Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (1963)

The Sidewinder, Lee Morgan’s 24-bar blues with an infectious bass line and backbeat, instantly became one of the most popular pieces in modern jazz history. Every track on this classic album is a gem.

The Philadelphia-born trumpeter and superb bop stylist Lee Morgan apprenticed with Dizzy Gillespie and Art Blakey before emerging as a leader in his own right in the early ‘’60s for Blue Note Records. Although Morgan owed a stylistic debt to both Gillespie and Clifford Brown, he quickly developed a voice of his own that combined half-valve effects, Latin inflections, and full, fluid melodies. While many of Morgan’s later sessions for Blue Note would find him paired with saxophonist Hank Mobley, The Sidewinder features then up-and-coming tenor player Joe Henderson, plus Detroit pianist Barry Harris, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Billy Higgins. Along with the title track, an unconventional 24-bar blues, the album’’s compositional standout is “Totem Pole,” a minor Latin groove featuring an outstanding solo by Henderson. This is the kind of relaxed blowing date, invigorated by thoughtful performances, that forms the backbone of the Blue Note catalog. --Fred Goodman

1 The Sidewinder
2 Totem Pole
3 Gary’s Notebook
4 Boy, What a Night
5 Hocus Pocus
6 Totem Pole [alternate take]

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Lee Morgan - Here’s Lee Morgan (1960)

This is a reissue of the 1960 debut album (originally on Vee-Jay Records) by jazz trumpet great Lee Morgan. Morgan had one of the sharpest, brashest modern trumpet sounds in the ‘60s, right up there with contemporaries Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. On his debut he was in great company: hard bop drum legend Art Blakey (whose Jazz Messengers Morgan was a member of), ‘50s Miles and Coltrane pianist Wynton Kelly, bass ace Paul Chambers, and the fine, underrated tenor sax of Clifford Jordan.

The program is the usual mix of standards and originals, with a fine-and-mellow version of Frank Sinatra’s ballad “I’m A Fool To Want You.” Wayne Shorter’s sturdy “Running Brook” pointed towards the moody, thoughtful hard bop of the Blue Note era. On his debut, Morgan was still heavily under the sway of Miles and Kenny Dorham, not having yet developed the bristling, crackling sound that was his mid-to-late ‘60s trademark. But the seeds of greatness are present in this easygoing set of mainstream jazz, and this set is all the more valuable for the distinctive tenor of Jordan.

Recorded at Bell Sound Studios, New York from February 2-8, 1960. Originally released on Vee-Jay (3007).
Personnel: Lee Morgan (trumpet, flugelhorn); Clifford Jordan (tenor saxophone); Wynton Kelly (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Art Blakey (drums).


1. Terrible T
2. Mogie
3. I’m a Fool to Want You
4. Running Brook
5. Off Spring
6. Bess

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Wes Montgomery / Jimmy Smith - Further Adventures Of Jimmy And Wes (1966)

This is the sort of thing that will place high in the results of an internet search on the phrase “roots of acid jazz.” Organist Jimmy Smith and guitarist Wes Montgomery were already titans of the jazz world before they teamed up, and "Further Adventures", their second album together, enhanced the legends of both men. For the most part, it’s a slow-burning affair full of simmering grooves, laid-back solos, and hypnotic riffs. The tone is exemplified by a mellow jazz/bossa nova version of the ‘60s pop hit “Call Me,” digging deeply into a loungey feel. Interestingly, though, bop boss Montgomery pulls the bluesy Smith into his own axis on a version of “‘Round Midnight” that finds Smith venturing into more harmonically adventurous territory than usual.

Personnel includes: Jimmy Smith (organ); Wes Montgomery (guitar); Oliver Nelson (arranger); Grady Tate (drums); Ray Barretto (percussion).


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The Dave Pike Quartet - Pike’s Peak (1962)

Dave Pike collaborating with Bill Evans on this rare Japanese pressing.

Beautiful, beautiful early work from Dave Pike—a cascading array of vibes and piano—stretched out over some longer tracks that skip with a lyrical and modal groove throughout! Dave’’s working here with a group that includes Bill Evans on piano, Herbie Lewis on bass, and Walter Perkins on drums—and although his style is a bit more restrained than on his later funk albums, it also proves to be a wonderful match for the fluid colors of Evans’ work on piano—as well as Perkins’ light and playful work on the drum kit. There’s a simplicity here that’s really great—not as “over your head” as the Dave Pike Set of later years, and with a gentle grace that shows what a keenly mature player Pike was, even at this early age. Titles include “Why Not”, “Vierd Blues”, “Besame Mucho”, and “Wild Is The Wind”.

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N.B.: Material posted on this site is for information purposes only. You must delete it after listening and/or viewing and buy the original CDs.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dave Pike - Carnavals (1962)

Dave Pike isn't one of jazz's more famous vibists — he never became as well known as Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton, Cal Tjader, Bobby Hutcherson, or Roy Ayers (a cryin' shame!). Nonetheless, Pike is a talented, flexible player who has provided some memorable albums here and there. Two of them are Bossa Nova Carnival and Limbo Carnival, both of which were recorded in 1962 for New Jazz. In 2000, Fantasy reissued the albums back to back on the Prestige CD Carnavals. The sessions are equally appealing but quite different — while Bossa Nova Carnival is a caressing, sensuous collection of songs by Brazilian composer Joгo Donato, the grittier Limbo Carnival has more of a Caribbean orientation. Afro-Cuban salsa is an influence on Limbo Carnival, but calypso is an even greater influence — and Pike, taking a hint from Sonny Rollins, combines jazz with calypso on Rollins' "St. Thomas" and Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," as well as two songs that were hits for Harry Belafonte: "Matilda" and "Jamaica Farewell." On both dates, the vibist (who plays the marimba as a second instrument) is joined by some heavyweights — Bossa Nova Carnival features, among others, Clark Terry on flugelhorn and Kenny Burrell on guitar, while pianist Tommy Flanagan, guitarist Jimmy Raney, and percussionist Ray Barretto are among the sidemen on Limbo Carnival. If you only have a few Pike CDs in your collection, Carnavals should definitely be among them.


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Dave Pike Set - Masterpieces (1969 - 72)

Well, the name says it all. Another gem from Dave Pike's European acid phase. Although the group was tagged The Dave Pike Set it was co-led by German wunderkind Volker Kriegel (1943-2003) whose amazing guitar and sitar work can be heard throughout this album , enjoy.


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Hampton Hawes - The Challenge (1968)

Some amazing solo piano music from criminally underrated jazz giant Hampton Hawes. We'll try to remedy this with this vinyl rip offering that for some mysterious reason never made it to CD, enjoy.

Although it does not say it anywhere on this LP (originally recorded in Japan for RCA), the "challenge" was that this was Hampton Hawes' first set of unaccompanied piano solos. Although based in bop, Hawes was always much more than a one-handed pianist, and he proves up to the challenge. The repertoire includes jazz standards, three originals, and the current pop tune "Who Can I Turn To." Throughout the date, the pianist shows that he could create stirring music without the assistance of a rhythm section. Unfortunately, this music (last put out on a Storyville LP) has yet to be reissued on CD. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

City Of Angels

A small trip down memory lane using vintage footage of Los Angeles in the late 40s - early 50s with some Miles Davis music as backdrop culminating in the red witch hunt of the era trying to convey a period feel (J. Edgar Hoover and Bertolt Brecht can be seen testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee), enjoy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dave Pike - Peligroso (2000)

Dave Pike is a vibraphone legend among legends. He is highly regarded as one of the masters of the instrument and is spoken in the same breath as Milt Jackson, Lionel Hampton and Bobby Hutcherson. He emerged in the late 50’s and quickly established himself as an original voice on the vibes recording several classic albums with the likes of Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, Tommy Flanagan, Herbie Hancock, Clark Terry and others.

Pike is well respected as a jazz musician that has tackled and mastered many sub-genres of jazz, including straight-ahead (see the acclaimed Pike’s Peak LP), indo-jazz (see the massive club hit “Mathar"), soul-jazz (see the cult LP Got the Feelin’), and Latin jazz (see the monstrous, highly sought after and legendary Decca album Manhattan Latin LP). Dave Pike is a man that has never known boundaries. He is indeed a national treasure that will continue to be praised for generations to come.

For Peligroso, his second release for Ubiquity, he has teamed up with another legend in Latin jazz, Bobby Matos to create an album that will pleasantly surprise both fans of Pike and Latin jazz. It is a hard-hitting romp that will initiate immediate customer response from in-store plays and displays. Feel the vibes move you to higher levels!

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Art Blakey - Moanin' 1958

This is truly one of the great classics of hard bop, with drummer Art Blakey leading arguably his greatest Jazz Messengers lineup through a driving program that never lets up. Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson (whose composition "Along Came Betty" is heard here, subsequently becoming a jazz classic), brilliant trumpeter Lee Morgan, and funky pianist Bobby Timmons (who wrote the hit title cut) each take some of the best solos of their great careers, and Blakey was never greater. No jazz record collection should be without this disc. It remains one of the premier items in Blue Note's catalog, and rightfully so.

Same band as above gave us this gem, recorded in 1958 at the famous Olympia in Paris, one of the best live albums in jazz, period.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Grant Green - Sonny Clark 1962

Over a five-week period in early 1962, guitarist Grant Green (June 6, 1935 – January 31, 1979) recorded three amazing quartet sessions with Sonny Clark (July 21, 1931 – January 13, 1963) on piano, Sam Jones on bass, and Louis Hayes or Art Blakey on drums. As magnificent as the results were, the three albums, considered too progressive for Green's soul-jazz following, languished in the vaults for 18 years. In 1980, "Airegin," the session with Blakey, came out in the United States, while the two with Hayes ("Gooden's Corner" and "Oleo") came out only in Japan. Later issued briefly on Mosaic with three bonus tracks, they have since become collectors' items of legendary proportions.

Some of the best music these so prematurely lost jazz giants have ever recorded and some of the best, unadulterated hard bop these ears have heard for that matter.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Miles Davis '56

The first great Miles Davis quintet included John Coltrane, Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones, and Paul Chambers, a group whose every record, honestly, is worthy of attention. This string of LPs, recorded in a blistering artistic marathon on the 11th of May 1956 and the 26th of October in the same year resulted in these four albums released originally on the Prestige record label.

"Cookin'" opens with "My Funny Valentine," just as Davis often did on gigs during this period. Material on all albums offers a nice balance of ballads, blues, and hard-bop warhorses. Coltrane at this point lacked the consistency and otherworldly inspiration of his later work, but he was playing with a force and even a recklessness that contrasted with Davis's quiet ruminations. But on these records Davis is inspired and witty, and Coltrane matches him all the way. Meanwhile, an all-star rhythm section follows them at every step, helping create an organic unity among equals that was unprecedented in jazz before this group.

All told, four CDs no Miles fan can be without.