10 Jazz Genius Moments (Pt. 1) - JazzWax

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December 10, 2008


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David Evans

JazzWax is a daily pleasure. Thank you for that.
Just 10? Impossible. But here are 10 off the top of my head, in no particular order, with the first coffee of the morning:
1. Coltrane's opening cadenza on "Like Someone in Love"
2. "I Should Care" from Solo Monk (it's just one chorus)
3. Frank Wess' solo on "Splanky" (Atomic Basie)
4. Kenny Barron's coda on "Soul Eyes" from Getz' "People Time"
5. Coltrane's entrance on "Someday My Prince Will Come" w/Miles
6. Lockjaw's chorus of "Don't Worry "Bout Me" (w/Zoot and Oscar Peterson)
7. Jimmie Rowles' smoky, confidential vocal on "My Buddy" from "The Peacocks" w/Getz
8. George Coleman's solo on "Stella" w/Miles
9. Lester Young's return for a second helping on "I Want To Be Happy" w/Nat Cole and Buddy Rich
10. Getz' tone on the opening phrase of "The Peacocks" from "But Beautiful" with Bill Evans
I just sat back to see what would spring to mind. If I tried to be more consciously inclusive of my favorite players and recordings, I would be here all day and the list would stretch into the thousands.

Larry Kart

I love this kind of stuff. Off the top of my head:

Lester Young and Dickie Wells's solos on the Basie band's "Taxi War Dance"

Johnny Dodds's solo on "Perdido St. Blues" by the New Orleans Wanderers

Louis Armstrong's solo on on the Decca "Struttin' With Some Barbecue"

Monk's solo on "Little Rootie Tootie" (Prestige)

Sonny Rollins' solo on "St. Thomas" (Prestige)


Me too!! I love this kind of stuff. So here goes...

Tony Willaims drumming on "Nefertiti"--throughout really, but for a moment of genius I'm talking about that moment near the end when all the muscians are playing and everybody is just kind of going wild and that drumming is the main thing you hear! Wow!

Mingus's bass solo on "Duke Ellington's Sound of Love." I generally don't like bass solos much but This one is...um...sublime.

Gil Evans' arrangement at the end of "Moon Dreams." All those soft, low horns wrapping in and out and around each other...

Coltane's solo in "Teo" Toward the end of the solo with all those fast fingerings--I've rarely heard virtuosity sound so musical--this thing stuns me.

Rashaan Roland Kirk--the intro to Mingus's "Peggy's Blue Skylight" Jesus Christ it is so loud and soulful and powerful! I love the whole song but oftentimes I just listen to that intro over and over and over again.

Monk's solo in "Bag's Groove."

Getz. "Blood Count" Pure Getz. The first few notes. Just listen to it.

Cootie Williams on Ellington's "Chelsea Bridge." Pick any monent.

Oliver Nelson's solo--those long, slow beautiful lines in "Stolen Moments"

Sonny Rollins--"You Don't Know What Love Is." Man, he just tears that thing up--the solo right before Tommy Flanagan comes in on the piano--I mean, I can't get that out of my head. One of the most powerful things I've ever heard in jazz.

These are 10 off the top of my head. but wait a minute--this list includes no Lester Young. Every list of Jazz Genius should include some Lester Young! Maybe I'll do a second list tomorrow...

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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