Posts Tagged ‘Sonny Clark’

Buried Treasure: Leapin’ And Lopin’

6 August 2010

[Today: Jazztown, USA...]

The Newport Jazz festival kicks off tonight, and for the sixth year in a row, I’m on the ground in Newport, RI to enjoy the music. This is the season that Newport comes alive, as tourists pack shoulder to shoulder on Thames and Bellevue, taking in the scene and trying to beat the heat. August on the Eastern seaboard can be an adventure, with plenty of humidity and the epic thunder and lightning storms that come with it. But the dramatic weather doesn’t seem to dampen any spirits – walk down nearly any street in Newport this time of year, and you’re likely to hear the tinkling of glasses, the sound of laughter and a hint of cool Jazz, floating along on an ocean breeze.

Newport is a scenic, cozy little town of just under 30,000 residents. In addition to the National Tennis Hall Of Fame and the Naval War College, it features some of the most impressive, imposing mansions you’re likely to see anywhere in the states – huge gilded structures built by folks with names like Astor and Vanderbilt. This is a place of means, as evidenced by the yachts, schooners and catamarans that crowd Newport Harbor. When the Jazz Festival gets rolling at Fort Adams (a key naval position during the Revolutionary War), many of these boats crowd into Newport Bay to take in the music from the main stage, which is visible from the water. This aquatic audience is a party unto itself, as people sip drinks, splash around in the bay, and hose each other down with super soakers.

The organizers of this year’s festival have reportedly elected to move the main stage so that it won’t be visible from the water, so it remains to be seen if the extracurricular activities in Newport Bay will be in effect this year. But the Jazz Festival has evolved several times since its 1954 inception, and has experienced plenty of growing pains along the way. In 1971, festival organizers made a huge tactical error by inviting the Allman Brothers Band to play. Many more fans showed up than the festival was able to accommodate, and when a drunk mob burst through the gates and started a riot, it marked the beginning of a full decade that would see the festival exiled to New York.

Fortunately, Jazz returned to Newport in 1981, and has remained in its natural home ever since. Like the Kentucky Derby, the Newport Jazz Festival is a uniquely American event that owes its charm to the local flavor. If you’ve never attended, it’s possible that you’re missing something special…

Listen: Somethin’ Special

*****

NPR is streaming this year’s festival, so you don’t have to miss any of the music.

Weekend Playlist

15 June 2009

With stardust in his hair, moonbeams in his eye and liquor in his belly, your intrepid blogger is currently traveling all over this great country of ours. From the home base of Oakland, CA to Newport, RI for a long weekend with the in-laws, I’m now halfway back and enjoying a quick visit with an old friend in Chicago. Many thanks to Orville & Wilbur Wright, for inventing the airplane, and then following that up with an even cooler invention – the iPod…

Various Artists | I'm Not There Soundtrack
Various Artists | I’m Not There Soundtrack

Miles Davis | Ascenseur Pour L'echafaud
Miles Davis | Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud

The Beta Band | The 3 EPs
The Beta Band | The 3 EPs

The Budos Band | The Budos Band II
The Budos Band | Budos Band II

David Holmes | Let's Get Killed
David Holmes | Let’s Get Killed

Gorillaz | Demon Days
Gorillaz | Demon Days

Beastie Boys | Root Down EP
Beastie Boys | Root Down EP

Kings Of Leon | Youth & Young Manhood
Kings Of Leon | Youth & Young Manhood

M. Ward | End Of Amnesia
M. Ward | End Of Amnesia

Kruder Dorfmeister | The K&D Sessions™
Kruder & Dorfmeister | The K&D Sessions™

David Bowie | The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars
David Bowie | The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars

Prince | Sign O' The Times
Prince | Sign O’ The Times

Whiskeytown | Strangers Almanac
Whiskeytown | Strangers Almanac

Herbie Hancock | Headhunters
Herbie Hancock | Headhunters

Outkast | Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Outkast | Speakerboxx/The Love Below

Josh Ritter | Golden Age Of Radio
Josh Ritter | Golden Age Of Radio

Rakim | The 18th Letter/The Book Of Life
Rakim | The 18th Letter/The Book Of Life

Minutemen | Double Nickels On The Dime
Minutemen | Double Nickels On The Dime

INXS | Shabooh Shoobah
INXS | Shabooh Shoobah

Tom Waits | Rain Dogs
Tom Waits | Rain Dogs

Ol' Dirty Bastard | Nigga Please
Ol’ Dirty Bastard | Nigga Please

Zeph & Azeem
Zeph & Azeem | Mixed Messages
[Album cover not pictured]

Sonny Clark | Leapin' And Lopin'
Sonny Clark | Leapin’ And Lopin’

Various Artists | Until The End Of The World Soundtrack
Various Artists | Until The End Of The World Soundtrack

The Yardbirds | Roger The Engineer
The Yardbirds | Roger The Engineer

Steely Dan | Gaucho
Steely Dan | Gaucho

Beck | Guero
Beck | Guero

Dr. Feelgood | Down By The Jetty
Dr. Feelgood | Down By The Jetty

Furr | Furr
Furr | Furr

Madhouse | Serve 'Em
Madhouse | Serve ‘Em

Temple Of The Dog | Temple Of The Dog
Temple Of The Dog | Temple Of The Dog

Black Sabbath | Vol 4
Black Sabbath | Vol 4

Motorhead | Iron Fist
Motorhead | Iron Fist

Iggy Pop | circa 1977
Iggy Pop | Cleveland, OH 3/21/77
[Album cover not pictured]

Masterpiece: The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Volume 2

4 January 2008

[Today: Taking shelter from the storm...]

The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson, Volume 2

The Bay Area is currently being battered by relentless rainfall and hurricane force winds. It’s pretty cold, wet and miserable outside, which makes being inside and warm just that much better. The P and I spent our evening running around doing errands in preparation for a weekend shuttered in. After the last bag of groceries had been hauled inside, we lit a fire and sat down to some reading, enjoying the clown-like antics of our two 6-month old kittens, Oscar and Willie. We’ve got a big stack of jazz records that are just begging to be listened to, and what better possible evening to take on such a project?

Sonny Clark set a pretty nice mood for a while, via Sonny’s Crib (thanks Dusty Groove/Chicago), and then Donald Byrd weighed in with Long Green – one of the great trumpet albums – the cat just blows. Then we heard from the Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker quorum – and a fine pair they are. Mulligan/Baker was my “morning album” that I listened to every day for about 2 years straight (I could usually get through three sides of vinyl before scurrying off to work). Art Farmer held court for awhile with his excelllent collection Farmer’s Market. And then Jay Jay Johnson took the needle of our record player and made it swing. The guy plays slide trombone, but makes it sound like a muted trumpet – good good good.

Where our house sits, it sometimes feels like the winds are forming a giant cartoon fist and pummeling our sides, rattling windows, as well as people and animals. But tonight we’re all pretty cozy and content. The way 2007 flew past, the days kind of start blurring together and few stand out. So thanks for humoring me while I take a few hundred words to etch down one day and keep it for myself.

Listen: Pennies From Heaven (Alternate Take)

A Dozen Great Blue Note Albums

12 August 2007

Blue Note Records featured some of the most iconic, stylish, and memorable record sleeves of all-time. Art Director Reid Miles and photographer Francis Wolff Jr created artwork that raised the bar on album cover design and helped repackage Jazz for a new generation of listeners. While much of the music recorded on Blue Note is quite good, it often isn’t quite as great as the wrapper it comes in. Here, however, are 12 Blue Note albums that are fit to be judged by their covers:

Somethin Else - album
Cannonball Adderley * Somethin’ Else

dk says: Adderley’s finest hour includes Miles Davis’ only career appearance as a side man.

allmusic.com says: “This is a group that could take on a Barry Manilow number and turn it into a jazz masterpiece.”

Blue Train - album
John Coltrane * Blue Train

dk says: Forget the squonking Coltrane you think you know – his only album for Blue Note is a fully melodic piece of work that will leave you tapping your toes.

allmusic.com says: “Without reservation, Blue Train can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane’s career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well.”

Caddy For Daddy - album
Hank Mobley * A Caddy For Daddy

dk says: Yet another in a long line of great albums from the underappreciated Mobley, A Caddy For Daddy features an all-star ensemble that included Lee Morgan on trumpet, McCoy Tyner on piano, and Billy Higgins on drums.

allmusic.com says: “A distinctive but not dominant soloist, Mobley was also a very talented writer whose compositions avoided the predictable, yet could often be quite melodic and soulful…”

Sidewinder - album
Lee Morgan * The Sidewinder

dk says: This album was the biggest hit of Morgan’s short career, and the title track – a jazz/funk hybrid of the highest order – might be the single most recognizable number in the Blue Note archives.

allmusic.com says: “The group works together seamlessly to create an album that crackles with energy while maintaining a stylish flow.”

Grant Green - album
Grant Green * Idle Moments

dk says: One of the few Jazz guitarists who doesn’t sound like he’s making music for an elevator, Green and his band seductively swing and sway through a particularly solid set.

allmusic.com says: “This languid, seductive gem may well be Grant Green’s greatest moment on record.”

Unity - album
Larry Young * Unity

dk says: Young later played on Bitches Brew, and the way his organ dances around these exploded melodies makes it perfectly clear that he was eminently qualified for that gig.

allmusic.com says: “On his sophomore date as a leader, jazz organist Larry Young began to display some of the angular drive that made him a natural for the jazz-rock explosion to come barely four years later.”

Cool Struttin' - album
Sonny Clark * Cool Struttin’

dk says: A personal favorite of the P, this 1958 classic features a killer band, and may be the best of Clark’s too-short life.

allmusic.com says: “This set deserves its reputation for its soul appeal alone.”

JJJ - album
JJ Johnson * The Eminent JJJ – Vol 1

dk says: Johnson played his slide trombone with the mentality of a trumpet or sax player, attacking his material with vigor and imagination. The two volumes of The Eminent JJJ are perhaps the finest releases in the history of the label.

allmusic.com says: “The six titles (plus three alternates) are highlighted by ‘It Could Happen to You,’ ‘Turnpike’ and a classic rendition of ‘Get Happy.'”

Blakey - album
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers * A Night In Tunisia

dk says: Not to be confused with the 1957 set of nearly the same name, this 1960 album featured Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Bobby Timmons in one of the strongest versions of Blakey’s ever-rotating Jazz Messengers.

allmusic.com says: “The lengthy title track on this CD easily overshadows the rest of the program for it is one of the most exciting versions ever recorded of Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘A Night in Tunisia.'”

Boss Horn - album
Blue Mitchell * Boss Horn

dk says: Mitchell wasn’t as recognized as Blue Note trumpeters like Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, or even Kenny Dorham, but his straight-ahead style has helped his sound age just as well as – if not better than – his more celebrated peers.

allmusic.com says: “Trumpeter Blue Mitchell delivers a solid hard bop date with his 1966 Blue Note release Boss Horn.”

Doin' Allright - album
Dexter Gordon * Doin’ Allright

dk says: Gordon – one of the most accomplished tenor saxophonists of all-time – played with a warm tone that stirs the blood. On Doin’ Allright, he proves that a tender embrace holds as much power as a tropical storm.

allmusic.com says: “The title of this Blue Note set, Doin’ Allright, fit perfectly at the time, for tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was making the first of three successful comebacks.”

Memorial Album - album
Clifford Brown * Memorial Album

dk says: Brown’s death by car accident at age 25 is one of the most tragic events in the history of Jazz. This compilation of sides he recorded for Blue Note preserves his legacy in amber, and will leave you wondering what might have been.

allmusic.com says: “Casual listeners would be better off starting out with some of Brown’s recordings with Max Roach; nonetheless, seasoned fans will find that this CD is a treasure chest.”


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