My Blue Note Obsession

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) ...

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 ...



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