Friday, April 9, 2010

Jazz on a Summer's Day Revisited

In one of my original posts here I discussed Bert Stern's Jazz on a Summer's Day.

I find myself watching that excellent video often, but never knew the performances that Mr. Stern left out when he filmed the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Alan Kurtz, fortunately, wrote an excellent article titled, The Dozens: Jazz on a Summer's Day, that not only provides a list of all of the performances during that year's festival, but also critiques each performance that is in the movie.

More importantly (at least for those of us who are anal about such things), Kurtz also provides a list of the musicians who played on each of the performances.

Here are video clips of some of the performances from the video that you may enjoy:

See Anita O'Day: Jezebel of Jazz & Drummer's Vocalist for Anita O'Day's amazing performances that stole the show.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jazz to the East and Jazz to the West

I just stumbled across some excellent, inexpensive videos that are well worth adding to your viewing library: EFOR Films' Jazz Shots series. There are three DVDs covering the East Coast scene, and three covering the West Coast.

East Coast

Jazz Shots, Vol. 1: East Coast
1. Bill Evans Trio- Up With The Lark
2. Bill Evans- Waltz For Debbie
3. Ahmad Jamal Trio- Darn That Dream
4. Ahmad Jamal Trio- Ahmad Blues
5. Phil Woods Quartet- My Old Flame
6. Thelonious Monk- Blue Monk
7. Johnny Griffin- A Monk's Dream
8. Oscar Peterson- Newport Blues
9. Duke Ellington- Moon Indigo
10. Duke Ellington- Sophisticated Lady
11. Duke Ellington- Take the A Train
12. Keith Jarrett- Tagore
13. Keith Jarrett- Passin' Thru
14. Jimmy Smith Trio- Mack the Knife
15. Oscar Peterson- Newport Blues
16. Roland Kirk- Unknown Theme
Jazz Shots, Vol. 2: East Coast
MILES DAVIS QUINTET Feat. John Coltrane 8'59" / So What - M. Davis
CHARLIE PARKER 3'31" / Hothouse - T. Dameron
LOUIS ARMSTRONG 4'46" / Someday - L. Armstrong
LOUIS ARMSTRONG 3'23" / When It's Sleepy Time Down South - C. Muse - L. René - O. René
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET 4'46" / If I Were Eve - J. Lewis
MODERN JAZZ QUARTET 5'35" / Winter Tale - J. Lewis
BEN WEBSTER QUARTET 4'09" / Cottontail - D. Ellington
BEN WEBSTER QUARTET 5'05" / Chelsea Bridge - B. Strayhorn
BEN WEBSTER SEXTET 4'34" / Duke's Place - D. Ellington
ART FARMER - JIM HALL QUARTET 6'44" / My Kinda Love - L. Alter - J. Trent
COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA 6'40" / Dickie's Dream - C. Basie - L. Young
ART TATUM 2'36" / Art's Blues - A. Tatum
BOBBY HACKETT 3'51" / Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home - H. Cannon
Jazz Shots, Vol. 3: East Coast
1. JOHN COLTRANE 5'55" / Alabama - J. Coltrane
2. JOHN COLTRANE 7'08" / Afro Blue - M. Santamaría
4. DIZZY GILLESPIE QUINTET Feat. Lalo Schiffrin 7'08" / Blues After Dark / B. Golson
5. DIZZY GILLESPIE QUINTET Feat. Lalo Schiffrin 3'42" / Lorraine - D. Gillespie
6. THAD JONES - MEL LEWIS ORCHESTRA 12'29" / St. Louis Blues - W.C. Handy
7. JIMMY SMITH TRIO 5'30" / The Champ - D. Gillespie
8. JIMMY SMITH TRIO 7'07" / Walk On The Wild Side - E. Bernstein - M. David
9. WOODY HERMAN BIG BAND 5'38" / Just Squeeze Me - D. Ellington - L. Gaines
10. WOODY HERMAN BIG BAND 4'51" / After You're Gone - H. Creamer - T. Layton
11. SONNY ROLLINS QUARTET Feat. Jim Hall 5'54" / God Bless The Child - A. Herzog Jr. - B. Holiday
12. MILES DAVIS & GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA 3'27" / The Duke - D. Brubeck
13. MILES DAVIS & GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA 5'51" / Blues For Pablo - G. Evans
14. MILES DAVIS & GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA 4'25" / New Rumba - A. Jamal
15. DUKE ELLINGTON Newport Stomp / D. Ellington
16. PONY POINTDEXTER 4'17" Another Get Together / P. Poindexter

West Coast

Jazz Shots, Vol. 1: West Coast
1. Art Pepper- D. Section
2. Chet Baker- If I should Lose You
3. Zoot Sims- On The Trail
4. Phineas Newborn Trio- Lush Life
5. Phineas Newborn Trio- Theme For Basie
6. Phineas Newborn Trio- Oleo
7. Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band- Hempecked Old Man
8. Shelly Manne- The Isolate Pawn
9. Shelly Manne- Fantan
10. Wes Montgomery- Jingles
Jazz Shots, Vol. 2: West Coast
1. WES MONTGOMERY 5'28" / Full House - Wes Montgomery
2. WES MONTGOMERY 7'56" / Round Midnight - T. Monk
3. WES MONTGOMERY 3'31" / Yesterdays - O. Harback - J. Kern
4. GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET Feat. Bob Brookmeyer 5'30" / Open Country - B. Brookmeyer
5. GERRY MULLIGAN QUARTET Feat. Bob Brookmeyer 6'46"/ Darn That Dream - E. DeLange -J. Van Hensen
6. SHORTY ROGERS QUINTET Feat. Lou Levy 4'24" / Martians Go Home - S. Rogers
7. SHORTY ROGERS QUINTET Feat. Lou Levy 5'50" / Time Was - S. Rogers
8. SHORTY ROGERS QUINTET Feat. Lou Levy 6'12" / Greensleeves - Le Febvre - Rogers
9. PAUL DESMOND QUARTET 4'52" / Emily - J. Mandel - J. Mercer
10. LESTER YOUNG 2'20" / The Midnight Symphony (Ad lib)
11. LESTER YOUNG 3'07" / On The Sunny Side Of The Street - D. Fields - J. Mc Hugh
12. TEDDY EDWARDS 3'50" / Sunset Eyes - T. Edwards
13. TEDDY EDWARDS 3'20" / Afraid Of Love - T. Edwards
14. TEDDY EDWARDS 3'54" / The Cellar Dweller - T. Edwards
Jazz Shots, Vol. 3: West Coast
1. DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET Feat. Paul Desmond 4'56" / Take Five - P. Desmond
2. DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET Feat. Paul Desmond 5'34" / Castilian Blues - D. Brubeck
3. DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET Feat. Paul Desmond 5'18" / (It's a) Raggy Waltz - D. Brubeck
4. JIMMY GIUFFRE TRIO Feat. Jim Hall 5'00" / The Train And The River - J. Giuffre
5. STAN KENTON 4'56" / Malagueña (Arr. by Bill Holman) - E. Lecuona
6. STAN KENTON 5'23" / Waltz Of The Prophets (Arr. by Dee Barton) - D. Barton
7. STAN KENTON 3'56" / Maria (Arr. by Johnny Richards) - L. Bernstein - S. Sondheim
8. STAN KENTON 1'53" / Limehouse Blues (Arr. by Bill Holman) - P. Braham - D. Furber - B. Holman
9. JIM HALL 11'21" / Valse Hot - S. Rollins
10. HAMPTON HAWES 6'22" / Stella By Starlight - N. Washington - V. Young
11. FRANK ROSOLINO QUARTET 4'06" / Lover Man - J. Davis - R. Ramírez - J. Sherman
12. FRANK ROSOLINO QUARTET 4'22" / Well You Needn't - T. Monk
13. FRANK ROSOLINO QUARTET 4'01" / Yesterdays - O. Harbach - J. Kein

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sound of Swing - A Great Basie Video

For drummers wanting to brush up on their brushwork, guitarists who can't get enough of Freddie Green, and Basie fans, Sound of Swing is an extraordinary treat. The complete line-up is Basie, Norman Keenan on bass, Freddie Green on guitar and Sonny Payne on drums.

Here are two clips that justify my excitement over finding this treasure:

Here is the entire DVD in a playlist. Trust me, this DVD is a winner.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Anita O'Day: Jezebel of Jazz & Drummer's Vocalist

A remarkable woman with a remarkable story. Anita O'Day lived the jazz life - the same one that claimed other giants at an early age - but managed to survive that life to age 87. Her 72 year music career spanned swing, big band, bebop, West Coast jazz and other jazz-oriented popular music, and it still brings smiles.

Anita's ability to sing in fast tempos set her apart from any of her peers in any of the eras in which she contributed memorable performances. This ability made her highly successful with Gene Krupa and his orchestra, and allowed her to seamlessly segue into bebop and beyond as the swing and big band eras died.

She also had long associations with other drummers, notably Don Carter and John Poole. Carter, her first husband, gave her drum lessons. Poole was her favorite drummer and she maintained a professional association with him that spanned over three decades.

Here is a great video of Anita and John Poole (see also the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival clip further on):

I consider her male counterpart to be Mel Torme, who shared her ability to sing in fast tempos, and was a solid drummer in his own right.

There are some excellent biographical sources that balance Anita's Jezebel antics with her musical accomplishments and contributions to jazz:

Both pull no punches. Moreover, both chronicle the good and bad of a remarkable career than spanned nearly three quarters of a century in detail.

I also highly recommend her bio pic, Anita O'Day - The Life Of A Jazz Singer, which comprehensively details her story without the usual embellishments or convenient lapses of less than flattering material that characterize many biographies. Other sources of information that I found to be balanced and accurate are Lara Pellegrinelli's 2002 article, Anita O’Day: Yesterday & O’Day, an NPR Jazz Profiles transcript produced by Joan Merrill, and a surprisingly complete Wikipedia entry. These two audio transcripts of NPR shows featuring Anita are also worth a listen: Anita O'Day: A Distinctive Voice Stilled and Anita O'Day: Revisiting A Classic Voice.

Personally I am not too fond of her early years (except for her stint with Krupa). I believe she hit her stride as an artist when the bebop movement started gaining attention; indeed, I believe that genre was perfect for her talents and musical gifts and set her well apart from any other vocalist of that era.

I have selected the following videos to show how she evolved throughout her career. The highlight for me is her performance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, which was beautifully captured in Bert Stern's Jazz on a Summer's Day.

With Gene Krupa

With Stan Kenton

At the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival(John Poole on drums)

Other Performances

Because her music spans many albums and genres I am reluctant to make firm recommendations. Here is a list of Anita O'Day Albums, ranked by highest reviewer ratings, that can guide you.

There are videos in addition to the ones I listed above that I do recommend: Jazz Icons: Anita O'Day Live in '63 & '70, Live in Tokyo '63 and Anita O'Day - Live at Ronnie Scott's all capture this great woman in excellent performances. Enjoy the music!