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Howard McGhee

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McGhee was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but grew up in Detroit. He first learned to play the clarinet and tenor sax, then switched to trumpet. From 1936 to 1940 he travelled around playing in territory bands. In 1941 he led his own band at Detroit's Club Congo. After a short stint with Lionel Hampton he joined Andy Kirk, with whom he made his first recording, his own McGhee Special. During the AFM ban, he spent a year with Charlie Barnet, but returned to Kirk in 1943. In 1944, jobs in the bands of Georgie Auld and Count Basie were followed by his joining the Coleman Hawkin's quintet for half a year in Los Angeles

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Article: Profile

Thelonious Monk: A Thriving Legacy

Read "Thelonious Monk: A Thriving Legacy" reviewed by Doug Hall


If legendary jazz musicians were collected together in one giant jigsaw puzzle and each musician was one piece—Thelonious Monk's individual piece would be impossible to cut out. As a singular artist, his shape or place in jazz is too uniquely non-conforming. From a musical and historical standpoint, he is recognized as one of the ...

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Article: Profile

Gigi Gryce

Read "Gigi Gryce" reviewed by AAJ Staff


From the 1995-2003 archive: This article first appeared at All About Jazz in 2002. Gigi Gryce was a special kind of musician—the kind often overlooked by the mainstream jazz world today, but widely respected by those familiar with his all too brief time under the jazz spotlight of the 1950s. More often rated as ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums

Read "Blue Note Records: Lost In Space: 20 Overlooked Classic Albums" reviewed by Chris May


For anyone with a passion for Blue Note, it is hard to conceive of an album that has been “overlooked," let alone twenty of them. For connoisseurs of the most influential label in jazz history, the passion can be all consuming: if a dedicated collector does not have all the albums (yet), he or she will ...

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Article: Interview

Meet Andy Bey

Read "Meet Andy Bey" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki


From the 1995-2003 archive: This article first appeared at All About Jazz in February 2000. Listening for the first time to Andy Bey is like stepping into a quiet, still lake. Your foot first parts a surface that's smooth and tranquil, but you can't really tell from that surface how deeply your foot must ...

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Article: Album Review

Jimmy Heath: Love Letter

Read "Love Letter" reviewed by Chris May


Love Letter is the final album to be made by saxophonist Jimmy Heath, who passed in January 2020 aged 93. It was completeted just a month earlier. The title is well chosen: the album is a love letter to jazz, a love letter to ballads, and a love letter to Heath's surviving family members, friends and ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten

Read "Riverside Records: An Alternative Top Ten" reviewed by Chris May


From 1953, when it was set up, to 1964, when it was acquired by ABC, Riverside Records rivalled Blue Note and Prestige as one of the leading independent jazz labels based in New York City. The founders of all three labels were jazz fans who operated on slim margins and became producers partly because they enjoyed ...

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Article: Building a Jazz Library

Hard Bop: An Alternative Top Ten

Read "Hard Bop: An Alternative Top Ten" reviewed by Chris May


Hard bop was the jazz centre of the world from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s, producing many hundreds of immortal albums. Trying to whittle these down to a definitive Top Ten is fun—but it is a subjective and ultimately impossible exercise. In an attempt to dodge those hurdles, the list which ...

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Article: Album Review

Tina Brooks Quintet: The Complete Recordings

Read "The Complete Recordings" reviewed by Chris May


Mosaic Records' spring 2020 release The Complete Hank Mobley Blue Note Sessions 1963-70, the second of the label's box sets devoted to the copiously recorded (and rightly so) Hank Mobley, prompts thoughts of another of Blue Note's singular hard-bop tenor saxophone stylists. Unlike Mobley, Tina Brooks was woefully under-recorded, making just four albums under his own ...

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Article: History of Jazz

Bird's Trumpets

Read "Bird's Trumpets" reviewed by Matt Lavelle


Looking closely at all the trumpet players that played with Thelonious Monk in a piece I wrote in March 2018, I decided to continue the focus, and explore the trumpet players that played with Charlie Parker. As challenging as the trumpet is to play, playing Bebop raised the technical bar. Playing with Charlie Parker at fast ...


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