All that's jazz... and more

Big 3 Tenors

It was on this day in 1973 that Ben Webster passed away. Webster was one of the ‘Big Three Tenors’, along with the Hawk – Coleman Hawkins and The man they called Pres, Lester Young. These giants of the tenor sax did so much to influence just about everyone who followed them.

Ben Webster, nicknamed ‘The Brute’ played with striking rhythmic momentum with a rasping tone that added so much to both his own records and the numerous jazz greats he accompanied, from Billie and Ella to Duke Ellington and so many more during a career that spanned five decades.

Lester Young’s unique, cool style, intentionally playing high in the register on the tenor, set him apart from the majority of other saxophonists who had modelled themselves on Coleman Hawkins. Critic Benny Green described the difference, “Where Hawkins is profuse, Lester is pithy; where Hawkins is passionate, Lester is reflective.” Green also eloquently described how Young, in his view, above all other saxophonists, hear in his head exactly what he wanted to lay before he played it. His was head-jazz, but jazz played with a great deal of heart and passion.

Eleven days before he passed away in 1959 Pres recorded what became Lester Young in Paris; not his best playing by a long way, but fascinating that a man in his physical condition could ever perform. Norman Granz took out a full-page ad in Down Beat: a photo of Young under which was the simple dedication, “We’ll all miss you, Lester”.

And then there’s the Dean of Saxophonists – Hawk to his many fans. Coleman Hawkins did more than any other musician to establish the tenor sax. A suave and sophisticated player was the antithesis of what most people consider a jazz musician to be; although his love of drinking ensured he fulfilled that particular cliché. ‘Bean’ was a powerful, passionate and original tenor player who lived in London and toured Europe for five years during the 1930s, doing a great deal to spread the jazz word. Even Lester Young said, “As far as I’m concerned, I think Coleman Hawkins was the President first, right? As far as myself, I think I’m the second one.”

So who is the greatest of the Big 3 Tenors? And who are the challengers to their title? Our playlist may help you decide.


Read More

Comments (2)

creativecorpdan October 8th at 12:25pm

test comment

Mr Mctest October 8th at 1:38pm

Nice site!


Photographer Art Kane took the most wonderful photograph in jazz history – remarkable for many reasons. In features 57 of the best jazz musicians and the image has come to be called, ‘A Great Day In Harlem’.

Kane, a freelance photographer was on assignment for Esquire magazine, and took the picture at around 10 a.m. on 12 August 1958 at 17 East 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenue in Harlem. Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. In 1994 a TV documentary was made as to how this incredible photo came to be taken, one that Quincy Jones calls, “An astonishing photograph.”

What makes this photo so extraordinary is that it was Art Kane’s first photo shoot; he was an art director for various New York magazines. He was given the chance and it was Kane’s idea to take the photo in Harlem, a risk on many levels, not least trying to get everyone together in one place at 10 a.m. in the morning. As Kane said, he had no studio, so he had no choice. Gerry Mulligan didn’t believe anyone would show up…it was way too early.

Of the 57 musicians featured only two remain alive – Sonny Rollins and Benny Golson.
Full list of musicians in the photo

Full List of Musicians: Hilton Jefferson, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Wilbur Ware, Art Blakey, Chubby Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Dickie Wells, Buck Clayton, Taft Jordan, Zutty Singleton, Red Allen, Tyree Glenn, Miff Molo, Sonny Greer, Jay C. Higginbotham, Jimmy Jones, Charles Mingus, Jo Jones, Gene Krupa, Max Kaminsky, George Wettling, Bud Freeman, Pee Wee Russell, Ernie Wilkins, Buster Bailey, Osie Johnson, Gigi Gryce, Hank Jones, Eddie Locke, Horace Silver, Luckey Roberts, Maxine Sullivan, Jimmy Rushing, Joe Thomas, Scoville Browne, Stuff Smith, Bill Crump, Coleman Hawkins, Rudy Powell, Oscar Pettiford, Sahib Shihab , Marian McPartland, Sonny Rollins, Lawrence Brown, Mary Lou Williams, Emmett Berry, Thelonious Monk, Vic Dickenson, Milt Hinton, Lester Young, Rex Stewart, J.C. Heard, Gerry Mulligan, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie

Part 1 of the documentary…it’s a must see

Read More

Comments (1)

ron leigh August 12th at 3:51pm

It's a fantastic photograph. I have a 24 x 36 copy framed and hanging in my rec room. Love it.

Julian Edwin ‘Cannonball’ Adderley passed away on 8 August 1975, the victim of a stroke, he was 46 years old. What better way to remember him than through his music. He recorded this classic in March 1958

Of course he had a little help from Miles Davis.

“Here’s one of the outstanding jazz sets released in the past few months and perhaps one of the best of the year. It features some truly fine, sensitive trumpet work by Miles Davis, and at times, some of the best work yet waxed by Cannonball Adderley. Both ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Love for Sale’ are handed superb treatments by Davis, and Adderley shines with his solo on ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ An album that will be important to all jazz fans.” Billboard 20 October 1958 

Almost four years to the day since he last recorded for Blue Note, Miles Davis was back in the studio to cut another album for the label, but not as a leader. The band was led by twenty-nine-year-old Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley – and what a band it is. Adderley was a member of Davis’s Sextet at the time of this recording, and the following year the saxophonist appeared on the seminal Kind of Blue. The feel of this album is something akin to a dry-run for what followed, and everyone with a love of jazz should own it.

The principal difference between this album and Kind of Blue is that Somethin’ Else has three tracks that are re-workings of standards – apparently chosen by Davis – which enhances the feeling of extreme comfort that each and every track exudes. Of the two original numbers, Miles composed the title track while ‘One For Daddy-O’ was a joint creation by pianist Jones and Adderley’s cornet-playing brother, Nat.

Throughout much of the album, Adderley and Davis seem to be engaged in their own private conversation, a conversation we are privileged to eavesdrop on. The stand-out track for most listeners is ‘Autumn Leaves’ and what’s so gratifying about this number and ‘Love For Sale’, is that neither song sounds like a straight rehash. It has been said that there is not ‘a rote moment’ on the album and both tracks prove the point. If you want to know what makes Adderley such a master, just listen to ‘Dancing In The Dark’; all it needs are strings and you’d swear it was Charlie Parker.

“For those not familiar with the latest in terminology, that the title number of the Miles Davis original, which also provided the name for this album, is a phrase of praise. And if I may add my personal evaluation, I should like to emphasize that Cannonball and Miles and the whole rhythm section and, indeed, the entire album certainly can be described emphatically as ‘somethin’ else’.” – Leonard Feather, original album liner notes

You can hear it here…


Read More

Comments (3)

Ruud March 9th at 3:04pm

One of the best!

Jeremy August 8th at 3:35pm

Always loved the way Autumn Leaves "comes back home" to finish. Classic album.

Valerie Bishop August 10th at 3:58am

I remember exactly where I was standing when I heard that Cannon had passed. I think of him often and will always miss him and Nat. thank goodness, they left us with so much great music. actually my Facebook profile page is a picture of me and Cannon in 1974 or thereabouts.

Tape boxes_edited-1

Most every fan is fascinated by the recording process – just how are great records created? How does the magic of the studio translate into a much-loved album? So often it is just the take that ends up on the record that survives a session, the rest of the unused material gets discarded. That’s what makes One Day in the Studio with Satchmo such fascinating listening; it also makes it a recording of great historical importance.

It was a session for the Verve album, Ella and Louis Again that took place fifty-seven years ago on 31 July1957 at Radio recorders in Los Angeles. It is full of moments that will make you smile, but it’s also full of the minutia of the recording process that makes this a unique moment in recording history. The session does not feature Ella Fitzgerald, but joining Louis Armstrong is the great Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, Ray Brown on bass and drummer Louie Bellson. Together they run through numbers, make little errors and talk over how to get the perfect take – while we get to eavesdrop on the whole affair. None of these songs, except ‘Indiana’, Satchmo’s warm up routine, are numbers that Armstrong performed live with his All Stars during this period. He was going into the studio ‘cold’ and practicing the numbers with OP and the other guys to get them right for recording.

Interestingly it says on the tape box 1 August, but all available research says 31 July; possibly they started in the evening and ran over to the next day, or the tape box was written up the following day. Just another of life’s little mysteries…

A Day With Satchmo includes the final master takes, along with a few takes that have appeared on limited edition box sets and rare releases, but it also features music that has never appeared anywhere before. Louis Armstrong, the man who owned one of the first domestic tape recorders in America, would be proud to be embracing the digital age with this unique download only celebration of great jazz.

It’s available on iTunes US here

Available on iTunes for the rest of the world here

Indiana (warm-up) (On Satchmo Box set, Louis Armstrong Ambassador of Jazz)
Makin’ Whoopee – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
Makin’ Whoopee – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
Makin’ Whoopee – Take 1 – Complete Alternate Take (On Satchmo Box)
Makin’ Whoopee – Take 2 – Complete Alternate Take
Makin’ Whoopee – Take 3 – False Start
Makin’ Whoopee – Take 4 – Master Take (Ella and Louis Again)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 1 – Long False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 2 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 3 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 4 – Complete Alternate Take (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 5 – False Start
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 6 – False Start
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 7 – False Start
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 8 – Master Take (Ella and Louis Again)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 9 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 10 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 11 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 12 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
I Get a Kick Out of You – Take 13 – Complete Alternate Take (On Satchmo Box)
Let’s Do It – Take 1 – False Starts (On Satchmo Box)
Let’s Do It – Take 2 – Long False Start (On Satchmo Box)
Let’s Do It – Take 3 – Complete Alternate Take (On Satchmo Box)
Let’s Do It – Take 4 – Master Take (Ella and Louis Again)
Willow Weep For Me – Take 1 – False Start (On Satchmo Box)
Willow Weep For Me – Take 2 – Complete Alternate Take
Willow Weep For Me – Take 3 – Long False Start
Willow Weep For Me – Take 4 – Complete Alternate Take (On Satchmo Box)
Willow Weep For Me – Take 5 – False Start
Willow Weep For Me – Take 6 – False Start
Willow Weep For Me – Take 7 – Master Take (Ella and Louis Again)


Read More

Comments (0)

Kenny Burrell
“Kenny Burrell that’s the sound I’m looking for.” – Jimi Hendrix

Born into a family of musicians in 1931, his versatility, disciplined approach, matched by exquisite phrasing, gave him the ability to convey differing moods like few other guitarists. He was a consummate sideman who was admired by all who worked with him and when he stepped out into the spotlight his understated, yet passionate, technique forced one to listen intently
He began playing guitar at the age of 12, frequenting the jazz clubs of his native Detroit while still in high school. By the time he was seventeen he was already an appreciated jazz artist in his hometown and after his graduation from university in 1955 he moved to New York City in 1956 and recorded with Billie Holiday for the album that became ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ on Clef and later on Verve. A few months later he recorded again with Lady Day in ‘Her Orchestra’ that included Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins and Chico Hamilton at Carnegie Hall.

Unusually, Burrell made his first appearance for Blue Note as a leader on the appropriately titled Introducing Kenny Burrell in 1956 – unusually, because most musicians played the role of a sideman before getting the opportunity to lead their own session. At that time he was still only 24 years old, having made his recording debut with Dizzy Gillespie’s band when still a teenager. Before his Blue Note debut he toured with Oscar Peterson’s trio – such was his talent.

His sessions were so numerous that just by concentrating on those for Verve artists he recorded with Illinois Jacquet in 1958, the following year with Blossom Dearie and in 1961 with Gary McFarland. It was in 1963 that Burrell got seriously busy with Verve sessions recording with Claus Ogerman and the Wynton Kelly Quartet, Johnny Hodges, Kai Winding and then with Jimmy Smith as part of his orchestra before a July session where he received co-billing with the organist on the album that was called ‘Blue Bash’. He even had a minor hit on the Billboard chart with ‘What’d I Say’. Before the year was out there were sessions as part of the Gil Evans Orchestra and with Stan Getz.

1964 was equally as busy with sessions for many of the same people as the previous year and it culminated in his own album, ‘Guitar Forms’ backed by the Gil Evans Orchestra. Among his 1965 sessions were several for the Jimmy Smith album, ‘Organ Grinder Swing’ and others for Astrud Gilberto. In 1966 he began work on the album that became ‘A Generation Ago Today’ which he finished in 1967 the year he recorded, ‘Blues -The Common Ground’. He recorded ‘Night Song’ in 1968 before he cut the wonderful ‘Asphalt Canyon Sweet’ in 1969, which perfectly illustrates just how good Kenny Burrell is, as a guitarist.

Besides those already mentioned he worked with John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, Bill Evans, Yusef Lateef, Sonny Rollins and Stanley Turrentine among a who’s who of late twentieth century jazz greats. Yet by the early 1970s, his interests turned more to the world of academia, yet he still continued to record and may well have worked on over two hundred albums. Kenny is the founder and director of the Jazz Studies Program at UCLA as well as President Emeritus of the Jazz Heritage Foundation.

If you want the perfect album to show the world that jazz and the blues are much more than ‘kissing cousins’, then ‘Midnight Blue’ is it. When B. B. King said, ‘Jazz is the big brother of the blues. If a guy’s playing blues he’s in high school. When he starts playing jazz it’s like going on to college,’ it’s tempting to think he might have had this album in mind. From the very first track, it’s clear why this album was so popular when it was released and has remained so ever since. It oozes early 1960s sophistication, like the soundtrack to a movie about love gone sour in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Nice!

It’s been called ‘as elegant a record as the label ever released’, and it’s impossible to disagree. From the opening of ‘Chittlins Con Carne’, highlighting Turrentine’s distant horn and Burrell’s answering guitar it is moodiness personified. With the exception of ‘Mule’, composed by Holley (Mule was his nickname) and the Andy Razaf and Don Redman standard, ‘Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You’, all the tunes are Burrell originals. The most personal and intimate is his solo guitar rendition of ‘Soul Lament’. Turrentine plays sweetly throughout, never dominating, always complementing. This was Holley and English’s first, and just about only, date for Blue Note.

Midnight Blue available in our Back To Blue vinyl series.


Read More

Comments (0)

Born this day – Johnny Hodges

25th July, 2014
posted in: Jazz Greats

Born 25 July 1907, Johnny Hodges has been described as a saxophonist that got a more beautiful sound from his instrument than any other, and it’s difficult to argue with that sentiment. For some his style has become dated, but Johnny’s music will never stop being beautiful – arguably some things just get better with age.

Check out our Johnny Hodges playlist here.

Check out our other story on Johnny Hodges here

Johnny Hodges
Pee Wee Russell,Johnny Hodges,Chu Barry


Read More

Comments (0)

New Blue Note 75 App

22nd July, 2014
posted in: Blue Note Blue Note

BN_CAN_YOU_DIG_IT_Don_1160 copy
Blue Note Records has been presenting The Finest In Jazz Since 1939, and now the label has introduced a unique, ground-breaking, app for everyone to explore the company’s rich catalogue of music in a new and innovative way. The Blue Note 75 app –exclusively for iPad – celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the legendary jazz label that is now available exclusively on the App Store. The app presents a new digital format that allows users to play Blue Note music they own in-app or directly purchase music including albums Mastered for iTunes available via Blue Note’s dedicated global iTunes destination:

Let Don Was, Blue Note’s President introduce you to the app on this exclusive video.

Additionally, for the first time, the Blue Note 75 app uniquely allows premium subscribers of music streaming services Spotify, Rdio and Deezer to stream Blue Note music from within the app itself. It will allow fans to approach Blue Note’s deep catalogue in multiple ways, including an interactive timeline of cover art flow which traces the label’s evolution from the early jazz of Sidney Bechet to the trailblazing bebop of Thelonious Monk, from Horace Silver’s quintessential hardbop through Ornette Coleman’s avant-garde flights, from Jimmy Smith’s grinding organ soul jazz leading to Donald Byrd’s funky R&B fusion and on into today’s modern explorations such as Robert Glasper’s unique blend of jazz with hip hop, and beyond jazz with eclectic artists ranging from Norah Jones to José James.

The Blue Note 75 app has a dedicated magazine-style story section tracking news, features and artist spotlights to connect fans directly with the music. The 100 essential Blue Note LPs chosen by Don Was to mark the 75th Anniversary will feature digitally in the app to coincide with their on-going release on vinyl. Once downloaded, Blue Note 75 app users will see the content of the curated app grow as the label continues to release new music and thrive into 2015 and beyond.

“Carrying on the great tradition of innovation at Blue Note, our new app for iPad takes the digital music experience deeper. The app has a wonderful vibe to it that draws you into the mystique of the music and offers endless hours of discovery whether you’re a new fan or a connoisseur of the label.” – Don Was

Listen to the legendary sounds
of Blue Note Music from: Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, John Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobely, Cannonball Adderley, Lou Donaldson, Clifford Brown, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson & Jackie McLean

Get into Blue Note Groove with: Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey, Alphonse Mouzon, Earl Klugh, Elvis Costello and The Roots, Takuya Kuroda, Ronnie Laws & Terence Blanchard

Enjoy new frontiers in Blue Note Music: Al Green, Gregory Porter, Amos Lee, Robert Glasper, Brian Blade, Jose James, Norah Jones, Wayne Shorter, Ambrose Akinmusire, Bobby Hutcherson, Cassandra Wilson, Jason Moran, Joe Lovano, Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis

Read More

Comments (0)

“Then the jazz people starting eating on me. They had a feast on me for 10 years: ‘He’s sold out.’ Everything that’s bad was attributed to Donald Byrd. I weathered it, and then it became commonplace. Then they found a name for it. They started calling it ‘jazz fusion,’ ‘jazz rock.’ ”
Donald Byrd, 1982

A jazz album on the charts? Whatever next? This was a very big seller for Blue Note, making No. 88 on the Billboard charts, but the furore that accompanied its release, when many accused Byrd of selling out, lasted for years. This fabulous, funky album just cries out to be heard and if you haven’t heard it, then rectify the situation as soon as you can. Think Isaac Hayes’s soundtrack to Shaft with stronger jazz overtones and you have Black Byrd. And to add insult to the injured there is even a synthesizer; Blue Note had embraced a brave new world.

Black Byrd is every bit as groundbreaking as a Jazz Messengers date from the mid-1950s or a Herbie Hancock session in the early 1960s, which poses a problem for some jazz aficionados who think their music should not move on – a mindset not exclusive to jazz fans. Byrd almost takes a back seat in the overall sound of this record, although when he does come to the fore, his solos are beautifully played, as you would expect from a talented and experienced trumpeter recording since the mid-1950s. Joe Sample from the Crusaders is essential to the vibe of the record as is Roger Glenn’s flute, which locks this record into its time frame. Jazz with vocals was another point against it for some purists, but on the title track in particular they are perfect, especially when added to David T. Walker’s funky blues guitar; he was fresh from recording Let’s Get It On with Marvin Gaye.

It was recorded in Los Angeles in April 1972 and completed in November of the same year. Aside from those already mentioned there is Dean Parks on guitar, Fonce Mizell on trumpet, Wilton Felder and Chuck Rainey play bass, drummer, Harvey Mason, Bobby Hall Porter and Stephanie Spruill on percussion and Larry Mizell on vocals and as arranger.

It’s available in the Back To Blue series here

Read More

Comments (1)

africanherbsman1967 July 20th at 8:42pm

"Love's So Far Away"-love the percussions and flute work.

New Concord signing Dr. John will make his debut for the company by paying tribute to Louis Armstrong. ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ will be released in the US on August 19, featuring some impressive guest appearances from the likes of Bonnie Raitt and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The album will feature 13 tracks taken from throughout Satchmo’s long career, with Raitt duetting with Dr. John on ‘I’ve Got the World on a String.’ The Blind Boys make two appearances, on ‘What a Wonderful World’ and ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams,’ while R&B singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton is on ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.’

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band feature on ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)’ and Arturo Sandoval guests on ‘Tight Like This’ and ‘Memories Of You.’ Shemekia Copeland also appears with the good Doctor on ‘Sweet Hunk O’ Trash‘, while ‘Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen’ features another R&B name, Ledisi, and gospel-soul group the McCrary Sisters.

Mac in studio
Dr. John previously showed his respect for Satchmo by performing at the ‘Props To Pops’ concert at both New York’s Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012 and the Hollywood Bowl last year.

The full track listing for ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat…The Spirit of Satch’ is:

1. What A Wonderful World featuring Nicholas Payton and The Blind Boys of Alabama
2. Mack The Knife featuring Terence Blanchard and Mike Ladd
3. Tight Like This featuring Arturo Sandoval and Telmary
4. I’ve Got The World On A String featuring Bonnie Raitt
5. Gut Bucket Blues featuring Nicholas Payton
6. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child featuring Anthony Hamilton
7. That’s My Home featuring Wendell Brunious and The McCrary Sisters
8. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen featuring Ledisi and The McCrary Sisters
9. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams featuring Terence Blanchard and The Blind Boys of Alabama
10. Dippermouth Blues featuring James 12 Andrews
11. Sweet Hunk O’Trash featuring Shemekia Copeland
12. Memories Of You featuring Arturo Sandoval
13. When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You) featuring Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Read More

Comments (0)

RIP Charlie Haden

12th July, 2014
posted in: Uncategorized


We’ve lost another jazz giant.

“It is with deep sorrow that we announce that Charlie Haden, born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa,  passed away today at 10:11 Pacific time in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. Ruth Cameron, his wife of 30 years, and his children Josh Haden, Tanya Haden, Rachel Haden and Petra Haden were all by his side.”

Tina Pelikan
ECM Records Publicity

Read More

Comments (0)