All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard

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...

229

Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Billy Taylor Orchestra
Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina
Mercury
1962

Continuing our look into soundtrack albums of a jazz nature, we depart this month from film scores to take a look at a jazz interpretation of music from a Broadway production. Opening in October of 1961 and running for a mere 32 performances, Kwamina takes place in West Africa in a British colony where a young woman doctor runs into trouble when she falls in love with a local black physician whose name gives the play its title. The cast of the production included Robert Guillaume, Brock Peters, Sally Anne Howes, and Terry Carter, with percussionists Montego Joe and Robert Crowder even taking part in the festivities.

Nominated for a Tony Award for best score, ultimately losing out to Richard Rodgers' No Strings , Richard Alder's music served as inspiration for pianist Billy Taylor's interpretation on the 1962 Mercury album The Original Jazz Score of Kwamina. Somewhat of a rarity these days, this album should have been even more successful than the show itself, but somehow got lost in the shuffle. Picking out nine pieces from the score's original fourteen, Taylor and arranger Jimmy Jones created charts for a large ensemble including Clark Terry, Jimmy Cleveland, Frank Wess, Phil Woods, Jerome Richardson, Julius Watkins, George Duvivier, Les Spann, and Osie Johnson.

Although all the tracks are somewhat brief, each one speaks with its own voice and tempo, allowing for adequate solo space for Taylor and most notably Phil Woods. "Something Big" is easily the most enjoyable of the lot, with it's vamp akin to "Old Devil Moon" and some bristling trumpet work from Clark Terry. "Ordinary People" also gives Wood a brief time to shine during a lush ballad feature. Guitarist Les Spann even gets a chance to say a note or two on the perky "Another Time, Another Place."

In general, not much has really been written about Billy Taylor's recordings, his work in education and other jazz related works somewhat overshadowing his past endeavors. Kwamina definitely deserves to be mentioned among his better works and fans of studio big bands will unlikely be thrilled to hear the superb stereo mix on this one. Although the show may be long forgotten, Taylor's jazz score is ripe for rediscovery.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Book Excerpts
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Read more articles
 

Live at MCG

Cornerstone Records Inc.
2008

buy
Live at MCG

Live at MCG

MCG Jazz
2007

buy
Taylor Made At The Kennedy Center

Taylor Made At The...

Kennedy Center Jazz Recordings
2005

buy
Warming Up!

Warming Up!

Unknown label
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Artie Butler: Have You Met Miss Jones? Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Artie Butler: Have You Met Miss Jones?
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 29, 2005
Read Moacir Santos: Maestro Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Moacir Santos: Maestro
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: May 31, 2005
Read Bobbi Humphrey: Flute-In Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Bobbi Humphrey: Flute-In
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: March 29, 2005
Read Ronnie Foster: On the Avenue & Cheshire Cat Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Ronnie Foster: On the Avenue & Cheshire Cat
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 24, 2005
Read Jazzy Soundtracks 4: Kean Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Jazzy Soundtracks 4: Kean
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: December 16, 2004
Read Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
Jazzy Soundtracks 3: Kwamina
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2004
Read "At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight" Bailey's Bundles At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Remembering Tomasz Stanko" Profiles Remembering Tomasz Stanko
by AAJ Staff
Published: July 29, 2018
Read "Mondo Jazz: Walking" Radio Mondo Jazz: Walking
by Ludovico Granvassu
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Ron Korb: Pan-Global Flutist" Interviews Ron Korb: Pan-Global Flutist
by Rob Caldwell
Published: June 27, 2018
Read "Mandla Mlangeni: Born to Be" Interviews Mandla Mlangeni: Born to Be
by Seton Hawkins
Published: June 11, 2018