Herbie Mann. I received quite a few e-mails this week in response to my post on Mann's dynamic Just Wailin' album in 1958 for Prestige. Many readers were in awe that a decent jazz album by the flutist actually exists. There are other such albums, and I will be blogging about them down the road. I also heard from Nick Phillips, vice president of jazz and catalog A&R at Concord Records, who said that while the label had no plans to remaster and reissue Just Wailin', the album was available here as a download at eMusic.com.
Killer clips. Given the large number of video clips I see each week and the vast correspondence I receive from readers passing along others, here's a roundup I think you'll enjoy:
- Cow, Cow Boogie. Director Raymond De Felitta posted an amusing clip at his blog this week. Go here and scroll down to the entry, "Cow Problems." It's from the Speaking of Animals series that appeared in theaters in the early-1940s. For the original hit with Ella Mae Morse and Freddy Slack, go here. For a hipper version by Dorothy Dandridge, go here.
- Red Mitchell. Reader Jon Foley sent along this clip featuring bassist Red Mitchell and saxophonist Zoot Sims in Sweden (1984). Despite Zoot's frail appearance, he still plays his heart out. To see my post on the album Presenting Red Mitchell from last week, go here.
- Max Roach. Dig this clip of Max, demonstrating yet again why he was so exceptional.
- Thelonious Monk. Video maestro Bret Primack sent along a link to his latest video podcast for the remastered reissue of The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall. Concord just released it as part of its Keepnews Collection.
- Dennis Irwin. Bret Primack also sent along this clip on the ailing bassist Dennis Irwin, who reflects on Bitches Brew.
- Teo Macero. To see the late Columbia Records producer Teo Macero and Thelonious Monk in action, go here and catch this amazing clip from the Monk documentary, Straight No Chaser.
- Hal McKusick. Alexandra Fairweather, one of Hal's students, is making a documentary of the saxophonist's extraordinary life and music. A trailer of her effort, expected to be completed over the summer, appears here.
Gene Allen, RIP. Gene Allen, one of the most sought after session baritone saxophonists of the late 1940s and 1950s, passed away last week. Along with baritone saxophonists Danny Bank, Sol Schlinger and Charlie O'Kane, Allen played on a vast majority of large-ensemble record dates during this period. Allen, like his baritone-sax peers, could read any arrangement cold and nail it on the first play-down, no matter how experimental or nettlesome. During the 1950s and early 1960s, Allen recorded with Claude Thornhill, Sauter-Finegan, Nat Pierce, Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Gerry Mulligan's Concert Band and many others.
Among my favorite Gene Allen tracks are four recorded during a small-group session led by trumpeter Tony Fruscella. The other musicians on the 1952 date included tenor saxophonist Phil Urso and alto saxophonist Herb Geller. The four tunes—now available on Tony's Blues here—were P.U. Stomp, Darn that Dream, Tangerine and Loopadoo.
These Foolish Things/'Round Midnight. Reader Bob Curtin had a few thoughts regarding my post last week on the similarities between the 1936 standard and Thelonious Monk's [pictured] bop anthem:
"What you're picking up on, I believe, is the similarities in the contour of both melodies, something I've never noticed before. That is, if you looked at the musical notation, the rising and falling of the melodies in terms of pitch are very similar. Monk could have been influenced subconsciously by These Foolish Things. Or it could have been a coincidence. Harmonically, as you and others have noted, the two tunes are completely dissimilar."
Broadway jazz. I received the following note this week from Adrian Cho:
"Although it came later than Shelly Manne's My Fair Lady, one Broadway-inspired effort worth noting is Johnny Richards' amazing My Fair Lady—My Way (1964). Incredible writing using the unique instrumentation of Johnny's orchestra (four saxes—alto, tenor, baritone, bass—with Joel Kaye doubling bass sax with piccolo), four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, a single mellophonium, and three-piece rhythm section plus a percussionist."
Adrian Cho ought to know. The bassist is founder, artistic director and conductor of the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra in Ottawa. Adrian and I both share a passion for Johnny Richards. To learn more about Adrian, go here. To hear the amazing IJO play the backbreaking arrangements of Gil Evans and Johnny Richards, go here. Click on the "audio" box in the upper-right hand corner. While you're there, take a look at the "video" clips.
Richards' My Fair Lady—My Way can be found remastered on the Mosaic Select: Johnny Richards box here.
Why we don't have an orchestra like this in New York regularly playing the large-ensemble jazz pieces of Johnny Richards, Gigi Gryce, Gil Evans, Claude Thornhill, Boyd Raeburn, Gerry Mulligan, Tadd Dameron and so many others is beyond me.
James Clay. After my post post last week on Presenting Red Mitchell, reader David Langer recommended Clay's A Double Dose of Soul (Riverside) from 1960. It is indeed a fabulous album featuring Nat Adderley on cornet, Clay on tenor sax and flute, Victor Feldman on vibes, Gene Harris on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Louis Hayes on drums.You can find it here and here.