All About Jazz

Home » Articles » General Articles

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

650

Holiday Gift Guide 2008

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Various Artists
Jazz Icons Series 3
Naxos

With their first two batches, the Jazz Icons label set the standard for DVD issues of vintage jazz concerts. Back in the '50s and '60s, US television networks studiously avoided presenting any black art for fear of offending their Southern audiences. However when these artists toured Europe they were frequently fêted with their own television shows. Jazz Icons began scouring for the original tapes of these programs and has been restoring the audio and video quality. Additionally, they're handsomely packaged, containing 20-30 page booklets with informed essays and commentary about artists and the individual broadcasts.

Jazz Icon's third series contains a number of gems. They include Sonny Rollins (Live in '65 & '68), Rahsaan Roland Kirk (Live in '63 & '67), Cannonball Adderley (two 1963 programs), Bill Evans (five programs spanning 1964-1975) and Nina Simone (Live in '65 & '68). Additionally, if purchased as a boxed set, there is an otherwise unavailable bonus disc with two further Rollins broadcasts (Sweden/ Holland 1959), another Kirk concert from Belgium and a Swedish Nina Simone program.

There are plenty of highlights. Simone delivers incendiary readings of "Four Women" and "Ballad Of Hollis Brown" from a 1965 Dutch show. (You wouldn't have seen those on US TV.) The Rollins 1968 Danish broadcast is particularly valuable since this was a period (1967-72) when Rollins wasn't recording and he delivers a particularly stellar "On Green Dolphin Street" with lengthy unaccompanied interludes. The full 71-minute show from 1963 by the Cannonball Adderley Sextet has never been shown since its initial broadcast and had to be compiled from several sources. Any jazz fan that receives this as a present may start believing in Santa Claus.

Blue Notes
The Ogun Collection
Ogun

Though located in England, the veteran Ogun label has long been homebase for the musical and cultural synthesis created when Europeans and South Africans join forces. With this release, it has put back into circulation some of its finest offerings, no mean feat with a fantastic roster and a catalogue full of stellar projects. This collection brings the Blue Notes recordings for Ogun back into print, most of which were never previously available on CD.

We are given a live date from 1964, just before the original Blue Notes left South Africa and the music brims with the post-Ornette dissonances and overall discovery of those formative years. The sound is surprisingly good and the audience is enthusiastic. Another concert set, this time from 1977, often heads full tilt into free jazz territory, the music nevertheless rife with modality and polyrhythm that belies the groups intervening experiences with the trans-continental collective Brotherhood of Breath. The other two releases are tributes, a 1975 date in memory of the group's recently deceased trumpeter Mongezi Feza and a 1986 homage to bassist Johnny Dyani.

Of these, For Mongezi hits hardest; heart-breaking vocalizations drive grief and celebration home with devastating power throughout these two discs, Dudu Pukwana's rasping alto cries almost unbearable in their raw beauty against the rhythmically-driven polyphony.

This is an absolutely essential tribute to this criminally underappreciated quintet, quartet and trio, depending on which era is represented. It tells the story of an evolving sound, one that should please lovers of traditional and adventurous improvised music.

Art Tatum
Live Performances: 1934-1956

Storyville

Art Tatum was widely acknowledged by most critics during the height of his career as the top jazz pianist, yet he was recorded erratically. His virtuoso technique tended to overwhelm all but the very best instrumentalists, while the extended studio bans during the '40s also kept him from making commercial recordings. This 10-CD set collects broadcasts, transcriptions and private recordings from throughout his career.

The solo performances include show-stoppers like "Yesterdays," "Willow Weep For Me," "Taboo," "How High the Moon" and "Begin the Beguine" and home recordings on his own Steinway. His various trios include either Tiny Grimes or Everett Barksdale on guitar and Slam Stewart or Bill Pemberton on bass, though his meeting with the phenomenal guitarist Les Paul's trio creates greater fireworks.

A previously unissued private session with guitarist Tal Farlow (then at the beginning of his career) and two live tracks recorded in an after-hours club with bassist Chocolate Williams that couldn't fit on the Onyx LP God is in the House (which won a Grammy) make their first appearance. The audio varies in quality but the sound restoration is excellent.

The bonus DVD includes two selections from the otherwise forgettable film The Fabulous Dorseys and a superb video of Tatum's dazzling solo interpretation of "Yesterdays," played on a television broadcast of The Spike Jones Show.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The World's First International Online Contest by 7 Virtual Jazz Club General Articles
The World's First International Online Contest by 7...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 3, 2017
Read The Word is Beat: Jazz, Poetry & the Beat Generation General Articles
The Word is Beat: Jazz, Poetry & the Beat Generation
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 12, 2015
Read Unseen Recordings: Copenhagen Jazzhouse Launches New Web Channel for Experimental Music General Articles
Unseen Recordings: Copenhagen Jazzhouse Launches New Web...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 28, 2014
Read The Harlem Renaissance and American Music General Articles
The Harlem Renaissance and American Music
by Mike Oppenheim
Published: March 3, 2013
Read Goodbye, Cecil's General Articles
Goodbye, Cecil's
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 14, 2012
Read A Merger In Jazz Education General Articles
A Merger In Jazz Education
by Ed Hamilton
Published: July 23, 2011
Read "Umbria Jazz 2017" In Pictures Umbria Jazz 2017
by Andrea Rotili
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat Metheny Commission Highlights Uppsala International Guitar Festival" Live Reviews Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat...
by John Ephland
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "36th International Tampere Jazz Happening" Live Reviews 36th International Tampere Jazz Happening
by John Ephland
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "In Praise of Young Jazz Musicians" What is Jazz? In Praise of Young Jazz Musicians
by Steve Provizer
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Mark Turner: Grounded in a Spiritual World" Profiles Mark Turner: Grounded in a Spiritual World
by Kurt Rosenwinkel
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Ernest Stuart: One Step Ahead" Catching Up With Ernest Stuart: One Step Ahead
by Geno Thackara
Published: April 26, 2017