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On this day in jazz (May 26)

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On this day in 1980, Pat Metheny began recording the album entitled 80/81. The musicians appearing on the album were: Pat Metheny on acoustic and electric guitars, Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker on tenor saxophones, Charlie Haden on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. The album was a double LP release with 9 songs comprising the four sides. I've never been a huge Pat Metheny fan, but this album is almost listenable--probably due in large part to his supporting cast and the material they selected to record which includes songs by Haden and Ornette Coleman.

Richard Ginell says this of the album: "Pat Metheny's credibility with the jazz community went way up with the release of this package, a superb two-CD collaboration with a quartet of outstanding jazz musicians that dared to be uncompromising at a time when most artists would have merely continued pursuing their electric commercial successes".

Here's Pat with "Two Folk Songs":

Track listing:


  1. "Two Folk Songs: 1st" 13:17
  2. "Two Folk Songs: 2nd" (Charlie Haden) 7:31
  3. "80/81" 7:28
  4. "The Bat" 5:58
  5. "Turnaround" (Ornette Coleman) 7:05
  6. "Open" (Metheny, Jack DeJohnette, Dewey Redman, Haden, Michael Brecker, Final Theme by Metheny) 14:25
  7. "Pretty Scattered" 6:56
  8. "Every Day (I Thank You)" 13:16
  9. "Goin' Ahead" 3:56


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:52

On this day in jazz (May 25)

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On this day in 1998, drummer Kahil El'Zabar completed recording the album Spirits Entering at Riverside Studio in Chicago, IL. The album consists of duets with violinist Billy Bang. The album is regarded as avant-garde-world-fusion and presents some rather unusual instruments such as the Berimbau and Kalimba played by Kahil. Derek Taylor writing for said that "Bang is one of the few improvisors around that can completely complement and match El'Zabar's measure of spiritual fire and passionate emotionalism in his instrument." That is, they played well together. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten path, this album should meet that need. If you like this album, you'll also like the live album they recorded together in 2005, Live at the River East Art Center.

Now, a little about Kahil. He was born in Chicago in 1953 and attended the Chicagoland college, Lake Forest College. Into the early 1970s, he joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and would later go on to become the chairman of that group. Throughout his career he has recorded mainly with two groups that he formed: Ritual Trio and Ethnic Heritage Ensemble; however, he has also collaborated with many of jazz's royalty such as Dizzy Gillespie and Cannonball Adderley as well as other well-known musicians such as Nina Simone, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder. If you're like me and live in the Chicago area, head over to to see if he (or others) will be playing soon!

Here's Kahil with "Spirits Entering":

Track listing:


  1. Spirits Entering
  2. Was Now
  3. Sweet Irene
  4. Love Outside of Dreams
  5. The Dream Merchant
  6. Song Of Myself
  7. The Ituri Fantasy
  8. Old Time Religion
  9. Golden Sea


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:51

On this day in jazz (May 24)

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On this day in 1968, one of my favorite pianists, Cedar Walton, recorded the album Spectrum in New York City. Cedar was assisted by a stellar line up of Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Clifford Jordan on tenor saxophone, Richard Davis on bass and Jack DeJohnette on the drums.

If you are unfamiliar with Cedar, here's some brief points. He started playing professionally in 1957 after 2 years of service in the US Army with Kenny Dorham, making his recording debut on This Is The Moment!. He later joined Benny Golson's band, The Jazztet. In the early 1960s, he was in Art Blakey's band, The Jazz Messengers. Throughout the 1960s he played for various jazz stars like Lee Morgan, Abbey Lincoln and Sonny Criss, and in the 1970s he founded a funk band named Mobius. In the 1990s, he arranged and recorded Etta James' Mystery Land: Songs of Billie Holiday which won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. In 2010, he was inducted as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. His best known recordings are the following: "Firm Roots", "Bolivia", "Holy Land," "Mode for Joe" and "Cedar's Blues".

Here's Cedar with the Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer tune, "Days of Wine and Roses":

Track listing:


  1. "Higgins Holler" - 10:20
  2. "Days of Wine and Roses" (Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer) - 8:56
  3. "Jake's Milkshakes" - 3:55
  4. "Spectrum" - 5:39
  5. "Lady Charlotte" (Cal Massey) - 6:14


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:51

On this day in jazz (May 23)

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On this day in 1963, Dexter Gordon recorded the album Our Man in Paris at CBS Studios in Paris. Gordon, who had moved to Copenhagen in 1962, teamed up with USA expatriates Bud Powell (piano) and Kenny Clarke (drums) and native Parisian Pierre Michelot (bass) to create this essential album which was remastered in 2003 by Rudy van Gelder.
An interesting bit of trivia about the album: originally pianist Kenny Drew was picked to play piano on the album; however, that plan fell through and Bud Powell was picked to play. Due to this decision, the entire concept of the album changed. The initial plan for the album was that it would consist of all originals written by Dexter. Well, let's just say that Bud didn't want to play any of the new songs, so the compromise that was made was for the album to consist entirely of jazz standards. That's too bad, but the album still became one of Dexter's most beloved works and won several accolades including being selected as part of the Penguin Guide to Jazz's core collection (along with a perfect four-star rating). gave it a high rating (four and a half out of five stars), also.
Here's Dexter with "A Night in Tunisia":
Track listing:
  1. "Scrapple from the Apple" (Parker) – 7:22
  2. "Willow Weep for Me" (Ronell) – 8:47
  3. "Broadway" (Billy Byrd, McRae, Henri Woode) – 6:44
  4. "Stairway to the Stars" (Malneck, Parish, Signorelli) – 6:57
  5. "A Night in Tunisia" (Gillespie, Frank Paparelli) – 8:15
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:50

On this day in jazz (May 22)

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On this day in 1959, the one and only Ornette Coleman recorded the album The Shape of Jazz to Come in Hollywood,  CA. The album was originally going to be called Focus on Sanity, but at the urging of producer Nesuhi Ertegun, it was changed. Nesuhi felt that the uniqueness of the music was something that needed to come across in the title, hence the change. On this album you will hear six originals all written by Ornette who plays the alto saxophone. He was assisted by an incredibly good set of musicians including Don Cherry on the cornet, Charlie Haden on bass and Billy Higgins on the drums. This album is only the third from Ornette as a leader and one of the first albums that Charlie Haden played on (Charlie previous had played with Paul Bley starting in 1957).

The thing that seems to make Ornette's music so different and free is that his quartet lacks and chordal instruments (Gerry Mulligan did the same thing, but to a much different effect). When listening, keep in mind that the songs consist of a starting theme followed by improvisations and then a return to the main theme--it will help you keep your bearings if you are an avant-garde neophyte. This is really a great album, so grit your teeth and settle in. The album received the following accolades:


  • Ranked #248 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time
  • Identified by Chris Kelsey as one of the 20 Essential Free Jazz Albums
  • The Penguin Guide to Jazz awarded it a "crown" and a perfect four star rating
  • Added the album to the National Recording Registry in 2012 by the Library of Congress
  • Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015

Here's Ornette with "Lonely Woman":


Track listing:


  1. "Lonely Woman" 4:59
  2. "Eventually" 4:20
  3. "Peace" 9:04
  4. "Focus on Sanity" 6:50
  5. "Congeniality" 6:41
  6. "Chronology"  6:05


Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 15:50

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