Larry Young’s organ is always a special listening occasion, especially on this Spanish-tinged composition by Grant Green. This cut pulsates in a fascinating mix of musicians. Sam Rivers, who would enter the avantest of gardes, keeps it more straightforward, and Elvin Jones gets all the credit for driving the proceedings with scintillating drum work. Listening to it again and again, this Grant Green guitar solo must rank among his very best. Jive.
Today this blog is featuring the talents of the Marsalis brothers. Larry Willis, pianist extraordinaire, contributes this brooding ballad, the aptly titled “Shadows.” With the notable exception of Branford’s 80s purple pastel suit, this LP is fantastic all around. His little brother, Delfeayo Marsalis, who is all of 21 at the time and a hell of a trombonist, too, pulls the production strings.
Wynton Marsalis and his family are jazz royalty. Named after the pianist Wynton Kelly, he recorded this album when he was only 19 years old with his brother Branford on sax and his hero Miles Davis’s second famous rhythm section keeping time behind them. This is considered the definitive version of this tune, composed by the great Tony Williams.
"Mobley repaid their (Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff’s) confidence by producing sessions that are now viewed as definitive, rarely equalled examples of hard bop. Yet there were always more charismatic or radical musicians around to overshadow his achievements; during the years when he cut the present tracks, when he was at a creative peak, many considered him irrelevant in comparison to the emerging avant-garde. By the end of the 1960s, with rock overwhelming all jazz styles, Mobley had sunk into an obscurity from which he never emerged in his lifetime."
I’m always tooting Mobley’s horn (pun intended). I figure since he never received the proper respect that he so richly deserved in his lifetime, I’ll humbly pay my respects by sharing selections of his outstanding music with y’all.
By the way, I always tag the musicians who play on every post, and this particular lineup is outta sight.
This tune strikes a perfect balance between modal jazz and the funky rock grooves becoming popular at the time of its release. The result is a favorite in the long, fruitful collaboration between the tandem of Hutcherson and Harold Land.
This is Green’s second LP for Blue Note, a stripped-down trio setting where his guitar playing is the primary showcase. While it’s not the summarily masterful ensemble cast of Idle Moments, or the fiery blues stylings of Green’s brilliant collaborations with Sonny Clark, this LP captures Green in superlative form with very sympathetic accompaniment.
A strolling, moody waltz composed by Lee Morgan for this brilliant Messengers LP, the last with this groundbreaking lineup. While in this period he can grate with derivative, Coltrane-like “explorations,” on this tune Wayne Shorter is in a lyrical, sensuous mode, providing one of my favorite moments of his on record.
This tune was also released in 1979 in Japan as part of the Art Blakey LP “Pisces.”
Donald says, “The idea for the rhythm [of Blackjack] came from a performance I’d heard by Joe Williams and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band of Get Out of My Life, Woman. I sort of turned that beat around, and the top part has a light, Monkish type of feeling. You know that dance Monk does when he’s listening to his music? The last two beats of the melodic pattern here go exactly with that dance.”
The feeling is loose and infectiously buoyant. Sonny Red practically talks his story, displaying in the process one of the surest senses of swing in jazz. Donald is characteristically crisp, cohesive, and he too has that human “cry” in his horn. The redoubtable Hank Mobley sustains the aura of powerful ease, as does the incisive Cedar Walton.
I woke up with this song resolutely stuck in my head. I haven’t listened to this LP in months, so I attribute the sudden appearance to the specific mysteries of a remarkably catchy, whistle-able melody. It seems serendipity often dictates how a song makes its way here.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers - Along Came Betty (1958)
Of course, this essential LP is best known for a particular Bobby Timmons tune, but Benny Golson is the musician who really put his signature on it. When he came on board with Blakey, he found a band in disarray, with little in the way of organized practices or a coherent musical sensibility.
Golson cracked the whip. His knack for beautiful arrangements, memorable compositions, and his unique saxophone voicings helped propel Blakey’s group into a more organized, forceful, eloquent brand of jazz that subsequent Messengers leaders (think Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, et al) would carry forward into the 60s and beyond.
An all-star jazz band and a gospel choir, together? Yes. I was dubious, but this sonic experiment provides for some startlingly satisfying results. Duke Pearson lends his masterful arranging hand to the proceedings. This LP is like nothing else in the Blue Note catalog, and a must for any jazz fan.
For the uninitiated, this is one of those legendary jazz compositions that casts an enduring spell. Nelson’s arrangements are wondrous, but it is his sax solo on this tune that busts the listener in the chops with its perfectly conceived buildup, crescendo and denouement. Eric Dolphy also adds one of the more ripping flute solos you’re likely to hear today.