My Blue Note Obsession

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin’ – Blue Note 4003

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Jazz fans will argue forever over the best version of The Jazz Messengers. Was it the group with Wayne Shorter and Lee Morgan that made A Night in Tunisia in 1960? The 1954 edition with Horace Silver, Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson that made A Night at Birdland? (Which isn't technically a Jazz Messengers album, but really it is.) Or maybe the 1980s version with Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis? Here's an argument for the lineup that made ...

Curtis Fuller: The Opener – Blue Note 1567

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From the very first notes, it's obvious that Curtis Fuller's The Opener is something completely different. Yes, it's bop. Yes, it features the usual lineup of two horns, piano, bass and drums. And yes, one of those horns is saxman Hank Mobley, who, by law, was required to appear on every single Blue Note album in the 1950s and '60s. (Or maybe it only seems that way.) But wait--what's going on with those four opening notes? ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

John Coltrane: Blue Train – Blue Note 1577

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John Coltrane was arguably the greatest jazz musician of the 1950s and '60s. Blue Note Records was arguably the greatest jazz label of the same period. And yet they had almost nothing to do with each other. Except for one album--and it's a classic. Blue Train is one of a handful of Coltrane's best-known and best-loved works. It came in 1957, just as Coltrane was making his name with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, and it ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Cliff Jordan and John Gilmore: Blowing in From Chicago – 1957

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Imagine if Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, at the height of their popularity in 1957, invited a couple of sax guys you've never heard of to play with them. The result would be Blowing in From Chicago--a lively, wonderful record firmly in the Blue Note bop tradition. The rhythm section is extremely familiar: Art Blakey on drums, Horace Silver on piano and Curly Russell on bass. It's the same rhythm section that powered the Jazz ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

A Deadly Sin: Gluttony

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Many years ago, I committed the deadly sin of musical gluttony. I'm Pavlov's dog for a good box set. I love Springsteen's Tracks. I can listen over and over to all 5 CDs in the Brubeck For All Time box set. (Which isn't really a box set. It's just five previously released CDs crammed into a box. I like it anyway.) I'm a sucker for box sets of label histories, like the 9-CD RCA Victor 80th Anniversary box ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Hank Mobley: Dippin' – Blue Note 4209

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1965 was an interesting year musically, and Hank Mobley's Dippin' tries--mostly successfully--to capture all of it. It's a hodgepodge of styles that were very popular that year, ranging from soul to pop, hard bop to bossa nova. It's a fun listen--but don't expect any kind of consistent feel. The record pairs two of the standard-bearers of 1960s Blue Note soul-jazz: Mobley on tenor sax and Lee Morgan on trumpet. While you can enjoy Dippin' without knowing ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Art Blakey: Orgy in Rhythm, Volumes 1 and 2 – Blue Note 1554 and 1555

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This may be the strangest album ever released on Blue Note Records, and I don't like it. I hate saying that. I love music, and I try to find something to like in everything. I try occasionally to go beyond the familiar. Opera baffles me, but I can't deny there are some beautiful melodies and powerful arias. Country music is cornball to my ears, but I do love me some Johnny Cash. And what is bluegrass ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Paul Chambers: Whims of Chambers – Blue Note 1534

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At Blue Note Records in the 1950s, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones were about as common as grits at a Southern diner. And about as noticeable, too--not flashy, just solid and reputable. Blue Note never had a “house band," but if it had, Chambers and Jones would have been the hard bop core. Art Blakey may have been the more famous and more aggressive Blue Note drummer, and Charles Mingus the more famous (non-Blue Note) ...



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