New this month:
SONNY CLARK: "COOL STRUTTIN'"
Sonny Clark never made a better album than "Cool Struttin'". This 1958 Blue Note date may have been conceived as just another blowing date, but the high quality of the music made it an instant classic. As Thomas Cunniffe notes in this Retro Review, the magic starts with the iconic album cover but peaks with the music created by Clark, Art Farmer, Jackie McLean, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones.
TOSHIKO AKIYOSHI/LEW TABACKIN: "ROAD TIME"
One of the finest ensembles of the 1970s was the Los Angeles big
band co-led by Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lew Tabackin. Their double LP, "Road
Time" documented their 1976 tour of Japan, and netted the group a
Grammy nomination. Amy Duncan examines this out-of-print classic in this
month's Retro Review.
PETER APPLEYARD & THE JAZZ GIANTS: "THE LOST 1974 SESSIONS"
It's hard to go wrong with an all-star recording featuring Bobby
Hackett, Urbie Green, Zoot Sims, Hank Jones, Slam Stewart, Mel Lewis and
leader Peter Appleyard. While reviewer Thomas Cunniffe praises the
music on the newly-released "The Lost 1974 Sessions", there are severe
problems with the production of the disc which call for a new edition.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: "COLUMBIA & RCA VICTOR LIVE RECORDINGS"
Mosaic's new collection of Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars
includes over 11 hours of live performances spread over 9 CDs.
Co-Producer and annotator Ricky Riccardi has long held that Armstrong's
later recordings are as important as his early works, and reviewer
Thomas Cunniffe states that the music in this Mosaic set validates
Riccardi's arguments. This expanded Retro Review offers a detailed look
at the music in this outstanding collection.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: "RED BEANS AND RICELY YOURS: SATCHMO AT THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB"
In what would be his penultimate public appearance, Louis Armstrong
and his All-Stars played a 30-minute concert at the National Press Club
on January 29, 1971. The performance, and a tribute concert from the
following year have been reissued by Smithsonian-Folkways. Thomas
Cunniffe reports that the music may not be profound, but the Creole
recipes included as liner notes will allow you to create a culinary
tribute to Armstrong.
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: "SATCHMO AT SYMPHONY HALL"
"Satchmo at Symphony Hall" has long been considered one of Louis
Armstrong's greatest concert recordings. In commemoration of the 65th
anniversary of this recording, Universal Music has released the concert
complete for the first time. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the new version in
this Retro Review.
COUNT BASIE AND LESTER YOUNG: LIVE AND IN THE STUDIO
It's always good to be a fan of Count Basie and Lester Young, but
with the concurrent releases of Mosaic's 8-CD box set "Classic 1936-1947
Studio Sessions" and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem's second volume
of Bill Savory recordings (focused entirely on Basie and Young from
1938-1940), the artistry of these great musicians can be understood in
greater detail than ever before. In this extended Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe notes that the highly inclusive Mosaic set allows listeners to
compare recordings that were made for competing record companies, and
Savory's radio broadcasts capture the band live at New York's Famous
Door, Boston's Southland Ballroom and Chicago's Panther Room.
COUNT BASIE/JOE WILLIAMS: "MEMORIES AD-LIB"
In 1958, Joe Williams and Count Basie recorded a small group masterpiece called "Memories Ad-Lib". While the performances by Williams and Basie are superb, the real treasure of this album are guitar solos by Freddie Green. Thomas Cunniffe tells of this rare treasure and wonders why no one has reissued it on CD.
ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS: "FREE FOR ALL"
Although it was made in a recording
studio, Art Blakey's "Free For All" sounds like a live album. Recorded
in 1964, the album features remarkable music by one of the greatest of
all Jazz Messenger units, with Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Curtis
Fuller, Cedar Walton and Reggie Workman. Thomas Cunniffe discusses the
curious circumstances of the recording session and the events of the
time that may have inspired the music.
CLIFFORD BROWN/MAX ROACH: "HISTORIC CALIFORNIA CONCERTS"
In 1954, Max Roach and Clifford Brown teamed up in LA to form one
of jazz's finest bop groups. The group only stayed in California for a
few months, but it helped revitalize LA's bop scene. In this Retro
Review, Thomas Cunniffe examines two early concerts by the Brown/Roach
Quintet, originally issued on the GNP label, and now available in a
superior reissue by Fresh Sounds.
DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET: "JAZZ AT OBERLIN"
Jazz at Oberlin is one of the classic Dave Brubeck albums. It was his first recorded college concert, and it featured Paul Desmond at his most uninhibited. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe tells of the first he heard this jazz masterpiece.
BENNY CARTER: "FURTHER DEFINITIONS"
No one could write for saxophone sections like Benny Carter, and his 1961 Impulse LP, "Further Definitions" is a genuine masterpiece. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the CD reissue, which also includes Carter's superb 1966 follow-up, "Additions to Further Definitions".
ORNETTE COLEMAN: "THE SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME" & "CHANGE OF THE CENTURY"
Few albums had the impact of Ornette Coleman's "The Shape of Jazz to
Come" and "Change of the Century". They generated an incredible amount
of critical buzz, and there was little middle ground: either you loved
it or hated it. Amy Duncan loved it from the first time she heard it,
and she shares her reactions to the albums in this Retro Review.
"JOHN COLTRANE AND JOHNNY HARTMAN"
In March 1963, John Coltrane
made a temporary change in his quartet's style for a recorded
collaboration with ballad singer Johnny Hartman. In this Retro Review,
Thomas Cunniffe discusses the beauty and legacy of "John Coltrane and
"MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT, 1955-1975"
When Miles Davis first took the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival
in 1955, Duke Ellington joked that Davis and his fellow musicians
inhabited the world of Buck Rogers. Actually, the music Davis played
that day was fairly accessible, and it wasn't until 14 years later that
his music began to alienate his long-time fans. While the new Legacy
4-CD set "Miles Davis at Newport" dutifully presents the music in
chronological order, Thomas Cunniffe's review offers a different
perspective as he starts with the most recent (and less known) sets and
works backward from there.
"MILES DAVIS LIVE IN EUROPE, 1967"
Columbia/Legacy launches its latest series of Miles Davis recordings with a 3-CD/1-DVD set chronicling a fortnight tour of Europe in 1967. The quintet featuring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams was in peak form, creating vastly different performances from night to night. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the set, and reveals what you won't find on the collection.
MILES DAVIS/JOHN COLTRANE: "ALL OF YOU: THE LAST TOUR, 1960"
By 1960, John Coltrane had played with Miles Davis for nearly five
years. With the release of "Giant Steps", he was auditioning musicians
for his own quartet. However, Davis needed Coltrane for an tour of
Europe, and Coltrane reluctantly accepted. A new 4-CD set from Acrobat
collects many of the tour's highlights, and in this Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe recommends it for its improved sound quality and its detailed
liner notes by Simon Spillett.
ERIC DOLPHY: "OUT TO LUNCH"
From its iconic cover to the groundbreaking music within its
grooves, Eric Dolphy's "Out To Lunch" is one of the classic free jazz
albums of the 1960s. Dolphy expected his musicians to reexamine their
conceptions of jazz improvisation, and Freddie Hubbard, Bobby
Hutcherson, Richard Davis and Tony Williams certainly delivered. In this
Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe examines this complex masterpiece which
still sounds contemporary today.
DOUBLE SIX OF PARIS: "SINGIN' SWINGIN'"
The Double Six of Paris was unique among vocal jazz groups for their
clever vocalese lyrics (sung in French!) and their uncanny way of
capturing the nuances of the original instrumental recordings. Amy
Duncan discusses the group's second LP "Singin', Swingin'" in this Retro
DUKE ELLINGTON: "(HI-FI) ELLINGTON UPTOWN"
The early 50s were not a great time for big bands, but Duke Ellington continued to tour and record with his orchestra, despite several roadblocks. "Ellington Uptown", an album released in several versions, shows Ellington triumphing over adversity in a profound way. Thomas Cunniffe discusses the original LPs and their compilation on CD in this Retro Review.
DUKE ELLINGTON: "ELLINGTON INDIGOS"
Neglected among Duke Ellington's classic albums of the late 1950s,
"Ellington Indigos" contains definitive versions of standards by
Ellington and his contemporaries. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe
offers a fresh interpretation of this album and sorts out its various
TWO TRIPS THROUGH THE "MONEY JUNGLE"
The 1962 LP "Money Jungle" brought together the prototypical power trio: Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The personal tensions between these giant personalities was reflected in the music, which was less like sparks flying and more like landmine explosions. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe examines this classic recording and a new tribute album by Terri Lyne Carrington.
DON ELLIS: "SOARING"
Don Ellis was best known for his late 1960s band that experimented with odd time signatures and electronic instruments. Through his exploration of ethnomusicology and film music, his concepts deepened through the early 1970s. Michael Verity discusses Ellis' late masterpiece, Soaring in this Retro Review.
ELLA FITZGERALD & ELLIS LARKINS: "PURE ELLA"
In 1950, Ella Fitzgerald had the good sense to partner with pianist
Ellis Larkins for the LP "Ella Sings Gershwin". That classic album and
its followup "Songs in a Mellow Mood" were reissued on CD several years
ago on a disc appropriately titled "Pure Ella". In this Retro Review,
Thomas Cunniffe details why these recordings are among Fitzgerald's
BILL EVANS TRIO: "LIVE AT THE TOP OF THE GATE"
Historic recordings by Bill Evans are legion, but not all of the
recordings have optimum music or sound. George Klabin and Resonance
Records' new release "Live at the Top of the Gate" offers the Evans Trio
at an important time in their development, and in spectacular sound.
Thomas Cunniffe reviews the album.
GIL EVANS: "INTO THE HOT"
Following his 1961 big band masterpiece, "Out of the Cool", Gil
Evans defied expectations with his next album, "Into the Hot". Evans
acted only as producer, allowing John Carisi and Cecil Taylor to
showcase their music. Amy Duncan reviews this classic album which
contrasts Carisi's progressive big band charts with Taylor's avant-garde
ELLA FITZGERALD: "ELLA SWINGS LIGHTLY"
In the mid-1950s,
Ella Fitzgerald entered a period of simultaneous artistic growth and
enormous popularity. Although the "Song Book" series garnered most of
the attention, Fitzgerald several jazz albums including the splendid
"Ella Swings Lightly" with the Marty Paich Dek-tette. Thomas Cunniffe
discusses this album in this Retro Review.
RED GARLAND: "SWINGIN' ON THE KORNER"
When Red Garland left the Miles Davis Sextet in 1958, his career
continued on with recordings for Prestige and a busy schedule of sideman
appearances. But in 1962, Garland moved to Dallas to care for his
ailing mother, and he didn't return to active playing for nearly a
decade. Elemental's new 2-CD set. "Swingin' on the Korner" finds Garland
in exceptional form, leading a trio with Leroy Vinnegar and Philly Joe
Jones in live sets recorded in 1977 at San Francisco's Keystone Korner.
ERROLL GARNER: "THE COMPLETE CONCERT BY THE SEA"
By all indications, it shouldn’t have been that special: just a
run-out concert by the Erroll Garner Trio in a small California coastal
town on the off-night of a nightclub engagement in San Francisco. Yet,
on September 19. 1955, Erroll Garner's concert in Carmel-by-the-Sea was
recorded by a young Army DJ, and subsequently issued by Columbia. To
celebrate the album's 60th anniversary, the complete concert is being
issued for the first time. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe tells
the story behind "Concert by the Sea" and notes that the remastered and
restored sound is better than any previous issues.
ERROLL GARNER: "READY, TAKE ONE"/SHIRLEY HORN: "LIVE AT THE FOUR QUEENS"
The names Erroll Garner and Shirley Horn do not usually appear
side-by-side in jazz histories. Yet in a vintage interview, Horn said
that Garner was her first jazz influence. Both Garner and Horn created
unique styles that were difficult for others to copy, specifically
Garner's idiosyncratic approach to rhythm and Horn's intimate way with
ballads. Thomas Cunniffe reviews newly released recordings by Garner and
Horn in this month's Retro Review.
STAN GETZ: "THE DOLPHIN"
One of Stan Getz' late masterpieces was "The Dolphin", a quartet
recording made at San Francisco's Keystone Korner. New JHO contributor
Chris Coulter offers his thoughts on the album and its companion disc,
"Spring Is Here".
STAN GETZ & JOAO GILBERTO: "GETZ/GILBERTO" (50th Anniversary)
As the quintessential summit meeting between American and Brazilian
artists, "Getz/Gilberto" was both an artistic and commercial success.
For the 50th anniversary of its release, Verve has issued an new CD
edition. Thomas Cunniffe writes that the original stereo album sounds
better than ever, but finds the supplemental section lacking in
DIZZY GILLESPIE: "SONNY SIDE UP" AND "DUETS"
There are all-star sessions, and then there's Dizzy Gillespie's
"Sonny Side Up". This album, featuring the twin tenors of Sonny Rollins
and Sonny Stitt, contains one of the greatest tenor sax battles ever
recorded. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe explores both "Sonny
Side Up" and its companion album "Duets".
BENNY GOODMAN'S FAMOUS 1938 CARNEGIE HALL JAZZ CONCERT (by Catherine Tackley)
to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the event, Catherine Tackley's
monograph, "Benny Goodman's Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert"
examines the performance in great detail. As Thomas Cunniffe notes in
his book review, Tackley's book might have been more valuable with less
musical analysis and more information about the recording's enigmatic
CHARLIE HADEN: "LIBERATION MUSIC ORCHESTRA"
Jazz and politics might seem strange bedfellows, but no one merged
the two better than Charlie Haden. With brilliant arrangements by Carla
Bley, Haden's 1969 LP, "Liberation Music Orchestra" captured the
turbulence of its era, and led to three more albums by this landmark
ensemble. Thomas Cunniffe examines the original Impulse album in this
HERBIE HANCOCK: "MWANDISHI"
Herbie Hancock called his 1970 LP, Mwandishi his “favorite record of all the records I have ever made, and the loosest I’ve ever done.” Marissa Dodge examines this pivotal album which expanded the ideas explored in Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew".
"CLASSIC COLEMAN HAWKINS SESSIONS, 1922-1947"
Mosaic's "Classic Coleman Hawkins Sessions 1922-1947" includes many
of the pioneer tenor saxophonist's best recordings from the first half
of his career. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe details the
highlights of the set and praises the outstanding remastering by Andreas
(RE) DISCOVERING TUBBY HAYES
Tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes has been nearly forgotten in the
United States, but in the United Kingdom, he is revered as one of the
greatest jazz musicians Britain ever produced. Hayes died over 40 years
ago, but his legacy has been kept alive through an avalanche of live and
unissued Hayes recordings issued in the past decade. In this expanded
Retro Review. Thomas Cunniffe examines the wide-ranging music of this
sometimes neglected giant.
BILLIE HOLIDAY: "ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL"
During seven recording sessions in August 1956 and January 1957,
Billie Holiday recorded three albums which represented some of the best
singing of her later years. Several years ago, these three albums, "All
or Nothing at All", "Body and Soul" and "Songs for Distingué Lovers"
were combined on a 2-CD set. To commemorate Holiday's centennial, Thomas
Cunniffe listens again to these superb albums, finding Holiday's
interpretive powers at their peak.
SHIRLEY HORN: "HERE'S TO LIFE"
One of jazz's greatest storytellers, Shirley Horn created a masterpiece for the ages with her 1992 CD, "Here's To Life". The album was her first collaboration with Johnny Mandel, and it features three of Mandel's best songs. However, as Thomas Cunniffe writes, it is the title song--written especially for Horn--that ties this album together.
EDDIE JEFFERSON: "THE MAIN MAN"
In the mid-1970s, Eddie Jefferson finally received the popular and
critical acclaim that was long overdue. His 1977 Inner City LP "The Main
Man" has long been considered his finest work, with Jefferson singing
definitive versions of his greatest vocalese pieces, backed by a
remarkable all-star band. Thomas Cunniffe takes another listen in this
month's Retro Review.
"CLASSIC JAMES P. JOHNSON SESSIONS"
During the 1920s, James P. Johnson's career developed in four
distinct areas: stride pianist, vocal accompanist, songwriter and
sideman. A new set from Mosaic features Johnson's recordings in all
these areas during his peak years of 1921-1943. Because the recordings
are presented in chronological order, the music of those distinct areas
get mixed together. In his Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe suggests that
listeners use the programming function on their CD player to separate
the styles and omit some of the less artistic tracks.
QUINCY JONES: "THIS IS HOW I FEEL ABOUT JAZZ"
In September 1956, 23-year old Quncy Jones assembled a truly
all-star band for his first LP as a leader, "This Is How I Feel About
Jazz". In ensembles ranging from nine to fifteen pieces, Jones provided
brilliant showcases for Art Farmer, Jimmy Cleveland, Phil Woods, Lucky
Thompson, Milt Jackson, Billy Taylor and Charles Mingus. Thomas Cunniffe
reviews this landmark recording in this month's Retro Review.
CLEO LAINE: "SHAKESPEARE AND ALL THAT JAZZ"
A modern Renaissance woman, Dame Cleo Laine's 1964 LP "Shakespeare and All That Jazz" is one of her finest recordings, and one that begs for a CD reissue. Thomas Cunniffe discusses that album and a similar project recorded by Laine's daughter, Jacqui Dankworth, 32 years later.
CHARLES LLOYD: "MANHATTAN STORIES"
Although he had appeared on records since the early 1960s, Charles
Lloyd was still developing his sound and finding his audience in 1965. A
new 2-disc set, Manhattan Stories includes contrasting live sets from
Judson Hall and Slug's featuring Lloyd, Gábor Szabó, Ron Carter and Pete
La Roca. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the set, noting how well these two
sets play off each other, and how one selection points to Lloyd's
MANHATTAN TRANSFER: "EXTENSIONS"
In their 30-year history, the Manhattan Transfer has recorded
several fine albums. However, few were as pivotal as "Extensions", the
1979 LP which introduced Cheryl Bentyne as a new member of the group,
and solidified the group's commitment to jazz and vocalese. Thomas
Cunniffe takes a fresh look at the album in this Retro Review.
"CARMEN McRAE AT THE GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL"
Recorded in June 1976, Carmen McRae's live album "...At the Great
American Music Hall" is one of the singer's least-heralded masterpieces.
Featuring the outstanding rhythm section of Marshall Otwell, Ed Bennett
and Joey Baron, plus four tracks with guest artist Dizzy Gillespie, the
album finds McRae creating one memorable performance after another. In
this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe writes that McRae benefits from the
enthusiastic response of the young San Francisco audience.
CHARLES MINGUS: "THE JAZZ WORKSHOP CONCERTS, 1964-65"
Filling an important gap in Charles Mingus' discography, the new
Mosaic 7-CD set "The Jazz Workshop Concerts" collects five concerts from
1964-1965 originally produced for issue on Mingus' own label. The album
includes over two hours of newly released music, including three very
different versions of "Meditations on Integration". Thomas Cunniffe
offers details in this Retro Review.
CHARLES MINGUS: "PRE-BIRD" (aka "MINGUS REVISITED")
The music of Charles Mingus was always ahead of its time, and on his album Pre-Bird he presents compositions that he wrote before hearing Charlie Parker. In this Retro Review, Ellen Johnson discusses all of the music and how it related to Mingus' life.
"THE COMPLETE ATLANTIC STUDIO RECORDINGS OF THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET, 1956-1964"
One of the reasons for the Modern Jazz Quartet's longevity was the
wide appeal of their music. Cool jazz adopted them as their own for the
fugues and Third Stream works, while boppers could appreciate their
strong roots in the blues. Mosaic's 7-CD collection of the MJQ's studio
albums from 1956-1964 offers generous helpings of the group's wide
repertoire. In his review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that a companion volume
of the MJQ live would complete the picture.
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: "CONCERT IN JAPAN '66"
The Modern Jazz Quartet's stage manners were always immaculate.
Dressed in tuxedos or fine crafted suits, they projected an air of
dignity usually reserved for string quartets. However, on one night in
Tokyo, they let themselves loose, and in the process created some of the
most memorable performances of their repertoire. The concert was
recorded by TBS Radio in Japan, and issued on the Japanese Atlantic
imprint, but it was never issued in the US. In this Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe examines this unique entry in the MJQ discography.
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET: "LOST TAPES"
The Modern Jazz Quartet was never as stuffy as their critics
claimed. Their music changed and evolved subtly through concerts and
recordings. "Lost Tapes", a new CD of recordings from Germany offers the
opportunities for fresh comparisons, and in this Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe traces the changes in MJQ arrangements through this and
previously released albums.
WES MONTGOMERY: "ECHOES OF INDIANA AVENUE"
The legacies of many jazz legends have been enriched with posthumous
releases. Resonance's "Echoes of Indiana Avenue" is the first album of
unissued Montgomery in a quarter-century, and as reviewer Thomas
Cunniffe notes, the album has clues that more unissued Montgomery may
still be forthcoming.
WES MONTGOMERY: "IN THE BEGINNING"
While Wes Montgomery was not well-known in the jazz world before
1960, he had been a semi-professional musician in his home town of
Indianapolis since 1944. Following on their acclaimed album "Echoes of
Indiana Avenue", Resonance Records has issued a new collection called
"In the Beginning" which traces Montgomery's playing back to 1949.
Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on the set in this Retro Review.
: "LO MEJOR DE LO MEJOR"
Known as "the Wildman of Rhythm", Cuban singer and bandleader Beny
Moré was beloved by fans and musicians. In a solo career that lasted
just over a decade, Moré accumulated several hit records, 40 of which
are compiled in RCA's "Lo Mejor de Lo Mejor". Jazz History Online's
Latin jazz expert Janine Santana revisits this music in this Retro
MILTON NASCIMENTO: "TXAI"
On his 1990 CD, "Txai" Milton Nascimento explores the music and
culture of the people protecting the Amazon rain forest. The recording
features sound clips of the indigenous people as well as an impressive
line-up of Americans and Brazilians. Janine Santana examines the album
in this Retro Review.
JAMES NEWTON: "THE AFRICAN FLOWER"
When it was issued in 1985, "The African Flower" featured some of
the decade's greatest jazz talents, from its leader, flutist James
Newton to the sidemen, violinist John Blake, alto saxophonist Arthur
Blythe, cornetist Olu Dara, vibraphonist Jay Hoggard and drummer
Pheeroan akLaff. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that while
few of these musicians have retained their status as jazz stars, the
original album remains one of the finest tributes to Duke Ellington and
Billy Strayhorn ever recorded.
"CHARLIE PARKER WITH STRINGS: DELUXE EDITION"
The exclusive recording contract between Charlie Parker and Norman
Granz was beneficial to both parties. Signing Parker was a coup for
Granz, who did not yet have the large stable of recording artists. Under
Granz, Parker recorded with a wide range of musicians, and was able to
realize a long-held dream of recording with strings. A new 2-CD
collection of Charlie Parker with Strings includes nearly a full disc of
unissued alternate takes. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the new collection in
this month's Retro Review.
DUKE PEARSON: "THE RIGHT TOUCH"
Under-appreciated by the jazz public, but beloved by musicians, Duke
Pearson recorded seventeen albums in just under 11 years. Michael
Verity singles out Pearson's 1968 Blue Note LP "The Right Touch" as his
"crowning achievement" in this month's Retro Review.
ART PEPPER: "LIVE AT FAT TUESDAY'S"
For years, Art Pepper proved that being white and a Californian were
not detriments to being a great jazz musician. However, even near the
end of his career, Pepper believed he had to prove himself yet again. A
newly released nightclub performance from New York's Fat Tuesday's finds
Pepper performing exciting and emotionally ripe solos in front of an
explosive rhythm section with Milcho Leviev, George Mraz and Al Foster.
Thomas Cunniffe reviews this important recording in this month's Retro
ART PEPPER: "UNRELEASED ART, VOLUME 8: LIVE AT THE WINERY"
When Art Pepper was released from Synanon in 1972, he was hesitant
to resume his playing career. He realized that the music he loved to
play was also the conduit for his substance abuse. Yet, with the
encouragement of his wife Laurie, Pepper gradually started playing
again. Thomas Cunniffe reviews a brilliant 1976 concert recording from
the Paul Masson Winery, recently issued by Laurie's Widow's Taste
AN AVALANCHE OF CLASSIC JAZZ
Resonance Records, a non-profit record label run by George Klabin
and Zev Feldman, usually produces a handful of historic jazz releases
each year, but this year--in the span of six weeks--they have issued
five remarkable albums. In this expanded Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe
reviews the CDs by Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Larry
Young and Sarah Vaughan.
"WE INSIST!: MAX ROACH'S FREEDOM NOW SUITE"
In 1960, Max Roach's "Freedom Now Suite" became the most political jazz
album ever recorded (an unofficial distinction it retained until Charlie
Haden's "Liberation Music Orchestra" was released 8 years later).
Thomas Cunniffe re-examines the work in historical and musical contexts.
SONNY ROLLINS: "THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER YOU"
When Sonny Rollins signed with Impulse Records in 1965, his first
recording project was a live outdoor concert at New York's Museum of
Modern Art. During the concert, Rollins wandered all around the
performing space as he improvised, and the off-mike recording was
shelved for 13 years. Thomas Cunniffe examines the recording and the
music in this Retro Review.
STAN GETZ PRESENTS JIMMY ROWLES: "THE PEACOCKS"
In 1975, Stan Getz was asked
to produce several jazz albums for Columbia. One of his first projects
was "The Peacocks", an album displaying the instrumental and vocal
talents of Jimmy Rowles. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe calls
the album "the best showcase Rowles ever had".
"NATIONAL JAZZ MUSEUM OF HARLEM SAVORY COLLECTION, VOL. 1"
In the Thirties and Forties, a young radio engineer named Bill
Savory captured broadcast performances of Benny Goodman, Coleman
Hawkins, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, and many others.
Up until this year, a double-disc set of Goodman airchecks were the
only parts of Savory's collection available to the general public.
However, this fall Loren Schoenberg and the National Jazz Museum of
Harlem released the first in a series of digital albums featuring
highlights from the Savory archive. As Thomas Cunniffe notes in this
Retro Review, the recordings make us reconsider our knowledge of these
great jazz icons.
CLARENCE GENE SHAW IN CHICAGO
In 1957, trumpeter Clarence Shaw left the music business after a
violent argument with his employer, Charles Mingus. By 1962, Shaw was
in Chicago and playing again . Now using his middle name, Gene, he
recorded three superb LPs for Argo featuring the best of the Windy
City's musicians Thomas Cunniffe discusses those rare albums in this
REVISITING "SHUFFLE ALONG"
When "Shuffle Along" premiered on Broadway in May 1921, it ended a
12-year drought of black shows on the so-called Great White Way. With a
new version of the show about to premiere on Broadway, Thomas Cunniffe
examines a 1976 LP and a new CD which reconstruct the show's proto-jazz
score, written by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake. Cunniffe also examines a
new solo piano recording by Ehud Asherie of songs from the score.
FRANK SINATRA ON THE RADIO
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birth, Sony
Music and the Smithsonian Institute have released a total of 5 CDs
featuring radio performances spanning the first two decades of the
legendary vocalist's career. In this month's Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe reviews both the Sony 4-CD set and the Smithsonian single disc
package, noting that the recordings offer a rare opportunity to hear
Sinatra performing songs he never officially recorded.
CAROL SLOANE: "LIVE AT 30TH STREET"
On an August night in 1962, Columbia turned its fabled 30th Street
Studio into a nightclub for a live recording by vocalist Carol Sloane.
In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that the rarely reissued
"Live at 30th Street" shows playful, swinging elements of Sloane's style
only hinted at on her orchestral debut LP, "Out of the Blue".
THE SMITHSONIAN AND "CLASSIC JAZZ"
"The Smithsonian Collection of Classic
Jazz" has undergone several transformations since its initial release in
1973. Thomas Cunniffe evaluates the various editions of the set as one
of this month's Retro Reviews.
JO STAFFORD: "JO + JAZZ"
Jo Stafford never considered herself a
jazz singer, but her 1960 Columbia LP "Jo + Jazz" shows us what might
have been. Arranged and conducted by Johnny Mandel, and featuring an
all-star band made up of Ellington veterans and West Coast jazz
stalwarts, Stafford performs the most jazz-infused performances of her
career. Thomas Cunniffe revisits this vocal jazz classic in this month's
McCOY TYNER: "INCEPTION"
"Inception" was McCoy Tyner's first album as a leader, and it shows
the 24-year-old pianist bridging the gap between bop and modal jazz. The
album has been highly influential on several pianists, including Jazz
History Online's Ben Markley, who chose this disc for his first Retro
"SARAH VAUGHAN (FEATURING CLIFFORD BROWN)"
When Sarah Vaughan first heard Clifford Brown in 1951, she wanted to
make a record with him, even though he was unknown and had not
recorded. Three years later, with Brown established as a rising trumpet
star, the collaboration became a reality. In this Retro Review, Thomas
Cunniffe discusses that album, rightly acknowledged as a jazz classic.
SARAH VAUGHAN: "SOPHISTICATED LADY: THE DUKE ELLINGTON SONGBOOK COLLECTION"
In 1979, Sarah Vaughan was a newlywed. Her husband was trumpeter
Waymon Reed, a competent but hardly original soloist. Vaughan insisted
on featuring Reed on her recordings, including her 2-LP "Duke Ellington
Songbook". Concord has now reissued the set on CD with a previously
unissued session conducted by Benny Carter. In his review of the CD,
Thomas Cunniffe speculates that Reed may have been the catalyst for some
of Vaughan's greatest late-career performances.
BEN WEBSTER: "SOHO NIGHTS" (Volumes 1 & 2)
When Ben Webster traveled from New York to London in December 1964
for an engagement at Ronnie Scott's, he probably did not imagine that he
would never return to the US. A new release by Stan Tracey's Resteamed
label captures Webster on his second night in London. Thomas Cunniffe
reviews the disc and an earlier volume with music from a 1968
performance at Scott's.
MARY LOU WILLIAMS: "SOLO RECITAL, MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL, 1978"
One of Mary Lou Williams' proudest claims was that she played through
all the major jazz eras. In the final years of her life, she codified
the styles so thoroughly that any piece she played could have elements
of stride, swing, boogie, bop and free. Thomas Cunniffe reviews her
stunning solo performance at the 1978 Montreux Jazz Festival in this
NANCY WILSON: "YESTERDAY'S LOVE SONGS/TODAY'S BLUES"
the 1960s, Nancy Wilson's popularity rose as jazz's audience waned.
Much of her success was due to an extraordinary series of albums on
Capitol. In his first contribution to our pages, Michael Canty offers
his thoughts on one of those classic albums, "Yesterday's Love
PHIL WOODS: "I REMEMBER..."
In 1978, Phil Woods composed and arranged "I Remember...", an
album-long suite which memorialized eight jazz masters: Cannonball
Adderley, Paul Desmond, Oscar Pettiford, Oliver Nelson, Charlie Parker,
Willie Rodriguez, Willie Dennis and Gary McFarland. In this Retro
Review, Thomas Cunniffe notes that the album is also a memorial for Dr.
Herb Wong, whose liner notes graced the original LP.