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On this day in jazz (June 10)

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On this day in 1965, the great John Coltrane began recording the album Kulu Sé Mama at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The album would be completed after a June 16th session at Rudy's studio and an October 14th session in Los Angeles. To be specific, song #3, "Welcome" was recorded on this day, songs 2, 5, and 6 on the 16th, and the rest (including the title song) on October 14th. On this day, John played tenor saxophone (instead of soprano), McCoy Tyner played piano, Jimmy Garrison played the bass, and Elvin Jones played the drums. These men were also known as "The Classic Quartet" and played together on many other of John's albums.

The album was not released until 1967 and was the last of John's albums to be released in John's lifetime. Although the album is not one of my favorite album's by John, it does feature a couple of songs that are well worth listening to: "Welcome" and the title track, "Kulu Sé Mama". The title track was written by New Orleans native Julian Bertrand "Juno" Lewis who appears on the song singing in a Creole dialect and playing conch shells. Before the song was recorded, "Kulu Sé Mama," was a lengthy autobiographical poem written by Lewis that he said reflected his pride in his ancestors and strong sense of tradition.

Here's John with "Welcome":

Track listing:


  1. "Kulu Sé Mama (Juno Sé Mama)" - 18:50
  2. "Vigil" - 9:51
  3. "Welcome" - 5:34
  4. "Selflessness" - 14:49
  5. "Dusk Dawn" - 11:00


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:30

On this day in jazz (June 09)

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On this day in 1958, the great Cecil Taylor recorded the studio album Looking Ahead! at Nola's Penthouse Studios in New York City for Contemporary Records. This was Cecil's second album as a leader (yesterday I profiled his 56th album, In Florescence). The album features Cecil at the piano, Buell Neidlinger on bass, Denis Charles on the drums, and Earl Griffith on vibes. The vibes really add a different dimension to Cecil's music.

Brian Olewnick of said this of the album:

Looking Ahead! does just that (sic) while still keeping several toes in the tradition. It's an amazing document of a talent fairly straining at the reins, a meteor about to burst onto the jazz scene and render it forever changed...Griffith sounds as though he might have been a conceptual step or two behind the other three but, in the context of the time, this may have served to make the music a shade more palatable to contemporary tastes...Looking Ahead! is a vital recording from the nascence of one of the towering geniuses of modern music and belongs in any jazz fan's collection.

Here's Cecil with "Wallering":

Track listing:

  1. "Luyah! The Glorious Step" - 6:25
  2. "African Violets" (Griffith, Taylor) - 5:12
  3. "Of What" - 8:18
  4. "Wallering" - 5:22
  5. "Toll" - 7:38
  6. "Excursion on a Wobbly Rail" - 9:04
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:30

On this day in jazz (June 08)

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On this day in 1989, the great Cecil Taylor recorded the studio album In Florescence in New York City for A&M Records. By my unofficial count, this was his 56th album (his first was Jazz Advance in 1956--which is one of my favorite Cecil Taylor albums). Besides Cecil on piano, the album was also played by William Parker on bass and Gregg Bendian on percussion.

Cecil is one of the all-time jazz greats and one of my favorite pianists (even though I am not a huge fan of free jazz). He started playing at age six and was classically trained, studying at the New York College of Music and the New England Conservatory. Val Wilmer, in his book As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz (1977) said that his piano technique is similar to percussion, and described his piano as "eighty-eight tuned drums". In an interview with The New York Times in 1991, Cecil said this about his influences and himself in general:

Literature, theater, it's all important....You want to create the utmost that is possible, to continue the ideas of certain people who have enriched your life. The Nicholas Brothers or Bojangles, you see them and you start to dance. The love of and respect for the creative impulse everywhere is what I'm after. I'm of American, Indian, African and English heritage, and I follow all those paths. Someone once asked me if I was gay. I said, 'Do you think a three-letter word defines the complexity of my humanity?' I avoid the trap of easy definition.

Here's Cecil from 1956 with "Bemsha Swing":

Track listing:


  1. "J." - 2:52
  2. "Pethro Visiting the Abyss" - 7:08
  3. "Saita" - 3:00
  4. "For Steve McCall" (Gergg Bendian) 1:00
  5. "In Florescence" - 3:02
  6. "Ell Moving Track" - 5:15
  7. "Sirenes 1/3" - 0:48
  8. "Anast in Crisis Mouthful of Fresh Cut Flowers" (William Parker) - 3:37
  9. "Charles And Thee" - 8:00
  10. "Entity" (Bendian) - 2:32
  11. "Leaf Taken Horn" - 4:53
  12. "Chal Chuiatlichue Goddess of Green Flowing Waters" - 11:29
  13. "Morning Of Departure" - 3:13
  14. "Feng Shui" (Taylor, Bendian, Parker) - 4:35


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:29

On this day in jazz (June 07)

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On this day in 1954, Dave Brubeck released the live album Jazz Goes to College. The album was Dave's first for Columbia Records and was composed of recordings from his tour of various colleges that year. The idea, given to Dave by his wife Iola, was to use the album to introduce jazz to a new audience by playing for the younger generation. During the time, the band played about 90 concerts at 90 colleges over 120 days. That's a lot of school work. The quartet was composed of Dave on piano, the wonderful Paul Desmond on alto saxophone, Bob Bates on bass, and Joe Dodge on drums.

If you've only listened to Dave via the great Time Out album, here's a chance for you to hear him several years before that breakthrough.

Here's Dave with the first song off the album, "Balcony Rock":

Track listing:


  1. "Balcony Rock" (Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond) (University of Michigan) – 11:55
  2. "Out of Nowhere" (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman) (University of Cincinnati) – 8:04
  3. "Le Souk" (Brubeck, Desmond) (Oberlin College, Ohio) – 4:36
  4. "Take the 'A' Train" (Billy Strayhorn) (University of Michigan) – 6:10
  5. "The Song Is You" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) (University of Michigan) – 5:38
  6. "Don't Worry 'bout Me" (Rube Bloom, Ted Koehler) (University of Michigan) – 8:47
  7. "I Want to Be Happy" (Irving Caesar, Vincent Youmans) (University of Michigan) – 6:36


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:29

On this day in jazz (June 06)

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On this day in 1947, tenor saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray recorded the songs that would be released on the 1977 live album, The Hunt. Assisting the two tenors were Sonny Criss on alto saxophone, Trummy Young on Trombone, Howard McGhee on Trumpet. The rhythm section was composed of one of my favorite pianists, Hampton Hawes, a fantastic guitarist Barney Kessel, bassists Harry Babasin and Red Callender and dummers Connie Kay and Ken Kennedy. One of the reasons that the music wasn't released when it was recorded was due to the length of the songs: the shortest song clocks in at 18:05 and the medium to play songs of this length, the 12-inch microgrove disc also known as the LP, wouldn't be announced for another year.

An interesting piece of trivia regarding the album--Jack Keroac mentions it in the great Beat Generation book On the Road.

Here's Dexter and Wardell with "The Hunt":

Track listing:


  1. "Disorder At The Border"   (19:20)
  2. "Cherokee"   (21:12)
  3. "Byas-A-Drink"   (19:15)
  4. "The Hunt (A/K/A Rocks 'N Shoals)"   (18:05)


Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:28

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