Tune in to the Jazz Show with Gavin Walker every Monday night,
As it is September and the time of year when everything, school, work and life kicks into a routine after the summer. There are some traditions on The Jazz Show for this time of year and we’ll get to those on September 10, and the 17th.
This album can be considered the holy grail of discoveries and a previously unissued set by John Coltrane fits the bill. It was issued a few months ago and tonight we will listen to the full album by tenor and soprano saxophone master John Coltrane and his “classic quartet” with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and the explosive Elvin Jones on drums. Only one tune from this date was ever issued and the rest shelved and forgotten about until some session tapes were discovered in the possession of the estate of Anita “Naima” Coltrane, who was Mr. Coltrane’s first wife. It is full of musical wonders and well recorded too in March of 1963 during a peak time for the Coltrane Quartet. Tonight: “Both Directions at Once”. Don’t miss this one.
Now we get to the Jazz Feature yearly tradition and it’s a learning experience to celebrate the “back to school” routine. “A History of Jazz” narrated by the great alto saxophonist/bandleader Julian “Cannonball” Adderley gives us a simple history of this great American art form from it’s beginnings and up to the early 1960’s. Much has happened in music and the world since then but Mr. Adderley’s dissertation gives you a historical perspective that has much relevance to today’s Jazz music. Plus Cannonball makes it fun and non-academic. Those of you who have heard this album before will usually find something new in each hearing and those who have never heard it will have some doors opened.
The next chapter in The Jazz Show tradition is maestro Leonard Bernstein’s “What is Jazz”. Mr. Bernstein takes a different approach rather than a straight historical direction and in an informative and often humerous way, tells you what is and what isn’t Jazz. A myriad of artists besides Mr. Bernstein demonstrate the examples that he sets up. Snippets of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis among others contribute to the album. In the second part Bernstein takes an old pop tune apart and allows a a variety of musicians from different eras to interpret it. All in all it’s a fun and educational listen and I’m sure you’ll come away from this with a better understanding of the music we call Jazz.
We opened the month with John Coltrane and we’ll end the month with tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Coltrane and Rollins remain to this day fountainheads of Jazz saxophone playing. The Rollins’ album is one of this writer’s personal favourites and it’s Sonny’s “comeback” album from late 1955 called “Worktime”. Sometimes this great album is overlooked but it marked Sonny’s return to New York from a sojourn in Chicago to get his life in order and was his first step from being a good solid player to a great one. Sonny appears here with pianist Ray Bryant and bassist George Morrow but is booted along by some of the finest examples of drum master Max Roach’s playing. “Worktime” is still one of Sonny’s most exquisite dates and it’s happening tonight!