Voltarol - related music

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

'S Wonderful...part four

For part one of this series of postings please start here.

The fifth track on side two of this compilation is - 'When I was Young', recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1956, which first appeared on the album 'Brubeck Plays Brubeck'. The group consisted at that time of Joe Dodge - drums, the splendidly named Norman Bates - bass and the great Paul Desmond on alto saxophone. Although I was to retain a fondness for Brubeck's music, it was Desmond who really grabbed my attention and I still own about eight Desmond CDs (I have one Brubeck). His playing was informed with wit, as indeed was the man himself, who once stated when asked about how he evolved his sound - " I try to sound like a dry martini". He does, too. No clips are available of this line up but I did find this performance of Blue Rondo A La Turk from around 1959 or 60

Track six was 'Budo' by the Miles Davis Quintet and was also recorded in 1956. This tune, composed by Miles Davis and Bud Powell had first appeared on the classic Birth of the Cool album released in 1950, not that I knew this at the time. This version was my first introduction to yet another group of highly significant and influential jazz musicians - Miles himself (trumpet), Red Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums) and - arguably the most influential of them all - John Coltrane (tenor saxophone). I have often tried to locate a CD copy of the original album that this track came from, but without success. Recently I discovered that it was never issued at the time but that it was in fact an out-take from Miles' famous Round About Midnight album. It goes without saying that this version of 'Budo' is not available but here is the title track from that album.

And here is the original version of 'Budo' -

The penultimate track is a version of 'Angel Eyes' by the J.J.Johnson Quintet and was also recorded in 1956. I was already a fan of Johnson, having recently discovered the Jay and Kay trombone Octet (see Slide by Slide) and I also became much enamoured with the tune, which was to become a regular part of my band's reportoire some forty years later. Here again, the groups members were mostly influential figures. The least well known was tenor saxophonist Bobby Jaspar. The rest of the band consisted of Hank Jones (piano), Percy Heath (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). There appears to be no example of this group on YouTube, let alone the actual track, but here is Johnson's 1993 quintet recorded live in Europe. It's a fine example of his ballad playing.

And because the tune had almost as much impact on me as the musicians, here's Ella Fitzgerald performing Angel Eyes in 1957.

Looking back over the previous tracks on this compilation it is easy to see the general 'arc' of development of jazz, even though the actual recording dates jump about a bit, which I guess goes to show that the music didn't just change abruptly at each stage in its progress, but that the various strands overlapped and intertwined along the way. However, Benny Green has this to say about the final track on the album - "Duke Ellington turns out to have the last word. The Spacemen happen to have been recorded in the middle 1950s, but the music is neither traditional, mainstream or modern. It is simply Ellingtonian, and for that reason adds a final touch to the collection which might otherwise have been missing". The track is 'Jones' by Duke Ellington and his Spacemen (no specific recording date given) and it will surprise you not one whit to learn that there appears to be nothing in the way of YouTube clips for this particular Ellington line up. Duke in fact only seems to have used this name for his band on one album, but the personnel are all regular Ellington alumni. I shall list them here but refer you to Ellington on the Web for more information about the great man and his musicians than you would have thought possible! Ellington (piano); John Sanders, Britt Woodman, Quentin Jackson (trombones); Clark Terry (trumpet); Jimmy Hamilton (clarinet); Paul Gonsalvez (tenor saxophone); Jimmy Woode (bass) and Sam Woodyarde (drums). I subsequently bought a number of Ellington albums, including the wonderful Such Sweet Thunder, which first came out in 1957, so in lieu of 'Jones' or 'the Spacemen' here is a clip of a live performance of the title track from the album.

So - I hope I've justified my claim for the 'This Wonderful World of Jazz' compilation as being a 'Rosetta Stone of Jazz'. It certainly was for me in that it was the stepping-off point and general route map for a journey that I am still on some forty years later. It opened my ears and it opened my mind - and to music as a whole, not just jazz. If ever they reissue this on CD I shall be the first in the queue!