semi-breathy lines are underscored by Basie-like shout choruses. Sonny Clark devoures Why Do I Love You at breakneck speed and flavors his Bud Powell-influenced bop phrases with hard blues licks and sparse dissonance. The down-home Blues At Sunrise is a showcase for Conte Candoli, who bookends a long but not long-winded solo with bright and penetrating open horn with the melody statement and conclusive ad-libs on muted trumpet.

Levey steers along his men with authority. No way some sunny climate was suddenly going to be responsible for the evaporation of Levey & Co’s hard-core jazz aesthetic.

Yusef Lateef - Jazz Round The World

Yusef Lateef Jazz Round The World Impulse 1964

Everybody passionate about the fusion of jazz and world rhythm owes big time to Yusef Lateef.

Yusef Lateef - Jazz Round The World

Personnel

Yusef Lateef (tenor saxophone, flute, bassoon, oboe, shenai), Richard Williams (trumpet), Hugh Lawson (tenor saxophone), Ernie Farrow (bass), Lex Humphries (drums)

Recorded

on December 19 & 20 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as Impulse A-56 in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
Abana
India
You, So Tender And Wistful
Yusef’s French Brother
The Volga Rhythm Song
Side B:
Trouble In Mind
The Good Old Roast Beef Of England
Raisins And Almonds
Utopia
Ringo Oiwake


In the late 50s and early 60s Lateef, a Detroit cat that counted among his collaborators fellow natives Elvin Jones, Kenny Burrell and Paul Chambers and came into prominence with the band of Dizzy Gillespie, boasted his post-bop records on Savoy and Prestige with tunes like Rasheed and Meditation. Interested in foreign cultures from an early age, Lateef developed into a multi-instrumentalist, adding koto, shenai, shofar and argull to his Western instrumentarium of tenor saxophone, flute, oboe and bassoon. As a prime pioneer of jazz world music, Lateef is perhaps equaled only by pianist Randy Weston. As journalist Peter Keepnews said, Lateef “played world music before world music had a name.”

Lateef, born William Huddleston in 1920, a couple of months after the birth of Charlie Parker, also was early in adopting a Muslim name and converting to the Islamic faith of Ahmadiyya, front-running the development of black artists that turned for guidance to Eastern religion which among numerous others included Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Sahib Shihab. In the view of Cannonball Adderley, who never changed his name but eventually did delve into spiritual matters, turning to astrology, wearing colorful Eastern garb and releasing The Black Messiah in the early 70s, Brother Lateef was an exotic player whose style nonetheless, Cannonball never failed to stress, was firmly based in the blues. Lateef was part of Cannonball’s group in 1962/63. In 1963, Lateef signed with Impulse, a label that, considering its affiliation with the cosmic captain of spiritual matters John Coltrane, suited him to a T.

Lateef brought to his debut album on Impulse, Jazz Round The World, the traditional blues Trouble In Mind, which the Cannonball Adderley Sextet performed as well. It fits right in. Strikingly, whether Lateef explores Africa, India, the Mediteranean African region, England or the Balkan, the result is coherent and organic, not forced at all.

The fun’s in concise tunes with concise statements and in the details. The calypso rhythm of Yusef’s French Brother is structured with pleasantly “out” piano phrases, a tenor/trumpet interlude, a six-note descending flurry of tenor notes as a means of introducing the trumpet and a few booming circular riffs by Lateef as climactic ending, all within the time frame of one minute.

The hallucinatory drone of Abana has a Bolero-feel that benefits from a lovely ensemble of bassoon and trumpet, India is marked by a cunning tenor/trumpet chase. There are fragments of polyphony during the Volga Rhythm Song. The Good Old Roast Beef Of England is a witty and eventful handling of a obscure folk melody, bringing to mind the original folk interpretations of Sonny Rollins. Lateef takes the transmogrification of folk music one step further, moulding the transnational Frère Jacques into the jolly You So Tender, Wistful. Lateef’s swinging tenor wails and is marked by elliptical transitional phrases, staccato segments and circular riffs.

Lateef’s vital tenor playing is matched by the bright and resourceful trumpet of Richard Williams (reconnecting with Lateef after 1960’s The Centaur And The Phoenix on Riverside) and acute piano of longtime Lateef associate Hugh Lawson. Lawson would continue to appear on a number of Lateef’s Impulse records well into the late 60s. Both are surprisingly comfortable in the outlandish surroundings.

Detroit may have been a long way off but listen well and notice that, how far away Lateef may have traveled, Motor City remained vital to his identity.

Find the songs of Jazz Round The World on YouTube, listen to the random choice of Yusef’s French Brother and go from there. Jazz Round The World is not on Spotify, listen to more of Yusef Lateef below.

Blue Mitchell - The Thing To Do

Blue Mitchell The Thing To Do (Blue Note 1965)

Approximately seven years into his recording career, Blue Mitchell hit his stride on Blue Note with one of his greatest efforts, The Thing To Do.

Blue Mitchell - The Thing To Do

 

Personnel

Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Junior Cook (tenor saxophone), Chick Corea (piano), Gene Taylor (bass), Aloysius Foster (drums)

Recorded

on July 30, 1964 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BST-84178 in 1965

Track listing

Side A:
Fungii Mama
Mona’s Mood
The Thing To Do
Side B:
Step Lightly
Chick’s Tune


Can’t go wrong with Blue Mitchell. Among the young and spectacular trumpeters of his generation – Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd – Mitchell held his own employing supple phrasing and a bright tone, adhering to the motto’s of less is more and what you see is what you get, his stories back flipping in a bowl of soul. He made his first string of records for Riverside, introduced by, who else, Cannonball Adderley. He subsequently switched to Blue Note in 1963, a perfect fit. The accessible Mitchell, cast in the warm and transparant Blue Note mould by Rudy van Gelder, went down well in the black community, a successful addition to Blue Note’s mainstream roster till the end of the decade, well into the “United Artists” period of Blue Note after the retirement of Alfred Lion. Mitchell furthermore recorded mostly for Mainstream and found a home in the band of British blues star John Mayall in the early 70’s, who was a devoted fan of Mitchell’s work with Horace Silver. Mitchell died prematurely in 1979.

Ain’t everyone of us crazy about that particular edition of the Horace Silver Quintet. Between 1959 and ’63, Mitchell appeared on, among others, Finger Poppin’, Blowin’ The Blues Away and Doin’ The Thing, all of those with tenor saxophonist Junior Cook and all of those Silver classics. A sought-after trumpeter, Mitchell cooperated with Cannonball Adderley, Jackie McLean, Elmo Hope, Stanley Turrentine, Hank Mobley and Dexter Gordon, as well as Hammond organists Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Freddie Roach and Big John Patton.

Jazz is a music of sidemen figuring out a new strategy. Basie ran with the Moten band. Former Miles Davis associates Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous formed Weather Report. And Mitchell hooked up with Cook and bassist Gene Taylor from the Silver band, rounding out his new quintet with the promising pianist Chick Corea. In the comfort zone of his pals and confronted with the fresh voice of Corea, Mitchell delivered a sprightly gem.

The Thing To Do has always struck me as an excellent starter for burgeoning jazz fans, very well capable of sharing that virtue with The Sidewinder or Moanin’. It’s joyful, smooth, relaxed but energetic and features a classic opening tune, Fungii Mama, underlined by a calypso rhythm that never fails to ignite a broad smile and occasionally – one easily imagines – a bit of buoyant shaking of the hips. Corea’s catchy The Thing To Do is marked by the composer’s suspenseful alternate chords and poignant, Monk-like comping. He cuts the meandering lines of an invigorating solo in half with two brash chords. The combination of the typical Blue Note line-up – bright trumpet, smoky tenor – with Corea’s mix of blues stylings and slightly edgy shenanigans is this session’s extra treat. Also, shout choruses and the alternation of riffs behind the soloists keep things zestfully movin’ and signify the influence of Mitchell/Cook’s former boss, Horace Silver, who himself in this respect was influenced by Count Basie.

The Thing To Do was Mitchell’s debut record on Blue Note. Step Lightly, his first session on Blue Note in 1963 featuring Joe Henderson, Leo Wright and Herbie Hancock, wasn’t released until 1980. A different and very good ballgame, but arguably The Thing To Do, which also included Joe Henderson’s great blues tune Step Lightly, was the best choice for Mitchell’s start on the legendary label. Lovely, soulful stuff.

Clifford Scott - Out Front

Clifford Scott Out Front (Pacific Jazz 1963)

Check out this readily ignored but seriously hip and crafty piece of soul jazz and hard bop: tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott’s Out Front.

Clifford Scott - Out Front

Personnel

Clifford Scott (tenor and alto saxophone), Joe Pass (guitar), Les McCann (piano), Herbie Lewis (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums)

Recorded

in 1963 at Pacific Jazz Studio in Los Angeles, California

Released

as PJ-66 in 1963

Track listing

Side A:
Samba De Bamba
Over And Over
As Rosie And Ellen Dance
Crosstalk
Side B:
Why Don’t You Do Right
Just Tomorrow
Out Front


As rhythm and blues developed into the most popular black music in the late forties and early fifties, a lot of jazz-oriented musicians jumped the bandwagon in order to make a decent living. Perhaps decent isn’t the appropriate term. Regularly, players switched from swing bands to r&b outfits, which usually meant a change from one grueling touring schedule to another. One bows in awe to them in hindsight, the way guys like Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Red Holloway, Don Wilkerson or Sam “The Man” Taylor, survived. Tenor saxophonist Clifford Scott, born in San Antonio, Texas in 1928, deceased in 1993, traveled a similar route.

Scott worked with Amos Milburn, Jay McShann, Lionel Hampton, Roy Brown and Roy Milton in the early fifties. Scott provided the groundbreaking honking tenor solo on organist Bill Doggett’s jukebox hit in 1955, Honky Tonk. He stayed with Doggett for a number of years. Subsequently, Scott acted as a leader, trying to capitalize on the honking hype with singles bearing gimmicky titles like Bushy Tail and The Kangaroo, and recorded as a prominent session musician in the r&b and pop field. His last big stint, before settling down as a local hero in San Antonio, was with the Ray Charles band, intermittently, from 1966 to 1970.

Based on the West Coast in the sixties, Scott was featured on a number of Pacific Jazz albums by the organ combo Billy Larkin & The Delegates. Scott recorded Plays The Big Ones on Pacific Jazz in 1963, a gritty soul jazz date featuring Hammond organ. It’s a nice enough date but incomparable with Scott’s subsequent album, Out Front!. During that session, Scott expanded his scope, holding on to the fried-bacon notes and the occasional crowd-pleasing climaxes, while displaying distinct suppleness and double-time fluency. Coming with the slightest vibrato, Scott’s style is sensual as hell, and hot as hell as well.

Sensual also applies to the Les McCann Trio, which consists of McCann, bassist Herbie Lewis, drummer Paul Humphrey, plus Joe Pass, as in: attractive, uplifting, rousing. McCann had cooperated with Joe Pass on Richard “Groove” Holmes’ Something Special, Les McCann’s Featuring Joe Pass, On Time and Soul Hits. The gospel-drenched vigor and probing accompaniment of McCann, the group’s abundant swing and the subtle and peppery phrases of Pass provide a stimulating canvas for the lurid, lean strokes of Scott, whom one imagines must’ve been elated with the possibility of working with such an immaculate quartet.

And as is usual with the presence of McCann on a recording date, the pianist contributes a couple of catchy tunes, like the driving Out Front and the crisp stop-time cooker Over And Over, which is marked by the typical McCann device of a shift in key. McCann also wrote Crosstalk, killer greasy tune that is pure Bo Diddley’s Not Fade Away, thriving on the rousing beat and statements of McCann and Pass and the rubato wail of Scott that takes one by surprise like a tornado in New Mexico: a soul jazz gem stopping at a mere 2.45 minutes.

Samba De Bamba is a different ball game, an equally swinging, Latin hard bop tune. Developing his story from sophisticated, fluent phrasing to the kind of terse blowing of Ben Webster, Scott reveals himself as a singular stylist. This, perhaps, comes as no surprise considering his past in the swing era. It is surprising, though, that the saxophonist wasn’t granted the opportunity to record more extensively throughout his career, except for a couple of albums in the early 90’s. More than that, it is a shame.

Listen to the full album here.

Philly Joe Jones - Big Band Sounds

Philly Joe Jones Big Band Sounds (Riverside 1959)

Whether you decide to call it Drums Around The World or Big Band Sounds, the star-studded second record of Philly Joe Jones on Riverside is a blast from start to finish.

Philly Joe Jones - Big Band Sounds

 

 

 

Personnel

Philly Joe Jones (drums), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Blue Mitchell (trumpet), Benny Golson (tenor saxophone), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone), Sahib Shihab (baritone saxophone), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Herbie Mann (flute, piccolo), Wynton Kelly (piano), Jimmy Garrison (bass), Sam Jones (bass)

Recorded

on May 4, 11 & 28, 1959 in NYC

Released

as RLP 12-302 in 1959

Track listing

Side A:
Blue Gwynn
Stablemates
El Tambores (Carioca)
Tribal Message
Side B:
Cherokee
Land Of The Blue Veils
Philly J.J.


Get in the driver’s seat and take a listen to Philly Joe Jones and his sparring partners of May 1959, a who’s who of the hard bop era: Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell, Benny Golson, Cannonball Adderley, Sahib Shihab, Curtis Fuller, Herbie Mann, Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and/or Jimmy Garrison. Perfect foil for Philly Joe Jones’s vision of showcasing varying rhythms of the world. In the process, Jones made a record that sustains momentum throughout.

All Music, with the devoted indifference of the call center employee, says: “There is some strong playing but this set is primarily recommended to fans of Philly Joe Jones’s drum solo’s.”

There is but one punishment for people who keep uttering the word ‘recommended’. And that is to look at the cover of Herbie Mann’s Push Push for 24 hours straight.

Big Band Sounds is not an ego trip. Philly Joe Jones is part of the pack, who indeed briefly displays his prowess as a soloist, but most of all takes care to lead his buddies through a sublimely paced set of songs with a sterling variation of interludes. He’s driving force and snappy accompanist in-one. Danger hi-voltage! You gotta watch out with Philly Joe, he’s like the professional oven I recently bought, it heats much quicker than the consumer type oven and is hazardous to the health of your hands but it is, most of all, state of the art. The roasted chicken is killer bee.

Take Philly Joe Jones’s Blue Gwynn. Afro-Cuban powerhouse performance. A couple of uppercuts and a sparse cluster of notes from Philly Joe launches the band into the stratosphere. It’s a crafty piece, largely through the balanced variety of the roles of reed, brass and woodwind during theme and intermezzos. However, the performance is far from contrived, indeed strikingly organic. Morgan, Golson and Fuller have their fiery say. Morgan’s entrance is typically cocksure. You’re gonna love this one.

The Eastern-tinged Land Of The Blue Veils by Benny Golson, ensemble playing sans solo’s, is like a Brussel bonbon that melts on your tongue. Philly Joe’s adaptation of Vincent Youman’s CariocaEl Tambores – is an exciting trip to Brazil quoting evergreen Tico Tico in the process. Ray Noble’s Cherokee gets a wooping treatment, including witty Indian war cries. The Tribal Message is Jones in African mood, a great display of varying pitch, echo and effects, which involved a careful placement of the parts of Philly Joe’s kit all over the studio.

And the American rhythm and harmony, sedimentation of a different array of African minerals and European metals and turned into a very special brew, is represented by Golson’s Stablemates and Philly Joe Jones/J.J. Johnson’s Philly J.J, both hard-swinging cookers. Brass and reed figures stimulate the soloists of Stablemates, of which Golson is particularly heated. Philly Joe sets fire to Philly J.J.. The introduction (this is a record of introductions) by Jones is as filthy as they come, the language of a hustler taking care of business at the corner of Lexington and 110th Street. His rolls and snappy hi-hat crushes may be interpreted as having their origins in tribal communication and prefiguring rap music and at the end of the furious performance, no doubt it’s a wrap. Now you remember why Miles Davis wanted no one but Philly Joe for his First Great Quintet in 1956. Another Davis associate of that period, Cannonball Adderley, also excites considerably during Philly J.J. with his sole solo performance of the session. Philly J.J. is not blowing session fare. There’s a switch from breakneck speed to mid-tempo bounce and a reference to the intro during the dramatic climax that suggests careful planning by the then 36-year old drummer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Did I tell you that Philly Joe sounds out of sight? Drums were meant to sound like this!

The way music sounds affects our evaluation of it. We can experience the pure sound of a musician in a live setting – although purity is a relative concept. At any rate, the musician has to wait and see how he or she sounds on record. Studio sessions involve the manipulation of sound. Whom manipulates sounds most expertly and tastefully gets the best results. That’s why the acclaimed Dutch engineer Max Bolleman pointed out that the engineer is a member of the band. His instrument is his console.

Drums, the heartbeat of the band, make or break a record. In the 20’s and early 30’s, primitive equipment did not allow the drummer to play as he did during performance, since it was at risk of exploding if the drummer pounded on a complete drum kit. Consequently, the drummer stuck to woodblocks and such, which is why we have to rely on oral history to imagine how, for instance, Baby Dodds sounded in the early part of his career.

This hardly bothered modern drumming. The 50’s and 60’s are sublime drum decades. By then, engineering had developed rapidly and considerably. Wouldn’t we nowadays hold Baby Dodds in even higher regard if he would have had “his” Rudy van Gelder or Roy DuNann?

I’ve always had the distinct passionate feeling that drums never sounded better than approximately from 1955 to 1965. The updated analog equipment was nifty but its track limitations forced the engineer to be creative, unlike swing and bop, which was an improvement of the early years of jazz but still suffered from the occasional cardboard box sound. And unlike the 70s and beyond, when multi-tracking, a limitless array of mics and digital technology more often than not has led to visionless mediocrity. The 50’s/60’s sound may not be as detailed compared to the thoroughly improved contemporary sound, but the overall sound is killer and the impact unforgettable. Call me a purist but the way to go as far as contemporary mainstream jazz recording is concerned is to at least strive for that 50/60’s sound.

There are countless examples of great-sounding drum records from that era. Big Band Sounds is but one example but a damn great one – notice, the (sub-) title says ‘sounds’. The synthesis of sound and high-level modern jazz playing is sublime. Man, not only does Philly Joe Jones display his unsurpassed fiery style, his sound is absolutely stunning! And big – notice, the (sub-) title says ‘big’. Booming. Snappy. The engineer is Jack Higgins. A round of applause for Jack.

And on your hands and knees, seated in the direction of the Mecca of jazz, for Philly Joe.