Albums

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Bebop - Released April 20, 1968 | Rhino Atlantic

Tones for Joan's Bones, Chick Corea's first session as a leader, is a blazing, advanced hard bop set from late 1966, with writing that reveals an affinity with McCoy Tyner's seminal hard bop structures from this period. Tenor player Joe Farrell and trumpeter Woody Shaw are ideal for this music. They deliver virtuoso performances that are both visceral and cerebral. Steve Swallow, while later focusing exclusively on electric bass, often with a melodic, impressionistic approach, is pure thunder here. In a blindfold test his acoustic bass could be mistaken for Buster Williams'. Drummer Joe Chambers is all relentless, propulsive energy, but subtle too. Corea is a torrent of harmonic and melodic imagination, couched in unerring rhythm. Anybody with an interest in this vital and exciting period will find this session indispensable. ~ Jim Todd
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Bebop - Released September 15, 1987 | Columbia

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Bebop - Released March 1, 1989 | Columbia

Although released in the usually consistent Columbia Jazz Masterpieces series, this recording is a mere sampler of trombonist J.J. Johnson's 1957-60 recordings. The nine selections are drawn from four albums and, although there are some fine moments (most notably on "Misterioso," "Blue Trombone" and "What Is This Thing Called Love"). ~ Scott Yanow
$22.49

Bebop - Released April 5, 1990 | Columbia

Musicologist/conductor Gunther Schuller discovered and restored this massive, 130-minute work by the late bassist, then presented it in concert in New York in 1989. Scored for 30-piece jazz orchestra, Epitaph is thought by Schuller to have been worked on between 1940 and 1962. Amazingly enough, six of the players specified in the score appear on this recording. Some of the sections are familiar to Charles Mingus fans from small-band recordings, particularly "Better Get It in Your Soul," "Monk, Bunk, & Vice Versa (Osmotin')," and "Peggy's Blue Skylight," and there was an attempt to record this work for United Artists in 1962. Schuller makes a case for this work as a unified, 18-movement work in his extensive notes to this set. There is definite evidence that this is how Mingus himself thought of it as well. There is plenty of great big-band writing here, and some fine soloists, notably Bobby Watson, Randy Brecker, George Adams, and Wynton Marsalis. Schuller says it best in his notes: "This recording, while not the perfect realization of Epitaph -- can that ever be achieved? -- is an enthusiastic, dedicated, loving recreation, which now at last brings Mingus' magnum opus to life." With luck, this release will send people back to his many excellent recordings. ~ Stuart Kremsky
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Bebop - Released April 16, 1992 | Legacy - Columbia

On this LP issued by Columbia, Mingus thanked producer Teo Macero for "his untiring efforts in producing the best album I have ever made." From his deathbed in Mexico in 1979 he sent a message to Sy Johnson (who was responsible for many of the arrangements on the album), saying that Let My Children Hear Music was the record he liked most from his career. Although Mingus' small-group recordings are the ones most often cited as his premier works, this album does, in fact, rank at the top of his oeuvre and compares favorably with the finest large-ensemble jazz recordings by anyone, including Ellington. The pieces had been brewing over the years, one from as far back as 1939, and had been given more or less threadbare performances on occasion, but this was his first chance to record them with a sizable, well-rehearsed orchestra. Still, there were difficulties, both in the recording and afterward. The exact personnel is sketchy, largely due to contractual issues, several arrangers were imported to paste things together, making the true authorship of some passages questionable, and Macero (as he did with various Miles Davis projects) edited freely and sometimes noticeably. The listener will happily put aside all quibbles, however, when the music is heard. From the opening, irresistible swing of "The Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Are Some Jiveass Slippers" to the swirling depths of "The I of Hurricane Sue," these songs are some of the most glorious, imaginative, and full of life ever recorded. Each piece has its own strengths, but special mention should be made of two. "Adagio Ma Non Troppo" is based entirely on a piano improvisation played by Mingus in 1964 and issued on Mingus Plays Piano. Its logical structure, playful nature, and crystalline moments of beauty would be astounding in a polished composition; the fact that it was originally improvised is almost unbelievable. "Hobo Ho," a holy roller powerhouse featuring the impassioned tenor of James Moody, reaches an incredible fever pitch, the backing horns volleying riff after riff at the soloists, the entire composition teetering right on the edge of total chaos. Let My Children Hear Music is a towering achievement and a must for any serious jazz fan. ~ Brian Olewnick
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Bebop - Released April 8, 1993 | Columbia - Legacy

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Bebop - Released August 23, 1994 | Legacy - Columbia

The Beginning and the End has some incredible music. Trumpeter Clifford Brown is heard at the beginning of his tragically brief career, taking solos on a pair of R&B sides by Chris Powell's Blue Flames. The remainder of the package features Brown on the last night of his life, just a few hours before his death in a car accident. Performing in his hometown of Philadelphia before a loving crowd, the 25-year-old is heard playing at his absolute peak. He performs "Walkin" with a local sextet that includes Billy Root on tenor and pianist Sam Dockery (a future member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers), "A Night in Tunisia" with a quintet, and concludes both his night and his career with a quartet rendition of "Donna Lee" that is simply brilliant. Brown's death was one of the great tragedies in jazz history and his "goodbyes" to the audience are ironic and, in retrospect, quite sad; don't listen to them twice. But Clifford Brown's playing on this date is so memorable that the LP is essential for all jazz collections. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released November 29, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

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Bebop - Released January 23, 1995 | RCA Bluebird

Although the sheer scope of this double-CD roundup of all of Dizzy's Victor sessions places it most obviously within the evolution of bebop, it is absolutely essential to Latin jazz collections as well. Here listeners find the discographical launching pad of Afro-Cuban jazz on December 22, 1947, when Cuban conguero Chano Pozo added his galvanic congas and bongos to Gillespie's big band for the first time on record. One can feel the explosive effect of Pozo's subdivisions of the beat, rhythmic incantations, and grooves on the band's bebop charts. Though the musicians' styles aren't much affected, and Pozo does most of the adapting to bebop rather than vice versa, the foundation has clearly shifted. Alas, aside from recorded live gigs, Pozo only made eight tracks with the band -- four on December 22 and four more eight days later, just before the second Musicians Union recording ban kicked in. Yet even after Pozo's murder the following year, Gillespie continued to expand his Latin experiments, using two Latin percussionists who brought more rhythmic variety to the sound of tunes like "Guarachi Guaro" (later popularized by Cal Tjader as "Soul Sauce") and even commercial ballads like "That Old Black Magic." The reprocessing of these recordings from late in the 78 rpm era through the CEDAR process sounds a bit harsh, though less so than most of RCA's earlier desecrations of vault material using NoNOISE. Even so, this remains the best way to acquire these seminal Latin jazz tracks. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Bebop - Released May 27, 1995 | Prudence

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Bebop - Released September 1, 1995 | Vogue

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Bebop - Released March 21, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

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Bebop - Released June 6, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

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Bebop - Released June 6, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

Trombonist J.J. Johnson's 1960 sextet is featured on this Columbia CD. Most notable among the sidemen is a rather young trumpeter named Freddie Hubbard on one of his first sessions; also helping out are tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath. Seven of the compositions (which are joined by Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'N' Boogie") are Johnson's and, although none caught on, "Mohawk," "In Walked Horace" and "Fatback" (which is heard in two versions) are all fairly memorable. The six songs on the original LP are joined by three others from the same dates, two of which were released slightly earlier for the first time on a Johnson Mosaic box set that includes all of this music. A fine straight-ahead set. [Originally released on LP in 1960, J.J. Inc. was reissued on an import-only Japanese CD with bonus tracks in 2001.] ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released July 4, 1996 | RCA Victor

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Bebop - Released October 28, 1996 | Vogue

Dizzy Gillespie albums are sometimes criticized for being silly, never for lacking stamina. Pleyel Jazz Concert 1953 is no exception to this rule, though it would certainly be understandable if it were. The live recording, issued and repackaged at least three times since the late '90s, dates from a period when Gillespie was in Paris and as busy as God, as musicians like to say in reference to the deity, not the European noise music band. If datebooks kept by people nicknamed Dizzy are to be trusted, the bebop kingpin had during a previous 48-hour period cut albums for two different competing firms, one involving a string orchestra. About ten collections have been published involving this material. Meanwhile, his rhythm section cut an album on the same day of the Pleyel Concert Hall event, also reissued at least three times and representing the sole effort by pianist Wade Legge as a leader. This rhythm unit with Legge occupying the piano bench is one of the main reasons the Gillespie sides from 1952 through 1954 pack such a punch. Drummer Al Jones and bassist Lou Hackney are, when combined with Legge, the type of bustling, bristling rhythm section that listeners squint to hear properly on historic broadcasts and surreptitious live tapings of this genre. The increased recording clarity from the French period makes it easier to hear what is going on: the group's long openings of "The Champ" and "Good Bait," close to ten minutes each, are marvelous examples of bebop extemporization. The choruses present more variations than alibis at an interrogation, the trumpeter playing as if he were providing his own front-line foil. Quickly Gillespie gets down to entertaining, stroking the congas and freeing vocalist Joe Carroll from the chains of good taste, grinding the clutch on "Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac" -- a number that sounds as if it were perceived when the leader was suffering from a fever. Despite some blues choruses tossed off as if attempting to evict freeloaders, things don't really pick up until the tempo of "Birk's Works" hits a metronome marking usually covered with black tape for reasons of public safety. Along the way the boss delivers a present to his loving French audience, a cover version of "Bon Homme." The program's balance happily tilts more toward inspired jamming than going through the motions implied by a frayed set list. Sarah Vaughan dropping by for a few vocals is hardly something to complain about, her "Embraceable You" an acceptable substitute for an out-of-body experience and apparently an inspiration for Carroll's outdoing himself on "Oh, Lady Be Good." Baritone man Bill Graham, no relation to the San Francisco concert promoter, has fun with the bottom end on "Tin Tin Deo," an expanding feeling of freedom exploding from a surprising use of space. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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Bebop - Released October 31, 1996 | Columbia - Legacy

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Bebop - Released February 12, 1997 | HighNote Records

Carlos Garnett made his biggest impact in the late '60s and 1970s, when his intense tenor playing was heard on recordings by Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Norman Connors. Garnett spent a lot of time off the scene in the 1980s but emerged in the '90s in fine form, if a bit more conservative. For this 1996 CD, Garnett is joined by pianist Carlton Holmes, bassist Brad Jones and drummer Shingo Okudaira, playing mostly originals (plus Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower") that are spiritually linked to the music of the John Coltrane Quartet. Fortunately, the musicians do not attempt to sound like their predecessors; Garnett has an original tone of his own, and the improvising has its subtle surprises. Worth checking out. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released March 15, 1997 | HighNote Records

Most of Houston Person's late-'90s albums are interchangeable collections of standards recorded with a small combo (the rhythm section led by either a piano or an organ, depending on Person's whim) and featuring Person's sterling tenor saxophone solos on top of a conservative backing. 1997's Person-ified is one of the string, but it's more interesting than some due to a slightly more adventurous taste in song selection. The track listing still leans heavily toward standards, but this time, Person has reached a bit deeper than usual into the great songbooks, coming up with somewhat less-obvious choices like "There's a Small Hotel," "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," and "I'll Never Stop Loving You," all of which are excellent. Even oddball choices like Mr. Acker Bilk's novelty trad jazz hit "Stranger on the Shore" and the gospel-tinged coda "May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You" sound great. His backing combo is fairly anonymous, but never simply dull, and even at that, it means that Person's remarkable, underrated tenor playing is always front and center. Not bad at all. ~ Stewart Mason
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Bebop - Released March 15, 1997 | HighNote Records

Gunn Fu is one of trumpeter Russell Gunn's better hard bop/post-bop sets, as opposed to his more hip-hop-oriented projects. Gunn's sound is appealing, his ideas are creative, and he has a particularly strong supporting cast. Tenor saxophonist Greg Tardy blends and contrasts well with Gunn, vibraphonist Stefon Harris is a major asset to the ensembles, pianist James Hurt has plenty of good spots, and Sherman Irby adds his flute to two numbers. Highlights include the driving "Gunn Fu," an up-tempo "Solar," and the up-tempo "The Final Call," which has a riotous conclusion. Highly recommended. ~ Scott Yanow