Improvisationally fed, jazz more often than not connects with the listener more effectively in live performances than in the studio. Even with the acoustical limitations of live recordings, not to mention such "annoyances" as crowd talk and the clinking of drink glasses, the to-the-heart communicative nature is instantly perceived.
Such is the strength of Jazz: Live From New York.
Telarc, being perfectionistic in sound reproduction, takes such inspirational power a step higher by clarifying solos, subduing the crowd's shouts and blending the unity of the bands into a mix honoring the significance of the recordings.
Not only are they significant because of the stature of the musicians: legends like Lionel Hampton, Oscar Peterson, James Moody, Ray Brown, Slide Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Jim Hall, Louis Bellson, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Curtis Fuller, Jim Hall and Jon Hendricks.
But also, the recordings are significant because some of the legends, one of whose tracks on this CD was recorded as recently as 1998, are no longer with us. Legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Buddy Tate, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Al Grey, Stéphane Grappelli, Mel Tormé and Milt Hinton.
Even on some of their last recordings, these musicians' abilities to excite audiences remained undiminished.
From the very start of "A Night In Tunisia," Slide Hampton's band, JazzMasters, ignites the patrons of the Village Vanguard. Faddis-led seemingly impossible, quick-fire and unison sixteenth-note runs leave the crowd gasping and oo-ing and ah-ing in a club where the proprietor usually hushes the crowd. (I know. I've been hushed.) The thrill of "A Night In Tunisia" on that night in New York was irrepressible.
And that's the way it is throughout both of the companion CD's in the compilation.
Dizzy plays a muted "Con Alma" at the Blue Note a year before his death, allowing us to absorb a final chapter that presents younger Danilo Pérez and David Sanchez in one of their opening chapters of public recognition. Al Grey's "Diz Related" reinforces the immeasurable impact of the incomparable trumpeter during the first half of the first CD.
What one realizes midway through the two hours of Jazz: Live From New York perhaps sooner for listeners less dense than myselfis that the album represents a celebratory recognition of the extroversion of musicians whose talent grew through big-band touring. Their fine-tuned attunement to an audience's expectationsand exceeding those expectations alwaysfound its perfect venue in the New York club, those presumably jaded patrons releasing their inhibitions through the power of jazz.
The "Moody's Party" album is approrpriately named, for each performance on Jazz: Live From New York creates a controlled party atmosphere. Even though Grover Washington, Jr. introduced "It Might As Well Be Spring," the satisfaction of the crowd's expectancy crackled as Moody comes in, urgently catering to the room's receptiveness. Jon Hendricks plays the crowd too, defying the expectations for tongue-twisting vocalese, by delving into a love-defining blues that is more akin to Joe Turner than to Eddie Jefferson.
And how fortunate were the young musicians to have received the torch passed on by these innovators of the genre! Geoff Keezer, in particular, excels in the midst of Benny Golson, Jim Hall, Art Farmer and Curtis Fuller as he confidently supports them with intuitive delicacy before breaking loose into imaginative solos. Imagine how Karriem Riggins felt drumming for the triumvirate of Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Milt Jackson on "SKJ," which was recorded at the Blue Note.
Appropriately, Jazz: Live From New York closes with a powerhouse Louie Bellson arrangement as Bellson drives his band through its paces, crisply and richly voiced, at Pace University. Bellson concludes the live jazz with a master's ability to capture an audience's soul with just two sticks and two pedals.
Track Listing: A Night In Tunisia, Diz Related, Con Alma, Kelly's Blues, It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, It Might As Well Be Spring, Flyin' Home; Yesterdays, Pan-O-Rama, Oh By The Way, Contemporary Blues, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, SKJ, Mean Greens, Soar Like An Eagle
Personnel: Clark Terry, Claudio Roditi, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Arturo Sandoval, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Robert Millikan, Danny Cahn, Glenn Drewes, Darryl Shaw, Marvin Stamm, trumpet; Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, trumpet, flugelhorn; Art Farmer, flugelhorn; Paquito D'Rivera, Benny Golson, James Moody, Clifford Jordan, Jackie McLean, Antonio Hart, Buddy Tate, David Sanchez, Chris Potter, Jimmy Heath, Jerome Richardson, Joe Roccisano, Steve Wilson, Ted Nash, Scott Robinson, Jack Stuckey, Greg Osby, Red Holloway, Grover Washington, Jr., Frank Wess, Bobby Militello, saxophones; Bill Smith, clarinet; Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller, Al Grey, Steve Turre, Larry Farrell, Mike Davis, Keith O'Quinn, trombone; Herb Besson, bass trombone; Douglas Purviance, bass trombone, tuba; Chris Brubeck, bass trombone; Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Danilo P
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.