About 150 jazz recording sessions took place on this date (May 26) since 1904. After a bit of research and careful re-listening over the long weekend, I selected 15 standouts. Below are the results, in chronological order, captured in studios or live settings between 1925 and 1969. All can be downloaded at iTunes and, in many cases, Amazon:
1925—Careless Love Blues: Bessie Smith. Smith recorded this gritty blues backed by Louis Armstrong on cornet along with Nashville Women's Blues, which was used for the disc's B side. Careless Love Blues can be found on a terrific Bessie Smith collection called Itinerary of a Genius. The other track is on Bessie Smith Sings the Blues Vol. 1
1941—Intermezzo: Earl "Fatha" Hines. This piano masterpiece appears on an album called Savoy Blues. Hines also recorded Song of the Islands during the same live session, backed by Henry Levine on trumpet. It's on Way Down Yonder in New Orleans.
1941—A Hundred Years from Today: Jack Teagarden. As you listen to this track, you can still hear the 1930s jazz tradition lingering into the early 1940s thanks to Teagarden's marinated voice and tasteful playing. Also recorded on the same session were Black and Blue, Blue River and St. James Infirmary. All four recordings feature Teagarden in his soulful prime, and all can be found on Father of Jazz Trombone.
1948—Tonsillectomy: Boyd Raeburn. This sophisticated minor-key blues composition arranged by George Handy was recorded along with Begin the Beguine at the Hotel Commodore in New York. During the 1940s, Raeburn's bands were hot houses for talent and musical experimentation. Both tracks are on March of the Boyds: 1945-48.
1949—More Moon: Woody Herman. This powerhouse bop classic based on How High the Moon was arranged by Shorty Rogers and featured the slamming tenor of Gene Ammons, the cool vibes of Terry Gibbs, the scrappy trombone of Bill Harris, and the driving drums of Shelly Manne. Plus, Woody's clarinet comes and goes. The other track recorded this day was the odd novelty number The Crickets, arranged by Ralph Burns. Both are available on the Proper Records box, Woody Herman Story. But you can download a live version of More Moon at Amazon here.
1949—Elysees: J.J. Johnson. This unusual track by J.J. Johnson's Boppers was pianist John Lewis' answer to Miles Davis and Gerry Mulligan's Nonet sessions. It also was Sonny Rollins' fourth recording session. Listen as the track starts out cool but shifts to bop following Lewis' piano solo, as Rollins and J.J. seem unable to solo in the new, more laid back cool style. Also on the date were Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Leonard Gaskin on bass and Max Roach on drums. Opus V, Hilo and Fox Hunt also were recorded by this group on this date. All of the tracks are on Trombone By Three.
1952—Easy to Love: Billie Holiday. This Verve date was billed as Billie Holiday and Her Orchestra and featured Charlie Shavers, Flip Phillips, Oscar Peterson, Barney Kessel, Ray Brown and Alvin Stoller. The group recorded eight tracks on this date—and all appear on Billie Holiday Sings (Limited Edition).
1955—Social Call: Art Famer and Gigi Gryce. This brilliantly lyrical Gryce composition as well as Blue Lights, Infant's Song and Isle of Capri were captured in the same session. These tracks can be found on the classic Prestige release When Farmer Met Gryce.
1958—On Green Dolphin Street: The Miles Davis Sextet. Recorded 10 months before Kind of Blue, this recording and session remain for me the group's greatest and most influential date. Also recorded on this date by Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb were the equally spectacular Fran-dance, Stella by Starlight and Love for Sale. These tracks can be found on the Complete Columbia Recordings: Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
1958—Manteca: Gil Evans. This track along with Bird Feathers, featuring Cannonball Adderley were recorded on May 26. Both are on Gil Evans: The Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions. The entire album has the surging, swinging, brassy feel of Miles Ahead, but without Miles, of course.
1964—Berkshire Blues: Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This uptempo blues includes an improvised vocal by Kirk that's reminiscent of Eddie Jefferson. This track, along with Japan and Dirty Money Blues, also recorded on May 26, are on the Complete Mercury Recordings of Roland Kirk.
1965—Dear Old Stockholm: John Coltrane. This 10:35 classic along with One Down, One Up; After the Crescent; and Dear Lord are on the Impulse release Dear Old Stockholm. The John Coltrane Quartet here featured Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Roy Haynes.
1969—Vashkar: Tony Williams. This track and much of drummer Tony Williams'
Emergency! album was recorded on this
date. This album would heavily influence the jazz-fusion groups to follow. Williams' Lifetime group included Larry Young on organ and John McLaughlin on guitar, and they sounded much larger than a trio.