BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Tarheel Slim (1924) - Talk about a versatile musician: Alden “Tarheel Slim” Bunn recorded in virtually every postwar musical genre imaginable. Lowdown blues, gospel, vocal group R&B, poppish duets, even rockabilly weren't outside the sphere of his musicianship. However, spirituals were Bunn's first love. While still in North Carolina during the early '40s, the guitarist worked with the Gospel Four and then the Selah Jubilee Singers, who recorded for Continental and Decca. Bunn and Thurman Ruth broke away in 1949 to form their own group, the Jubilators. During a single day in New York in 1950, they recorded for four labels under four different names!  One of those labels was Apollo, who convinced them to go secular. That's basically how The Larks, one of the seminal early R&B vocal groups whose mellifluous early-'50s Apollo platters rank with the era's best, came to be. Bunn sang lead on a few of their bluesier items ("Eyesight to the Blind," for one), as well as doing two sessions of his own for the firm in 1952 under the name of Allen Bunn. As Alden Bunn, he encored on Bobby Robinson's Red Robin logo the next year. Bunn also sang with another R&B vocal group, The Wheels. And coupled with his future wife, Anna Sanford, Bunn recorded as The Lovers.  "Darling It's Wonderful," their 1957 duet for Aladdin's Lamp subsidiary, was a substantial pop seller. Tarheel Slim made his official entrance in 1958 with his wife, now dubbed Little Ann, in a duet format for Robinson's Fire imprint ("It's Too Late," "Much Too Late"). Then old Tarheel came out of the gate like his pants were on fire with a pair of rockabilly raveups of his own, "Wildcat Tamer" and "No. 9 Train," with Jimmy Spruill on blazing lead guitar. After a few years off the scene, Tarheel Slim made a bit of a comeback during the early '70s, with an album for Pete Lowry's Trix logo that harked back to Bunn's Carolina blues heritage. It would prove his last.  Alden “Tarheel Slim” Bunn died on August 21, 1977.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Fats Navarro (1923) – Jazz trumpeter Theodore "Fats" Navarro, Jr. was a pioneer of the bebop style of jazz improvisation in the 1940s. He had a strong stylistic influence on many other players, most notably Clifford Brown.  Navarro was born in Key West, Florida, to Cuban-Black-Chinese parentage. He began playing piano at age six, but did not become serious about music until he began playing trumpet at age of thirteen. He was a childhood friend of drummer Al Dreares. By the time he graduated from Douglass high school he wanted to be away from Key West and joined a dance band headed for the mid-west.  Tiring of the road life after touring with many bands and gaining valuable experience, including influencing a young J. J. Johnson when they were together in Snookum Russell's territory band, Navarro settled in New York City in 1946, where his career took off. He met and played with, among others, Charlie Parker, one of the greatest musical innovators of modern jazz improvisation, but Navarro was in a position to demand a high salary, and did not join one of Parker's regular groups. He also developed a heroin addiction, which, coupled with tuberculosis and a weight problem (he was nicknamed "Fat Girl") led to a slow decline in his health and death at the age of twenty-six.  Among others, Fats Navarro played in the Andy Kirk, Billy Eckstine, Benny Goodman, and Lionel Hampton big bands, and participated in small group recording sessions with Kenny Clarke, Tadd Dameron, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Illinois Jacquet, Howard McGhee, and Bud Powell. In Charles Mingus' autobiography Beneath the Underdog, he struck up a deep friendship with Navarro while touring together. Fats Navarro died on July 6, 1950. 

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Joe Henderson – In Pursuit of Blackness (1970)
Track Listing:
1. Gazelle
2. Invitation
3. Mind Over Matter
4. No Me Esqueca

5. A Shade Of Jade

Review by Vincent Thomas at Allmusic:

The first 120 seconds or so of "Mind Over Matter" feature Joe Henderson, Stanley Clarke, and underground luminaries Lenny White (drums) and George Cables (keyboard) engaged in free-form, expressionist, abstract improv and then, in a short contained explosion, Henderson starts blowing his tenor like he's spitting out rounds of bullets from a gun. A torrent solo follows and, just when you think the song won't let up, in comes Curtis Fuller's trombone and then Pete Yellen's flute. The song ends with what almost sounds like the soundtrack to an absurd dream. It's a 13-minute tune broken up into suites and, although it may not be the album's best, it's possibly its most enthralling, and it typifies this album's place in Henderson's Milestone discography -- not his best, but enthralling. There are songs with nouveau-bop heads ("No Me Esqueca") and all-in burners ("A Shade of Jade"). Although the album is rhythm-heavy, it was recorded a couple years before Henderson's funk cloud would really thicken -- Joe was still swinging here ("Invitation"), which ain't so bad. Still, despite the obvious highlights, this undersold gem is a must-listen if only to check "Gazelle" (recorded live) and hear a head-nodding bassline from Ron McClure backing Henderson and Woody Shaw at their fieriest.
 
 

jazz artist birthdays:

Chico Hamilton (1921) - A subtle and creative drummer, Chico Hamilton will probably always be better known for the series of quintets that he led during 1955-1965 and for his ability as a talent scout than for his fine drumming. Hamilton first played drums while in high school with the many fine young players (including Dexter Gordon, Illinois Jacquet, and Charles Mingus) who were in Los Angeles at the time. He made his recording debut with Slim Gaillard, was house drummer at Billy Berg's, toured with Lionel Hampton, and served in the military (1942-1946). He toured as Lena Horne's drummer (on and off during 1948-1955), and gained recognition for his work with the original Gerry Mulligan piano-less quartet (1952-1953). In 1955, Hamilton put together his first quintet, a chamber jazz group with the reeds of Buddy Collette, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Carson Smith, and cellist Fred Katz. One of the last important West Coast jazz bands, The Chico Hamilton Quintet was immediately popular and appeared in a memorable sequence in the documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day (set at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival) and the Hollywood film The Sweet Smell of Success. In 1966, Chico Hamilton started composing for commercials and the studios and he broke up his quintet. However, he continued leading various groups, playing music that ranged from the avant-garde to erratic fusion and advanced hard bop. In 1989, Chico Hamilton had a recorded reunion with the original members of his 1955 quintet (with guitarist John Pisano in Hall's place), and in the 1990s he made a number of records for Soul Note.

Slam Stewart (1914) - Leroy “Slam” Stewart was the most recorded jazz bassists of the 1940s.  His first musical instrument was the violin but later he switched to the bass, studying at Boston Conservatory.  Stewart, who had perfect pitch, mastered the technique of playing solos with a bow while humming along simultaneously at an octave higher, which made him a very popular showman and very famous in the jazz world.  He got his nickname from the percussive “slamming” sound his strings made when they hit the neck of his bass while plucking them.  In 1937, he moved to New York and there he met Slim Gaillard.  Together, they became very popular on radio and records.  Their song “Flat Foot Floogie” was a huge hit.  During the 1930s and 1940s, he worked mostly in small groups, playing with Art Tatum, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, among others.  He also led his own group for a period of time which featured the up-and-coming pianist Erroll Garner.  He also performed a couple of stunning duets with tenor saxophonist Don Byas at a 1945 Town Hall concert.  During his career, he won many awards, including Down Beat’s Best Bassist Of The Year in 1945 and Berklee College of Music’s Highest Achievement Honor Award.  Slam Stewart died on December 10, 1987.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Walt Dickerson – To My Queen (1962)
Track Listing:
1. To My Queen
2. How Deep Is The Ocean?
3. God Bless The Child

Review by Steve Huey at Allmusic:
To My Queen is Walt Dickerson's crowning achievement, a perfect balance between his intellectually advanced concepts and deeply felt passion. Dickerson had always displayed a fertile imagination, but there hadn't been much indication that his vision could be as expansive as it was on To My Queen. Never before had he attempted such extended, freely structured performances, which makes the album's consistency and focus all the more impressive. Like the foreground of a canvas, the listener's attention naturally falls on the title cut, a side-long, 17-and-a-half-minute opus (written in tribute to his wife, Elizabeth) that became Dickerson's signature piece. It's deliberate, spare, and tender, with the soloists accompanied by either a gentle swing or the barest hints of support. Dickerson's shimmering opening statements are followed by thoughtful explorations from pianist Andrew Hill and bassist George Tucker, while drummer Andrew Cyrille offers subtle, whisper-quiet shadings, save for occasional drum rolls that come off like momentarily swelling passions amidst all the introspection. The second half of the album maintains the mood set by the first, featuring an 11-minute version of "How Deep Is the Ocean" and a vibes/bass duet on "God Bless the Child" that trumps Dickerson's earlier effort in the same vein. This is arguably the finest quartet Dickerson ever led, not just because of the advanced musicianship and sympathetic interplay, but also because each member serves the material with taste and care. The whole album is swathed in a gauzy glow that speaks even more eloquently than its creator's conceptual ambition; this is music from the heart as well as the mind.
 
 

JAZZ ARTISTS' BIRTHDAYS:

Joe Tempery (1929) - Most associated with the baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Joe Temperley is the perfect musician to fill in for Harry Carney during recreations of Duke Ellington's music, a role that has often overshadowed his own fine voice.  Temperley actually started on the alto and recorded on tenor with English bands led by Harry Parry (1949), Jack Parnell, Tony Crombie, and Tommy Whittle. He stuck to baritone during a long association with Humphrey Lyttelton's popular band (1958-1965). In 1965, Temperley moved to New York, working with a variety of big bands (including Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, and Clark Terry). In 1974, he became the first replacement for Harry Carney with the Mercer Ellington Orchestra and then freelanced with the who's who of jazz including (starting in 1990) the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. Temperley has several fine albums out as a leaderAmong them, Nightingale (1991), Sunbeam and Thundercloud with pianist Dave McKenna (1996), With Every Breath (1998) and Double Duke (1999). He is an original member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and serves on the faculty of the Juilliard School for Jazz Studies.  He is a guest mentor and a co-founder of the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (also known as FYJO) program in Scotland, which now enrolls 30 young musicians ages 7–18.

Steve McCall (1933) - One of the finest drummers in free jazz, Steve McCall was a subtle improviser who could keep a pulse going without actually stating the beat. He played early on with Lucky Carmichael, a blues singer. McCall met Muhal Richard Abrams in 1961 and became a founding member of the AACM in 1965. Based in Chicago, McCall played with hard bop groups, but made more of an impact performing with top avant-garde players, including Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, and Leo Smith. McCall was in Paris during 1967-1970, playing and recording with Braxton, Marion Brown, and Gunter Hampel. He returned to Chicago in 1970, was on a session with Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons, and was in the trio Reflection with Henry Threadgill and Fred Hopkins. After another year in Europe, McCall went to New York in 1975, where he reunited with Threadgill and Hopkins and they formed the successful avant-garde group Air. McCall was with Air until the early '80s, also recording with Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, and David Murray. McCall played with Cecil Taylor's Unit in 1985 and performed regularly with Roscoe Mitchell's Quartet up until his death from a stroke. Although he was on a lot of important sessions (including dates with Joseph Jarman, Fred Anderson, and Murray's octet), Steve McCall never led an album of his own. In the late '90s, Chicago label Okka Disk released a 1980 duo recording of McCall and Anderson entitled Vintage Duets.  Steve McCall died on May 24, 1989.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Henry Threadgill Sextett – Easily Slip Into Another World (1987)
Track Listing:
1. I Can’t Wait To Get Home
2. Black Hands Bejewelled
3. Spotted Dick Is Pudding
4. Let Me Look Down Your Throat Or
      Say Ah
5. My Rock
6. Hall
7. Award The Squadtett

Review by Stephen Cook at Allmusic:
This Henry Threadgill title is one of three excellent recordings the jazz alto and flute player made for Novus in the late '80s. He is joined here by his stellar sextet (actually a septet) comprised of trumpeter Rasul Saddik, trombonist Frank Lacy, cellist Diedre Murray, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummers Pheeroan Aklaff and Reggie Nicholson. Like avant-garde contemporaries Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams, Threadgill created a seamless mix of improvisation space and complex arrangements to galvanize his musicians. Threadgill, though, went further by exploring a wider range of styles. The positive effects are made evident here by the group's inspired solos and ensemble playing on everything from the New Orleans' march "Black Hands Bejeweled" and Olu Dara's calypso-funk tune "I Can't Wait to Get Home" to the manic, free-form number "Hall" and sprechstimme-jazz piece "My Rock."  Threadgill's acerbic and mercurial alto work seem to point to the dark humor underlying these and many of his other compositions, while Lacy's warbling and growling trombone statements bask in their inherent joy; the two sentiments made respectively clear on the expressionist-flavored "Let Me Look Down Your Throat or Say Ah" and the ecstatic, Raymond Scott-inspired "Award the Squadtett." Easily Slip Into Another World and Threadgill's other Novus titles (You Know the Number and Rag Bush and All) offer a fine introduction to the work of one of jazz's best and most underrated composers and improvisers.
 
 

JAZZ ARTISTS' BIRTHDAYS:

Lovie Austin (1887) - One of the first important female bandleaders in jazz, Lovie Austin deserves to be much better known. Born Cora Calhoun, she studied music in college and then toured on the vaudeville circuit, settling in Chicago in 1923. During 1924-1926, she recorded frequently with her Blues Serenaders, a group that at various times had Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, or Shirley Clay on cornet; Kid Ory or Albert Wynn on trombone; and Jimmy O'Bryant or Johnny Dodds on clarinet, along with banjo and occasional drums. Fortunately, a Classics CD has collected all of those recordings. Austin (as house pianist for Paramount) also backed many blues singers (including Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, and Alberta Hunter). But after 1926, her recording activity largely came to a halt. When the classic blues craze began to wither in the early 1930s, Austin settled into the position of musical director for the Monogram Theater, at 3453 South State Street in Chicago where all the Theater Owners Booking Association acts played. She worked there for 20 years. After World War II, she became a pianist at Jimmy Payne's Dancing School at Penthouse Studios, and performed and recorded occasionally.  In 1961 she recorded Alberta Hunter with Lovie Austin's Blues Serenaders, as part of Riverside's Living Legends series.  Lovie Austin died on July 10, 1972.

Candy Dulfer (1969) - In a sense, Candy Dulfer has carried on in the family business: her father, Hans Dulfer, was a well-known tenor saxophonist in the Netherlands, and he began giving her lessons on the instrument while she was still a child. Few could have predicted, however, that Dulfer would become an international recording and performing star while still in her teens, and that her debut album, released before she was 21 years old, would sell more than one million copies worldwide. More remarkable still, Dulfer did so in a musical genre not known for setting sales records by young artists: fusion jazz. Helped along by her sound musical training and willingness to experiment with different musical forms, Dulfer has released a series of albums featuring collaborations with everyone from R&B legend Prince to jazz musician David Sanborn. Dulfer has also been aided by her blonde bombshell looks, prominently featured on her album covers over the years. Dulfer has refused to take her image too seriously, however, acknowledging to Europe magazine in 1996, "In the beginning, many people bought my CD thinking, ‘How cute, a girl playing saxophone.’ And then they found out that I actually play fusion music, a kind of music that they might not have bought otherwise."  Although she had been offered recording contracts during her tenure with Funky Stuff, Dulfer waited until 1990 to sign with BMG records for a solo album. Released in 1990, Saxuality included the track "Lily Was Here," along with several funk and jazz-fusion songs co-written by Dulfer and a partner from Funky Stuff, Ulco Bed. Making the album into a family affair, Hans Dulfer even performed a saxophone duet with his daughter. A Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Recording helped the album earn a gold record in the United States, and it sold more than one million copies worldwide.  Dulfer released What Does It Take in 1999. An album of jazz and funk tracks with danceable beats and glossy production values, it reconfirmed the artist’s appeal across an array of styles, including forays into house music and reggae. On her 2001 release, Girls Night Out, Dulfer continued her musical explorations with a guest appearance by legendary salsa musician Arturo Sandoval and several tracks that showed her love of contemporary R&B.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Sheila Jordan – Portrait Of Sheila Jordan (1962)
Track Listing:
1.  Falling in Love With Love
2.  If You Could See Me Now
3.  Am I Blue
4.  Dat Dere
5.  When The World Was Young
6.  Let’s Face The Music and Dance
7.  Laugh, Clown, Laugh
8.  Who Can I Turn To?
9.  Baltimore Oriole
10. I’m A Fool To Want You
11. Hum Drum Blues
12. Willow Weep for Me

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
Sheila Jordan's debut recording was one of the very few vocal records made for Blue Note during Alfred Lion's reign. Accompanied by the subtle guitarist Barry Galbraith, bassist Steve Swallow, and drummer Denzil Best, Jordan sounds quite distinctive, cool-toned, and adventurous during her classic date. Her interpretations of Oscar Brown, Jr.'s "Hum Drum Blues" and 11 standards (including "Falling in Love With Love," "Dat Dere," "Baltimore Oriole," and "I'm a Fool to Want You") are both swinging and haunting. Possibly because of her originality, Sheila Jordan would not record again for over a dozen years, making this highly recommended set quite historic.

 
 

BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Louis Myers (1929) - Though he was certainly capable of brilliantly fronting a band, remarkably versatile guitarist/harpist Louis Myers will forever be recognized first and foremost as a top-drawer sideman and founding member of the Aces -- the band that backed harmonica wizard Little Walter on his immortal early Checker waxings.  The Aces and Muddy Waters traded harpists in 1952, Wells leaving to play with Waters while Little Walter, just breaking nationally with his classic "Juke," moved into the frontman role with the Aces. Myers and The Aces backed Walter on his seminal "Mean Old World," "Sad Hours," "Off the Wall," and "Tell Me Mama" and at New York's famous Apollo Theater before Louis left in.  Plenty of sideman work awaited Myers -- he played with Otis Rush, Earl Hooker, and many more. But his own recording career was practically non-existent; after a solitary 1956 single for Abco, "Just Whaling"/"Bluesy," that found Myers blowing harp in Walter-like style, it wasn't until 1968 that two Myers tracks turned up on Delmark. The Aces re-formed during the '70s and visited Europe often as a trusty rhythm section for touring acts. Myers cut a fine set for Advent in 1978, I'm a Southern Man, that showed just how effective he could be as a leader (in front of an L.A. band, no less). Myers was hampered by the effects of a stroke while recording his last album for Earwig, 1991's Tell My Story Movin'. He courageously completed the disc but was limited to playing harp only. His health soon took a turn for the worse, ending his distinguished musical career.  Louis Myers died on September 5, 1994.

jazz artist birthday:

Emily Remler (1957) - Initially inspired by rock music, she experienced a musical epiphany during her studies from 1974 to 1976 at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She began to listen to such legendary jazz greats as Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Charlie Christian, Miles Davis and John Coltrane and took up jazz with a ferocious intensity, practicing almost constantly and never looked back. Remler's first significant and formative step as a fledgling professional musician was to settle in New Orleans where she played in blues and jazz clubs working with bands such as FourPlay and Little Queenie and the Percolators before beginning her recording career in 1981. She was championed by guitar great Herb Ellis, who referred to her as "the new superstar of guitar". Ellis introduced her to the world at the Concord, CA Jazz Festival in 1978. In addition to her recording career as a band leader and composer, Remler played with artists as diverse as Larry Coryell, with whom she recorded an album entitled Together, and the singer Rosemary Clooney. She played on Broadway for the Los Angeles version of the show 'Sophisticated Ladies' from 1981 to 1982 and produced two popular guitar instruction videos. She also toured for several years in the early eighties as guitarist for Astrud Gilberto. In 1985, she won the ‘Guitarist Of The Year’ award in Down Beat magazine’s international poll. In 1988, she was 'Artist in Residence' at Duquesne University and, in 1989, received Berklee's Distinguished Alumni award. Emily Remler, who was a heroin addict, died of heart failure at the age of 32 in Australia on May 4, 1990.

jazz album recorded:

John Coltrane – Ballads (1962)
Track Listing:
1. Say It (Over and Over Again)
2. You Don’t Know What Love Is
3. Too Young to Go Steady
4. All or Nothing at All
5. I Wish I Knew
6. What’s New?
7. It’s Easy to Remember
8. Nancy (With the Laughing Face)

Review by Sam Samuelson at Allmusic:
Throughout John Coltrane's discography there are a handful of decisive and controversial albums that split his listening camp into factions. Generally, these occur in his later-period works such as Om and Ascension, which push into some pretty heady blowing. As a contrast, Ballads is often criticized as too easy and as too much of a compromise between Coltrane and Impulse! (the two had just entered into the first year of label representation). Seen as an answer to critics who found his work complicated with too many notes and too thin a concept, Ballads has even been accused of being a record that Coltrane didn't want to make. These conspiracy theories (and there are more) really just get in the way of enjoying a perfectly fine album of Coltrane doing what he always did -- exploring new avenues and modes in an inexhaustible search for personal and artistic enlightenment. With Ballads he looks into the warmer side of things, a path he would take with both Johnny Hartman (on John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman) and with Duke Ellington (on Duke Ellington and John Coltrane). Here he lays out for McCoy Tyner mostly, and the results positively shimmer at times. He's not aggressive, and he's not outwardly. Instead he's introspective and at times even predictable, but that is precisely Ballads' draw.
 
 

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.
 
 

BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Darrell Nulisch (1952) - Nulisch grew up on soul singers like Otis Redding and Al Green, inspiring him to take up a similar path and work on his voice. He was a founding member of Anson Funderburgh's Rockets and sang with that group in the '80s, when he also did time in groups like Ronnie Earl's Broadcasters. He eventually left Texas and started a solo career in 1991, relocating to Boston and releasing albums that showcased his incredible blues-harmonica skills and his passionate voice. Even legendary soul singer James Cotton asked Nulisch to work with his touring band when he lost his voice, giving Nulisch a chance to work with someone he admired. He continued his solo efforts into the next century, releasing the critically acclaimed I Like It That Way in the spring of 2000.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Oliver Lake (1942) - Oliver Lake is an explosively unpredictable soloist, somewhat akin to Eric Dolphy in the ultra-nimble manner in which he traverses the full range of his main horn, the alto. Lake's astringent saxophone sound is his trademark -- piercing, bluesy, and biting in the manner of a Maceo Parker, it was a perfect lead voice for the World Saxophone Quartet, the band with which Lake has arguably made his most enduring music.  In the late 1960s, Oliver became a founding member of the Black Artists Group in St. Louis. Since moving to New York to participate in the "Creative Music" revolution of the mid 70's, Oliver has performed in a wide array of contexts from the Oliver Lake Quartet and his groundbreaking Roots/Reggae/Jazz group. Oliver is also an original member of the acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet and has toured widely with two performance pieces "The Life Dance Of Is" and "Matador."  As a composer, arranger, saxophonist, flautist, poet and conceptualizer, Oliver Lake embodies all the tenets of the Creative music idea. He is above all else, an original artist.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Albert Ayler – Ghosts (1964)
Track Listing:
1. Ghosts
2. Children
3. Holy Spirit
4. Ghosts
5. Vibrations
6. Mothers

Review by Scott Yanow at Allmusic:
1964 was a busy year for Albert Ayler, who recorded at least seven albums worth of material. This particular session, a quartet date with trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray, was probably his most significant of the period. Switching between tenor and alto, Ayler is often ferocious on the six performances, jumping from simple melodies (of which "Ghosts" is the most memorable) to intense sound explorations overflowing with emotion; he even makes Cherry seem conservative. It helps greatly to have open ears to appreciate this music, although Ayler's jams would become a bit more accessible the following year. Recommended.
 
 

BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Charles Brown (1922) - How many blues artists remained at the absolute top of their game after more than a half-century of performing? One immediately leaps to mind: Charles Brown. His incredible piano skills and laid-back vocal delivery remained every bit as mesmerizing at the end of his life as they were way back in 1945, when his groundbreaking waxing of "Drifting Blues" with guitarist Johnny Moore's Three Blazers invented an entirely new blues genre for sophisticated postwar revelers: an ultra-mellow, jazz-inflected sound perfect for sipping a late-night libation in some hip after-hours joint. Brown's smooth trio format was tremendously influential to a host of high-profile disciples -- Ray Charles, Amos Milburn, and Floyd Dixon, for starters.   Classically trained on the ivories, Brown earned a degree in chemistry before moving to Los Angeles in 1943. He soon hooked up with the Blazers (Moore and bassist Eddie Williams), who modeled themselves after Nat King Cole's trio but retained a bluesier tone within their ballad-heavy repertoire. With Brown installed as their vocalist and pianist, the Blazers' "Drifting Blues" for Philo Records remained on Billboard's R&B charts for 23 weeks, peaking at number two. Follow-ups for Exclusive and Modern (including "Sunny Road," "So Long," "New Orleans Blues," and their immortal 1947 Yuletide classic "Merry Christmas Baby") kept the Blazers around the top of the R&B listings from 1946 through 1948, until Brown opted to go solo to even greater success.  In his last years, Brown finally received at least a portion of the recognition he deserved for so long as a genuine rhythm and blues pioneer. But the suave, elegant Brown was by no means a relic, as anyone who witnessed his thundering boogie piano style will gladly attest; he returned in 1998 with So Goes Love before dying on January 21, 1999.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Chu Berry (1908) - Leon Brown “Chu” Berry was considered one of the top tenor saxophonists of the 1930s, just below Coleman Hawkins (his main influence), Lester Young, and Ben Webster. Particularly strong on up-tempo numbers (although his ballad statements could be overly sentimental), Berry might have become an influential force if he had not died prematurely. After playing alto in college, he switched to tenor in 1929 when he joined Sammy Stewart's band. In 1930, he moved to New York, playing with Benny Carter's band and Charlie Johnson's orchestra. He was prominently featured in Spike Hughes' 1933 recording sessions, was a star with the bands of Teddy Hill (1933-1935) and Fletcher Henderson (1936; to whom he contributed his song "Christopher Columbus"), and then found a permanent home with Cab Calloway in 1937. Berry was used on many sessions including with his friend Roy Eldridge, Lionel Hampton (a classic version of "Sweethearts on Parade"), Teddy Wilson, and Calloway (his version of "Ghost of a Chance" became well-known); in addition he led a couple of his own fine dates. Chu Berry died from the effects of a car crash on October 30, 1941 when he was just 33 years old.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Paul Desmond – Desmond Blue (1961)
Track Listing:
1. My Funny Valentine
2. Desmond Blue
3. Then I’ll Be Tired of You
4. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
5. Late Lament
6. I Should Care
7. Like Someone in Love
8. Ill Wind
9. Body and Soul

Review by Shawn M. Haney at Allmusic:
As intended, this album presents alto sax specialist Paul Desmond as never featured before, with the backing of a string orchestra. The record, filled with such beautiful jazz standards as "My Funny Valentine," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "Body and Soul," is very rich in texture, yet subtle and mellow overall in mood. It's unyielding purpose: to soothe the souls of its listeners. Desmond's style and tone shine with an alluring quality, and the record is filled with melodies that don't fail to stimulate the sophisticated jazz listener. Desmond's melodies are eloquently detailed and charmingly spun in the midst of the string orchestra arranged and conducted by Bob Prince. The legendary Jim Hall is featured as guest guitarist, playing yet another scintillating role and using his classic comping style. Hall is perhaps the most highly respected of all jazz guitarists for his good taste and witty inventiveness. Desmond has always been most familiar to the jazz public for his sweeping scale passages and his seemingly effortless spontaneity during periods of improvisation, although here he is often featured in a more lyrical ballad style on such romantic tunes as "My Funny Valentine," "Late Lament," and "Then I'll Be Tired of You." This album is a highly innovative and meticulously crafted work, reflecting the ongoing success of both Desmond and Hall within the 1960s and the cool jazz period. Both of these musicians spent time working with Dave Brubeck and later lent themselves to many of Antonio Carlos Jobim's bossa nova projects. The arrangements are extraordinary throughout this collection, including the charming "Valentine," which begins with a fantastic Elizabethan flavor. The intro sets up the mood to carry Desmond into the first chorus, which then glides into a 20th century style. The tune "I Should Care" is "a shimmering debt to Ibert and one of the most imaginative blendings you will ever hear of strings, reeds, French horn and harp," according to the liner notes. The tone of the album: lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.
 
 

BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Gus Cannon (1883) - Gus Cannon was the best known of all the jug band musicians and a seminal figure on the Memphis blues scene. His recollections have also provided us with much of our knowledge of the earliest days of the blues in the Mississippi Delta. Cannon led his Jug Stompers on banjo and jug in a historic series of dates for the Victor label in 1928-1930. The ensemble usually included a second banjoist or guitarist, one of whom often doubled on kazoo, and the legendary Noah Lewis on harmonica. The jug-band style enjoyed a revival during the folk boom of the '50s and '60s, resulting in an ultra-rare Gus Cannon album on the Stax label after his "Walk Right In" became the nation's best-selling record for the Rooftop Singers in 1963. Only 500 copies of this 1963 album were pressed in its original issue, which explains why this legendary blues artist is known to only a handful of collectors.  Although the phrase “jug band” and its country connotations may turn off the casual listener, Cannon’s voice, the banjo picking and the lyrics give no doubt of this man’s influence on future generations of blues and rock and roll musicians.  He is reported to have died on October 15, 1979.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Cat Anderson (1916) - William Alonzo “Cat” Anderson was arguably the greatest high-note trumpeter of all time. His solo on "Satin Doll" from Duke Ellington's 70th Birthday Concert is a perfectly coherent chorus consisting of notes that are so high that it is doubtful if another trumpeter from all of jazz history could hit more than one or two. He first learned trumpet while at the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston and toured with the Carolina Cotton Pickers, a group in which he made his recording debut. During 1935-1944, Anderson played with many groups including those of Claude Hopkins, Lucky Millinder, Erskine Hawkins, and Lionel Hampton. Hampton loved his high-note mastery, although Hawkins reportedly fired Anderson out of jealousy. In 1944, Cat Anderson was first hired by Ellington and it ended up being the perfect setting for him. Ellington enjoyed writing impossible parts for Cat to play, and Anderson received publicity and a steady income. He was more than just a high-note player, being a master with mutes and having a fine tone in lower registers, but no one could really challenge him in the stratosphere (although Maynard Ferguson, Jon Faddis, and Arturo Sandoval have come close). Anderson was with Ellington during 1944-1947, 1950-1959, and off and on during 1961-1971. Occasionally he would go out to lead his own bands but he always came back. After Ellington's death, Cat Anderson settled on the West Coast where he often played with local big bands, including an exciting one led by Bill Berry. Although his erratic behavior over the last decade (or more) of his life was well documented, it took many by surprise when he died in 1981 of a brain tumor.

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Booker Ervin – Booker ‘n’ Brass (1967)
Track Listing:
1.  East Dallas Special
2.  Salt Lake City
3.  Do You Know What It Means to Miss 
     New Orleans?
4.  L.A. After Dark
5.  Kansas City
6.  Baltimore Oriole
7.  Harlem Nocturne
8.  I Left My Heart in San Francisco
9.  St. Louis Blues
10. L.A. After Dark
11.  L.A. After Dark

Review by Michael G. Nastos at Allmusic:
To hear Booker Ervin as the leading solo voice on a recording with a larger ensemble is a treat, not only for his fans, but for those interested in modern big-band sounds grown from the bop era that are flavored with urban blues. A trio of different sessions done at Webster Hall in New York City features groups ranging from ten to eleven pieces, with personnel switched up, and no supplemental saxophonists. Freddie Hubbard is the only other soloist besides Ervin, the trombone section features top-rate players Bennie Green, Britt Woodman, and Garnett Brown, and the rhythm section of pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Reggie Johnson, and drummer Lenny McBrowne is as solid as can be. The session is based entirely on themes dedicated to major cities in the U.S.

Three versions of "L.A. After Dark," featuring different solos from Hubbard, are included on the CD version, written by the arranger of the date Teddy Edwards, a quintessential uptown homage to his adopted home. Ervin's "East Dallas Special" - a mix of "Night Train" and "Sister Sadie" - and the short, tuneful Jerry Lieber-Mike Stoller penned hit of Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City," and the energetic 12-bar "St. Louis Blues" all shuffle along, powered by the soulful McBrowne. Four typical standards are included, with Ervin's tart-sweet post-John Coltrane saxophone sound undeniably leading the way. "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" is a slow spare horn chart accented by the booming bass of Johnson, while "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is a polite and heartfelt treatment of this all-time favorite. "Harlem Nocturne" is quite dissimilar from the Joe Harnell hit version of the era, this one approximating tango proportions. Closest to true big-band regalia, "Salt Lake City" depicts a not very jazzy or bluesy city with a sophistication that suggests the best progressive charts of Duke Ellington, and especially Oliver Nelson, with two-note horn shout-outs. While the charts of Edwards and the emphasis on brass instruments holds interest, the overall sounds are only somewhat arresting. Ervin is the straw that stirs this tasteful martini, but he is heard to better effect on his numerous small ensemble recordings, and especially his work with Charles Mingus.
 
 

BLUES ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Robert “Barbecue Bob” Hicks (1902) - Barbecue Bob is one of the unsung heroes of the Piedmont blues style. With the records that he made during the 1920s, Hicks played a twelve-string guitar like the big city boys, bringing the instrument's richness of sound to his traditional country-blues style. Hicks helped define the "Atlanta blues" sound that would become incorporated into the more expansive Piedmont blues style. Hicks' guitar technique borrowed heavily from the traditional clawhammer banjo playing style, and he was also known to play bottleneck slide on both the six-string and twelve-string guitar. Unlike other country bluesmen of the era that would later be re-discovered during the 1960s, other than an Eric Clapton cover of Hicks' "Motherless Chile Blues," Barbecue Bob's talent has sadly been overlooked. Still, his work and records paved the way for many bluesmen that would follow. Catching the flu in the fall of 1931, the disease lead to pneumonia and eventually tuberculosis.  He died on October 21, 1931 at the age of 29.

JAZZ ARTIST BIRTHDAY:

Harry Connick, Jr. (1967) - With very few exceptions, the career of Harry Connick, Jr. can be divided in half.  His first two albums encompassed straight-ahead New Orleans jazz and stride piano while his later career (which paralleled his rising celebrity status) alternated between more contemporary New Orleans music and pop vocals.  In 1989, Connick got his big break: a month-long engagement at the Algonquin Hotel.  The show attracted a great deal of press attention, particularly after legendary singer Tony Bennett saw a performance and proclaimed, "Connick could be the next Frank Sinatra."  He was then approached by director Rob Reiner to record an album of standards for the soundtrack to his 1989 romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally.  The movie became a smash hit, fueling double-platinum album sales for the soundtrack, which also garnered Connick his first Grammy Award.  By 1990, he had three albums on Billboard's pop chart.  As he continued to release best-selling album after best-selling album, Connick developed a persona in the media as something of a throwback, a modern-day heartthrob to match the romantic crooners of a bygone era.  His thick drawl, Soutnern manners and slicked-back hair became his calling cards.  Some critics insisted that Connick's music was an inferior
imitation of other, better artists.  "I've learned that people latch onto labels and stereotypes," he later said.  "There was a period when I was asked in every single interview how I liked being the new Frank Sinatra ... I think people will soon realize that I do a lot more than interpret old songs."

JAZZ ALBUM RECORDED:

Stan Kenton – The Formative Years (1941)
Track Listing:
1. El Choclo
2. Gambler’s Blues
3. Lamento Gitano
4. The Nango
5. Tabu
6. This Love of Mine
7. Reed Rapture
8. Concerto for Doghouse
9. Adios

Review by John Bush at Allmusic:
Though the title Formative Years may conjure images of a band just beginning to find its way in the competitive world of swing music, the Stan Kenton Orchestra heard on these recordings -- its very first two sessions, from September 1941 and February 1942 -- is already assured and distinctive. With charts by Kenton or Joe Rizzo, the band reflects a heavy Latin influence, opening with Angel Villoldo's "El Choclo" featuring an excellent, brassy chart by Rizzo and progressing through Margarita Lecuona's "Tabu" to Enric Madriguera's closing "Adios." Though few of these musicians survived the transition to the orchestra's popular success by the mid-'40s, Kenton is in full command of the extroverted style that expanded on the influence of Jimmie Lunceford's band and made his band one of the best of the postwar era.
 
    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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