Lee Morgan, hard bop’s baddest trumpeter, may never quite have topped his iconic 1963 masterpiece ‘The Sidewinder’, but he came pretty damn close with ‘The Gigolo’ from 1965.
Jeff McMillan writes in his outstanding biography ‘Delightfulee, The Life And Music Of Lee Morgan’ (p. 144-146): “…The tune that proved hardest to capture was Morgan’s composition ‘Yes I Can, No You Can’t’. After numerous false starts, the band made it through the head melody to Morgan’s solo in the 22nd (!) take. The trumpeter struggles through an awkward two-chorus solo where his effort to bend and sound slippery undermines both his intonation and phrasing…The band finally wraps up the (June 25th, 1965) session with a complete take, the 49th (!!) of a long, unsuccesful session focused on one tune…”
“…Lion booked Van Gelder’s studio for six days later (July 1st, 1965) so Morgan and his men could record enough material to fill an album. In this second effort, the group produced one of the great recording sessions of Morgan’s career. The trumpeter, especially, was in top form, producing a standout performance of ‘Yes I Can, No You Can’t’. Notable in Morgan’s playing are razor-sharp execution and a brilliance of tone, qualities that were not reliably there for him in the previous session. Clearly, the trumpeter had spent time practicing the material, likely supplemented with technical trumpet exercises. On the July 1st session his chops are strong and sure…”
Lee Morgan - Trumpet Wayne Shorter - Tenor Saxophone Harold Mabern Jr. - Piano Bob Cranshaw - Bass Billy Higgins - Drums
‘Hugo Hurwhey’, by The Russ Freeman/Chet Baker Quartet
I’ve already talked a lot about Chet Baker, but mostly about the later part of his professional life. In the 1950’s, when he was making some of his most distinctive music, the pianist Russ Freeman (1926-2002) was a key figure in the career of the trumpeter. Born in Chicago, Freeman studied classical piano in Los Angeles. By the 1940’s, when bebop was taking over New York’s hip clubs, there were few West Coast pianists who understood its harmonic complexities. But with his training, and a spare but flexible technique, Freeman grasped bebop’s mechanics fast. He went to New York City in 1947 to accompany Charlie Parker, and became a heroin addict for four years as well. In 1951, facing jail and probably death, he straightened out and began rooming with Chet Baker. When Pacific Jazz offered Baker a recording deal in 1952, it was Freeman who picked and arranged the tunes, and explained the harmonies to his roommate, who could not read chords, on their living room piano.
They recorded a lot together under Chet’s name, but on this last meeting of the two the billing had changed, with Freeman getting his name before Baker’s. But it is Baker that shines, really. 1956 was arguably Chet’s best year for bop, and this CD stands along side ‘The Route’, ‘Chet & Crew’, and ‘Playboys’ (with Art Pepper) as some of the hottest music he ever laid down.
Today’s song ‘Hugo Hurwhey’ was recorded after Chet’s return from his European tour of ‘55/’56. Russ Freeman had left the quartet before that tour, for which Baker then recruited Dick Twardzik. After Twardzik’s death (heroin overdose) and Chet’s return to the United States, producer Dick Bock arranged this session. It was instantly obvious how much Baker matured during that tour. ‘Quartet’ was a direct progression from his Paris albums and quite distinct from his previous Pacific Jazz releases. Among other things, Baker had discovered and dived deep into hard bop in Paris, leaving much of his former cool jazz vocabulary behind. ’Hugo Hurwhey‘ shows him charged, energized and alert, and there is a distinct influence of Clifford Brown noticeable here.
Chet Baker - Trumpet Russ Freeman - Piano Leroy Vinnegar - Bass Shelley Manne - Drums
When Josh Lawrence became the 700th member of this little jazz club, I asked him if he had a favorite artist or song for me to write about. To my surprise he turned out to be a recording jazz artist himself and he (modestly third on his list) suggested me his second studio album ‘Roots’.
Lawrence (1982) studied at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and became a popular sideman on the neo-soul and jazz scenes. After graduation, he moved to the historic Sugar Hill neighborhood in Harlem where he was introduced to jazz masters Barry Harris, Frank Lacy, Jimmy Cobb, Lou Donaldson and Olu Dara. He co-founded the ‘Uptown Brass‘ at the Church of the Intercession in Washington Heights, worked as musical director for the band ‘Harlem PsychaDelic‘ and taught on faculty as brass instructor at ‘Bronx Arts‘ and ‘Bronx Lab’.
Today Josh Lawrence performs in clubs and festivals across Europe spreading the ‘gospel of American jazz’ and continues to teach students of all ages through master class programs.
Thank you Josh, for this wonderful contribution.
Josh Lawrence - Trumpet Mike Cemprola - Alto Saxophone Ken Pendergast - Bass Mike De Castro - Drums
It’s hard to begin to sum up all the key records in jazz Frederick Dewayne Hubbard (1938-2008) appeared on, but here’s a try. Partnered with Wayne Shorter and Curtis Fuller, he featured on seven of Art Blakey’s classic early sixties Blue Note albums, he played with George Coleman on Herbie Hancock’s highly influential album ‘Maiden Voyage’, then played on Oliver Nelson’s ‘Blues And The Abstract Truth’. He played a central role on Wayne Shorter’s ‘Speak No Evil’ and was at the centre of John Coltrane’s albums ‘Olé Coltrane’, ‘The Africa/Brass Sessions’ and ‘Ascension’. He was a key player on Eric Dolphy’s radical ‘Out To Lunch’ and appeared on Ornette Coleman’s groundbreaking ‘Free Jazz’.
The list could go on and on.
I wrote a post earlier on about one of my favorite albums of all time, ‘Olé Coltrane’, and I guess that those sessions in May 1961 were very inspiring, because he used the same rhythm section on this album, ‘Ready For Freddie’, recorded on August 21st that year. Freddie says in the liner notes: “So far as I can put it into words…the way in which I’m most interested in going is Coltrane-like. I mean different ways of playing the changes so that you get a wider play of colors and of the emotions that those colors reveal.”
Freddie Hubbard related today’s track ‘Crisis’ to the growing threat of a nuclear war, which came to a climax in the Cuban Missiles Crisis just over a year later (between October 14th and 28th, 1962). Many feared that the world was on the brink of a nuclear conflict and Hubbard’s musical response expressed the wish that such catastrophes could be averted, by hope and reconciliation.
Freddie Hubbard - Trumpet Wayne Shorter - Tenor Saxophone Bernard McKinney - Euphonium (Tenor Tuba) Art Davis - Bass McCoy Tyner - Piano Elvin Jones - Drums
McKinley Howard Dorham’s (1924-1972) professional career really took off when he moved to New York City in the 1940’s, playing and singing (!) with Dizzy Gillespie’s band. Later on, he replaced Miles Davis in Charlie Parker’s group from 1948 to 1950. Dorham became a founding member of the Jazz Messengers with Art Blakey and Horace Silver (hence the name ‘Jazz Prophets’, because Blakey claimed the name ‘Jazz Messengers’ after Dorham left) and later replaced Clifford Brown in the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet when Brown was killed in an automobile accident.
Kenny was very active in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, teaching at Lennox School of Jazz, leading and touring with his own groups, and co-leading groups with Joe Henderson and Hank Mobley. He was also a thoughtful reviewer for Downbeat Magazine, and attended college at NYU School Of Music, teaching there before he died of kidney failure on December 5th, 1972.
Kenny Dorham has been overshadowed for most of his career by the other great trumpet players of his time and Kenny’s abilities as a composer and unique voice as an advanced bop trumpet player are underrated to this day.
The Keepnews Collection is a series of reissues of classic Riverside jazz albums. Mr. Keepnews was the co-founder and producer of Riverside Records and tells great anecdotes from that time. Every episode is a different album.
Today’s feature: Blue Mitchell with ‘Blue Soul’
You might also want to check out my previous posts about these series:
In 1962 (the year of release of this album), Hubbard was still a full time member of The Jazz Messengers, but still had time to record 3 solo albums: ’The Artistry Of Freddie Hubbard’, ‘Here To Stay’ and ‘Hub-Tones’. While the former two have a lot of that unmistakable Messengers style, ‘Hub-Tones’ sounds a lot more like two of Hubbard’s collaborations from a few years earlier: ‘Free Jazz’ and ‘Olé Coltrane’. On ‘Hub-Tones’, Hubbard uses the freedom forged by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, but stays grounded to the classic Blue Note sound.
Time for some Holland promotion: a beautiful, haunting piece by trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (born 1963), one of the main Dutch jazz figures.
After studying jazz at the Rotterdam Academy of Music, he continued his studies in New York , playing with Donald Byrd and the big bands of Frank Foster and Mercer Ellington.
In 2009 he went touring in America with his unusual, drum-free trio Fugimundi, and this set was recorded in Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, California. Vloeimans conducted his program of originals and a lone standard in a most sensual, sparse, chamber music-style that is as striking as it is introspective.
‘Corleone’ is Godfather-inspired in a chamber-like framework and a calm-before-the-storm motif is established which is utterly foreboding. Please allow the song to ‘develop’, and wait for the trumpet to kick in.
Such beauty and drama!
Eric Vloeimans - Trumpet Anton Goudsmit - Guitar Harmen Fraanje - Piano