My Blue Note Obsession

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?

Read "My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?" reviewed by

The collector pauses to reflect. As a young pianist back in high school in the 1970s, I fell into the theater crowd. We put on shows and we went to shows on Broadway. One of my favorites was Ain't Misbehain', the tribute to pianist-composer Fats Waller. I was enthralled. This was music with verve and personality, and it swung like crazy. I bought the soundtrack record and wore it out. I bought the music book and taught myself ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962

Read "Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962" reviewed by

Everyone loves a good comeback--especially if the second act is better than the first. Think of Tina Turner, Marlon Brando and George Foreman. Or tenor saxman Ike Quebec. Quebec isn't exactly a household name, but his seven Blue Note records are uniformly terrific, and Blue & Sentimental is among the best ever produced by the label. That it came after Quebec had already achieved success (if not fame) among the big bands of the 1940s, and ...

Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966

Read "Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966" reviewed by

Maybe I'm imagining it, but pianist Jack Wilson owes a great big thank-you to John Coltrane on Something Personal. At least that's how I hear it on the opening track, “Most Unsoulful Woman," one of two highlights on this 1966 album. Coltrane, the legendary saxman, released his masterpiece A Love Supreme in 1965. It is as introspective and spiritual as any music ever recorded. That's the part you know. Here's the part you don't: A year ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973

Read "Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973" reviewed by

The critics hated Blue Note in the 1970s, and that might be an understatement. Me, I'm kind of intrigued. Fans of good old hard bop, or even soul jazz, were largely left out in the cold. Blue Note in the '70s was a label struggling for its very existence, desperate to find a niche and snag some sales. All of which drove the critics and jazz purists nuts. Richard Cook, in his 2001 book Blue Note ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958

Read "Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958" reviewed by

The legend of the tortured, tragic jazz genius exists because of people like Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. Both are bebop legends, among the greatest of the greats, founding fathers of the genre. Both were brought down by drugs and mental illness--Parker at 34, Powell at 41. Bird and Bud had a lot in common. Not only were they creators of the new sound of bebop, both were astonishingly fast players--Parker on sax, Powell on piano. Powell took ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959

Read "Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959" reviewed by

Every now and then, I hear a musician in a band and I think, “Damn, can we get rid of the other guys and just hear this one by himself?" That was my immediate thought after listening to Davis Cup, a hard bop cooker from 1959. Walter Davis Jr. is a pianist with a slim discography. He recorded exactly one Blue Note CD as a leader--this one, his debut--and appeared mostly as a sideman on other people's records. ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957

Read "Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957" reviewed by

From 1955 to 1965, Paul Chambers was probably the most prolific jazz bassist in the world. He appeared on scores of albums, including some of the best and most famous of all time. So it was not a huge surprise when, in 1957, he turned out a classic of the genre. Bass on Top literally turned jazz on its head, transforming the bass into the lead melody instrument. It was a novel idea, but difficult for some fans to digest. ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967

Read "The Best of Lou Donaldson, Volume 1 – 1957-1967" reviewed by

I'm not a huge fan of Best Of albums. Artists make albums of music--some with themes, some without--and you go with it. One album generally equals one mood, so why mix them up? But then... Lou Donaldson is an alto saxophonist who spent virtually his entire career at one label: Blue Note. Bigger names have recorded on Blue Note--Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins--but none so extensively, from the 1950s to '70s. Trouble is, ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964

Read "Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964" reviewed by

What's left to say about Lee Morgan's most popular album, The Sidewinder? How about this: It is one FUN record. That's capital F, capital U, capital N. Anything wrong with that? Sometimes it feels like all the fun has gone out of jazz. As if nothing can be Good unless it is Serious. As if muted Miles and spiritual Trane are the ultimate barometers of true jazz respectability. Hey, I love Miles and Trane and all ...


Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.