• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Welcome to

On this day in jazz (June 20)

Write e-mail Print PDF

On this day in 1974, guitarist George Benson completed recording the album Bad Benson at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Assisting George on the album were Phil Upchurch also playing guitar as well as electric bass and percussion, Kenny Barron on piano, Jazz Master Ron Carter on bass and Steve Gadd on the drums. Not a bad lineup at all.

Thom Jurek reviewed the album for saying that the album was "a collection of delicious, varied, and sometimes confusing choices. Benson's own playing is precise and smooth as always, and guitarist Phil Upchurch keeps a large color palette for him to draw from, as in the funkified version of 'Take Five'."

Here's George with "Take Five":

Track listing:


  1. "Take Five" (Paul Desmond) - 7:08
  2. "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams" (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Johnny Mandel) - 2:56
  3. "My Latin Brother" (George Benson) - 6:50
  4. "No Sooner Said Than Done" (Phil Upchurch) - 5:59
  5. "Full Compass" (Upchurch) - 5:40
  6. "The Changing World" (Benson, Art Gore) - 4:53


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:34

On this day in jazz (June 19)

Write e-mail Print PDF

On this day in 1969, Quincy Jones completed the recording of the album Walking In Space for A&M Records. The album features a couple of songs from the musical Hair (including the title song) played in a Big Band setting.  Quincy, as you might expect, does not play on the album--he conducts it. Some of the most famous jazz musicians of the time are featured on it: Freddie Hubbard on trumpet; Jay Jay Johnson on trombone; Kai Winding on trombone; Rahsaan Roland Kirk on reeds; Ray Brown on bass;  and Toots Thielemans on guitar & harmonica. That's quite a list!

I'm sure most people know who Quincy Jones is, but feel it is appropriate to list some of the accolades he has garnered over his legendary career. Here is a short list (there is a whole page on wikipedia for the entire list):


  • a record 79 Grammy Award nominations
  • 27 Grammys wins (ranks 2nd in all-time wins)
  • a Grammy Legend Award (1991)
  • first African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (Banning) and Best Original Score (In Cold Blood) both in 1967


Here's Quincy with "Killer Joe":

Track listing:


  1. "Dead End" (Galt MacDermot, James Rado, Gerome Ragni) – 4:05
  2. "Walking in Space" (MacDermot, Rado, Ragni) – 12:06
  3. "Killer Joe" (Benny Golson) – 5:12
  4. "Love and Peace" (Arthur Adams) – 5:48
  5. "I Never Told You" (Arthur Hamilton, Johnny Mandel) – 4:18
  6. "Oh Happy Day" (Edwin Hawkins) – 3:37


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:34

On this day in jazz (June 18)

Write e-mail Print PDF

On this day in 1993, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano recorded the album Tenor Legacy for Blue Note Records. The album consists of some old and some new (five originals by Joe). Joe was assisted on the album by Joshua Redman on tenor saxophone, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash on drums (Don Alias added percussion).

Scott Yanow reviewed the album saying:

...rather than jam on standards, Joe Lovano composed five new originals, revived three obscurities and only chose to perform two familiar pieces. By varying the styles and instrumentation (for example "Bread and Wine" does not have piano or bass), Lovano has created a set with a great deal of variety and some surprising moments. The two tenors (who have distinctive sounds) work together fine and some chances are taken. This matchup works well.

I agree, it is a really good album. If you are not familiar with Joe, here's a little bit about him. He was born in 1952 in Cleveland, OH to parents of Sicilian decent. His father was was a tenor player himself and was the one who taught Joe how to play (first on the smaller alto saxophone at 6, and then on the tenor at 11). He's had a strong career that's seen him release almost 30 albums as a leader--and he still plays today (check out his web site for upcoming performances). His album Quartets: Live at the Village Vanguard, won Down Beat Magazine's "Jazz Album of the Year" award. I'm sure that he will win others as time goes on.

Here's Joe with "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing":

Track listing:

  1. "Miss Etna" - 6:30
  2. "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" (Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster) - 6:44
  3. "Blackwell's Message" - 5:36
  4. "Laura" (Johnny Mercer, David Raksin) - 4:31
  5. "Introspection" (Thelonious Monk) - 9:05
  6. "In the Land of Ephesus" - 6:58
  7. "To Her Ladyship" (Billy Frazier) - 9:03
  8. "Web of Fire" - 5:51
  9. "Rounder's Mood" (Booker Little) - 8:20
  10. "Bread and Wine" - 3:31
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:33

On this day in jazz (June 17)

Write e-mail Print PDF

On this day in 1964, Herbie Hancock recorded his fourth album, Empyrean Isles, at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ for Blue Note Records. The album consists of four songs, all originals written by Herbie, and played by nothing less than jazz royalty: Herbie on the piano, Freddie Hubbard on cornet (instead of trumpet), Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on the drums. That's a great, great, great lineup.

Even if you're not a huge jazz fan, you've still probably heard sample of "Cantaloupe Island". When the rap band US3 recorded their debut album in 1992, they extensively sampled the Blue Note catalog and had a hit with the song "Flip Fantasia" (US #9) which features samples of the song. US3's song is really good--check it out here.

All of Herbie's albums from the 1960s are really good--sounding as good today as they did 50 years ago. If you haven't listened to Herbie much, go ahead and start with this album plus Takin' Off, Maiden Voyage, and Fat Albert Rotunda. And, if you get a chance, go see him on tour this year with Chick Corea. Oh, and congratulations to Herbie for being awarded the Grand Vermeil medal in Paris on International Jazz Day this year (April 30, 2015).

Here's Herbie with "Cantaloupe Island":

Track listing:

  1. "One Finger Snap" – 7:20
  2. "Oliloqui Valley" – 8:28
  3. "Cantaloupe Island" – 5:32
  4. "The Egg" – 14:00
Although, I really like the above version of CI, here's a link to a slightly faster version (assuming my Raspberry Pi is up and running).
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:33

On this day in jazz (June 16)

Write e-mail Print PDF

On this day in 1960, Gene Ammons recorded the album Boss Tenor at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Gene was assited on the album by a rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and Art Taylor on the drums--quite a strong lineup (Ray Barretto was also on the album playing the congas). Be sure not to confuse this album with the one titled Boss Tenors--that album was recorded a year later in Chicago with Sonny Stitt providing the other tenor (and it also had a completely different rhythm section).

Mark Keresman reviewed the album for and said this: "...Ammons was of the generation of swing-era players that easily adapted to bop. But though he was a modernist, Ammons maintained that breathy, old-school romantic approach to the tenor. Boss Tenor, a quintet session from 1960, is one of Ammons' very best albums."

A little bit about Gene: he was born in Chicago and gained recognition while still in high school (1943). In 1944, he joined Billy Eckstine's band. It was Billy who gave him the nickname, Jug, which was based on the size of his head. While in this band he was able to play alongside such jazz greats as Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. He was very prolific in the 1950s, but in 1958 he was convicted of narcotics possession and served time from 1958 to 1960. Unfortunately, he didn't learn his lesson and ended up serving a second sentence from 1962 to 1969. However, when he was released from Joliet, he was signed the largest contract the Prestige label had ever given and recorded for them until he did from cancer in 1974. Although he only spent five years on the label, he produced 18 albums in that time. I guess he had a lot to make up for...

Here's Jug with "Hittin' the Jug":

Track listing:


  1. "Hittin' the Jug" - 8:29
  2. "Close Your Eyes" (Bernice Petkere) - 3:46
  3. "My Romance" (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) - 4:16
  4. "Canadian Sunset" (Norman Gimbel, Eddie Heywood) - 5:24
  5. "Blue Ammons" - 4:57
  6. "Confirmation" (Charlie Parker) - 5:24
  7. "Savoy" (Bill Doggett, Lucky Millinder) - 3:31


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:32

Page 5 of 77