Have your allowance money for this week? Good, because it's time once again for Hidden Jazz Downloads, a regular JazzWax feature. Since we no longer can hang around record stores reading the liner notes on the backs of new LPs or cruise CD stores pawing the latest discs in racks above the bins, I have roamed around to see what's old online. Retailers haven't found a way yet to let us know what great jazz albums of the past have entered their online catalogs. In other cases, readers have hipped me to hidden gems.
Here are five tasty downloads:
1. Clarinet Portrait: Jerry Fuller Sextet (1959). This one is a blindfold test if ever there was one. Put it on and see if friends can guess who's playing. You'll win every time. Fuller was an exceptional clarinetist, yet he doesn't appear in the Encyclopedia of Jazz or the Grove Dictionary of Jazz. This album features Jerry Fuller (cl), Gene Estes (vib), Bob Florence (p), Howard Roberts (g), Mel Pollan (b) and Frank Capp (d). Dig On Green Dolphin Street. It's solid all the way, with nice clean playing by Fuller. It's at Amazon here.
Jazz at the Academy: Hal McKusick (1956). Enjoy Hal's smooth sound on alto sax and clarinet? Fond of guitarist Barry Galbraith? This one will do the trick. It was recorded at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and features Hal McKusick (cl,as), Barry Galbraith (g), Milt Hinton (b) and Osie Johnson (d). It's at iTunes.
Dave Pike and Cedar Walton: Pike's Groove (1986). Dave Pike is a vibist who recorded often in the '60s and '70s with Latin bands. Cedar Walton is easily one of the most important pianists on the scene today. This album is a happy marriage of both musicians' impeccable styles. The personnel: Dave Pike (vib), Cedar Walton (p), David Williams (b) and Billy Higgins (d). It's at iTunes and here.
Mike Mainieri: Blues on the Other Side (1962). Reader Eric Evans recommended this one by vibist Mainieri. It has a gorgeous, early '60s Greenwich Village swing feel. Personnel: Mike Mainieri (vib), Bruce Martin (p), Julius Ruggiero (b) and Joe Porcaro (d). It's at iTunes and here.
Marc Halbheer's LA Edition: Mood Swings (2009). This recommendation by reader Pat Gannon was issued shortly before trumpeter and vocalist Stacy Rowles' untimely death in 2009 following an auto accident. The album features Stacy Rowles (tp), Frank Strazzeri (p), David Angel (b), Joel Hamilton (g) and Marc Halbheer (d). You'll find it here.
Want more? At JazzWax, scroll down the right-hand side to "Hidden CDs," where you'll find links to earlier entries.