Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Afternoon Fun

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Blog: This Day In Jazz

Several years ago I put together a website that listed jazz recordings in order of the date they were recorded. I did this primarily for myself first, as I had searched for quite a while for a site like this and much to my surprise I could never find one. I thought it would be a cool idea to have them organized like this so I could easily check the list and pull out a record to listen to on the exact date it was recorded. Of course, this doesn't always work out perfectly, as some records were recorded on multiple days and you don't always know which tunes were recorded on which days. Still, frustrated that something like this didn't exist, I decided to put it together. The site has been up for a while at and I know several jazz DJs who use it to program their shows. I've now decided to turn it into a blog as well, so that people can subscribe to the feed, or check the site every day and see what was recorded on that day. Here it is:

This Day In Jazz


Bobby Hutcherson - Medina

This is my favorite jazz recording. Actually, it was originally two separate sessions: the CD reissue of Medina includes another wonderful album called Spiral from the same period and with the same killer line-up: Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Harold Land on tenor sax and flute, Stanley Cowell on piano, Reggie Johnson on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums.

For about a year this CD didn't leave my player at all. For me, it's the perfect combination of incredible musicianship, innovative compositions, and emotion. This band clearly played a lot together and they're communicating on a level that I can only compare to Miles Davis' band from the 60s with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Not that it sounds anything like that group, but the same spirit of adventure is there. As I mentioned, the compositions are excellent and the band takes liberties with them, finding freedom within the structure.

In my opinion, this album contains some of Hutcherson & Land's best work on record. Harold Land's burning tenor solo on the title track "Medina" is alone worth the price of admission. Not to mention the creative, forward-looking playing of Stanley Cowell and the fluid yet solid drumming of the great Joe Chambers. Joe is a gifted composer and contributes the incredible title track and three others: "Ungano," "Spiral," and "Ruth," one of the catchiest tunes I've heard in 11/4! Other highlights are Cowell's "Wedding March," Hutcherson's "Avis" and the stunningly beautiful "Visions," and Land's quirky and brilliant "Poor People's March."

Like all great recordings, this one is out of print (shame on you, Blue Note!) and the CD now fetches collector's prices. But don't hesitate to pick it up if you find it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Jazz Blog on YouTube

The Jazz Blog YouTube channel is now live and in living color! I've been putting up some rare videos and trying to mix it up and show a variety of different things. This is just the beginning, but so far we've got clips from The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Monty Alexander/Ray Brown/Herb Ellis, The Zawinul Syndicate, and Henry Threadgill's Society Situation Dance Band (a group that did many live performances, but never recorded)!

At some point the channel will also feature some progressive rock videos, as a tie-in with my other blog, The Prog Blog.

Come join the party:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oscar Peterson - Hello Herbie

If aliens came down to visit earth and asked me what "swing" was, I would play them some Oscar Peterson. I mean, nobody plays with the feel that he can't possibly listen without moving or tapping your feet.

Hello Herbie sort of flew in under the radar as far as Peterson's recordings go. He has such an enormous discography that of course some records are going to stand out more than others, and they can't all be great, right? Well, this is a GREAT record. It's also documents a very special reunion between Peterson and Herb Ellis, who had a well-known association (along with Ray Brown) up until 1958.

The rapport is still there in 1969. Peterson and Ellis are conversing like the old friends they are, with able support from the great Sam Jones on bass and Bob Durham on drums (who I will admit I'm not familiar with apart from this record, but man, is he a solid drummer!). The level of communication here is of the highest order. The soloing from Peterson and Ellis is nothing short of outstanding, but they are team players all the way. The group has a natural ability to build tunes like "Seven Come Eleven" from a simmering groove to a hard swing that's ready to boil over. This record swings like crazy.

The creative arrangements that typify Peterson's work are here too. "Day by Day" in particular is nicely remodeled. The melody of the song is broken up into rhythmic accents punctuated by agile runs from Peterson's nimble fingers, while Jones and Durham provide a unique approach to the bossa feel.

I'm not sure why this recording isn't better known...many Oscar Peterson fans may not even have heard of it. But Hello Herbie deserves to hold a higher position in the ranks of Oscar Peterson's great records. Take a listen for yourself and I think you'll agree.