JazzWax List: 6 Broadway Swingers - JazzWax

« Ira Gitler on Parker's Moods | Main | Studio One and the Ska Scene »

July 08, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

O'Sullivan, "Red"

That Marty Paich record, in particular, I think is great. It is his masterpiece (and Scott LaFaro/Mel Lewis together is unbeatable - it's the one).
Somehow I thought Richard Davis was on that great JJ Johnson record...
Any chance of seeing the original cover of the Coleman Hawkins Moodsville. Sounds like a most, most delectable record.

Grant Tietinger

One that didn't look too promising at first but quickly became a favourite is Wilbur Harden's "The King and I"

Bill Kirchner

It's not that "Jazz artists either are never exposed to the new music or deem Broadway too square to adapt." There are plenty of jazz musicians still playing in Broadway pit orchestras. For example, jazz pianist Russ Kassoff is the current conductor for "Come Fly Away," and he has an all-star jazz orchestra with him, including Jerry Dodgion, John Mosca, and Earl Gardner.

Rather, it's that in recent decades, the trend for Broadway show music is that it's rarely meaningful outside the context of the show itself. That includes most of Sondheim's music, which is certainly not "square," but derives its meaning from the shows it's written for. Or for a much different example of non-Sondheim music, have you ever heard the music from "Rent" or "In the Heights" outside of the shows? Neither have I.

Broadway composers realized 40 years ago that they no longer were going to get their music performed outside of the shows, and therefore they stopped trying to write songs with any other purpose in mind.

Larry Kart

The Kenny Drew Trio "Pal Joey" album on Riverside from 1957(with Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones) is a gem. Also not to be missed, although I believe you recently mentioned it in another context, is Gary McFarland's album of music from "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying."

Ed Leimbacher

Sondheim's success and influence certainly altered the B'way landscape, and not for the better. But I THINK (not an expert, and not to dispute Mr. Kirchner who certainly is) that even Rentcontrol and Pissonitville and whatever other ghastly modern musical we pick, even their producers are likely still happy to have the groundlings exit humming maybe ONE TUNE. And Sondheim's seemingly seamless approach to a story occasionally does allow a bit of repeating melody to sneak in, briefly. I bet some cat as canny as J.J. or Bill Holman or Darcy James Argue--or Bill Kirchner--could make a decent Jazz album out of the dribbles 'n' bits.

Ed Leimbacher

By the way, the Mastersounds, that West Coast version of the MJQ with a smidgen of Silver added, nearly made a career out of interpreting musicals--The King and I, The Flower Drum Song, and Kismet at least, with Wes Montgomery joining his brothers Buddy and Monk for one of their swing-lightly LPs, Kismet maybe.

Nikolai Hodensauger

Excellent point by Mr. Kirchner "...Broadway composers realized 40 years ago that they no longer were going to get their music performed outside of the shows,"

So much so that a contemporary jazz fan might even think it quaint or odd that a serious jazz player might play what seems to be fluff. But these shows provided much solid jazz repertoire.



Que suerte que tienen los americanos!
iTunes no está disponible para mi país, como tampoco es posible comprar las versiones de mp3 de Amazon...
No parecen un ghetto?


I agree with Red's comment above about the Paich reissue; great arrangements, great playing, and a classic cover. I think that the older musicals were more sympathetic to a swing rhythmic feel, and that there was just generally less of divide between popular music and jazz in those days. Also there were so many excellent songwriters: Porter, Gershwin, Arlen, etc. Who really wants to hear an album of jazz interpretations of Andrew Lloyd Weber?

Steve Provizer

Theatre people talked as long ago as the 1920's about creating shows where the songs were not arbitrarily tossed in, but were somehow plot-induced and/or plot-forwarding devices.

But they were also savvy enough to know that people left the theatre humming the songs because their shows were structured for as many re-iterations and reprises of melodies as possible. Repetition, they knew, was the key to getting a buzz around a tune.

The more musicals as "art" triumphed, the more Broadway as a feeding mechanism for popular music seemed to fade away.

John P. Cooper

Woody Herman—My Kind of Broadway (1965). This one includes a rich, ultra-slow "Who Can I Turn To".

That is one beautiful side! I bought it when it came out on a Columbia sampler LP that retailed for one dollar. I don't even remember what else was on there, but I played the Herman over and over until I could afford the complete WH LP.

Renaud Penant

Thank you for those goodies, Bean's On Broadway has been a favorite of mine for a long time, the rhythm section is unbelievable and Eddy Locke is so swinging . . .
High on my list, and another good example of what great jazz musicans can do with well-crafted Broadway songs, is Kenny Dorham's Showboat, and its definitive version of Nobody Else But Me!
Thanks again and keep up the good work, your blog is a great source of info and inspiration that makes me feel closer to all who paved the way until now.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • 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.

Contact me


Click the cover to pre-order my new book, due Nov. 1.

Subscribe Free

Please enter all required fields
Correct invalid entries

Search JazzWax

  • JazzWax

JazzWax Interviewed

WSJ Articles

JazzWax Interviews

Audio Note

  • Audio clips that appear below JazzWax posts support editorial content that links readers directly to Amazon and other third-party music retailers.

Marc Myers on Video

JATP Programs