It's been a while since I crawled around inside iTunes and emerged with a clutch of hidden downloads. I call this series "hidden downloads" not because iTunes is trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. These albums are hidden because they were released digitally without much fanfare and added to artists' iTunes folders (or online retail sites) without consumers being aware of them. That's how the online music-shopping world works today. You either know what you want or you never find out about what you've missed.
In some cases the following five albums have been available for a while. In other cases, they only recently hit artists' "bins." In either case, I thought you should know about them:Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy in Paris (1952)—Like Charlie Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie recorded with strings early on, but he had to go to Paris to do it. On April 5, 1952, Gillespie recorded in Paris with "His Operatic Strings," an orchestra of 24 instrumentalists with arrangements by Jo Boyer and Daniel White. The next day, Dizzy fronted a small group featuring tenor saxophonist Don Byas, pianist Arnold Ross, bassist Joe Benjamin and drummer Bill Clark. A sampling of this studied experiment appears on this album.
Hal McKusick: Triple Exposure—(1957). This is one of Hal's finest recordings and for years was available only as a Japanese import. On track after track, Hal here exhibits his beautiful tone and phrasing, perfect time, and a seemingly endless stream of warm, improvised ideas. Dig Hal's woody clarinet on I'm Glad There Is Your. Or Hal on tenor on Don't Worry About Me. The "triple" aspect of the album is that Hal plays clarinet, tenor sax and alto sax. Joining Hal were Billy Byers (trombone), Eddie Costa (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) and Charlie Persip (drums). Bobby Scott handled the arrangements.
Phil Sunkel's Jazz Band (1956). Trumpeter Sunkel arranged and recorded a terrific album for ABC Paramount in May and June 1956 of that featured Al Stewart and Ziggy Schatz (trumpets), Gene Hessler (trombone), Dick Meldonian (alto sax), Buddy Arnold (tenor sax), Gene Allen (baritone sax), George Syran (piano), Bob Peterson (bass) and Harold Granowsky (drums). The album has been reissued by iTunes with this strange cover (not sure why the top of a bass is featured). Sunkel had a crisp, punctuating attack on the horn, and the tracks here exhibit some fine New York playing.
Count Basie: On My Way and Shoutin' Again—(1962). Basie's recordings for Verve in the 1960s were radical hits and misses. Some were completely out of the park while others were tragic mistakes. This one was spot on, thanks to the crafty arranging pen of Neal Hefti. Here, Hefti's tippy-toe flute and reed writing, and gossipy section exchanges, contrast perfectly with the hammering tick-tock of Basie's rhythm section. Standouts include Ducky Bumps and Eee Dee, a showcase for tenor saxophonist Eric Dixon.
Marcos Valle: Samba '68—(1968). If you're as big a sucker for breezy 1960s bossa nova as I am, you're going to love this one. Brazilian singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Valle emerged in the early 1960s as the bossa craze took off in the U.S. His compositions and vocals were catchy and seductive, and this album of duets on mostly original tunes makes you feel as though Ipanema Beach sand somehow wound up in your shoes.
JazzWax note: For the other nine volumes in the "Hidden Download" series, scroll down the right-hand margin of this blog to "Hidden CDs."