Keep Jazz Alive..................
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2016-05-30
Jazz music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was born in 1946 and my parents had a huge collection of those old 78 rpm records. So from an early age I was listening to Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Billy Eckstine, Ozzie Nelson (yep, Ozzie Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet tv show... Ozzie had a band and Harriet was his singer). Also listened to the King Cole Trio....long before Nat went out on his own as a singer. And he was one helluva piano player too. Bessie Smith, Lady Day. This is what I was listening to at 3-4-5 years old. I did listen to R&B, Little Anthony, Motown sound, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Jessie Belvin, Frankie Lyman, The Platters. But I never bought their records.
Miles Davis 'Birth of the Cool' was the first jazz record album I bought. LPs (Long Playing), albums, started coming out by the late 40s, early 50s and were recorded on 33 1/3 rpm records. First time I heard 'Birth of the Cool, I was in love. Then I got turned on to Dizzy and 'Night in Tunisia'... wheeeew. I was at the point of no return then. Jazz was the only music I listened to, even though most of my friends were listening to the latest 'rock and roll' tunes. Me and my best friend and neighbor at the time, Lamont, who was also a jazz fan.....we spent hours listening to music. I bought a some George Shearing records and then the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey... which really blew my mind. BeBop was going strong now. And when "Kind of Blue' can out... with Miles, Coltrane, Cannonball, Wyton Kelly, Bill Evans, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers... I thought I had died and gone to heaven. That was the most beautiful music I had ever heard. And today it sound just as good as it did then. Beautiful music, ageless music. That's when I also became a Cannonball Adderley and Coltrane fan... and Bill Evans. I became a fan of every musician on that album. And when John Coltrane formed his own group with Elvin Jones, Art Davis and my all time favorite pianist, McCoy Tyner... Jazz... or as I like to refer to it... American Classical Music... became my life. In my opinion the Miles Davis group that recorded 'Kind of Blue' and the John Coltrane Quartet, set the standard for music that followed and is still the standard today. There have been many many more great jazz musicians over the years. Too many to name here. But if you're a jazz fan... a fan of American Classical music... you know who they are.....and you have your favorites also.
Another reason that I love this music so much is that you can take a single tune and play it different. When you listen to the original recording of 'So What' from the Kind of Blue album... each time Miles played it afterwards, there was a different sound. The basic tune was still there but maybe some few additional notes were added... or deleted. But you still knew it was 'So What'. And it was still beautiful. And each musician had their on distinct sound. When you heard Miles....you knew it was Miles. When you heard Lee Morgan, you knew it was Lee Morgan. Same with Coltrane. No one had a sound like him. Same with Pharoah Sanders, Clifford Brown, Cannonball, Horace Silver (how can I live out Horace Silver and 'Senor Blue'), Bobby Timmons, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Oscar Peterson... the list goes on and on. I do my best to educate young folks to the music... and do my best to... keep jazz alive.