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My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?

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

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 ...

Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962

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

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 ...

Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966

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

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 ...

Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973

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

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 ...

Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958

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

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 ...

Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959

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

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 ...

Paul Chambers: Paul Chambers Quintet - 1957

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

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 ...

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

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

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. ...

Lee Morgan: The Sidewinder – 1964

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

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 ...

Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957

Read "Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957" reviewed by Marc Davis

1957 was a banner year for hard bop and Blue Note. In one year, the label released 40 albums, including classics from John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Bud Powell, Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin and eight by Jimmy Smith alone. In the midst of all that hard bop, Blue Note released two percussion-based albums ...