Dick LaPalm sent along the above photo. That's Dick on the left and Nat King Cole on the right in Chicago. Dick was Cole's record promoter and close friend throughout his career at Capitol, up until Cole's death in 1965. For those unaware, a record promoter was needed to get new records aired by as many radio stations as possible and for making sure that local stores were stocked with copies so listeners could buy what they heard. Dick and Cole's clearly was a fine partnership and friendship.
Red Garland and Oliver Nelson. Last week I posted on the only five tracks that were recorded by Red Garland and Oliver Nelson in March 1961. Why these tracks were never released and why these two artists never recorded again was thought to be a mystery. On Friday, long-time Prestige producer and radio host Bob Porter sent along an email...
"Red signed with Jazzland following the March 1961 Prestige session. He only recorded for Prestige
on one other occasion—October 9, 1962. As for Oliver, he was working with Joe Newman at about that time, but he was moving away from being a soloist to being a writer.
"The recording session for his first big band LP (Afro-American Sketches) began in September 1961, and he also arranged strings for Etta Jones in July 1961.
"The Soul Burnin' album wasn’t issued until 1963. As you noted, there was a ton of Red Garland in the can. By the time I arrived at Prestige in 1968, there was still a ton left. On my watch, Red Garland Revisited, The P.C. Blues and It’s A Blue World were issued. More came out during the Fantasy era.
"Red recorded with Paul Chambers and Art Taylor in a trio setting and with Ray Barretto as a quartet (the best-selling sound), as a soloist and with horns. If anything, he was recorded too often. But Bob Weinstock and Esmond Edwards both dug him."
Terry Teachout. New England Public Radio jazz blogger and radio host Tom Reney interviewed author, Wall Street Journal critic and dramatist Terry Teachout on his new hit play, Satchmo at the Waldorf, which examines Louis Armstrong's complex relationship with manager Joe Glaser. Tom also interviewed John Douglas Thompson, who plays both Armstrong and Glaser. [Pictured above: Terry Teachout, left, and John Douglas Thompson]
Satchmo at the Waldorf will be performed at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Conn., from October 3 to November 4. For more information on the play, go here.
For Tom Reney's radio interview, go here.
Gig roundup. Vocalist Shirley Crabbe [pictured] will be at New York's Kitano on September 12. I reviewed Shirley's new CD Home here... Vocalist Shaynee Rainbolt will be appearing with pianist Donn Trenner at New York's Metropolitan Room at 9:30 p.m. every Friday in September.
West Coast jazz. The Los Angeles Jazz Institute is presenting quite a big band spectacular. The reunion bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson, Don Ellis, Bill Watrous, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis and many more (if that's possible) will be appearing. The 18 concerts will feature band legends and more recent cats filling the chairs. The festival runs from October 10 to 14. For more information, go here.
Who is Michael Pedicin? The saxophonist is quite extraordinary. I reviewed his most recent CD, Live @ the Loft, several Sundays ago. Bret Primack caught up with Michael in Studio City, Calif., last month...
Chick Webb. I recently viewed Chick Webb: The Savoy King, a new documentary directed by Jeff Kauffman. In a word, it's fantastic. Informative, fast-paced and analytic, the documentary gives you a first-hand feel for why Webb was special and the legacy he left behind. It will be shown at the New York Film Festival on October 3. For more information about the documentary, go here. For an interview with Jeff, go here.
Benny Golson. When I interviewed Benny Golson, most recently for the Wall Street Journal, we talked about Blues March, which Benny wrote for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1958. On paper, a march was the kiss of death for a hard bop quintet. But Benny had slinky, funky black college marching bands in mind when he wrote it. Benny urged Blakey to let the Messengers play Blues March, but Blakey was resistant. He thought it would lay there like a log.
Finally, Blakey relented at a New York club, and the song's 2/4 beat soon had everyone up and dancing. Here's Blues March, as Benny imagined it, played by a big band. This clip was taped while the Messengers were in Japan in 1961...
CD discoveries of the week: On Hot House (Concord), Chick Corea and Gary Burton play straight-up jazz, with a competitive twist. Recording mates since 1972, here they play together like musical otters—tearing here and there in perfect unison while at other times provoking and driving each other into tight corners. It's just Gary and Chick on this album, which lets you hear their interchanges clearly. There are lush extended solo intros by Chick and swinging melodic runs by Gary—free of rhythm section distractions. Sample Chega de Saudade, Time Remembered and Strange Meadowlark. Conversations between a pair of aces.
With the arrival of Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. VII: Sankei Hall—Osaka, Japan, November 18, 1980 (Widow's Taste), a new double-CD set, I couldn't help but wonder whether we were nearing the bottom of the Pepper barrel. In recent years, Pepper's widow Laurie Pepper has released a steady flow of the alto saxophonist's recordings from the '80s. But as soon as I heard the first musical track, I was instantly reminded why Pepper remains so singularly important. The tone, command and innate sense of direction on solos are unrivaled. Interestingly, on many tracks, Pepper unites surfy West Coast jazz and the harder, freer jazz he embraced after being released from prison in the '60s. He's joined by pianist George Cables, bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Carl Burnett. Sample Straight Life, Winter Moon and Donna Lee. Bop for the people.
Whether he's playing or arranging, Alan Broadbent has great taste. On Live at Giannelli Square Vol. 2 (Chilly Bin), Broadbent, bassist Putter Smith and drummer Kendall Kay are captured live in Los Angeles. What makes this album special, in addition to its terrific fidelity, is how much keyboard real estate Broadbent covers without ever pounding or attacking wildly. He's gentle as a lamp and lets out yards of impeccable improvisational runs effortlessly. And then there's his touch, which truly is unmatched. Sample Conception—and if you still haven't downloaded the album after hearing him play, try Wandering Road or Three for All. Perfection, delivered on the fly.
In the '70s, the Brecker Brothers planted one foot in funk and another in fusion and let 'er rip. As the electric guitar continued to dominate all other instruments, Randy and Michael Brecker kept the trumpet and sax vital by making the horns exciting. Six studio albums and two live dates have now been remastered and issued in an eight-CD box: The Brecker Bros.: The Complete Arista Albums Collection (Sony). There were disco treatments (Don't Stop the Music), adult contemporary (Detente), bluesy electronica (Straphangin') and fusion (Back to Back). But the album that will likely be dearest to fans' hearts is their first—a tight weave of funk riffs, driving beats and red hot horn-reed configurations, with David Sanborn joining on alto. Time-traveling music.
Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap is a rap documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in June. In the documentary, Ice-T (early rapper who now plays Fin on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) explores the music's history with interviews and analysis. And naturally there's a soundtrack album. The Art of Rap (Legacy) provides a survey of powerful rap tracks dating back to the early '80s. Rhyming boasts atop intricate samples and electronic programs. It's easy to dismiss this music as the end of culture, but that would be a mistake. Sample Eric B. & Rakim's Follow the Leader, Mantronix's King of the Beats or MC Lyte's Cold Rock a Party. Tongue-twister tapestries with a thump 'n' bump.
Let's face it, the Brits invented hard rock several times over. If Deep Purple pioneered arena rock, then Judas Priest all but spawned the form we now call heavy metal. The band began in 1969 and was soon delivering saw-bending sounds using two lead guitars, crashing drums and a chugging locomotive sound that had long-haired audience heads nodding in unison. One of the band's best albums was Screaming for Vengeance, released in July 1982, just before the Brit-pop invasion. Legacy has just remastered and reissued the alloy masterpiece, throwing in a DVD. A raw steel suspension bridge between punk and prog-rock.
Oddball album cover of the week: The cover of this album by stage actress and comedian Nancy Walker clearly was a play on Cole Porter's I Hate Men. Nevertheless, it's a pretty ghoulish cover execution. In addition to hating men, it appears poor Walker also hated boys based on the plastic tyke's decapitation to her right. (A JazzWax thanks to John Cooper.)