Tune in to the Jazz Show with Gavin Walker every Monday night,
Tonight celebrates the anniversary of the recording debut of multi-instrumentalist and innovator Eric Dolphy. On April 1, 1960 Eric entered the recording studio with his hand-picked quintet and recorded “Outward Bound”. The music seemed so new to most ears yet it was firmly rooted in tradition. Eric’s alto saxophone used speech-like phrases coupled with more traditional lines and his bass clarinet work seemed unearthly. His flute playing seemed the most conservative but rich in innovation too. Eric had arrived seemingly from out of nowhere. His partners on the date were his then New York roommate, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Pianist Jaki Byard from Boston was someone new and his performance here is stunning. George Tucker on bass and the great Roy Haynes on drums provide the foundation for Eric’s team mates to spread new soil on the Jazz world. Tonight it’s “Outward Bound!”
Again we return to 1960 for this historic recording from a Paris concert by the Miles Davis Quintet with John Coltrane. This was Coltrane’s last tour as a member of Davis’ group and he had reluctantly stayed for this pre-booked tour of Europe in March and April of 1960. Coltrane had been booking his own gigs and was ready to fly on his own but he agreed to this tour. Davis gave Coltrane all the freedom he needed and Coltrane took advantage of this to pull out all stops and play as much as he could….and he did!!! This Paris concert was the best example of Coltrane’s power and innovation within this group and the reaction of the French audience is apparent and it’s a mixed one of elation and confusion as to what Coltrane was playing. Miles Davis and the group have never sounded better and this music is a very valuable document. Tonight: “Miles Davis: The Paris Concert”
Tonight the music of pianist/composer Herbie Hancock. One of his most important yet somewhat overlooked recordings from the mid-60s is “Empyrean Isles”. It is a quartet date with Freddie Hubbard on cornet, Ron Carter on bass and the incredible Tony Williams on drums. A Jazz record without the depth of a saxophone can sometimes sound incomplete sound shallow but not here. This contains some amazing Hancock compositions and some of Herbie and Freddie’s most adventurous work. It begins with the simple and funky “Canteloupe Island” (which was also issued as a single and became a minor hit) then goes into outer space with the rest of Herbie’s tunes. They cover all bases from free-form exploration to hard driving swing. Hancock and Hubbard and Co. at their best. “Empyrean Isles” sounds like a great place for a musical holiday and you’ll be there tonight.
Today is Earth Day and also the birthday of bassist/composer/innovator Charles Mingus. Tonight a special concert by what many people have called his “last great band” . Trumpeter Jack Walrath (the only surviving member) along with the great tenor saxophonist George Adams, pianist Don Pullen, drummer Dannie Richmond and Mr. Mingus deliver incredible music from a well-recorded concert in Bremen, Germany on July 9,1975. The music here has never been officially released and is heard here for the first time. The following year Mingus was diagnosed with ALS and he could still perform but with a limited capacity and eventually as his illness progressed became paralyzed and died on January 5, 1979 at age 56. Mingus was enjoying this band and was at his full powers here and these rare performances are a great tribute to his monumental talents. Tonight Charles Mingus and Company in Concert!
Tonight is the Birthday Anniversary of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. Ellington is perhaps and arguably to some, the most important figure in Jazz music. From the 1920s until his death at 75, Ellington occupied a sacred place in the music as a composer/pianist and most importantly the most innovative bandleader in Jazz. So much Ellington has been recorded and written about this man but of the many recordings that he has made this one presented on tonight’s Jazz Feature is a standout. Ellington’s “Far East Suite” commemorated the band’s tour sponsored by the U.S.State Department to places where Americans would not be welcomed today…Iran, Iraq, Syria, then onto India and Japan. The music here was composed by Ellington and his alter-ego Billy Strayhorn. The band always sounded their best by playing new and challenging material and they pull all the stops out for these pieces. All of this was recorded in New York after a short rest from the arduous tour in December 1966. “Far East Suite” remains one of Duke’s latter-day masterpieces and is tonight’s Jazz Feature. Take the trip with The Duke!