Over the past couple of days I received several emails from readers in the U.S. and abroad bearing additional information about recent posts. Rather than wait until Sunday, when I normally post the week's bits and pieces, here are the letters now, while the writers' insights are still fresh:
Artie Shaw and Mel Torme. James Wardrop from Pennsylvania offers additional CD sources for the Artie Shaw-Mel Torme-Sonny Burke sessions that I wrote about on Tuesday (May 6, 2008). Jim also passes along a great tip on a Count Basie CD:
"For what it's worth, there were two CDs of Shaw and Torme material on Musicraft issued in 1987 and 1988. The combination of the two, orchestra and vocal group, is called Artie Shaw & his Orchestra: For You, For Me, For Evermore (MVSCD-50). The other, which features just the Sonny Burke-led material, is Mel Torme and the Mel-Tones: A Foggy Day (MVSCD-54).
Amazon does not seem to have either, and I don't know if the French Classics series has covered the Shaw numbers, as of yet. Maybe the CDs are available from other sources. It is indeed very hip stuff!
In addition, since you alerted your readers some months ago to the terrific Jimmie Lunceford anthology double CD package, I thought you should be aware of this: The same company has out a wonderful Count Basie: Combos anthology, covering everything from 1936 until 1956. It's the same style of packaging and can be had here from Amazon for $13 bucks—under $9 from used sellers!
Keep up the good work. As a musician-friend of mine remarked the other day, 'reading JazzWax can be dangerous, financially!' "
More Torme, Hearty Shaw. Hans C. Doerrscheidt from Germany spotted another CD package of the Artie Shaw-Mel Torme material, this one in Australia. It features much of the Musicraft material:
"I just found your site via David Miller's 'Swinging Down the Lane' forum and noted your blog entry about the Shaw/Torme Musicraft sessions. These are some of my favorite Shaw recordings!
In addition to the releases you mention, there's also a complete one from Australia, including the Pied Piper album as bonus tracks. Go here. Unfortunately I never got around to ordering the set (I have the two original Musicraft CDs). But I have a feeling it might sound pretty good, remastering-wise. (Listen to the before-after section on that site...)
One little thing: While I don't want to put down Sonny Burke's creative output in any way, Shaw researcher Vladimir Simosko insists that actually Artie Shaw did the arrangements of these tunes, and Burke subsequently wrote the orchestration. This was a practice employed for most of Shaw's ensembles, e.g. Shaw sketched all the arrangements for his 1938-39 band and then had guys like Jerry Gray do the orchestration.
P.S. Thanks for the great fall outlook on the upcoming Benny Goodman Mosaic box!"
Ron Carter and Benny Golson. Ben Yunis of New York City shares his thoughts on my recent interview with Ron Carter (see "JazzWax Interviews" in the right-hand column) and my conversation with Benny Golson (May 1, 2008) about the origins of his composition Park Avenue Petite:
"I've been a big fan and frequent reader of your JazzWax blog for a few months now. I particularly liked your Ron Carter interview. I read it around the time I saw Ron play with his nonet at Birdland in New York, something like the sixth time I've seen that amazing band. [photo of Ron Carter by Judy Kirtley]
I only wish you had asked him about it in the interview, since that group, with four cellists and Ron's bass pushed to the forefront as a soloist seems to me to embody a unique, even peculiar and slightly wacky vision of what jazz can be without being gimmicky.
The music they play is lush, deeply felt, playful and beautiful.
I'm writing now because I just read your wonderful post about Benny Golson's Park Avenue Petite. It reminded me of another Benny Golson story (he's obviously an excellent story teller as well as a great musician).
I read this story in an interview with Golson somewhere online in which he recounted his early days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. I can't find the interview now. But the gist was that the Messengers were struggling despite their immense talents. Golson started writing great tunes and was obviously gleeful about having made a march into jazz (Blues March).
But the most touching detail was this: Once Bobby Timmons played an amazing little riff. Golson and Blakey encouraged him to develop it into a song. It was particularly affecting to hear how Golson, obviously the best songwriter in the group at the time, pushed Timmons to write the song rather than work on it himself.
Timmons came up with a great bridge and they had it. The song was Moanin'. The interview concludes with Golson saying something like, 'We played the song the first night after Bobby wrote it. The audience was in the aisles.'
Keep up the great work on your blog."