Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jimmy Raney

Time to turn our attention to Jimmy Raney (1927-1995), one of the great unsung heroes of jazz guitar and one of a handful of guitarists possessing a really transcendental technique on the instrument.

Raney was born in Louisville, Kentucky. His work as a pro started at the early age of 17, earning accolades for his superb work from 1951–1952 and 1962-1963 with Stan Getz and for his work from 1953–1954 with the Red Norvo trio, replacing Tal Farlow. In 1954 and 1955 he won the Down Beat critics poll for guitar. Raney has worked in a variety of jazz mediums, including cool jazz, bebop, post bop, hard bop and mainstream jazz.

In 1946 he worked for a time as guitarist with the Max Miller Quartet at Elmer's in Chicago, his first paying gig. Raney also worked in the Artie Shaw Orchestra and collaborated with Woody Herman for nine months in 1948. He also collaborated and recorded with Buddy DeFranco, Al Haig and later on with Bob Brookmeyer. In 1967 alcoholism and other professional difficulties led him to leave New York City and return to his native Louisville.

He resurfaced in the 1970s and also did work with his son Doug, an accomplished jazz guitarist in his own right. Raney tragically suffered for thirty years from Meniere's Disease, a degenerative condition that eventually led to near complete deafness in both ears; fortunately, his playing remained unaffected. He died of heart failure,in Louisville Ky. on May 10th of 1995, just short of his 68th birthday. An obituary in the New York Times referred to Jimmy Raney as 'one of the most gifted and influential postwar jazz guitarists in the world.'

An unassuming man, his playing conveyed a gentle, inner fire. Famous for his wry wit, he uttered dictums like the following on the March '77 issue of Guitar Player magazine: "Your melodic gifts really come out when you're playin' a ballad. It's one good way to separate the artist from the bullshit artist. Musicians who can play a million notes and run all over the guitar and sound very impressive are playing their practiced patterns. Give them a slow ballad and then see what their melodies are like. Slowed down a lot of people sound dull and boring." We couldn't agree more Jimmy...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Howard Roberts Whatever's Fair! & All-Time Great Instrumental Hits (1966)

We're still in the wild '60s when Howard Roberts was on a roll producing some very fine pop-oriented guitar jazz as was the fad these days, a fact easily witnessed by these two magnificent Capitol LPs on one CD. Forget rock 'n roll for a moment, this is expertly crafted Daiquiris-by-the-pool music by the top session men du jour.

Personnel: Howard Roberts (guitar); Henry Cain (organ); Bill Pittman (guitar); Chuck Berghofer (bass); Earl Palmer (drums); Jill Roberts (percussion); Larry Bunker (drums)

Track listing:

1.The Shadow of Your Smile
2.Sweet September
3.Pussy Cat
4.Whatever's Fair
5.This Is the Life
6.On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
7.I'll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her
8.Manha de Carnaval
10.A Taste of Honey
11.Bye Bye Blues
12.It Was a Very Good Year
13.Soft Winds
14.Autumn Leaves
15.Theme From a Summer Place
16.Mr. Lucky
17.Comin' Home Baby
18.Danke Schoen
19.Work Song
20.Desafinado (Slighty Out of Tune)
21.The In Crowd

both recorded in 1966

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Howard Roberts - Something's Cookin' & Goodies (1965)

Let's continue our tribute to Mr Roberts with two 1965 releases from March and October of that year for Capitol Records dubbed Something's Cookin' and Goodies respectively, conveniently packaged on one CD. Choice of material might seem corny at first, but these classic, compelling performances showcase Roberts' bluesy brilliance and sophistication, as well as the jazzy, streetwise and sometime savage prowess of his combo, hand-picked from Hollywood's top session players that helped define the sound of the '60s, enjoy.


1. Bluesette
2. A Hard Day's Night
3. The Lonesome Cowboy
4. Frankie and What's His Name
5. Blues in the Night
6. Cute
7. In a Mellow Tone
8. Charade
9. Maniac
10. Recado Bossa Nova
11. Something's Cookin'
12. People
13. Love
14. Who Can I Turn to (When Nobody Needs Me)
15. Three O'Clock in the Morning
16. Marie
17. Girl Talk
18. Fly Me to the Moon
19. Goodies
20. More
21. I Know a Place
22. Summer Wind
23. Chim Chim Cher-Ee


Howard Roberts (guitar); John Audino, Al Porcino, Jack Sheldon, Ray Triscari, Bob Bryant, Shorty Rogers (trumpet); Bob Enevoldsen, Frank Rosolino, Ken Shroyer, Gilbert Falco (trombone); Charles Kynard, Pete Jolly, Harry Cain (organ); Donald Peake, Thomas Tedesco, John Pisano (guitar); Chuck Berghofer, Carol Kaye, Max Bennett (bass); Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Frank Capp, Shelly Manne (drums); Larry Bunker, Vic Feldman (percussion).