From 1954 to 1965, David X. Young, a painter and jazz aficionado who is still very much alive, turned his studio in New York’s flower district into an oasis for some of the greatest jazz players of the era. The space became known to history as the "Jazz Loft," where countless jam sessions transpired and a very special scene took root. This two-disc package from Jazz Magnet Records unearths some of the music that went down at Young’s place. The principal figures include valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, tenor man Zoot Sims, baritone man Pepper Adams, pianists Hall Overton and Mose Allison, and guitarists Jim Hall and Jimmy Raney. These, however, are only a few of the players who made Young’s loft their second home during those years.
The recording quality of the jam sessions is surprisingly good, but "This Can’t Be Love" and "Stompin’ at the Savoy," from a 1959 Christmas eve session, are a bit sluggish and go on too long. (Both tracks also feature a trumpet player who isn’t even given an anonymous credit on the program list. It could be either Jerry Lloyd or Don Ellis, both of whom are listed elsewhere.) But there are better fruits from this same session: a spirited "Groovin’ High"; outstanding performances by Zoot and pianist Dave McKenna on the ballad "When the Sun Comes Out"; Brookmeyer on piano for "821 Blues"; and a brief, self-explanatory interlude titled "Zoot & Drums."
These aren’t the best, however. The really priceless selections feature Brookmeyer, Hall and Raney together, Overton, bassist Bill Crow, and drummer Dick Scott. This stellar grouping blows with passion and refinement on "There Will Never Be Another You" and Gigi Gryce’s "Wildwood" (both taken from a 1957 session). In 1965, with McKenna at the piano, they demonstrate consummate subtlety on the bright bop tune "Spuds." Another top highlight, also from 1965, features Zoot, McKenna, an upright-playing Steve Swallow, and an unnamed drummer on a tune called "Dark Cloud," co-written by Sims and Jon Hendricks.
In addition to the music, the package includes a booklet with reproductions of Young’s paintings, assorted photos, an introductory essay by Howard Mandel, and brief reflections by some of the players. But the main attraction, of course, is the music, which provides an enticing behind-the-scenes look at some of jazz’s most important and intriguing figures.
Track Listing: Disc One: 1. It Don
Personnel: Zoot Sims, tenor saxophone; Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone; Bob Brookmeyer, valve trombone and piano; Don Ellis, trumpet; Jerry Lloyd, trumpet; Hall Overton, Dave McKenna, and Mose Allison, piano; Jim Hall and Jimmy Raney, guitar; Bill Crow, Steve Swallow, and Bill Takas, bass; Jerry Segal and Dick Scott, drums