Skip to main content
Read page text

Page Text


Django Bates Like Life: The Jazzpar Prize Storyville | Django Bates (kys), Iain Ballamy (s), Michael Mondesir (b), and Martin France (d) plus the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. Rec. 1997 A welcome release that superbly complements last year’s “lost” live Loose Tubes album. It’s also an album that has a significance beyond its splendid content. It features the now infamous take on ‘New York, New York’ which contributed to Bates’ early departure from Polygram. Here though it’s a celebratory calling card: with the winning of the Jazzpar Prize Bates won a recognition long denied him and it set him on the path to his residency at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory where his writing continues to mature while he nurtures a generation of European players. The content here though looks back over the songs of the previous decade – a joyous ‘Armchair March’, a deliriously self-enfolding ‘The Loneliness Of Being Right’ and a riotously swinging title track. Old pals like Ballamy join the party, but it’s the razor sharp discipline of the DRJO, doing their version of Delightful Precipice, that impresses and gave Bates the confidence to realise that, at last, he’d discovered a home from home (as long as they learned how to make a decent cup of tea). Andy Robson

George Benson Body Talk CTI 569903 | George Benson, Earl Klugh (g), Harold Mabern (p), Gary King (el-b), Ron Carter (b), Jack DeJohnette (d), Mobutu (p) and six studio brass. Rec. July 1973 CTI stands for Creed Taylor Incorporated, a byword not only for production quality but also smoothness. Yet fear not, this is one of Taylor’s harder-hitting efforts. George Benson as jazz guitarist has never sounded funkier than here, with plenty of blowing room, a crisp rhythm section sparked by the rampant young Jack DeJohnette, some unobtrusive brass arrangements by Pee Wee Ellis and literally no strings to cramp his style. Another welcome feature is Benson’s exemplary teamwork with rhythm guitarist Earl Klugh, particularly on Donny Hathaway’s soul classic, ‘When Love Has Grown’. Both guitarists and pianist Harold Mabern solo on this, Benson employing far more chordwork than he usually does. And all five of the other cuts here, including the title track, and the excellent ‘Plum’, are Benson originals. Though not yet singing for his supper he is really stretching out here, his solos bursting with funky energy and soulful dynamism, models of how to retain interest and build excitement even on themes with minimal harmonic movement. True, he does repeat quite a few clichés, but they’re his own clichés. Recommended, especially to younger listeners unfamiliar with Benson’s midperiod transition to superstardom. Jack Massarik

Serge Chaloff Boss Baritone ProperBox 158 | Serge Chaloff (bar s), Sonny Berman, Red Rodney, Ernie Royal, Gait Preddy, Miles Davis, Herb Pomeroy, Nick Capazutto (t), Bill Harris, Earl Swope, Mert Goodspeed, Sonny Truitt, Bennie Green, Gene Di Stachio (tb), Woody Herman (clt), Charlie Mariano, Boots Mussulli (as), Flip Phillips, Allen Eager, Sonny Stitt, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Varty Haritounian (ts), Charlie O’Kane (bar s), Terry Gibbs (vbs), Chuck Wayne (g), Ralph Burns (p & t), Rollins Grifths, Al Haig, George Wallington, Lou Levy, Barbara Carroll, Bud Powell, Nat Pierce, Russ Freeman, Dick Twardzik, Ray Santisi, Sonny Clark, Elliot Lawrence (p), Artie Bernstein, Chubby Jackon, Curley Russell, Oscar Pettiford, Frank Vaccaro, George Jones, Jimmy Woode, Ray Oliveri, Everett Evans, Leroy Vinnegar, Buddy Jones (b), Don Lamond, Tiny Kahn, Denzil Best, Pete DaRosa, Max Roach, Joe McDonald, Buzzy Drootin, Jimmy Zitano and Philly Joe Jones (d). Rec. September 1946-February 1957 One of Woody Herman’s original sainted Four Brothers, poll winning baritone saxist Serge Chaloff had it all: a sharp dresser, matinée idol good looks, great hair, and all topped off with a monstrous heroin addiction. This is basically, the prized 1993 Mosaic box set plus a few tasty extras and an informative 24 page Joop Visserpenned booklet. On record Serge was usually heard in the company of Herdsmen such as Red Rodney and Earl Swope or reliable Boston hometown firemen like Herb Pomeroy and his gang. Two LPs, The Fable Of Mabel and Boston Blow-up (the latter featuring a version of ‘Body And Soul’ that makes one almost forget Coleman Hawkins’ classic interpretation), finally put Serge on the map as a leader but his best was still to come. Blue Serge proved to be not only his next and final album but unquestionably his greatest personal statement to where it remains unchallenged as one of the finest albums of the post-bop era.

In terms of dexterity, Serge Chaloff was master of his instrument. Though he could easily handle the most difficult bends at high speed, his great talent was the breathless manner he employed to colour his work with varying degrees of light and shade. One moment, he could be as agile as Lee Konitz, lyrically gifted as Stan Getz and as exciting as Charlie Parker (check his double-time break that immediately follows Leroy Vinnegar’s bass solo on ‘Susie’s Blues’ on Blue Serge.

Taped in just one day, Blue Serge finds the upbeat leader in the company of Sonny Clark, Leroy Vinnegar and Philly Joe Jones. Said Serge: “I picked out what I felt was the best rhythm section around and just told them to show up, no rehearsals, no tunes set and trusted to luck and musicianship. I think it paid off.” It certainly did, as together they filed definitive versions of ‘I’ve Got The World On A String’, ‘Thanks For The Memory’ and, most notably, ‘A Handful Of Stars’. Sadly, Serge’s excesses caught up with him to the point where his final visit to the recording studio was in a wheelchair for a Four Brothers Reunion. His energy level was now so dissipated that he only managed to play his allotted solos, all section work being handled by Charlie O’Kane. Five months later, on July 16, 1957, Chaloff died, He was just 33. Final word – at a fraction of the price of the long-deleted Mosaic motherlode, this is not to be missed. Roy Carr

Buck Clayton Complete Legendary Jam Sessions – Master Takes Solar 4569904 | Buck Clayton, Joe Newman, Joe Thomas, Billy Buttereld (t), Ruby Braff (cnt), Urbie Green, Benny Powell, Henderson Chambers, Trummy Young, Bennie Green, Dicky Harris, JC Higginbotham (tb), Tyree Glenn (tb, vib), Woody Herman (clt), Lem Davis (as), Julian Dash, Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Tate (ts), Charlie Fowlkes (bar s), Sir Charles Thompson, Jimmy Jones, Billy Kyle (p, cel), Al Waslohn, Kenny Kersey (p), Freddie Green, Steve Jordan (g), Walter Page, Milt Hinton (b), Jo Jones, Bobby Donaldson (d), Jack Ackerman (tap dance) and Jimmy Rushing (v). Rec. 14 Dec 1953, 16 Dec 1953, 31 Mar 1954, 13 Aug 1954, 15 Mar 1955 and 5 Mar 1956 Three CDs in a cardboard slip-case, just another public domain release by an Andorra-based label and largely lifted from the definitive Mosaic box set at a guess, even down to the un-credited re-use of session photographs mostly from the Frank Driggs Collection. Oh well, and that said, it’s still magic music and finger-licking good at that. Take a glance at the collective personnel listed above and what you’ll see is a kind of buyer’s guide to the best swing soloists of the day, their skills honed in pre-bop big bands, albeit with something of a bias towards the Basie manner, viz the rhythm section.

Largely the idea of entrepreneur

John Hammond and producer George Avakian and designed to exploit the stretched-out potential of the newly popular long-playing record, these sessions were conceived as a homage to the jam sessions of yore, the personnel choices and skeletal arrangements assigned to leader Clayton. I well remember the first of the Columbia LPs appearing c.1954 and marvelling at ‘Robbins Nest’ which occupied the entire first side and ‘The Huckle-Buck’ on the other and playing them to destruction. Aside from the terse yet swingy pianisms of Sir Charles, one loved the way each player locked in and ran with the theme, riffs behind them, and of course, at the emergence of the previouslyunheralded soloists like Urbie Green, Fowlkes and Dash who flowered in this congenial situation. And that’s how it goes through some three-and-a-half hours of near-perfect mainstream. Add to these, the equally potent Vanguard sessions that also appeared around this time (again at Hammond’s instigation) and you have the well-spring for the world-wide mainstream revival. More to the point, you have Clayton, a major Basie stylist, in his element with likeminded companions. A certainty for the best-of-the year reissue category. Peter Vacher

Ornette Coleman Original Album Series: The Shape Of Jazz To Come/Change Of The Century/This Is Our Music/Free Jazz/ Ornette!Atlantic/Rhino8122797709 | Ornette Coleman (as), Eric Dolphy (b clt), Don Cherry, Freddie Hubbard (t), Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro (b), Billy Higgins, and Ed Blackwell (d). Rec. 1959–62

Although his work for Impulse, Blue Note, Columbia, Flying Dutchman and his own Harmolodic label should b bby no means be discounted – after all they yielded nuggets such as Skies Of America, Friends And Neighbours and In All Languages – the Atlantic recordings are arguably the backbone of the saxophonist’s oeuvre. Taken together, the five sets that start with 1959’s The Shape Of Jazz To Come and conclude with 1962’s Ornette! still make for something of a shock to the system decades later for two simple reasons: the cast iron strength of character of Coleman as a soloist, which also holds true for his accompanists, who are actually more like co-pilots; and the absolute boldness of the writing which both confirms the vitality of the “avant-garde” or “new music” and makes the crucial point that its central development away from bebop’s clearly mapped chords and set meters took it “back” to early blues and country as well as forward to an undefined idiomatic space. Ultimately, Coleman’s

46 NOVEMBER11 // Jazzwise

Skip to main content