Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Herman Leonard's Photography: Smoke!

Lester Young's hat by Herman Leonard

In 1948, 25 years-old photographer, Herman Leonard, was spending his evenings at the Royal Roost and then Birdland where he photographed the ongoing roster of jazz musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and others. Later he worked for jazz producer Norman Granz, who used his work on album sleeves. Obsessed with smoke, as jazz was a fading cloud of smoke in the air, or notes were spreading like a thick smog, cigarettes were his main motif during the sessions. These photos come from Herman's early days.

Sonny Stitt, 1953, NYC

Thelonious Monk, 1948-49, NYC

James Moody, 1951, NYC

Charlie Parker and the Metronome All-stars, 1949, NYC

Erroll Garner, 1953, NYC

Frank Sinatra, 1958, Monte CarloSinatra, again.

Lady Day, 1949, NYC

Billy Eckstine, 1963, Paris

Dexter Gordon, 1948 , NYC

Herman Leonard in person. A recent photo.
All photos are copyrighted by artist. You may visit his homepage here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dexter Gordon

دکستر گوردون
27 فوریه 1923 لس آنجلس – 26 آوریل 1990
یکی از بزرگ‌ترین نوازندگان ساکسفون ِ تنور، هم از نظر توانایی‌اش در دمیدنی قدرتمند و پرشور به ساز (چیزی بین کلمن هاوکینز و لستر یانگ) و هم از نظر قد و ارتفاع (198 سانتي متر!) صدای ساز او پر طنین و نافذتر از بسياري ساکسفونیست‌های پس از جنگ بود و تخصصش دراجراي بالادها در تاریخ جاز یگانه باقی مانده است.
در 13 سالگی با کلارینت تمرین می‌کرد اما کمی بعد به ساکسفون تنور تغییر ساز داد. لوید ریز(Lloyd Reese) که چارلز میگوس و بادی کولت را هم تعلیم داده بود معلم او شد. در اوایل دهه 1940 به لایونل همپتون پیوست و سه سال بعد به عنوان لیدر اولین کارهایش را ضبط کرد. با لویی آرمسترانگ و دیزی گیلسپی کار کرد و در 1944 به ارکستر بیلی اکستاین پیوست. با ضبط The Chase که نمایش قدرت بین دو ساکسفونیست تِنور، دکستر و واردل گری (Wardell Gray)، بود نظر منتقدان را جلب کرد. این ضبط‌های اولیه مهم همه برای کمپانی ساووی (Savoy) انجام شده‌اند. در دهه 1960 ، پس از سال‌ها، از شر اعتیاد به مواد مخدر خلاص شد و به کمپانی بلونت (Blue Note) پیوست و صفحات زیادی برای آنها ضبط کرد که مشهورترین کارهای گوردون را شامل می‌شوند.
در 1962 به لندن رفت و براي 15 سال در اروپا باقی ماند. بیشتر این دوران را در کپنهاک گذراند، جایی که غالباً در کلوب مونتمارتر ظاهر می‌شد و با کوارتتی كه پيانيستش کنی درو بود، اجرای برنامه می‌‌كرد. در 1976 به آمریکا بازگشت و در خاموشی صدای مهم‌ترین ساکسفونیست‌های جاز، از او همچون یک شوالیه استقبال شد. کنسرت بازگشت او در ویلیج ونگارد یکی از پرفروش‌ترین آلبوم‌های جاز دهه 1970 شد. در 1986 در شاهکار سینمایی برتران تاورنیه، «حوالی نیمه شب» ('Round Midnight) نقش دیل ترنر را بازی کرد که در واقع زندگی غم‌بار باد پاول در پاریس و دوستی او با یک فرانسوی عاشق جاز است که در سال‌های واپسین، او را به خانه خود می‌آورد. گوردون برای این ایفای نقش استثنایی نامزد جایزه اسکار شد.
سال‌های سرنوشت سازی که دکستر در عصر سویینگ و در ارکسترهای بزرگ آن دوران گذراند و همین‌طور قرار گرفتن در قلب دوران انقلابی باپ او را به نوازنده‌ای با تبحر در هر دو شکل نواختن تبدیل کرد. در واقع بهترین کارهای دکستر استادانه به روی لبه‌ای باریک گام بر می‌دارند که قلمروی مشترک باپ و سویینگ است. گهگاه در صدایش نوعی پرخاش احساس می‌شود که با نواختن همواره رو به اوج – که از ریشه‌های سویینگ او بر می‌خواست- می‌توانست شنوندگان را آزار بدهد اما به نظر من بعضي بهترین لحظات دکستر گوردون به عنوان یک ساکسفونیست درهمین موقع بود. باید به نمونه‌های بزرگی مانند «شبی در تونس» (a night in Tunisia) رجوع کرد تا قدرت و انرژی بی‌پایان او را به عنوان یک نوازنده درک کرد.
قطعه انتخابي من يكي از بالادهاي دكستر از سال 1961 است. ضبط شده براي بلونت. ترومپت (يكي از زيباترين سولوهاي ترومپتي كه در يك بالاد شنيده‌ام) فردي هوبارد. پيانو: بري هريس. باس: باب كرن‌شاو. درامز: بيلي هيگينز. اسم قطعه هست I’m A Fool To Want You و فرانك سيناترا آن را نوشته است.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When Cootie Returned to The Duke

During the spring of 1962, trumpeter Cootie Williams was still working with the Benny Goodman band. “Sometimes Goodman would let you play,” Williams said, “and other times he wouldn’t. He has his ways as everyone knows…. I’d been talking with Harry Carney. ‘Tell Duke…that I’m ready to come back.’”
He rejoined the Duke’s orchestra in September 1962. “He provided a sense of stability in the trumpet section,” Mercer Ellington said. “There had been a lot of changes.”

Here is a hair-raising example of “stability in the trumpet section,” a growling sound, Cootie, the greatest story-teller on trumpet is back to the line. What majesty, what beauty! This is a roaring take of Minnie the Moocher, recorded December, 1962, New York City. With Cootie Williams; Roy Burrows; Cat Anderson; Lawrence Brown; Chuck Connors; Buster Cooper; Johnny Hodges; Jimmy Hamilton; Russell Procope; Paul Gonsalves; Harry Carney; Ernie Shepard; Sam Woodyard. Though it was recorded in 1962, remained in shelf until duke’s passing. Then under supervision of Stanley Dance appeared in Recollection of the big band era LP. The tune is arranged by Eddie Barefield (1909–91), a saxophonist, clarinetist and arranger most noteworthy for his work with Bennie Moten, Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Coleman Hawkins, Sammy Price, Bernie Young, and Ben Webster.

This is the first recording of Cootie Williams with Duke, at least, first we can hear – not necessarily in chronological order - since the November of 1940. Oh God! 22 years have been passed!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Babe Russin: Hello, Goodbye, Forget It

A new interest, a historical obsession and a sense of discovery, regarding the unsung heroes of jazz has been awakened in me since hearing this Mr. Babe Russin, a prolific tenor sax player with a warm swinging sound, close to what you hear from cats like Flip Phillips.

Irving "Babe" Russin (June 18, 1911 - August 4, 1984) was born in a musical family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His pianist brother was already playing in Red Nicholas band that Babe began playing professionally with the California Ramblers in 1926, Smith Ballew Orchestra, 1926-27, when he was only 15 years old. Working on and off with Red Nichols, from 1927 to 1933. He toured in Europe in 1928. His relationship with Nichols was interrupted by a run with the Ben Pollock combo. Russin became a staff musician for the CBC network in the '30s, but grew restless for music with some solo space and took an offer to work in the Benny Goodman band. A member of Goodman orchestra in legendary Carnegie Hall concert. Even there is a note of a brief join up with Count Basie Orchestra (any information regarding this Basie affair will be welcomed) Later, he joined the Tommy Dorsey band, then led his own outfit in the early part of the '40s, working out of Florida as well as New York City. His next stop was Glenn Miller's orchestra, where he soloed in the recording the Glenn Miller band made of Jerry Gray's composition, A String of Pearls for Bluebird Records in 1941 - a hit song. With Tommy Dorsey, 1942-43, and with Jimmy Dorsey's band from 1942 to 1944, then played in an armed forces band through the second World War. In the late '40s he patched things up with Goodman.

Babe Russin (middle), Trummy Young (left), Barney Bigard (right)

He appears briefly in the 1953 movie, The Glenn Miller Story. Plays on the soundtrack to the 1954 A Star is Born. He also appears in the The Benny Goodman Story, a 1956 bio-pic jazz film about his old pal.
As he got older, he preferred the life of a studio musician in California, although reunions of the Goodman band would often include him in the saxophone section. He has one album, under his name, for DOT records label, To Soothe the Savage (1956), which I have no trace of . He was still in business till 70s, when he was touring in the new nostalgic big bands, playing in European jazz festivals. He was highly influenced by Coleman Hawkins but playing in the most famous swing bands of the 20th century redirect his blowing to a more soft, swinging way.

A quick inquiry at my catalog of jazz recordings, revealed that his name is repeated over a period of 30 years, in numerous records, including with these artists:

Miff Mole, 1929.
Red Nichols, late 1920s, early 1930s.
Jack Teagarden, late 1920s, early 1930s.
Bunny Berigan, 1930s.
Lester Young, late 1930s.
Roy Eldridge, 1935-40.
Lionel Hampton, 1930s to 1940s.
Billie Holiday, late 1930s, early 1940s.
Benny Carter, mostly 1940s.
Louis Armstrong, late 1940s, early 1950s.
Jess Stacy, 1954.

His fruitful singers period in the late 1940s and all of the 1950s with:
Frank Sinatra
Sarah Vaughan
Dinah Washington
Ella Fitzgerlad
Mel Tormé

And now, let's hear him from a V-Disc recording (though it's after war) by Jimmy Mundy, waxed in late March 1946 in Los Angeles, called Hello, Goodbye, Forget It. First sax solo belongs to Babe. Other musicians are:
Trumpet section - Clyde Hurley, Ray Linn, Walter Williams, McClure Morris.
A superb trombone section - Juan Tizol, Britt Woodman, Henry Cocker, Vemon Brown.
Alto sax - Willie Smith, Les Robinson.
Baritone Sax - Dick Clark.
Piano - Milt Raskin
Guitar - Irving Ashby
Bass - Art Shapiro
Drums - Ray Hagen

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Fabulous Dorseys

Provoked by Ian of the Villes Ville latest post on Dorsey brothers, I came to the conclusion to have my own tribute to brothers by pointing at their only feature film. I have a larger plan to review their released materials from Chronological Classics series which I'm working on.

My introduction to jazz was from movies. Jazz or any kind of western music wasn't - and still is not - available in my country so I dug this music from passages of classic films. And discovering Dorsey brothers happened when me and my two kid sisters were watching a VHS copy of Roy Del Ruth's 1943 musical, Du Barry was a lady. Still remembering the yellow coats and blue one of Tommy and smiling Buddy Rich on drum, I fell in love with the drive of the tune and colorization of the song by each fiery solos of trumpet.

Later on, I did own my first Dorsey CD from Jimmy Dorsey, and strange enough, not Tommy. A couple of years ago, my uncle jazzy, Reza Poodat, gave me a triple disc collection of Jimmy's orchestra, and a note attached to the box:

It should be called Dorsey goes Latin or something to that effect. Dorsey was one of the alto sax and clarinet giants. He could play his ass off whenever it came to twisting and turning that damned instrument. He went as far as to influence our good old Charlie [Parker]. He had a very famous Cherokee part that would knock Bird out. Another thing is the voice of this cat bob Eberle. He has a better voice than many other supposed singer babes. Strong, emotional, wide open, however with a limited range. Bob is a good singer. Dig him!

I took the advise and start digging Jimmy more and more. After a while it was my turn to knock uncle Reza down by delivering him the 1947 film, directed by Alfred E. Green, The Fabulous Dorseys, where Jimmy and Tommy are playing themselves in a mediocre musical melodrama. Both the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (with Serge Chaloff on baritone sax) and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (with Abe Most and Alvin Stoller, drs) appear, with guests Bob Eberle, Stuart Foster, Mike Pingitore, Helen O'Connell, Henry Busse and Paul Whiteman. Arthur Shields, one of John Ford's favorite Irish actors, is playing the role of Dorsey the father. Film tells the story of Tommy and Jimmy , from their boyhood in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania through their rise, their breakup, and their personal reunion. Typical of many backstage musicals of the 1930s and 1940s. Then, after 5 reels have passed, comes on of the most atmospheric jam session ever captured on big screen. The brothers go to the Art Tatum club, where God is playing his keyboard. Out of nowhere Charlie Barnet (alto sax), Ziggy Elman (trumpet), Sam Herman (guitar), Sid Bloch (bass) and Ray Bauduc (drums) drop in and turn the place upside down. This scene alone worth 10 Technicolor musical.

Thank heavens, the film is a public domain and it's possible to watch it free, here.

More information
Music Directed/Conducted by: Louis Forbes
Music Arranged by: Bill Finegan
Songs: "At sundown" by Walter Donaldson; "I'll never say ‘never again' again" by Harry Woods; "To me" by Allie Wrubel, Don George; "Green eyes" by Nilo Menendez, Adolfo Utrera, E. Rivera, Eddie Woods; "Dorsey concerto" by Leo Shuken, Ray Bauduc; "Art's blues" by Art Tatum; "Everybody's doin' it", "Marie" by Irving Berlin; "The object of my affection" by Pinky Tomlin, Coy Poe, Jimmie Grier; "Runnin' wild" by Joe Grey, Leo Wood, A. Harrington Gibbs; "When you and I were young, Maggie" by James Austin Butterfield, George W. Johnson; "Waitin' at the gate for Katy" by Richard A. Whiting, Gus Kahn.

Jam Session scene with Art Tatum

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blindfold Test: John Coltrane

The conception of Downbeat’s blindfold test was putting some records on in front of a jazz artist (without telling the interviewee which record it is) and investigating his knowledge of jazz history and the way his colleagues are playing, and getting into his understanding of other jazz musicians’ styles and the way they interpret the familiar tunes. Most of the time the results of this testing is very moving. Beside the point of guessing the recorded artist and the musicians, the way here Coltrane or anybody else unveil their thoughts about jazz when they are listening to the tune is exactly like being inside the jazzman’s head. It’s a tense oral history that is creating in moments, while somebody’s blowing a horn or swinging on a keyboard. I remember one of the best Blindfold tests was Coleman Hawkins’s, when they play one of his own records from Fletcher Henderson days and he said something like this: “Shit man! Is that me playing this awful thing? I can’t bear it. Turn it off man!”

Blindfold Test: John Coltrane

1. Woody Herman. Crazy Rhythm (Everest Stereo). Paul Quinichette, tenor saxophone; Ralph Burns, arranger.

J. C.: Well, I would give it three stars on the merit of the arrangement, which I thought was good. The solos were good, and the band played good. As to who it was, I don’t know…The tenor sounded like Paul Quinichette, and I liked that because I like the melodic way he plays. The sound of the recording was very good. I’d like to make a guess about that arrangement—it sounded like the kind of writing Hefti does—maybe it was Basie’s band.

2. Art Farmer Quintet. Mox Nix (United Artists). Benny Golson, tenor; Farmer, trumpet, composer, arranger; Bill Evans, piano; Addison Farmer, bass; Dave Bailey, drums.

J. C.: That’s a pretty lively sound. That tenor man could have been Benny Golson, and the trumpeter, I don’t know…It sounded like Art Farmer a little bit. I enjoyed the rhythm section—they got a nice feeling, but I don’t know who they were. The composition was a minor blues—which is always good. The figures on it were pretty good, too. I would give it three-and-a-half.

3. Horace Silver Quintet. Soulville (Blue Note). Silver, piano, composer; Hank Mobley, tenor; Art Farmer, trumpet.

J. C.: Horace…Is that Soulville? I’ve heard that—I think I have the record. Horace gave me that piece of music some time ago…I asked him to give me some things that I might like to record and that was one of them. I’ve never got around to recording it yet, though. I like the piece tremendously—the composition is great. It has more in it than just "play the figure and then we all blow." It has a lot of imgination. The solos are all good…I think it’s Hank Mobley and Art Farmer. I’ll give that four-and-a-half stars.

4. Coleman Hawkins. Chant (Riverside). Idrees Sulieman, trumpet; J.J. Johnson, trombone; Hank Jones, piano; Oscar Pettiford, bass.

J. C.: Well, the record had a genuine jazz feeling. It sounded like Coleman Hawkins…I think it was Clark Terry on trumpet, but I don’t know. The ‘bone was good, but I don’t know who it was. I think the piano was very good…I’ll venture one guess: Hank Jones. It sounded like Oscar Pettiford and was a very good bass solo. And Bean—he’s one of the kind of guys—he played well, but I wanted to hear some more from him…I was expecting some more. When I first started listening to jazz, I heard Lester Young before I heard Bean. When I did hear Hawkins, I appreciated him, but I didn’t hear him as much as I did Lester…Maybe it was because all we were getting then was the Basie band. I went through Lester Young and on to Charlie Parker, but after that I started listening to others—I listened to Bean and realized what a great influence he was on the people I’d been listening to. Three and a half.

5. Ben Webster–Art Tatum Quartet. Have You Met Miss Jones? (Verve).

J. C.: That must be Ben Webster, and the piano, I don’t know. I thought it was Art Tatum…I don’t know anybody else who plays like that, but still I was waiting for that thunderous thing from him, and it didn’t come. Maybe he just didn’t feel like it then The sound of that tenor…I wish he’d show me how to make a sound like that. I’ve got to call him up and talk to him! I’ll give that four stars…I like the atmosphere of the record—the whole thing I got from it. What they do for the song is artistic, and it’s a good tune.

6. Toshiko Akiyoshi. Broadway (Metrojazz). Bobby Jaspar, tenor; Rene Thomas, guitar.

J. C.: You’ve got me guessing all the way down on this one, but it’s a good swinging side and lively. I thought at first the tenor was Zoot, and then I thought, no. If it isn’t Zoot, I don’t know who it could be. All the solos were good…The guitar player was pretty good. I’d give the record three stars on it liveliness and for the solos.

7. Chet Baker. Fair Weather (Riverside). Johnny Griffin, tenor; Benny Golson, composer.

J. C.: That was Johnny Griffin, and I didn’t recognize anybody else. The writing sounded something like Benny Golson…I like the figure and that melody. The solos were good, but I don’t know…Sometimes it’s hard to interpret changes. I don’t know whether it was taken from another song or if it was a song itself. Maybe the guys could have worked it over a little longer and interpreted it a little truer. What I heard on the line as it was written, I didn’t hear after the solos started…It was good, though—I would give it three stars, on the strength of the composer mostly, and the solos secondly…I didn’t recognize the trumpeter.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lucky Thompson

لاکی تامپسون
16 ژوئن 1924 کلمبیا کارولینای جنوبی
30 جولاي 2005، سياتِل، واشينگتن
در دیترویت بزرگ شد و در 15 سالگی صاحب اولین ساکسفونش شد. کار حرفه‌ای را از ابتدای دهه 1940 و به عنوان نوازنده ساكسفون آلتو در گروه‌های محلی آغاز کرد. در میان موزیسن‌هایی که با آنها کار کرد می‌توان از هنک جونز و سانی استیت نام برد. مهاجرت به نیویورک در 1943 و کار در ارکسترهای لایونل همپتون، دان ردمن، بیلی اکستاین و لاکی میلیندر. پیوستن به کنت بیسی در 1944. سفر به کرانه غربی آمریکا و کار برای دیزی گیلسپی. دیزی او را استخدام کرد تا در نشست‌هاي ضبط مشهوری که با چارلی پارکر برای بیلی برگ داشت، در صورت تاخیر یا حاضر نشدن پارکر، که امری بدیهی بود، تامپسون به جایش ساز بزند. بلاخره در قرار ضبطی در کمپانی دایال (Dial) سر وکله پارکر پیدا نشد و تامپسون به جای ساكسفون آلتو زد. همینطور در برنامه دیگری که در اصل قرار بود پارکر با مایلز دیویس ساز بزند، این لاکی بود که جای خالی پاركر را پر کرد.
با بيلي اكستاين، ديزي، پاركر
در 1946 عضوی از ارکستر «ستارگان سویینگ» شد که توسط چارلز مینگوس و بادی کولت هدایت می‌شد و عمر کوتاه دوماه‌اش مانع از آن شد که کاری از این گروه ضبط شود. مدت کوتاهی برای لویی آرمسترانگ کار کرد. دوباره رهسپار نیویورک شد و گروه خودش را که در سالن رقص ساووی (Savoy) اجرای برنامه می‌کرد راه انداخت. بعد از یک دوره کوتاه سرگرداني در موسيقي R&B، چند آلبوم مهم با نوازنده پیشروی باس، اسکار پتی‌فورد و نوازنده ویبرافون، میلت جکسون، ضبط کرد. مایلز دیویس او را در کنار جی جی جانسون، هوریس سیلور، پرسی هیث و آرت بلیکی برای ضبط‌هایی که در کمپانی پرستیژ داشت استخدام کرد. نتایج این ضبط‌های استثنایی را می‌توان در دو آلبوم Walkin و Blue ‘N’ Boogie شنید.

در 1956 به اروپا رفت و در فرانسه کارهایی در قالب یک کوارتت و یک ارکستر ده نفره با نوازندگان و آهنگسازان فرانسوی ضبط کرد. با استن کنتون به توری در اروپا رفت و بیشتر سال‌های پایانی دهه 1950 و بخشی از دهه 1960 را در اروپا باقی ماند. به آمریکا برگشت اما خیلی کم کارتر از گذشته زندگی در یک مزرعه در میشیگان را به نوازندگی حرفه‌ای ترجیح داد. در دهه 1970 بیشتر تدریس کرد و به مرور به طور کامل از دنیای موسیقی کناره گرفت. یکی از دلایل او برای این وداع همیشگی رابطه ناخوشایند میان هنرمندان سیاه و کمپانی‌های موسیقی بود که توسط سفیدها اداره می‌شد و هدفی جز پول به جیب زدن نداشتند. براي تامپسون ِ ناراضی از این وضعیت، کنارگذاشتن موسیقی به منزله اعتراض بود.
صدای او در ساکسفون (چه تنور و چه سوپرانو) انعکاسی از صدای اساتید بزرگ این ساز از کلمن هاوکینز و دان بایاس تا لستر یانگ و چارلی پارکر داشت. اما در عین حال او صاحب تخیل و تشخصی کاملاً خودساخته در نوازندگی‌اش بود که باعث می‌شد در بین ساکسفونیست‌های بی‌شماری که در تاریخ جاز آمده‌اند و رفته‌اند، همچنان نوازنده‌ای مهم باقی بماند.
من صداي او را، به‌خصوص در آلتو، به خاطر نرمي و آرامش و آن طنين cool دوست دارم و بين كارهايي كه از او مي‌شناسم، Lucky Strikes كه در 1964 ضبط شده شاهكاري كوچك است. در اين‌جا مي‌توانيد نمونه‌اي از صداي گرم او را در قطعه Love and Respect از آلبوم Lord, Lord Am I Ever Gonna Know كه در 1961 ضبط شده بشنويد. بقيه نوازندگان آم عبارتند از: مارشال سولال (پپانيست – آهنگساز گدار در ازنفس افتاده)، پيتر ترانك (باس) و كني كلارك (درامز).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

From the Scrapbook

©Tom Myott

I've quoted these lines in my notebook, but I can't remember from whom. It sounds like Martin Williams, one of my favorite jazz writers, but I'm not sure. Whoever he is, he sounds true:

"Jazz is the music of a people who have been told by their circumstances that they are unworthy. And in jazz, these people discover their own worthiness. They discover it in terms that mankind has not experienced before. I have deliberately borrowed a theological term in saying "unworthy." I think it is an apt one because the experience of feeling unworthy is fundamental to the twentieth-century man who, whether he admits it or not, is in danger of losing his old gods or has lost them already. But the music involves discovery of one's worthiness from within. And it is thus an experience that men of many races and many circumstances have responded to. Perhaps through jazz, then, the gods, in some small way, prepare for their metamorphosis."