My Blue Note Obsession

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 ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Introducing Kenny Burrell – Blue Note 1525

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Stymied again! I really like Kenny Burrell, and I really want this CD. It's a great record. You just can't buy it easily or cheaply, at least not on Blue Note. First, consider the record and the artist. Kenny Burrell is the quintessential cool jazz guitarist, whether leading his own group or playing with an organ trio. And here we have Burrell's very first album as a leader, Introducing Kenny Burrell, recorded in 1956 with a ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

1950s and ‘60s Blue Note – Is It All the Same?

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A few years ago, a reader from California named Charlie F. started a provocative discussion in the All About Jazz forums with the title: “I've decided not to buy any more Blue Note albums." Oh boy. He began, “Recently, I came to notice something about Blue Note albums of the 50s-60s, which was that they tended to sound pretty much the same." He acknowledged that “this is a good example of a label finding a particular formula and ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

J.R. Monterose – Blue Note 1536

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J.R. Monterose is that rare bird at Blue Note Records--the guy who got one shot at leading a band, then practically vanished from the face of the earth. It's odd because the history of Blue Note is filled with famous guys (almost never gals) who took up residence and stayed just about forever. Think of Blue Note, and I think of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver and Lee Morgan. Big names ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Jutta Hipp With Zoot Sims – Blue Note 1530

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The title is Jutta Hipp With Zoot Sims, but it should be the other way around. No knock on Jutta Hipp. She's great--a lively, fluid pianist who really could have been a big player in the 1950s bop scene if she hadn't suddenly disappeared and dropped out, forever. This is her date--a 1956 recording with a wonderful hard bop quintet. And if she weren't totally overshadowed by Zoot Sims, listeners might say, “Wow, that's the album where she ...



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