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On this day in jazz (May 31)

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On this day in 1957, John Coltrane recorded the album Coltrane at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Hackensack, NJ for Prestige Records. Note, that John also released an album with the same name for Impluse! in 1962--but they are totally different albums. John was supported by a strong cast that included Mal Waldron and Red Garland splitting time at the piano and Paul Chambers supplying the bass. Rating services give the album very strong ratings--not bad for a debut album as a leader.

1957 was a bit of a turbulent year for Coltrane. In April, Miles Davis fired him due to his drug issues with heroin--an act that saved John's life (Miles himself had gone through the same problems with heroin. In order to kick the habit, Miles had moved back to his father's home in 1954 when the addiction began having negative effects on his career. Miles spent several painful months going through the withdrawal, but of course came back to have the most successful career anyone in jazz has ever had). Shortly after the firing, John moved back to Philadelphia to kick the habit. This session represents his first foray back into the studio after that hiatus. Two of the songs were originals ("Straight Street" and "Chronic Blues") which paid homage to his struggles with addiction and the other four were covers (three of them being standards that fans could quickly identify with).

Here's John with "Straight Street":

Track listing:

  1. "Bakai" Calvin Massey 8:44
  2. "Violets for Your Furs" Tom Adair, Matt Dennis 6:18
  3. "Time Was" Gabriel Luna de la Fuente, Paz Miguel Prado, Keith Russell 7:31
  4. "Straight Street" John Coltrane 6:21
  5. "While My Lady Sleeps" Gus Kahn, Bronislau Kaper 4:44
  6. "Chronic Blues" John Coltrane 8:12
Last Updated on Friday, 19 August 2016 19:03

On this day in jazz (May 30)

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On this day in 1963, Bill Evans began recording his album Bill Evans Trio at Shelly's Manne-Hole, Hollywood, California. The album features Bill at the piano, Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on the drums. Daniel Gioffre reviewed the album for saying:

Although the Scott LaFaro-Paul Motian lineup of the Bill Evans Trio is generally considered to be the strongest, Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker make a strong case of their own on At Shelly's Manne-Hole, a 1964 release that finds the entire band in classic form. This particular trio may lack some of the sheer combustive force of the better-known lineup, but it is, if possible, even more sensitive, melancholic, and nostalgic than the previous band.... Jazz is rarely as sensitive or as melodic as this. Another classic from Bill Evans and company.

The album is comprised of 8 songs, 7 of which are covers, and most of them standards. If you're in the mood for some relaxing classic jazz from a small group, you'll enjoy this one.

Here's Bill with "Stella by Starlight":

Track listing:


  1. "Isn't It Romantic?" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) – 4:37
  2. "The Boy Next Door" (Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin) – 5:22
  3. "Wonder Why" (Nicholas Brodszky, Sammy Cahn) – 5:15
  4. "Swedish Pastry" (Barney Kessel) – 5:45
  5. "Love Is Here to Stay" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 4:46
  6. "'Round Midnight" (Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams) – 8:54
  7. "Stella by Starlight" (Ned Washington, Victor Young) – 4:57
  8. "Blues in F" – 5:44


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 16:00

On this day in jazz (May 29)

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On this day in 1965, Dexter Gordon completed recording his album Gettin' Around at Rudy van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The album features a great line-up with Dexter on tenor, Bobby Hutcherson on vibraphone, Barry Harris on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Billy Higgins on drums (note that Dexter and Billy were also on yesterday's profiled album, Takin' Off by Herbie Hancock). The album consists of five cover songs and the original "Le Coiffeur".

As stated above, the album was recorded in the US, however it still resembles the two that preceded it (except for vibes instead of piano in the rhythm section) Our Man in Paris and One Flight Up in that it is laid-back compared to the hard bop of his earlier years. Billboard's review of the album called it "cool and hot" and that the rhythm section was "A-1 all the way". It's not his best album, but is still worth listening to. Go back to my May 23 post to see thoughts on Our Man in Paris.

A little more about Dexter: in 1986 he was inducted into the French Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in France was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Leading Role his acting  performance in Round Midnight (he didn't win the Oscar, but he did win a Grammy for  Best Soundtrack for this film).  Also starring in Round Midnight were François Cluzet and Herbie Hancock (Martin Scorsese, Philippe Noiret and Wayne Shorter have cameos). The movie received excellent reviews from critics and has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Here's Dexter with "Le Coiffeur":

Track listing:


  1. "Manhã de Carnaval" (Luiz Bonfá, Antonio Maria) - 8:26
  2. "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley) - 5:15
  3. "Heartaches" (Al Hoffman, John Klenner) - 7:46
  4. "Shiny Stockings" (Frank Foster) - 6:18
  5. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" (Howard Greenfield, Jack Keller) - 6:45
  6. "Le Coiffeur" - 7:01


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 16:00

On this day in jazz (May 28)

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On this day in 1962, legendary pianist Herbie Hancock recorded his debut album, Takin' Off, at Rudy van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The album is an incredible debut, containing six original songs by Herbie. One of them, "Watermelon Man", is considered to be a jazz standard today. Herbie was assisted by the fantastic Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, the dynamic Dexter Gordon on tenor sax, Butch Warren on bass and Billy Higgins on the drums--what an excellent line up.

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 Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage, and Fat Albert Rotunda. And. if you get a chance, go see him on tour.

But back, to this album...Steve Huey, writing for said this of the work: "So even if, in retrospect, Takin' Off is among Hancock's most conventional albums, it shows a young stylist already strikingly mature for his age, and one who can interpret established forms with spirit and imagination....All in all, Takin' Off is an exceptional first effort, laying the groundwork for Hancock to begin pushing the boundaries of hard bop on his next several records." I agree wholeheartedly.

Here's Herbie with "Watermelon Man":

Track lsting:


  1. "Watermelon Man" – 7:09
  2. "Three Bags Full" – 5:27
  3. "Empty Pockets" – 6:09
  4. "The Maze" – 6:45
  5. "Driftin'" – 6:58
  6. "Alone and I" – 6:25


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:59

On this day in jazz (May 27)

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On this day in 1963, saxophonist Harold Vick recorded his debut album, Steppin' Out at Rudy van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Harold was joined by Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Big John Patton on organ, the wonderful Grant Green on guitar and Ben Dixon onthe drums. If you are interested in hearing some soulful jazz, you'll want to hear this one.

Scott Yanow reviewed the album for and gave it a strong 4 and a half star rating saying: "There are no real surprises, but no disappointments either on what would be Harold Vick's only chance to lead a Blue Note date. At 27 he was already a fine player." All songs except for "Laura" were originals written by the saxophonist.

In addition to have a strong musical career, Vick had an interesting acting career, too. He appeared in several wonderful movies as a musician: Stardust Memories, The Cotton Club, and School Days. Unfortunately, Vick died at the age of 51 in his home in Manhattan from a heart attack; he was memorialized via the Sonny Rollins song "Did You See Harold Vick?", which can be found on Sonny's 2000 album, This Is What I Do.

Here's Harold with "Our Miss Brooks":

Track listing:

  1. "Our Miss Brooks" - 7:27
  2. "Trimmed in Blue" - 6:10
  3. "Laura" (Johnny Mercer, David Raksin) - 4:39
  4. "Dotty's Dream" - 6:24
  5. "Vicksville" - 5:39
  6. "Steppin' Out" - 5:50
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:57

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