Benny Golson mailbag. During my interview series last week with Benny Golson, the tenor saxophonist and composer reflected on the origin of Stablemates and the name's connection to the old Boston jazz club, The Stable. Sharp-eyed reader Jon Foley sent along a link to a super article on The Stable that I think you'll find interesting. [Photo: Ydo Sol]
Also, among the many e-mails I received during the week was this one from reader Raul Bernardo in Portugal:
"I am an avid reader of your blog. Concerning the fantastic Benny Golson interview, I noticed you missed one of Benny's most beautiful compositions, Five Spot After Dark—recorded first on Curtis Fuller's Blues-ette album for Savoy in May 1959 with Benny on board, and again on a celebration of the same album in January 1993. I know this remark of mine is beside the point, as there are so many Golson compositions. But Five Spot After Dark is so beautiful. Best wishes for your blog. I am 70 now and being in jazz for more than 50 years, I love all the things you are writing. Fantastic."
Raul is indeed correct, Benny's Five Spot After Dark is a beaut. You'll find it at iTunes or on CD at e-retailers.
Bill Holman. In an earlier Sunday Wax Bits, I wrote that while writing and arranging Invention for Guitar and Trumpet (recorded in September 1952 by Stan Kenton's orchestra), Bill may have been influenced by Tiny Kahn's Flying the Coop, recorded by Chubby Jackson's orchestra in March 1950. I also noted that I'd ask Bill for his thoughts. Here's what Bill told me:
"Marc, I probably heard Flying the Coop, but I don't remember it. Hard to know what gets stored in the brain, but I didn't knowingly use it. Don't know a lot about drummer Tiny Kahn, except that he was great on Charlie Barnet's band in 1949 and wrote an exquisite arrangement of Over the Rainbow for the band. Also, I think he wrote Tiny's Blues, which was on a much-played record and we played a lot at sessions around 1950.
Speaking of Tiny and Barnet [pictured], Woody Herman and Barnet staged a Battle of the Bands at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, CA, in 1949. I heard it broadcast live in Salt Lake City, where I was at the time with Ike Carpenter's band. Barnet won it, hands down. Charlie's band sparkled, while Woody's just got through another day."
Tiny Kahn's arrangement of Over the Rainbow (and drumming) for Charlie Barnet can be found on Charlie Barnet: The Capitol Big Band Sessions here. Woody Herman recorded Tiny's Blues several times. It can be found at iTunes along with a version by Jackson's band on Chubby's Back. The battle between Barnet and Herman is on Battle Royal here.
I did find a couple of the Barnet tracks from the battle buried on other albums at iTunes. Bop City and Bebop Spoke Here are on Charlie Barnet: Swell and Super. You'll also find the high-octane Claude Reigns under Barnet at iTunes.
Doug Ramsey. Jazz critic and author Doug Ramsey had a terrific post last week at Rifftides flagging Tom Nolan's tribute to Orrin Keepnews in The Wall Street Journal. And if you've been curious about Mosaic Records' Lionel Hampton small-band box set, Doug posted here on the set. [Photo of Doug Ramsey by William Claxton]
Oliver Nelson and Clifford Jordan. Reader Don Frese sent along an email with two terrific CD recommendations:
"Oliver Nelson's Soul Battle has some terrific Nelson tunes, and three wonderfully contrasting saxophone stylists, and King Curtis's greatest jazz playing. I wish he had done more recordings like this. Nelson's composing always takes precedence over his saxophone playing, but I think he was a unique stylist with a real gift for original melody, organization, and a lilting sound and pace, which was very different from what most tenor saxophonists were doing at this time. You'll find it here.
"Repetition is my favorite Clifford Jordan album as lone soloist (after his decades-long collaborations with Art Farmer, his work with Mingus in 1964, and his big band). I especially like the title tune. Listen to the way Booker passes the melody over to Jordan at the start, and the tennis-game like interplay on House Call. You'll find it here."
Rare jazz books. Ted Hodgetts dropped a line last week praising JazzWax and bringing me up to speed on his site, JazzFirstBooks. The site does indeed have a terrific stock of rare jazz books and signed items for sale. So I asked Ted about the highest priced items:
"Highest prices? A good question, I had to sneak a look. I guess signed ephemera has the edge at the moment. Charlie Parker's autograph is going for $1,850 while Coltrane's is $1,650. There also are 20-plus signatures in the otherwise humble little Woody Woodward soft cover for $2,500. Among the first-edition books currently listed is a nice signed copy of Dizzy Gillespie's autobiography, To Be Or Not To Bop ($865).
At this early stage, there's still much to catalog, with new listings every week. Though my site does focus on uncommon books and memorabilia, I also try to keep a good stock of decent reading copies in most genres of jazz and blues writing."
More 'guest appearances.' In response to my post on Six Rare Guest Appearances, reader Jon Foley sent along two more entries:
"Tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims made a memorable appearance on Phoebe Snow's hit record of Poetry Man. And alto saxophonist Phil Woods appeared on one of Aretha Franklin's greatest non-r&b recordings, Somewhere (from West Side Story), featuring an outstanding arrangement by Quincy Jones. A beautiful show tune, infused with gospel and jazz, and sung by one of the greats. Not to be missed."
Bud Shank: If you're a fan of alto saxophonist Bud Shank, you'll want to know about the new DVD, Against the Tide, produced and directed by Graham Carter. The DVD is first and foremost a visual companion to the music CD of the same name. My quibble is that the biographical material could have been more concisely edited with more old photos and album covers to illustrate Bud's career rather than just having him testify in front of a rolling camera. Yet you still get a solid sense of what this remarkable artist was and is all about. You also learn why the West Coast jazz pioneer remains one of the most in-demand musicians on the studio scene. The DVD ($17.99) is available here while the CD is available at Bud's site here.
Pamela Luss. if you're in New York on September 22, singer Pamela Luss will be at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola for one set only, at 7:30 pm. Pam's band consists of John DiMartino on piano, Dave Mann on reeds and woodwinds, Richie Goods on bass, and Victor Lewis on drums. Tenor saxophonist Houston Person will be a special guest performer.