JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Brother Jack McDuff (1926) – A marvelous bandleader and organist as well as capable arranger, "Brother" Eugene “Brother Jack” McDuff had one of the funkiest, most soulful styles of all time on the Hammond B-3. His rock-solid basslines and blues-drenched solos were balanced by clever, almost pianistic melodies and interesting progressions and phrases. McDuff began as a bassist playing with Denny Zeitlin and Joe Farrell. He studied privately in Cincinnati and worked with Johnny Griffin in Chicago. He taught himself organ and piano in the mid-'50s, and began gaining attention working with Willis Jackson in the late '50s and early '60s, cutting high caliber soul-jazz dates for Prestige. McDuff made his recording debut as a leader for Prestige in 1960, playing in a studio pickup band with Jimmy Forrest. They made a pair of outstanding albums: Tough Duff and The Honeydripper.  McDuff organized his own band the next year, featuring Harold Vick and drummer Joe Dukes. Things took off when McDuff hired a young guitarist named George Benson. They were among the most popular combos of the mid-'60s and made several excellent albums. McDuff's later groups at Atlantic and Cadet didn't equal the level of the Benson band, while later dates for Verve and Cadet were uneven, though generally good. McDuff experimented with electronic keyboards and fusion during the '70s, then in the '80s got back in the groove with the Muse sessions. While his health fluctuated throughout the '90s, McDuff released several discs on the Concord Jazz label before succumbing to heart failure on January 23, 2001, at the age of 74.

JAZZ ALBUMS RECORDED:

Duke Ellington – Money Jungle (1962)
Track Listing:
1.  Very Special
2.  A Little Max
3.  A Little Max
4.  Fleurette Africaine
5.  Rem Blues
6.  Wig Wise
7.  Switch Blade
8.  Caravan
9.  Money Jungle
10. Solitude
11. Solitude
12. Warm Valley
13. Backward Country Boy Blues

Review by Ken Dryden at Allmusic:
Duke Ellington surprised the jazz world in 1962 with his historic trio session featuring Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Not in a mood to simply rework older compositions, the bulk of the LP focused on music he wrote specifically for the session. "Money Jungle" is a thunderous opener, a blues that might be classified somewhere between post-bop and avant-garde. The gem of the date is the fragile, somewhat haunting ballad "Fleurette Africaine," where Mingus' floating bassline and Roach's understated drumming add to the mystique of an Ellington work that has slowly been gathering steam among jazz musicians as a piece worth exploring more often. "Very Special" is a jaunty upbeat blues, while the angular, descending line of "Wig Wise" also proves to be quite catchy. Ellington also revisits "Warm Valley" (a lovely ballad indelibly associated with Johnny Hodges) and an almost meditative "Solitude." Thunderous percussion and wild basslines complement a wilder-than-usual approach to "Caravan." Every jazz fan should own a copy of this sensational recording session.

Dizzy Gillespie – Dizzy’s Big 4 (1974)
Track Listing:
1. Frelimo
2. Hurry Home
3. Russian Lullaby
4. Be Bop (Dizzy’s Fingers)
5. Birk’s Works
6. September Song
7. Jitterbug Waltz

Review by Ken Dryden at Allmusic:
Dizzy Gillespie omits a piano on these 1974 sessions, but it is never missed due to the potent rhythm section supplied by guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Mickey Roker. Starting with the inspired, occasionally funky Latin-flavored "Frelimo" (which features the leader on both muted and open trumpet), Gillespie is in top form. His deliberate treatment of the forgotten chestnut "Hurry Home" is a lyrical gem, while the breezy setting of the standard "Russian Lullaby" bubbles with excitement. But the fireworks take place in the rapid-fire performance of Gillespie's "Be Bop (Dizzy's Fingers)," in which Pass seems to play at an impossible tempo. Just as much fun is the sassy, intricate interpretation of the trumpeter's blues "Birk's Works," powered by Brown's potent bass, along with the hip updated treatment of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." This is easily one of Dizzy Gillespie's best small-group recordings from the latter portion of his career.
 


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    BLUES BITS & JAZZ JOTS 
    is a historical timeline for birthdays of blues and jazz artists and jazz album recording dates.  As our research progresses, we'll add more categories.  Look for updates each week, normally Mondays through Fridays, when we find something to share.

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