Yesterday I identified a blind spot in the way iTunes and Amazon organize their jazz re-issues. As jazz lovers know, both major e-retailers make it impossible to browse new releases of albums from the 1940s and 1950s—or any decade for that matter. Despite the fact that this is how most jazz buyers prefer to shop online, the e-retailers continue to just toss new releases under artists' names—and lose potential revenue in the process.
I also offered e-retailers a solution: Create a "Reissues" tab and sub-tabs for each decade. Then if consumers like me want to know what was just re-issued from the 1950s, we can click and see pages filled with covers of albums that were just released from this period.
Which brings me to the point of this post: While researching these sites the other day, I stumbled across five hidden downloads that you need to know about. Each gem below is available at iTunes and Amazon, unless otherwise noted:
Oscar Peterson—An Evening With Oscar Peterson (1950). Despite its title, this Verve album isn't a live recording. It was originally produced as a group of studio singles to provide listeners with a feel for what Peterson sounded like in an intimate, club setting (take me back in a time machine, please!). As most readers know, I am highly partial to Peterson's lush, humid style during this period (circa 1950-1956) rather than the bombastic, centipede attacks he unleashed on the keyboard in the late 1950s and beyond. This album is Peterson at his romantic, relaxed best, joined only by Ray Brown on bass. For my money, they are among Peterson's prettiest recordings.
Maynard Ferguson—Octet (1955). Here they come, the Maynard Ferguson EmArcy releases. Bring 'em on! This one was released a few weeks ago by the Verve Music Group. Octet was recorded in Los Angeles with Conte Candoli (trumpet); Ferguson (trumpet, bass trumpet and valve trombone); Milt Bernhart (trombone); Herb Geller (alto sax); Georgie Auld (tenor sax); Bob Gordon (baritone sax); Ian Bernard (piano); Red Callender (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums). Sweet group, right? And dig My New Flame! So why do these charts sound so good? Probably because Bill Holman arranged them.
The Hi-Lo's—The Hi-Lo's Happen to Bossa Nova (1963). This is my absolute favorite Hi-Lo's album. I did not include it in my July 2 post on the vocal group because I was saving it for this feature as a surprise. This work of perfection was arranged and conducted by Chuck Sagle, except for the first track, Carnival, which is from the pen of Clare Fischer. The wandering alto on some of the tracks likely belongs to Bud Shank. It's impossible to be in a bad mood after listening to this recording. All upbeat bossa novas, turbo-charged with the Hi-Lo's reedy harmonies.
John Coltrane—Dakar (1957). There's something about John Coltrane matched with a baritone saxophone that lights me up. On this recording, he's paired with twoâPepper Adams and Cecil Payne. The sterling rhythm section on the date was comprised of Mal Waldron (piano), Doug Watkins (bass) and Art Taylor (drums). In particular, Velvet Scene, Witches Pit and Cat Walk are sensational. If you don't own Interplay—the recently issued Prestige box on which these tracks appear—grab this download. The album has been remastered by Rudy Van Gelder, and it's only $5.99 at iTunes.
Cal Tjader—Latino (1960). It's summer, and nothing goes better with the heat than icy cool vibes and peppery Latin percussion. Vibraphonist Tjader is teamed here with percussion heavyweights Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. The entire recording has a smooth, even feel, mixing standards and Latin originals. On a hot day, the treatments throughout are the musical equivalent of air conditioning.
Editor's note: To read the first three posts in my ongoing series of online finds, type "hidden downloads" into the JazzWax search engine in the upper right-hand corner of this blog.