Voltarol - related music

Thursday, 29 January 2009

'S Wonderful...part three

This is the third part of a series. For parts 1 and 2 see the blog archive on the right.

Side two of this record kicks off with 'Hollywood Jump', recorded in 1939 by Count Basie and his Orchestra. The line up at this time included tenor saxophonist Lester Young (who also featured on the Billie Holiday track), and as Benny Green observes in his sleeve notes, was "...at his zenith as a creative artist, completely original in his conception and destined to change the entire course of jazz". The band also included trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry Edison, trombonist Dicky Wells, saxophonist Buddy Tate and drummer Jo Jones, all of whom would make a significant, though lesser impact on the music. Jones, along with guitarist Freddie Green and bassist Walter Page (both of whom also played on this recording) made up one of the most dynamic rhythm sections in jazz. I found this short clip of the Basie Orchestra playing live at a concert in New York in 1938. Unfortunately the 'embedding' feature has been disabled on this one but here is the link - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=cbubFSgUTlM . There's a wonderful examaple of a Lester Young solo here. Basie's career lasted well into my lifetime and his band became positively iconic in the '60s, so her is another clip of them in 1961. By this time the line up had almost totally changed, but the guitar chair was still held by Freddie Green.

Next up was an equally iconic figure and one of the founders of the bebop movement. This 1945 recording of Dizzy Gillespie and his Band playing 'I Can't Get Started' was not quite such a full-on bebop approach that is present on many of the other recordings of that year (the year of my birth incidentally) , but a comparison with the famous Bunny Berigan version from 12 years earlier quickly shows that there was a whole new way of thinking at work here. Needless to say, I could not find a clip of the Gillespie version, but I managed to find this performance from 1947 that clearly shows where Dizzie was heading. There are elements of 'swing' in detectable but the harmonic ideas have moved on to a whole new dimension -

Here, for comparison, is Bunny Berigan's 'I Can't Get Started'. If you ever get to hear the Gillespie version you'll clearly understand the difference of approach, but you'll get a pretty good idea from this anyway...

Track three on the album is 'To Beat Or Not To Beat' by the Horace Silver Quintet, and was recorded in 1956. The line up includes two other significant figures - Donald Byrd (trumpet) and Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) as well as drummer Art Taylor and bassist Doug Watkins. Yes, you've guessed it - I couldn't find a clip - but here's the quintet's 1958 line up playing 'Cool Eyes'.

The fourth track is a version of something I was already familiar with -'My Funny Valentine' by The Gerry Mulligan Quartet. I had heard and liked the version which featured trumpeter Chet Baker, bassist Carson Smith and drummer Chico Hamilton which Mulligan (baritone saxophone) had recorded in 1952. Now I had my first real insight into how a group of different musicians under the same leadership and playing essentialy the same arrangement can say something completely different about a tune. The line up here was Mulligan with Art Farmer (trumpet), Bill Crow (bass) and Dave Bailey (drums). The recording was made some seven years after the first one, in 1959. I was impressed with Art Farmer and if anything preferred his playing to that of Baker (twenty-odd years later I was to see him play at Ronnie Scott's with The Clarke-Boland Big Band and was impressed all over again). As usual the actual clip is not available but here is Mulligan revisiting this tune in 1991 with a quartet that includes a piano -
And here is the quartet that performs on the record playing another great standard - 'Moonlight In Vermont' - in 1959

In the next posting I'll cover the last four tracks - Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson and Duke Ellington.