Must Getz: Jazz for the Newcomer

Must Getz: Jazz for the Newcomer
Anthony Callender
13 June 1999

My niece asked me to write something for newcomers to jazz! Funny, that’s what I thought I was doing! O.K., I’ll give it another try. Here are some suggested titles for the novice who has not clue the first as to where to begin.

First and foremost I recommend Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” In my opinion this is the classic jazz recording of all time. It starts off with my personal favorite jazz composition, “So What”. It never loses its freshness, and the band, especially Miles and Cannonball Adderley on this version were surely reaching toward heaven. Their solos take us to a place where time and eternity intersect. It blows my mind every time I hear it. “All Blues”, “Blue and Green” and “Flamenco Sketches” (you’ll hear two versions of the latter on the CD) provide the band with the opportunity to create an atmosphere of wonder. It’s hard to believe what they accomplished on one CD in one recording session. Coltrane on tenor sax, Bill Evans on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums complete the band heard on these cuts. Wynton Kelly replaces Evans on “Freddie the Freeloader.” This is certainly a must getz.

“Time Out” is exactly what Dave Brubeck did not take on his outstanding album of the same name. The average Joe/Josephine has probably heard the signature tune “Take Five.” Not long ago it was used as foreground for music for a black and white Europeanish advertisement for some automobile. In all likelihood, you will have forgotten the car, but never the tune. Well that was Brubeck, Paul Desmond and the crew thinking out loud so that we could experience another perspective of time. Also check out “blue Rondo A La Turk”, and the West Coast cool “Everybody’s Junpin'”, and “Pick Up Sticks.” Like Davis’ “Kind of Blue,” the entire CD is off the hook. Both were cutting edge in their day.

Clint Eastwood wasn’t always the baddest cat in Carmel, California. He was preceded by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea by Erroll Garner. I’ve never been there at least physically, but my soul has been whenever I listen to Garner’s “Concert By The Sea” (Columbia CK40589). Erroll Garner was no joke. As a young man growing up in Pittsburgh he convinced percussion genius Art Blakey with deeds and not words that Art’s fame would not come by way of the piano. Check out “I’ll Remember April” and “April in Paris.” The trio included Eddie Calhoun on bass and Denzil Best on drums. This recording is another classic must getz.

Oliver Nelson was not half-stepping when he put together the immortal “Blues and the Abstract Truth” (Impulse 5659) album. This recording is incredible and some will argue that it rivals Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” The tunes may not be as memorable but the musicianship is right there. From the opener “Stolen Moments”, reedman Nelson, the incomparable Eric Dolphy on flute and alto sax and the blossoming trumpeter Freddie Hubbard are playing toe to toe with Cannonball, Coltrane and Miles. Joined by Miles’ cohorts Bill Evans on piano, and Paul Chambers on bass this once recorded excites and delights the listener. George Barrow plays Baritone sax and Roy Haynes is on drums. “Hoe-Down, “Cascades,” and “Yearnin'” are standouts. The soloists are energized and push each other higher and higher.

Out of the Wood Work

The Naxos Jazz label hasn’t been around that long, but it’s a catalog that is worth checking out. Naxos was popularly known as a discount classical label. Usually that means cheap. But far from it. Naxos’ titles are well recorded and are very enjoyable. Well, someone there got the idea to put out some jazz music. Great move Naxos! They have put out a fine series of indescribably delicious and authentically creative titles. I believe Mike Nock, a fine pianist and Naxos artist, has a lot to do with the quality of Naxos’ jazz line.

My favorite is drummer Niko Schauble’s “On the Other Hand” (Naxos Jazz 86011-2). The compositions seem to be cooperative efforts that give each player some room to improvise around a group thought or concept. Mr. Schauble’s sense of time, Paul Grabowsky’s piano and the lyricism of cornetist Stephen Grant especially impressed me. Tunes such as “Brother Bass’, “In The Dark”, Jazz Jungle”, and the title tune, and “So What If” are profoundly enjoyable.

I highly recommend saxophonists Lars Moeller’s “Kaleidoscope” (Naxos 86022-2) and the Tolvan Big Band’s “Plays the Music of Helge Albin” (Naxos Jazz 86025-2). You may ask who the Helge is Albin, get the CD and find out. You won’t be sorry.

Other Naxos recommended titles include “The UNO Jazz Orchestra (Naxos Jazz86010-2), Mike Nock’s “Ozboppin’ ” (Naxos Jazz 86019-2), trombonists Alain Trudel’s “Jericho’s Legacy” (Naxos Jazz 86021-2) featuring John Stetch on piano, Ken Scharphorst Big Band’s “Purple” (Naxos Jazz 86030-2) with Seamus Blake, Clifford Adams’ “The Master Power” (Naxos Jazz 86015-2) with Antonio Hart, and last for now, but not least, the Chris Cody Coalition’s “Oasis” (Naxos 86018-2). This label really bowled me over. I look forward to future releases.

Hi Ho Silver

I have been trying to get my hands on the Bronx Horn recording “Silver In The Bronx” (TI) My parents caught the band at the Flushing Town Hall about a year ago, and raved about them all the way back to South Ozone Park. They do a great job adding salsa to some of Horace’s best works. However, something happened to the CD on the way to my favorite record store when it was released last August. It still hasn’t arrived. I finally broke down and copped two at a pricier store whose name I won’t mention, but it was well worth it. He tunes include “Sister Sadie,” “Senor Blues,” The Preacher,” “Sayonara Blues,” Silver’s Serenade,” “Filthy McNasty” and others. Bronx Horns is Ray Vega (tp), Mitch Forman, Bobby Porcelli, Oscar Hernandez, Johnny Rodriguez, Jimmy Delgado, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Bernie Minoso, Jose Madera, and Yolanda Duke.

Blue Note One More Plea?

Please reissue some titles that have not been previously reissued on CD. There’s still at least one Lee Morgan, and some Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, and Blue Mitchell yet to be unearthed. Also, what about Tyrone Washington and Larry Young dates?

Happy 100th Duke!

April 30th, 1999 was a major milestone in jazz history, no in music history. It was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Edward Kennedy Ellington otherwise known as Duke Ellington. To commemorate that great day I picked up some Ellington CDs. “Money Jungle” (Blue Note [really United Artist] CDP 7 46398 2) a trio session with Charlie Mingus and Max Roach. The interaction between these three is fantastic. Sometimes we get so used to Duke the composer and orchestra leader that we forget that he plays a mean piano as well. Listen to the simple but substantive lines on “Very Special” and “Fleurette Aficaine”.

Orchestral Duke is well represented in “Such Sweet Thunder” (Columbia CK 65568) which is just that. I also picked up the Duke’ sound track, “Anatomy of a Murder” (Columbia CK 65569) is a killer side too!

Duke we wish you a happy birthday and thank you for some of the finest music ever made. P.S. tell Miles happy birthday too (May 25). 

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