Jazz for aficionados

Jazz for aficionados

I'm going to review records in my collection, and you'll be able to decide if they're worthy of your collection. These records are what I consider "must haves" for any jazz aficionado, and would be found in their collections. I wont review any record that's not on CD, nor will I review any record if the CD is markedly inferior. Fortunately, I only found 1 case where the CD was markedly inferior to the record.

Our first album is "Moanin" by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. We have Lee Morgan , trumpet; Benney Golson, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie merrit, bass; Art Blakey, drums.

The title tune "Moanin" is by Bobby Timmons, it conveys the emotion of the title like no other tune I've ever heard, even better than any words could ever convey. This music pictures a person whose down to his last nickel, and all he can do is "moan".

"Along Came Betty" is a tune by Benny Golson, it reminds me of a Betty I once knew. She was gorgeous with a jazzy personality, and she moved smooth and easy, just like this tune. Somebody find me a time machine! Maybe you knew a Betty.

While the rest of the music is just fine, those are my favorite tunes. Why don't you share your, "must have" jazz albums with us.

Enjoy the music.
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Two not mentioned yet, would be Bill Holman and Bob Florence. I always found them interesting. I have a newer recording of a big band Bob Florence wrote and played piano in before his death. The Phil Norman Tenant .

May seem like a strange question, but would you label Lee Konitz "West Coast"? He seems actually to defy labels.

We have no disagreement. I was just trying to show the influence of the public in our perception of 'the best'.
I did not mean to imply that you thought mariano was the best. just a favorite. And I understand the mastery of the instrument versus creativity.
Brings to mind Wynton Marsalis. He is truly a master of the trumpet. But, not my favorite player, just my favorite PERSON in Jazz, because of his efforts to preserve and grow the music.

I, for one, do not buy into all this 'the best' stuff. They are all magicians. This is as pertains to players.

I do have a best when it comes to the music. But magic can be found in the most usual places. Even listening to the car radio in traffic. Just a fleeting passage, a few bars / measures.

The trumpet playing on 'the monkey speaks his mind' on the Dr John Cd ' nawlinz, dis, dat or D'udda'. Check it out.

Orpheus, two great choices. Loved the Jimmy Giuffre cut; hadn't heard that before. Players from that era were amazing musicians; they listened to and took in the influence of just about everything. On that cut can be heard shades of Copland's "Hoedown", Gershwin, as well as, of course, the blues. Great stuff.

Another great Chico Hamilton record that I appreciate is "Gongs East" featuring Eric Dolphy, surely one of the most distinctive alto sounds ever.

Acman3, Lee Konitz is one of the greatest of the West Coast players and an influence on Art Pepper and Paul Desmond. He is the alto player on the Birth Of The Cool sessions even though Sonny Stitt was the original choice and Evans decided that Stitt's sound was too steeped in be-bop (Charlie Parker) and they wanted a "cooler" sound. Glad you mentioned him, this record belongs on my favorites list, and is highly recommended


BTW, related to the above, Orpheus10's comments re Bird's influence are well taken. His influence turned the jazz world upside down, and it was to the credit of players like Konitz that they chose a different path.
Others you could put in the West Coast camp at one time or another are Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Bud Shank and Stan Getz.
Lee Konitz is often associated with the "West Coast Jazz" school,while this is wrong geographically it is correct as as far as his influence on many of the players in the early 50's.One mentions his influence on Art Pepper,very minor,the big influence on Pepper was Benny Carter and Charlie Parker.Pepper was a member of the Stan Kenton band before Konitz and it was the Kenton band that brought Konitz to the West.Kenton was based in Southern California and drew the players from this area.Konitz was offered a job with Kenton,in i believe 1950-1 and approached his teacher and mentor Lennie Tristano about this decision to join a coomerecial big band.Tristano was adamant about Konitz not going with Kenton,concerned with the "commerciality" of Kenton's music,not to mention Lennie did not want to lose his best student.Konitz' decision to join Kenton caused a multi-year astrangement from the Tristano circle.During this time,the early 50's Konitz won magazine polls and became internationally well known,travelling to Europe with Kenton and making records there.His solos on the Kenton records became very popular among saxophonists.Otherwords,this choice to go with Kenton was a major pivot in Konitz' career.
He ended up in L.A. in the early 50's and "sat in" with the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker group,of course he knew Mulligan from the Birth of the cool bands and before that,the Claude Thornhill orchestra.It is these recordings that seem to tie Konitz to the "West Coast" school.
Certainly these early 50's Lee Konitz recordings can't be praised enough,as noted above,this was a rare departure from the Bird's overwhelming influence,and it was more than a deaparture,it was a fully formed and totally distinct approach to the saxophone.As Warne Marsh used to say"The YOUNG Lee Konitz was a beautiful thing" and that is very true.
The whole "West Coast" Jazz moniker has always been a confusing one.Lots of the remaining Big bands were centered in L.A. and this brought lots of musicians to the area,notably Kenton and Woody Herman.The scene evolved almost a good ten years after the birth of Be-Bop in New York and the lack of actual Jazz club work called for more "woodsheding" and rehearsal groups...Jimmy Giuffre,Chico Hamilton,Bob Brookmeyer.There was more experimintation without commercial scrutiny.Interesting,that many of these musicians had to return to New York to work and let these ideas breathe.Mingus was a good example of this,although a few years earlier.Dolphy,Giuffre,Brookmeyer,Jim Hall and others gravitated back to New York to make the music that was born in garages in L.A. bY 1954 Lee Konitz was finished with Kenton and ready himself to return to New York to start the next chapter of his music.His association with the West Coast school of Jazz,such as it was,well behind him.
Charlie Parker has / had too much influence on Jazz. Surely you, O-10 & Frogman, Jest!!!

(1) Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart had / have too much influence on European Classical Music.

(2) Sir Issac Newton had too much influence on Mathematics

(3) Eienstein had too much influence on Physics and Astro-physics.

(4) Charlie Parker had /has too much influence on Jazz.

All of the above statements are EQUALLY true. Or EQUALLY non-sense!

West Coast Jazz, is a term used to describe players that played on the west coast in the so-called 'cool' style.

Why the West Coast you might ask. Answer: Because all of the greats played on the East coast. Better to rule in hell, than serve in heaven.

You cannot make a silk purse folks. They weren't good enough to play with the big boys, so they ran west. If the top be-bop players had been on the west coast also, 'Cool' Jazz would have arisen in Nebraska! Mediocrity cannot survive in the presence and / or immediate vicinity of genius! So it was 'Go West Young Wanna-be'

I leave for a few hours and you people are already off the reservation!!

I listened to 'Charlie Parker with Strings: The Master Takes' Bird was in fine form. Good experience overall. The sound quality of the recording was much better than most Bird recordings. I didn't see the need for the strings, and I think they took away rather than added to the performance. True Genius does not need gimmicks! One reviewer said "there is a lot of Jazz, but only one bird" so true.

March 12 1955....Bird died.March 12 2013...the only thing that "ran West" was the railroad.
I agree with your stance on Charlie Parker.To say he had too much influence is baffling and bizarre. Miles in his autobiography said bird's talent and genuine extraordinary creatively affected not only the sax players but all musicians regardless of the instrument. Miles said an entire generation was simply in awe of the astonishing playing and standard he established. I understand that some just don't care for bird (that's ok) but
his Iimpact and legacy is unquestionable.
I remember a talk show program long ago where some caller said bird was over rated and given too much credit. He felt that Paul Desmond was a better alto player and deserved equal status.Now if he likes Desmond more that's perfectly fine and his opinion. To lmply that Desmond had the same stature,impact and contribution is insane!
Jazzcourier, excellent post; thank you. I do take exception with your description of Art Pepper's influences. I hear more Lee Konitz in his playing than Parker.

Rok and others, re Parker. I don't want to speak for Orpheus10, but I believe that what he meant, and I agree with, is the simple fact that Parker's influence was pervasive and almost impossible for players to avoid. No one, certainly not I, is saying that Bird had TOO MUCH influence; that would be a ridiculous comment. So lets not get on a tangent about this.

Now, for the punch line of my post: Concerning Art Pepper's influences (surprise!), and his feelings about Bird in general (which supports what I believe Orpheus is saying), "straight from the horse's mouth":


I was just about to post with the same point as you wrote about in your last post.

There seems to be an AGENDA going on here to make all Jazz players equal. IOW, just as you pointed out in your post. Miles played Jazz trumpet, so did Chet Baker, so they are the same right? Wrong! Hell, I can play a trumpet! The so-called 'cool' thingy is the equal of be-bop!! Brubeck equal to Silver, Peterson, Powell COMBINED!! It goes on and on.

When I said Jazz has to be defended, everyone said I was nuts. This is the type thing i meant.

No one ever says Beethoven and Philip Glass are equal.

But in Jazz, everyone and everything is fair game. Make them 'equal' today, and the 'best' tomorrow. But as we say in Texas, 'That Dog Won't Hunt'


Frogman, it's delight to have you on this thread, not only are you a jazz aficionado, but you're a musician as well. Although I never thought about West Coast from a musical perspective (the softer tone) that's quite accurate.

West coast jazz had a relatively short life span. Although the musicians lived on, West Coast was dead after 65, while the very same musicians evolved into other forms of jazz. The very best jazz from this genre would be in the 50's. This means that although you have the same West Coast musicians after the 50's, they may, or may not still be playing "West Coast" jazz.

Enjoy the music.
Rok, even though you're prone to take things out of context, I like you anyway; but if there was one big "Bird", and a lot of little birds imitating big "Bird", that was too many birds. In regard to "Birds" stature, that's unquestionable.

Many of the "Boppers" just weren't cool enough to understand "West Coast". It was like LA, laid back and in a hurry to get nowhere. This music was best appreciated in a coffee house where they recited poetry and the chicks wore leotards, "Can you dig it"?

Enjoy the music.
I play the trumpet, was in my university's Jazz band in the '70s, and out of that experience began to love and explore Jazz. I love the West Coast cool sound. I also have to admit that I often prefer to listen to Paul Desmond over Charlie Parker and Chet Baker over Miles Davis, even though admittedly both Parker and Davis made larger contributions to the development of Jazz. I like Stan Getz's sound more than John Coltrane's. That is not to say that I don't like Coltrane, Davis and Parker (I do quite a bit), just that I like the sounds of the others more. As a trumpet player, I have always admired Chet Baker's sound, phrasing and improvisation. While hardly a technical virtuoso (e.g., he rarely approaches the top register), Chet Baker was able to create such a beautiful sound, almost flute-like, from his instrument. His ability to convey emotion with a sparsity of notes is amazing. His instincts when he improvized was exceptional. You can listen to 20 different recorded versions of one of his songs (e.g., My Funny Valentine) and each one is unique in a creative way. Was he the trailblazer that Miles was?--absolutely not--but both made contributions to Jazz and music in their own ways. I don't think we have to say they are on the same level in order to appreciate both.
To be clear I enjoy the west coast jazz genre very much, it just has a different feel from the harder edged east coast bop approach.I have lots of both.Idon't believe the west musicians were inferior to the east boppers, but will admit often the east style is more complex and in somes instances more ambitious. I can listen to Harold Land, Teddy Edwards or Richie kumuka or switch to Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Joe Henderson.I can really appreciate what they all play in their own way. Same with trumpeters Jack sheldon (underrated chops) or Fats Navarro, very different, I like them both.Pepper Adams or Gerry Mulligan? I can listen to either all day.I appreciate and respect the uniqueness of these beautiful musicians and am less incline to argue who's better than who.I wish I could play 10% as well as any of them.I'm happy to have their recordings and a system to play them.
Thank you Art Pepper for mentioning Lester Young.The single biggest influence on the evolution of Bird's style.
These were the records these musicians of this generation were listening to...Count Basie..."Lester leaps in" "Taxi war dance" "Tickle toe" the list goes on.There was a whole generation of saxophonists who nursed that approach to improvisation {Stan Getz}and there was another,later generation of players that followed Coleman Hawkins' more forceful and direct approach-John Coltrane.Then there was another that combined the two-Dexter Gordon/Gene Ammons.
Don't forget the impact of Ben Webster during the glorious Ellington late 30's,his influence on the concept of ballad playing is undeniable.Prez,Hawk,Ben all played their best music before the Bebop era and each grappled with their own private adaptation of what became the norm in Jazz.This all has to be considered in the mix.
Whatever Pepper says,everytime he picked up his horn and played one of those way uptempo tunes like "straight life" or something based on "Cherokee" he was gunning for Bird.That was the highest mark of the state of the art and the competition was fierce.That is simply the nature of the beast.Also by 1952 when Pepper was coming well into his own Parker was finished and all bets were off on who was the best.But who cares really? They were all great and amazing and thrilling and each had something special to bring.Some more than others.One of Lester Young's little sayings was "You can't join the throng until you write your own song".I leave you with that.
Charles1dad, and THAT is what it is all about. Well said! I would only add that complexity does not necessarily "better" make. There is great beauty in simplicity, subtlety and elegance:

Thanks Frogman, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that complexity is inherently superior but was simply trying to make a distinction between the two styles.You could say Hamptom Hawes or Carl Perkins is simpler than Bud Powell but it doesn't mean less enjoyed.
"When Joanna Loved Me" I have a duet version of that by Frank Morgan and Kenny Burrell, it's just a beautiful song .Appreciate the video clip.

Speaking of Jack Sheldon, here is a little trumpet by him along with a vocal by Linda Lawson. This music sprang from the west coast in that time frame as "West Coast" jazz.

Pnmeyer, very well put. Once upon a time, I thought like others in regard to who was the best, now I appreciate the same musicians you like, except I appreciate them more than before.

Enjoy the music.

If I told you I went west, and believed in all my heart that I in fact went west, when after looking at a map, you discovered I went east; I would have told you a forgivable "untruth". Such is the case of one Mr. Art Pepper.

After listening to some fantastic music by Mr. Art Pepper, I discovered he was mistaken in regard to the "Bird's" influence on his playing; however, there is no mistake in regard to Mr. Pepper's talents as a jazz alto saxophonist.

Art Pepper + Eleven has a stellar cast of "West Coast" jazz musicians, and Mr. Pepper sounds more "east coast" than any of them, such was the case of "Bird's" influence. His spell over jazz in the 50's was so strong, that even those who made every effort to avoid it, came under it's magic, and such was the case of one Mr. Art Pepper. By any standards, this CD is tops.

Enjoy the music.
Well, I ain't going to no coffee house in southern cal in no leotards!!

Y'all can pick me up on the way back. In Kanasa City.

You from Kansas City? No wonder you are standing up for Bird. (He was definitely a great one!) So, do you like Count Basie too (another Kansas City likes to claim as its own)? I saw the Count twice, once at Fulton College in Missouri in '74 (I went to Mizzou) after he was coming back from receiving the keys of the city from Kansas City. He had alot of his former stars playing that night-Harry "Sweets" Edison, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Al Grey to name a few--and the band was in great form. A few years later, I saw Count Basie at the Willowbrook Ballroom near Chicago. Different band and experience, but during a break, the Count was standing on the side of the stage and I walked up to him and said hello. I was fresh out of college at the time. He was very gracious and we talked for a couple of minutes. Great memories.
I know a great little coffee house in Kansas City that has live jazz, the real deal; we can pick you up there on our way back.


:-) :-)
I feel as you do, you can enjoy musicians equally while acknowledging they may occupy different levels of technical ability and overall influence.I know that Chet isn't the masterful trumpeter that Clifford Brown was yet I can listen to both and really connect. Both could express much emotion through their horns.Victor Feldman didn't attain the stature of Oscar Peterson but you know what, I love his piano and vibraphone playing.Dexter Gordon, a fabulous tenor player but many don't know who he is.Paul Desmond gets much deserved recognition but I prefer Sonny Stitt (Sonny who?).This is why jazz is great, so many wonderful musicians, all with their own special voice.We get the chance to hear them all if we so choose.
Clifford Brown was amazing; died way too young. Although I am usually not a big fan of the "with strings" types of albums, Clifford's is great. Dexter Gordon was great too. Very smooth and silky. I have heard of Sonny Stitt numerous times, but for whatever reason, never listened to him. Because of your post, I plan to change that. Also plan to listen to Victor Feldman. One piano player I really like is Kenny Barron. He had a real musical connection with Stan Getz.

Rok, the picture of a big burly man struttin around in leotards, put me in stitches, I couldn't stop laughing; and at a time when I needed a good joke.
"This one's for you, Rock"

A sad spectacle. I would not have believed it, if I could not see the clip.

Sort of makes my points.

Not from KC. Texas. But since we started this magical mystery tour in New Orleans, where we decided who started Jazz, and then went on to Cuba, where we defined Cuban Jazz and trashed the BVSC, and then they tried to go to Baghdad (I drew the line at that!).

Then it was on to NYC. Where the Frogman lectured us on the finer points of Jazz playing. When they decided to go to southern cal coffee houses, wearing leotards and 'BAN THE BEBOP" T-shirts, I just decided to wait for them in KC, since that would appear to be the next logical Jazz stop. Basie, Parker et al.. and right down the road from Miles' home. Also maybe the second most important city in all of Jazzdom!

But they could fake me out and continue on to that Mecca of 'COOL' improvisation, Bosie Idaho!. If they do that, I'm going home.

Keep the Faith!


When this "West Coast" jazz was current, I thought it was slow and "lame", now,some of it sounds quite "hip", possibly because I can appreciate "cerebral" music more. This much West Coast certainly wasn't available at my "mid west" record store when it was new, and what was available disappeared. I believe that's what's going to happen all over again. I suggest everyone thoroughly browse these CD's. Here's Gerry Mulligan doing "I Want To Live".


Enjoy the music.
The subject of stylistic influence in jazz is a fascinating one. As Orpheus10 points out, sometimes a player comes along that has such a profound influence that in spite of most jazz players' commitment to individuality and aversion to copy-catying, the influence is just too strong to avoid entirely. But, if we dig a little deeper we find there is more to the process than meets the eye.

There are many parallels between jazz evolution and evolution in nature. What is it that causes a "Bird" to come along? Or a Coltrane? Players that cause an entire art form to shift and move in a different direction. Is it a slow process of adaption and change according to the subtle influences that a pool of many musicians, individually, have on the overall style that creates a departure from an established style (swing) and causes it to gradually evolve into a drastically different new style (bebop)? A kind of survival of the fittest. Or is it that a player suddenly comes along with something entirely new and different? A mutation of sorts.

Pnmeyer mentions Sonny Stitt; one of my favorites, and a player that was so hell-bent (like Pepper) on not being type-cast as a Bird copy-cat that he started to play tenor and not just alto. His story (as told by Stitt himself), as it relates to the subject of stylistic influence, is a fascinating one. Around the time that Bird was gaining prominence, musicians that would pass through Stitt's home town would comment on how much his playing sounded like this new guy from Kansas City (Parker). Stitt had never even heard Parker play. The rest is history; but interesting food for thought, IMO.

****Keep the faith****

Ah, but I wish we could all agree that many of the world's problems are rooted in the fact that many of the faithful feel that their faith is THE ONLY ONE.

Cheers to you too.

If you don't feel that your 'faith' is the only correct one, then you don't have much 'faith. Sounds awful in this political correct world, but it's the truth.

Today's Reviews (stop all that groaning!)

Art Pepper -- Art Pepper + Eleven (SACD)

I put this in the player and got my note pad to make notes. After the third track I gave up. What Can One Say? (amadeus)

This is 10 stars!! No Filler. No wasted notes. All tracks are great, even the alternate takes.
This group is very, very tight. Very well rehearsed. Great arrangements. I love playing like this. Up-tempo and very together. All solos were short and to the point. No blowing just to be blowing. I can't say which were best, the reeds or the brass. They were both playing out of their heads. And although they did not solo, gotta give the bass player and the drummer a lot of love also

I don't know what coast these guys are from, but on this date, they played Jazz!! Nuff said.

I have 'pepper meets the rhythm section' and this one. I must research his output and get more.

You will not hear this in a coffee shop. :)

As usual I will leave the technical analysis to Frogman.

Elian Elias -- Solos and Duets w/ Herbie Hancock

11 tracks of which six are duets with Hancock. Great playing all around, but I think they pushed each other a little on the duets. I liked them best.

This is an all piano disc but more in the style of Jarrett. You won't be stupefied! A good disc to show off those 'uber alles' stereo systems.

Not casual music. Most of the track titles are familiar, but you have to pay attention.

When they play together you have to ask yourself, how do they do that? Not a misstep and all improvised. This is the type disc that shows just how much talent it takes to be a musician.

BTW, my sub low fi Polks reproduced the pianos just fine!

Great record!

Paul Desmond, who Bird considered one of his favorite alto players (now, THAT'S food for thought!) interviews Bird:

Next up, after the gym

Jazz in July
Live at the 92nd ST. Y
The Kingdom Of Swing & The Republic of OOP BOP SH'BAM

has to be the greatest album name in Jazz history


Chico Hamilton, who was a West Coast drummer, evolved into one of my favorite musicians. I never thought of him as a drummer, for the same reason I never thought of Mingus as a bassist. They were just very creative musicians.

After the West Coast thing, Chico captured my attention with "Conquistadores". I played it over and over; each time it sounded better than the time before. Here it is for your enjoyment.


Now, I probably have more Chico Hamilton LP's and CD's than any other single artist; he comes out of so many different bags, that you never know what he's going to do next. I'll just give you whatever I can find that's on you tube which is also in my collection.



Enjoy the music.
Really like Elian. Your mention of Jarret spurred me to mention his Koln Concert album, which I have loved since college. It was the perfect album to put on the turntable at 4:00 a.m. after coming home from a party.
"Paul Desmond, who Bird considered one of his favorite alto players (now, THAT'S food for thought!) "

More like Heresy or indigestion!!


Got the Koln Concert on LP while in Germany, about a zillion years ago. Have since got it on CD. It exposed me to something different. One of my favorites now. I think the last Jarrett I purchased was him with Charlie Haden. 'JASMINE' I am not sure he will ever surpass KOLN.

O-10 Thanks for the great music posts. I gotta get some. I would tell Frogman thanks but I can't connect to his. And Frogman, Rok2id and Pnmeyer I was born in '56 and never exposed to a lot of jazz so some of these is new to me but checking it out is some great stuff. Thanks.