Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cootie, Rex and Hawk: Together

The year is 1957, and the session, one of the most enduring in jazz history. If you like cinema, an analogy can be made between this session and a film called RoGoPag, directed by Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard and Piere Paolo Passolini. The session is simply called Together, alluding to the mere excitement of putting together the cream of Mainstream musicians under one roof and they blow with such versatility and ease. The Rosellini of the session is Coleman Hawkins, it's Godard, Cootie Williams, and Rex Stewart being its PPP.

For the list of other musicians supporting the Three Musketeers scroll down the page to see a scan of the liner notes, penned by no one but Monsieur André Hodeir (The LP came out in France.)

The audio file's from David W. Niven's vault, accompanied by his commentary (info mostly comes from the liner notes) between the tracks.

This was Cootie's first recording in nearly a decade, the last one be his incredibly modern big bands of the 40s. The master was 49 here.

Witney Balliett writes:

"Williams generally plays in the middle registers and uses simple phrases, but when he applies the plunger, he produces an inexhaustible variety of sounds: aching growls, yearning, ghostly wahoos, and tight intimate effects that suggest a wordless language of sharp consonant and drawn-out vowels. By comparison, hearing his open-horn style is like emerging from a dense wood into a bright meadow, for with it he gets a pushing, majestic tone that moves with ease from a gentle urgency to a kind of shouting savagery.
Stewart has his own battery of tricks: half-valvings, bent, slippery open-horn phrases that start and end in mid-air, distant fog-bound muted sounds.
[There are memorable things like] Alphonse and Gaston in which Williams, in alternating choruses with Stewart, plays a muted chorus, a growl chorus, and a plunging open-horn chorus. Another is the two eloquent duets between Hawkins and Williams - in the opening and closing sections of Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, and in the first chorus of I Got a Right to Sing the Blues - in which Hawkins noodles ferociously in the background while Williams, muted, plays the melody. Another is a sheet-tearing growl chorus by Williams in I'm Beginning to See the Light.

Enjoy the album!

Also released as The Big Challenge

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