Raised in Detroit, Paul Chambers (1935-1969) began working as a prominent small-group sideman in 1954. He joined the Miles Davis Quintet the next year and stayed until the end of 1962, appearing on many classic albums, including ‘Kind Of Blue’. You all know the beautiful opening of that album (the song ‘So What’), a brief duet with pianist Bill Evans. Chambers’ contributions on ‘Kind Of Blue’ are considered ‘some of the most patient and thought out bass lines in the history of jazz’. Chambers was also one of the first to assert a soloist’s position on the instrument.
From 1963 until 1968 Chambers played with the Wynton Kelly Trio and freelanced frequently as a sideman for other important names in jazz throughout his career. A mixture of narcotics addiction and tuberculosis led to his early death on January 4th, 1969, at the age of 33.
In 1956, he released the Blue Note hard bop session ‘Whims Of Chambers’. He gathered an all-star sextet (just look at that line up!) and recorded seven songs, including today’s song, a Coltrane composition called ‘Nita’, which also appears on a great many Coltrane (compilation) albums.
Donald Byrd - Trumpet John Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone Kenny Burrell - Guitar Horace Silver - Piano Paul Chambers - Bass Philly Joe Jones - Drums
Last week, julianat became my 300th follower, and she requested a little something by John Coltrane. Well, here it is and I hope you’ll/she’ll enjoy it.
This, along with the earlier mentioned ’Getz Au Go Go’, was one of the first jazz records I became accustomed to. I know it by heart, and it is one of my dearest records. Intentionally I wanted to play the title song ‘Olé’, but due to upload restrictions (max. 10MB) it wasn’t possible. It doesn’t matter really, all the songs on this album are great. I strongly advise everyone to get it.
Following his classic releases ‘Giant Steps’, My Favourite Things’ and ‘Coltrane Plays The Blues’ in the Coltrane catalog, ’Olé Coltrane’ was Coltrane’s final recording for Atlantic before moving to the Impulse! label. Perhaps that is why this album seems to be one of his most overlooked recordings. ‘Olé Coltrane’ was recorded on May 25th, 1961, in between the two sessions that formed the Impulse! release ‘Africa/Brass’.
‘Dahomey Dance’ is a more traditional sounding blues, with Coltrane switching to tenor sax. If not for the double-bass frontline and Dolphy’s unconventional solo, this song could easily be mistaken for a missing gem from Miles’ ’Kind Of Blue’ sessions.
John Coltrane – Tenor Saxophone Eric Dolphy – Alto Saxophone Freddie Hubbard – Trumpet McCoy Tyner – Piano Art Davis – Bass Elvin Jones – Drums
Miles (and/or Troupe) wrote in his autobiography, page 199: ”…Philly Joe was the fire that was making a lot of shit happen. See, he knew everything I was going to do, everything I was going to play; he anticipated me, felt was I was thinking. Sometimes I used to tell him not to do that lick of his with me, but after me. And so that thing that he used to do after I played something, that rim shot, became known as the ‘Philly Joe Lick’, and it made him famous. Even after he left I would listen for a little Philly Joe in all the drummers I had later…“
So, what exactly is that lick?
“…This title piece from ‘Milestones’, with a sixteen-bar bridge, is a ‘A-A-B-A’ song form (breakdown: 8-8-16-8). Its rhythmic character encourages the drummer to play, to contribute. It’s one of Philly Joe Jones’s classic performances. One of the first things Davis recorded based on scales, it moves right along in medium/up-tempo incorporating what has become known as the ‘Philly Joe Lick’: a cross-stick accent on the fourth beat of each bar. The rim-shot lick provides rhythmic impetus to a tune that gives the soloists freer rein than in a song based on changing chords. It is being said Blakey play this pattern first, but Jones uses it more frequently and provocatively. Here it becomes part of the structure of the piece and gives rhythmic impetus to the performance it would not otherwise have had…”
Philly Joe Jones photographed by Francis Wolff
Miles Davis - Trumpet Cannonball Adderley - Alto Saxophone John Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone Red Garland - Piano Paul Chambers - Bass Philly Joe Jones - Drums
From his 1960 album ‘Giant Steps’, which was the first album with all of the pieces being composed by Coltrane himself.
The composition is a milestone for jazz musicians’ progress, given the difficulty of improvising its rapid progession of chord changes that progress through three keys. For the musicians among us, take a look at the infamous Coltrane Changes.
John Coltrane - Tenor Saxophone Paul Chambers - Bass Tommy Flanagan - Piano Art Taylor - Drums