Tune in to the Jazz Show with Gavin Walker every Monday night,
We begin the month with the legendary Blue Note label but with a bit of a twist. The Jazz Features will spotlight artists who only did one date under their name for the label. Despite their appearances as sidemen on other dates these artists appeared under their own banner only once and their albums soon assumed “collector’s item” status as they were only pressed once as well. It’s not because these artists were of a lesser talent as the music this month is of the highest quality but I’m assuming merely a business decision on the part of the label’s owners. Here is the first: Pianist Duke Jordon was a legend as he was Charlie Parker’s pianist of choice in the mid-40s and was known for his solos and creative intros to Bird’s pieces. Duke Jordan was also not only a distinctive pianist but a fine composer and this date called “Flight to Jordan” is a good one. Duke picked two fine hornmen for the front line, tenor saxophone master Stanley Turrentine and Jamacan-born trumpet ace Dizzy Reece. Bassist Reginald Workman provides the solid bottom and the ever reliable Arthur Taylor kicks everything up on drums. Seven fine Jordan compositions and one standard tune grace this quality date. We’ll take you on a “Flight to Jordan” tonight!
Although underrated alto saxophonist Sylvester Kyner Jr (aka Sonny Red) recorded for several other labels many feel his finest recorded work is on this his only Blue Note date called “Out of the Blue”. Sonny Red came up with all the great Detroit-born players who emigrated to New York in the mid-50s. Sonny’s distinctive approach and great sound makes him a standout. Sonny performs with the great pianist Wynton Kelly, bass mainstay Sam Jones and Detroit legend Roy Brooks on drums. The mix is a balanced combination of Sonny Red’s original tunes and some well chosen and rarely played standards. On the final two tunes Sonny is accompanied by the Miles Davis rhythm section of the time with Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Sonny Red will take you “Out of the Blue” tonight.
Drummer Arthur Taylor had appeared on literally hundreds of recording sessions from the 1950s to the 1990s with just about everyone of importance on the scene…eg. Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and so many more. Arthur Taylor made very few albums under his own name oddly enough and this one his sole date for Blue Note is a fine one. It’s called “A.T.’s Delight”. Arthur picked a great band here with some solid tenor saxophone work by Stanley Turrentine and an underrated trumpet player named Dave Burns. They blend so very well. Wynton Kelly graces any date he’s on with his piano playing and Paul Chambers proves once again why he was first-call by so many on bass. Master conga drummer Carlos ” Patato” Valdes graces a few of the tunes and works hand in glove with Mr. Taylor. A fine version of Coltrane’s “Syeeda’s Song Flute” opens the date and on to a Monk staple, “Epistrophy” then to a Bebop classic by drummer Denzil Best called “Move” and two fine Kenny Dorham tunes called “High Seas” and “Blue Interlude” and one by Mr.A.T. himself, the West Indian flavored “Cookoo and Fungi”. “A.T.’s Delight” is sure to bring delight to your ears tonight!.
Pianist Walter Davis Jr. was a virtuoso, classically trained with impeccable technique. He recorded many dates as a Jazz Messenger with Art Blakey and was a prized sideman with many others but only got one date on Blue Note and it’s a goodie! Walter, like Duke Jordan was also known as a composer and this album called “Davis Cup” contains 6 tuneful and catchy originals by Walter. The music here is a wonderful summation of the sound of New York Jazz before Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane shattered and moved beyond the conventions that this music thrived on. Walter’s band for this date sounds like a working band as it is so tight and in the groove. Jackie McLean on alto saxophone and trumpeter Donald Byrd sound like they were tied together at birth. Sam Jones on bass and the ubiquitous Arthur Taylor on drums bring the music to a boil on every tune. “Davis Cup” is a winner!
We begin the month of August with a new premise for our Jazz Features. Rare recordings rule to roost here in August. We begin with one of this writer’s personal favorites, trumpeter Johnny Coles (aka “Little Johnny C”) This album called “The Warm Sound” was originally issued on Epic Records and is a rare item. It’s Johnny’s most personal album as he’s in a quartet setting with Kenny Drew on piano, Peck Morrison on bass and drummer Charlie Persip. Coles wrote one tune and explores two standards then makes the most of four wonderful tunes by pianist/composer Randy Weston. Coles was more than just a distinctive stylist, he was a sensitive and eloquent Jazz Master. “The Warm Sound” will add warmth to your evening.
Charles Mingus was as most of us know a formidable bassist, composer and band leader. This album is an oddity in his vast recorded legacy as it is a piano trio album. It features the masterful piano concepts of the great Hampton Hawes. Hawes was from Los Angeles and Mingus knew his family. Hampton Hawes was self-taught but was an influence on many pianists including Oscar Peterson. Hawes is frequently forgotten when great pianists are mentioned but he shouldn’t be. He is a master of swing and the blues. Hawes was visiting New York when this date was recorded and it was Mingus who set it up. Drummer Dannie Richmond, Mingus’ regular drummer adds his sound to the date. Only two Mingus tunes are included in the seven. One is a slow blues and the other is a Mingus original dedicated to Dizzy Gillespie called “Dizzy Moods” . One up tempo tune by Hawes called “Hamp’s New Blues” burns brightly and four familiar standards are given a unique treatment. “Mingus Three” is a masterpiece and well worth checking out.
Tonight’s Jazz Feature is indeed a rare date with lesser known Jazz players who worked around the New York area but never had much exposure on records. This is high quality music and “Pleasure Bent: which was issued on Prestige (New Jazz) was a sought after collector’s item commanding a high price at auctions. The music is not only deserving of a high price but also high praise! Tenor saxophonist Roland Alexander was a fine player and a good composer as he contributed 4 of his compositions to this date. The other two are good standards. Alexander’s front line partner is the legendary Detroit trumpet king Marcus Belgrave. Marcus was visiting New York but lived and taught master classes in Detroit. He was always sought after rarely toured outside of his home town. Pianist Ronnie Mathews was one of the better New York players and bassist Gene Taylor worked many years with Horace Silver and Nina Simone. Taylor is solid. Drummer Clarence “Scoby” Stroman played with everyone and was one of the most well liked drummers in New York yet he rarely was called to do recording dates….this is a bit of a mystery as he sounds so good on this session. All the legendary drum giants like Dannie Richmond, Max Roach, Buddy Rich and others loved and respected Scoby Stroman. “Pleasure Bent” will indeed be a pleasure for your ears tonight!
Bassist Richard Davis is one of the best and yet made few dates under his name. This one is an exception. This is a live date recorded at a club named Jazz City in New York and contains only two long tunes. The music is edgy and a little “out there” but on solid traditional ground. Trumpeter Marvin “Hannibal” Peterson is loud and declarative and burns in high heat. Tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan delivers his intense blues-based concept as a contrast and pianist Joe Bonner is able to cover all the bases moving in and out of the music. Freddie Waits is a drummer who can swing and be abstract at the same time but the direction of the music comes from the always creative and adventurous bass work of the one and only Richard Davis. Monk’s classic “Epistrophy” is explored in a way that even Monk would never imagine and Charlie Parker’s blues “Now’s The Time” gets full treatment. “Now”s The Time” for Richard Davis and time for you to go on this ride tonight.