My Blue Note Obsession

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Lou Donaldson: Alligator Bogaloo – Blue Note 4263

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Alligator Bogaloo is very much a product of its time--1967--and it is extremely groovy. Start with the cover. A woman with crazy eye makeup wears a nutty hijab-like getup and is waving her arms like an early-day Bangle walking like an Egyptian. Tres psychedelic. Well, no surprise there. It's April 1967. The Summer of Love is about to begin. In two months, Sly and the Family Stone will burst into the public's consciousness and create modern ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Lee Morgan – Volume 2: Sextet – Blue Note 1542

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No one ever bought a record for its weird song titles. (And if they did, Iron Butterfly's psychedelic rock classic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida would be the best seller of all time.) But still, Lee Morgan Volume 2: Sextet deserves some kind of award in that category. First, there are two songs written by virtual unknown Owen Marshall. “Her Sister" makes you wonder two things: Whose sister? And what is she like? Sexy? Mysterious? Cool? Hard to tell from this tune, ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Jimmy Smith: Midnight Special – Blue Note 4078

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The history of jazz is filled with great pairs: Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn--Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker--Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond--Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul. Add one more pair to the list: Jimmy Smith and Stanley Turrentine. Smith was the ground-breaking organist, steeped in the blues, who introduced the Hammond B-3 as a legitimate hard bop alternative to the piano. Turrentine was the legendary tenor saxman, steeped in the blues, who became synonymous with 1960s ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Louis Smith: Smithville – Blue Note 1594

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Sometimes, thumbing through the old Blue Note catalogue, you wish for something brand new. Something not the usual Jimmy Smith--Lee Morgan--Lou Donaldson--Horace Silver. And then you find it and wonder, “Who is this guy? And what ever happened to him?" Louis Smith is that guy. The trumpeter recorded exactly two Blue Note albums, one in 1957, one in 1958, and then disappeared for 20 years. After listening to the 1958 record, Smithville, I can only wonder ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Johnny Griffin: A Blowin' Session – Blue Note 1559

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Sometimes dumb luck makes all the difference. That's the case with Johnny Griffin's A Blowin' Session. If you're a sax fan, this one's for you--not one, not two, but three red-hot tenors, plus one scorching trumpet, and the legendary Art Blakey smashing the drums behind them. Three tenors? How did that happen? Pure serendipity. Johnny Griffin, the young, new, super-fast saxman, was on his way to record at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in New Jersey one ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Fats Navarro and Tadd Dameron – The Complete Blue Note and Capitol Recordings

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There aren't many jazz records I'd consider essential. This is one. Granted, Fats Navarro isn't in the pantheon of jazz trumpeters. For starters, he didn't live long enough. He died in 1950 at age 26, so his discography is short. For another, Navarro's brief career overlapped that of trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie, and came just before trumpet greats Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. It's hard to stand out in that crowd. But look closer: Fats Navarro ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Hank Mobley and his All Stars – Blue Note 1544

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I think I've hit a wall. I love hard bop. I love Blue Note. But all of a sudden, the thrill is gone. This week, I'm listening to Hank Mobley and his All Stars, a 1957 album that could never be accused of false advertising. This truly is an all-star hard bop band: Hank Mobley on tenor, Milt Jackson on vibes, Horace Silver on piano, Art Blakey on drums and Doug Watkins on bass. This is, ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Lee Morgan Indeed! – Blue Note 1538

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The first time Lee Morgan entered a recording studio, he was just 18 years old and he was leading his own band. More impressive, that band included soon-to-be-legendary pianist Horace Silver and drummer Philly Joe Jones. This is the CD of that 1956 recording session. While the players were great, the music is merely ordinary--which isn't too surprising given the tender age of the leader. Indeed! is standard Blue Note hard bop by the guys who would, in ...



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