Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet: BWi

Cecil Payne Dossier#6 - An ongoing series on one of the giants of baritone sax 

The last video from the Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet in Switzerland happens to feature the opening tune for the concert which also, in my VHS copy, misses the beginning. The tune is a Payne original, BWi.

Jazzfestival Bern, Switzerland, May 8, 1998
Eric Alexander(ts), Cecil Payne (bars), Stephen Scott (p), Ron Carter (b), Lewis Nash (d)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Clark Terry: The Ellington Years And Beyond (1952-60)

Clark Terry. Photo courtesy of Riverside

"Nobody ever says a bad word about Clark Terry." -- Richard Cook

I just saw the documentary Keep On Keepin' On (2014), about Clark Terry and his messianic belief in jazz education, thus I'm in the mood for nothing but CT. (Hopefully, soon I will be writing a note on the film for this blog.) Here, what I've got to offer is a compilation of various solos CT played during his decade-long stint with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.

"Duke was endowed with a supernatural magic," remembers Clark Terry, "he could cuss you out and rarely use a cuss word. He'd chastise you from the piano by hitting a discord and everybody knew what was going on. A frequent utterance of his was simply 'Aaaaaahhhhh!' It might mean something like, 'You're not paying attention! You're not listening!' Or it might mean that what you played was beautiful to him."

With exception of one track, everything you'll hear is recorded live in concert, mostly with non-professional tools and less than skillful engineers. As Clark Terry would say, these tracks are surveying a life on the road: "East coast to west coast and all in between - clubs, ballrooms, and theaters. The Beehive,  Blackhawk, Blue Note, DeLisa, Regal, Apollo, Trianon, Savoy, and many others."

There are various takes on How High the Moon which was Terry's solo feature throughout a good part of the 1950s. And then there is a surprisingly bop-ish arrangement of that tune from a Birdland session in November, 1952.

Perdido is another tune with which Terry was featured in Ellington's band. They are by far the most exciting takes of this old tune on Ellington's recorded catalog. It's like "magic" to see how Ellington manages to bring a new musical angle to the same song played over the course of the years. For that matter, one only has to go back, or forward, to compare other interpretation of the same song and see how the master tailor is re-fitting the old suit to Clark Terry's sound and musical (or even personal) character.

The voice heard on this tape is of course of Mr David W. Niven's, giving some useful information about Terry. He is responsible for this compilation. However, be aware that not all the dates and facts given are accurate. For a more reliable discography of the sessions see below.

All sessions are under Duke Ellington's leadership unless noted.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet: Flying Fish

Cecil Payne [source]

Cecil Payne Dossier#5 - An ongoing series on one of the giants of baritone sax 

"One of the greatest needs of an artist is unified effort with himself to swing. Conceptions of rhythm patterns vary widely... individually. Therefore, it is very important to fill yourself with the spiritual causes of images so that you may paint a more colorful picture which will increase your natural musical development. Lester Young was one of the greatest of picture painters until Charlie Parker came with wide screen Vistavision painting. Now I love both of thefts." -- Cecil Payne

More from
The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet

Jazzfestival Bern, Switzerland, May 8, 1998
Eric Alexander(ts), Cecil Payne (bars), Stephen Scott (p), Ron Carter (b), Lewis Nash (d).

Flying Fish (Cecil Payne)

Cecil Payne was pretty much his own man which means most of the recordings in his not too extensive catalogue are done with him as the session leader. That leaves us with a big regret, as the combination of baritone sax in sessions with different musical approaches has always proved to be intriguing. (For that matter, check on Pepper Adams' illustrious career and recording as a session man, as well as a leader.) The tune played here, Flying Fish, was first recorded during a 1968 session, later released on Zodiac LP.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Best Docs Ever: Jazz Picks

The Sound of Jazz
The leading English film journal Sight & Sound, known for its historical polls and decennial best-of lists selected by critics and filmmakers, recently conducted a new, slightly different poll: best documentaries of all time. The editor Nick James has explained the genesis of this poll here. The final result, searchable based on those who have voted and the films that have been voted for, can be accessed on this interactive page, but in case you're just curious about the final ten, these the are the films which have made it to the top:

1. Man with a Movie Camera
2. Shoah
3. Sans soleil
4. Night and Fog
5. The Thin Blue Line
6. Chronicle of a Summer
7. Nanook of the North
8. The Gleaners and I
=9. Dont Look Back
=9. Grey Gardens

I was one of the three hundred and something critics/filmmakers who participated in the poll. My top 10 and notes on my selection can be read here, but again, to make things easier for readers of this blog, these are the films which I saw, at that particular point, as the best documentaries ever made:

1 The Sound of Jazz (Jack Smight, 1957)
2 Quince Tree of the Sun (Victor Erice, 1992)
3 Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
4 Histoire(s) du cinéma (Jean-Luc Godard, 1988)
5 The House Is Black (Forugh Farrokhzad, 1962)
6 Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (Marcel Ophüls, 1988)
7 Robinson in Space (Patrick Keiller, 1997)
8 Lektionen in Finsternis (Werner Herzog, 1992)
9 P for Pelican (Parviz Kimiavi, 1972)
10 The Battle of Chile (Patricio Guzmán, 1976)

As you can see my first pick is a jazz film, made in 1957 for CBS as a live TV programme. (For further information on the film see the end of this post.) That made me curious to examine how many jazz docs have made it to the long list of the selected films. Among Top Ten, there are of course music documentaries such as Dont Look Back, but as far as jazz in concerned, these are the only jazz documentaries on the Sight & Sound poll, occasionally accompanied by short notes from voters:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stan Getz + Oscar Peterson Trio

Stan Getz and the Oscar Peterson Trio (Verve 8251)

Stan Getz (ts), Oscar Peterson (p), Herb Ellis (g), Ray Brown (b)
Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, CA, October 10, 1957

Friday, August 29, 2014

Charlie Parker at the Royal Roost, 1949

The Royal Roost was a jazz club located at 1580 Broadway in New York City. Opened in the Spring of 1948, it was designed to stage the more experimental jazz trends of the day. Thus, the cream of "experimental jazz musicians" in town became the club regulars, among which Charlie Parker had the most remembered (and recorded) residency throughout 1948 and 1949.

Paul Bacon describes the atmosphere of the club as something of "tremendous vitality and urgency." He portrays one typical night at the Roost as following: 
"The air inside is full of crackling expectancy, chaos... Some few tables in front of the stand are empty, awaiting the important hipster crows - theater, sports, radio people - who will fill those chairs in a late-arriving flurry. Much craning of necks, more greetings. Somebody - Max Roach, in fact - come out, leans over from the bandstand and has an animated conversation with an important-looking bearded man. Looking around, one's first impressions are reinforced; this is the center of the world!"
Many live recordings from the legendary Roost performances have surfaced ever since. This collection, found on the Internet Archive, presents some of them, featuring my favorite Roost line-up of Bird with Al Haig (on piano) and Max Roach (drums).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet: Cit Sac

Cecil Payne Dossier#4 - An ongoing series of posts on one of the giants of baritone sax

The Cecil Payne-Ron Carter Quintet

Jazzfestival Bern, Switzerland, May 8, 1998
Eric Alexander(ts), Cecil Payne (bars), Stephen Scott (p), Ron Carter (b), Lewis Nash (d).

Cit Sac (Cecil Payne)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bird and Herd

In 1951, Charlie Parker was in trouble. He had been in trouble for long before and quite a while after that particular date, but 1951 saw a shift in the way drug scene was exposed in the press and also in the way it was handled by the FBI. Though Parker wasn't unfamiliar with the word "trouble", this time a nation-wide prosecution of celebrity drug addicts had made things tough for him. In the summer, Parker had played at Birdland with Machito, a gig which happened to be his last New York performance in nearly 15 months. Soon after, for some obscure drug charges, his "cabaret license" (license for performing music in the premises in which alcohol is served) was revoked. He was jobless.

Charlie Parker's saxophone case

His manager, trying to keep him busy, send Parker on the road, where he could still play without a license. Being on the road meant that he needed to be part of an already touring group. That's when Bird was united with Woody Herman's Big Band - the Third Herd edition.