Jazz artists led record dates. Jazz artists also appeared on record dates led by other jazz artists. And then there are little-known albums on which jazz legends appeared as guest soloists for just one or two tracks. In most cases these artists were on loan from their own record labels, either as a favor to an artist or producer, or as a one-shot swap for another artist. In many cases, these hushed appearances are not well known and have been largely forgotten in the digital age.
Here then are six fabulous cameos. See how many you know—or own:
Phil Woods—Blues for Amy (1959). Back before Teo Macero was a producer, he was a saxophonist and arranger. One of his pre-Miles Davis efforts was a pair of blues arrangement for a compilation album called Something New, Something Blue. Blues for Amy featured the wailing alto sax of Phil Woods delivering a solid, mournful solo. Also on this date: Art Farmer (trumpet), Frank Rehak (trombone), Al Cohn (tenor and baritone saxes), Eddie Costa (vibes), Bill Evans (piano), Addison Farmer (bass) and Ed Shaughnessy (drums). You'll find it on Macero's All Blues at iTunes or Amazon.
Ben Webster—P.S. I Love You (1961). Believe it or not, Kay Starr recorded a couple of solid jazz albums. Which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise considering that her earliest dates in the mid-1940s were with Glenn Miller, Charlie Barnet and Wingy Manone. Think that's square? She also recorded with Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Nat King Cole and Max Roach on a 1945 session for Capitol. P.S. I Love You is on the album I Cry By Night and featured Webster on tenor sax and Lee Young on drums. Here Starr has a pure saloon feel, and Webster's lonely sound on tenor sax only enhances that mood. You can get a taste of the track here. Unfortunately the clip doesn't linger long enough to include Webster's solo. For that you'll have to buy the CD here or here.
Coleman Hawkins—Watermelon Man (1963). This track appears on Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan's album At Newport '63. The funky boogaloo, written by Herbie Hancock, features the vocalese trio backed by trumpeter Clark Terry and Hawk on tenor. (The pair also recorded on the track Yeh, Yeh.) At first, Terry and Hawk aren't quite sure how to fit their swing sensibilities into the new quirky rhythm, but eventually they figure it out. You'll find the track at iTunes on Coleman Hawkins: A Retrospective (1929-1963).
Tony Bennett—Day Dream (1964). You hear this track on Bob Brookmeyer and Friends and wonder why in heaven's name Tony didn't record a full album with these legends. Based on his discography, it looks like he tried in the early 1960s, but the effort wasn't released until the 1980s as Jazz. Tony, of course, isn't technically a jazz artist, but his voice is at its peak on Day Dream, and he's backed beautifully by Stan Getz and Brookmeyer. Honestly, this may be Tony's best ballad recording, and that's saying something. Rounding out the group is Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). You'll find Bob Brookmeyer and Friends at iTunes or Amazon.
Zoot Sims—You Can Depend on Me (1975). This is on The Manhattan Transfer's first album, called The Manhattan Transfer. Zoot was on loan from Pablo at the time, and he delivers a swinging, Four Brothers-like solo from beginning to end backed by a big band, with Don Grolnick on piano. You'll find this track at iTunes and Amazon.
Stan Getz—Capim (1987). Unless you own The Manhattan Transfer's Brasil album, you probably are unaware of Getz's brilliant solo here. His participation was never promoted, and the track rarely gets mentioned. His playing builds slowly on this bossa nova, with his soft golden sound turning edgy as the song progresses. I totally forgot about the track until recently. You'll find it at iTunes or Amazon. Take a listen below: