Thursday, August 2, 2007

Televised Jazz #1

The 1950s was the golden era of televised jazz. Nearly all jazz greats of the time appeared on syndicated TV. This post is dedicated to them.

CBS producer Robert Herridge (seen talking on first clip) brought to CBS studio 61 in NYC on April 2, 1959 Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb to give us their masterpiece "So What".

This date was taped for The Sound of Miles Davis, an installment of The Robert Herridge Theater. Altoist Cannonball Adderley, a regular member of this band, was absent because of a migraine headache, which may explain why Davis solos twice on "So What," both before and after Coltrane. Broadcast on July 21, 1960. A jazz moment to cherish forever.

From the same date as above, Miles Davis, John Coltrane on alto, Jimmy Cobb and Paul Chambers join forces with The Gil Evans Orchestra to give us Dave Brubeck's "The Duke". Big band jazz with a twist indeed!

Miles Davis (tpt, flh); John Coltrane ( as); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (d); Ernie Royal (tpt); Clyde Reisinger (tpt); Louis Mucci (tpt); Johnny Coles (tpt); Emmett Berry (tpt); Frank Rehak (tb); Jimmy Cleveland (tb); Bill Elton (tb); Rod Levitt (valve tb); Julius Watkins (frh); Robert Northern (frh); Bill Barber (tuba); Romeo Penque (cl, fl); Eddie Caine (cl, fl); Danny Bank (bcl); Gil Evans (arr, cond)

Ahmad Jamal's tasty tune "New Rhumba", same personnel as above

Gil Evans' "Blues For Pablo", same personnel as above

That's all for now folks, enjoy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Miles Davis: Isle of Wight 1970

Upturn every jazz stone after the 1940s and chances are that you will see the name Miles Davis written underneath more often than not.

He started his meteoric musical career as a young trumpet player beside Charlie Parker, and it has been upwards ever since.

His Birth Of The Cool sessions of 1949 with his nonet first introduced jazz audiences to the notion of cool jazz. His subsequent quintet of the mid fifties featuring John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb et al, showed the world how hard bop should be.

As if these were not enough, his 1958 "Kind Of Blue" album, THE most successful jazz album of all time, gave the world modal jazz.

His second great quintet with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams of the 1960s explored the new territory of post and freebop.

And finally, his 1969 Bitches Brew album, turned the jazz world on its head with its reckless electric experimentalism, and fusion music was born, not to mention that musicians in the caliber of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul and many others won instant recognition. Not bad at all.

The 1970 Isle of Wight festival was by far the largest and most famous of these early festivals indeed it was said at the time to be one of the largest human gatherings in the world surpassing the attendance at Woodstock. The most notable of over fifty performers were The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Ten Years After, Joni Mitchell, Melanie, Donovan, Free, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Jethro Tull and Tiny Tim. The unexpected level of the attendees (tickets holders accounted only for 50.000) was beyond that which the festival organizers and local authorities could supply adequate amenities and guarantee public safety for. Such concerns led in 1971, to Parliament passing the "Isle of Wight Act" preventing gatherings of more than 5,000 people on the island without a special license.

The festival was revived only in 2002.

A piece of music history then, Miles Davis in the company of jazz superstars to-be Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz, in a 35 minute free form improvisation which Miles, after being asked the title famously replied "oh, call it anything".

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jazz On A Summer's Day (1958)

Hailed by critics to be the best jazz film ever, famous photographer's Bert Stern's Jazz On A Summer's Day lives up to its reputation today.

Shot in Newport, RI during the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival and the America's Cup trials of the same year, initially intended as a full length motion picture, it was downsized to a concert documentary due to lack of funds. We have to thank our good luck for this, as this film broke new ground on how a live music performance should be captured. It literally wrote the book.

Shot in lush color instead of the grim black and white used until then, including scenes in broad daylight, interleaving performances with the sailing races going on simultaneously, it made people look at jazz from an entirely different perspective.

This was half a century ago and it really shows. People hit it off very differently back then, as the amazing crowd scenes attest to. With rock 'n roll just around the corner ready to take the popular music scene by storm, these were merrier, more innocent times. Enjoy.