Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 1945 at Savoy Records

(Image from London Jazz Collector)
"Hen Gates" is actually Dizzy Gillespie

Monday, November 26, 1945. Just another day at the office for the small independent Savoy Records label from New Jersey. There's so much written about the music recorded on that day for that label, that I'll just stick to hard data. First on, Don Byas and his quintet

Benny Harris (trumpet) Don Byas (tenor sax) Jimmy Jones (piano) John Levy (bass) Fred Radcliffe (drums)
   S5845    Candy
   S5846    How High The Moon
   S5847    Don By
   S5848    Byas-A-Drink

Next up (note the consecutive matrix numbers), the quintet lead by Charlie Parker, in his first ever session as a leader

Miles Davis (trumpet) Charlie Parker (alto sax) Argonne Thornton (a/k/a Sadik Hakim, piano) Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet and piano) Curley Russell (bass) Max Roach (drums)

WOR Studios, Broadway, NYC, November 26, 1945
   S5849-1  Warming Up A Riff
   S5850-1  Billie's Bounce
   S5850-2  Billie's Bounce
   S5850-3  Billie's Bounce
   S5850-4  Billie's Bounce
   S5850-5  Billie's Bounce
   S5851-1  Now's The Time
   S5851-2  Now's The Time
   S5851-3  Now's The Time
   S5851-4  Now's The Time
   S5852-1  Thriving On A Riff
   S5852-2  Thriving On A Riff
   S5852-3  Thriving On A Riff
   S5853-1  Ko-Ko
   S5853-2  Ko-Ko

Friday, November 22, 2013

Newly discovered recordings of Charlie Parker, unveiled

Chuck Haddix
This Autumn is being very rich for fans of Charlie Parker. Besides the two newly-published biographies by Chuck Haddix and Stanley Crouch (which I reviewed in Spanish for Cuadernos de Jazz), some months ago two previously unknown recordings by Bird were unveiled. They're actually by the Jay McShann Orchestra, but that's posterity for you.

Haddix's book
These treasures have been dug up by none other than Chuck Haddix, author of one of the aforementioned books, where he explains (on p. 48) with no mention to his own role in the story, that it was John Tumino, McShann's manager, who recorded two tracks on February 6, 1941, “Margie” and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”, which are today remembered as cornerstones of Tommy Dorsey's repertoire. Parker is featured in both tracks, and he's especially good in the latter, for the length and originality of his solo.

Both recordings were played in public in early September, during the annual convention of the International Association of Jazz Recording Collectors, or IAJRC, which actually took place in Kansas City.

The über-expert in jazz cinematography, Mark Cantor, was present and heard the records. This is what he says:
In the first, "Margie", in which the arranger seems to be channeling Sy Oliver and the Jimmie Lunceford recording, Bird has an 8-bar solo during a release late in the performance. What I found absolutely astounding [...] is a performance of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You", as much a dance performance as jazz, in which Bird takes a 32-bar solo that is amazing in its maturity, complexity, and melodic invention. Let's hope these will be issued someday for all of us to enjoy over and over.
 Amen to that.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Frank Wess (1922-2013)

Just a couple years younger than Charlie Parker, and also faring from Kansas City, Frank Wess was one of those excellent musicians poorly served by tags like "mainstream" or "bop". He was a member of the Basie orchestra for a long time. Apparently an unassuming man, it was our loss that he wasn't seen under the spotlight more often. Wess passed away on October 30, aged 91.

Jazz for Playboys (Savoy/Denon SV-0191)
Never mind the official hierarchies of jazz, Wess was one of the first tenor sax players I encountered in jazz (before Coltrane or Coleman Hawkins, for instance). He was also my first flutist, the only one I knew for some time, which may explain why I couldn't understand some of my colleagues' disliking the instrument. Guess I was just lucky.

It was by sheer coincidence that a local shop had bucketloads of Japanese Savoy/Denon CDs at discount price. At a time when I mulled over the purchase of one CD for a very long time, I don't know what made me choose this record without listening to it. Not the cover, obviously. It wasn't the title either (believe me).