When a featured sideman becomes a far bigger attraction than his employer, it’s time for him to wrap his sandwiches in a road map and go it alone. That’s the story of Gene Krupa’s rise to fame,
A handsome devil, to his credit, he was also blessed with great presence and an exhilarating technique. The bottom line – Gene Krupa made the drums sexy. He learned much from his lengthy sojourn with Benny Goodman’s Big Band (‘Sing Sing, Sing’) in the 1930s and just as important, the internal dynamics of Goodman’s trio and quartet which he later replicated in the 50s. At all times, Krupa was hell-bent on making his music the most exciting on the block and his own playing precision perfect. So, when Krupa eventually took to the road, he was keen to keep up with current trends (‘Calling Doctor Gillespie’) employing the writing talents of a young Gerry Mulligan (‘Disc Jockey Jump’), similarly he had a flair for hiring only the best – Roy Eldridge, Anita O’Day and Charlie Ventura. Just as crucial to his continued success, Krupa also had an ear for a good tune (‘Let Me Off Uptown’). When, in the early-1950s, running a big band was no longer a financial proposition, Krupa refused to be wrong-footed by this situation. He met it head on fronting either a gung ho trio and quartet, engaging in crowd-pleasing JATP drum battles with Buddy Rich and, in 1959, was portrayed by Sal Mineo in the Hollywood biopic The Gene Krupa Story (aka Drum Crazy). Such was Krupa’s genius that his star never waned to where his influence extended far beyond the jazz fraternity with both Keith Moon and John Bonham citing him as an inspiration. Roy Carr
Herbie Mann Original Album Series Atlantic Rhino 8122797711 (5-CDs) | Herbie Mann ( & ts) plus many others on the albums At The Village Gate; Do The Bossa Nova With Herbie Mann; Nirvana With The Bill Evans Trio; Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty; and Hold On, I’m Comin’. Rec. 1963-1972
For years, Herbie Mann had been sneaking by without really finding his true niche. That was until 1963 when he signed to Atlantic and rubbed up against the bossa nova and then a Top 40 jukebox to become both a popular live club attraction and a crowd-puller on the emergent jazz festival circuit. As luck would have it, Herbie Mann was in the right place at the right time and that place was Rio where, in the company of local hotshots – Baden Powell, Sergio Mendes and Antonio Carlos Jobim to name check just three, he turned in an album that rode in on the success being enjoyed by Stan Getz before dozens of others clambered aboard the passing bandwagon. Sure, Herbie Mann was an accomplished musician – a poll winner even, but to be realistic, as a player he didn’t have much bite nor generate nearly the same degree of genuine excitement as say Roland Kirk or grimace and stand on one leg like Ian Anderson. For instance, a chance encounter with the Bill Evans Trio (Nirvana) wasn’t a tour de force, more like Herbie accidentally stumbling into a studio where Evans was recording.
However, the undeniable fact that with both At The Village Gate and Do The Bossa Nova remaining on the U.S. Top 50 best selling album charts for seven and two months respectively, the realisation that he had tapped into a whole new youth market became apparent. Regarded Stateside as being ‘Mod’ (an entirely different and far less challenging beast than the UK original), Herbie quickly explored popular mainstream tastes in music and clothes. Indeed, it was only when be began to get down and funky with Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty and Hold On, I’m Comin’ did things become apparent as to which direction he was headed.
To this end, his ace was an ability to continually recognise, then hire, first rate crews of back-up musicians that at one time or another included vibes masters Roy Ayers and Dave Pike, Ray
Rare collectables and forgotten gems not yet out on CD
M C ( S T i l
Cecil Taylor Live In The Black ForestMPS1979CecilTaylor(p), Jimmy Lyons (as), Raphe Malik (t), Sirone (b), Ramsey Ameen (violin), and Ronald Shannon Jackson (d). The legendary pianist and free-jazz iconoclast has been in the news lately with the plans to turn his New
York apartment into a “living museum” for the ephemera he’s accumulated during a lifetime in music. So, it’s surprising how many vibrant recordings by the great maverick remain unavailable. This live recording captures a crack line-up of Taylor’s ever-changing Unit playing two side-long slabs of turbulent, highenergy improvisation. As with classic albums such as Unit Structures, there’s an episodic structure to these pieces, with subtle melodic flourishes giving the signal for solos and regroupings. Malik spits out stinging phrases through an impossibly high and tight embouchure, but the most powerful moments come when the horns drop out leaving cascading piano and drums. Who else but Jackson would dare to impose a disco beat on a CT piece? Briefly available on CD some years ago as a pricey Japanese import, it’s now lost in the woods once more. Vinyl selling for £17.50 at ebay.com Daniel Spicer
Charles’ star sax man David “Fathead” Newman, guitarists Sonny Sharrock and Eddie Hinton, up and coming keyboard maestro Chick Corea and a variety of kick-ass rhythm sections, the most notable being Barry Beckett (p), David Hood (b) and Roger Hawkins (d). All this being dressed up in a gaudy wardrobe that would have made Austin Powers dizzy with envy. Roy Carr
Blue Mitchell Bantu Village Soul Brother CD SBCS 47 | Blue Mitchell, Bobby Bryant (tpt), Bill Green (as, ), Buddy Collette (), Charlie Loper (tb), Plas Johnson (ts), Wilton Felder, Bib West (el b), Fred Robinson, Al Vescovo (g), Paul Humphrey, John Guerin (d), Dee Ervin, Monk Higgins (p, perc), King Errison and Alan Estes (congas). Rec. 1969 No clearer indication of the trumpeter’s funky soul jazz inclinations can be found than the opener ‘H.N.I.C’, which is a quite shameless but irresistibly finger snapping version of The Isley Brothers’ ‘It’s Your Thing’. The mellow but thrusting syncopations of that track are practically a constant of a set that picks up neatly where previous offerings such as Down With It left off, with an added drive provided by the electric rhythm section in which Paul Humphrey’s drums and Wilton Felder’s bass guitar make for a rock solid combination. The latter is, of course, the link to The Crusaders, and their influence is discernible alongside that of both Willie Mitchell and Hugh Masekela on some of the pieces where percussive riffs and choppy horn scores are the order of the day. With crisp backbeats and wah-wah riffs aplenty, both of which sound particularly fresh in the breakdowns, it’s easy to see how music such as this would appeal to any hip-hop producer with a sharp ear.
Then again, the band cooks sweetly enough for the whole set to be appreciated as a worthwhile whole rather than a collection of parts waiting to be reassembled by a merry prankster from sampleadelica. Kevin Le Gendre
Dick Morrissey Quartet Storm Warning/ Here and Now and Sounding Good Vocalion 2CDSML-8479 | Dick Morrissey (ts), Harry South (p), Phil Bates (b), Phil Seamen or Bill Eyden (d). Rec London, 1965, 66. This double album repackages a pair of cherished vinyl albums by one of Britain’s best-loved modern-jazz instrumentalists. Dick Morrissey was a crowd pleasing tenorman who as so sadly often is the case died far too young. Inspired by Tubby Hayes and Stanley Turrentine, he had a front edge of Tubby’s tone in his sound, followed by a righteous central core of deep Turrentine blue that combined to make his work both distinctive and highly accessible to live audiences.
Recorded in 1965 and 1966, for some reason these albums are presented in reverse chronological order. Both featured Harry South on piano and Phil Bates on bass, with drummer Bill Eyden replacing Phil Seamen on the later session, Here and
Now. South contributed a couple of originals to this, including an excellent minor blues, ‘Sunday Lunch’. Dick also selected two Hayes numbers, ‘Off The Wagon’ and ‘Don’t Fall Over The Bridge’, the latter played with admirable clarity and precision at the sort of speed Hayes so relished. Dick’s solo comes straight to the point and there’s also a fine drum solo from Eyden, who toured with Tubby during those years. ‘Storm Warning’, another minor-key South original, opens the earlier album. Kicked along by Seamen’s edgy latin beat, it draws a tremendous solo from Morrissey, playing with the sort of fire he always exhibited in live performances. South, who goes into a Red Garland chordal mode here, sounds more comfortable on the ballads, ‘What Is There To Say’ and ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’, which both highlight the soulful side of Morrissey’s art. ‘Wind of Change’, by South, has a ‘Sidewinder’ kind of beat yet Morrissey’s simple yet weighty solo adds a touch of Coltrane steel to the piece, as he similarly does to ‘Get Out Of Town’, a rarely played song perfected by Peggy Lee. ‘March On’, a brisk blues by Morrissey with stirring stop-time choruses, brings this reissue to a storming close. Every serious collector of British modern jazz ought to own it. The music has a timeless vitality and the sound, remastered by Michael Dutton, is so good that at key moments you can hear the players’ grunts of effort and almost feel the beads of sweat flying over Phil’s cymbals. Jack Massarik
Wayne Shorter Introducing Wayne Shorter Quintet With Wynton Kelly & Lee MorganEssentialJazzClassics EJC55497 | Wayne Shorter (ts), Lee Morgan (t), Wynton Kelly (p), Paul Chambers (b), Jimmy Cobb and Philly Joe Jones (d). Rec. 9 and 10 November 1959 and 1960 It’s almost as if Wayne Shorter had materialised from nowhere. A brief stint with Maynard Ferguson drew attention, but as word got around, in 1959 it was Art Blakey who was quick to snap Wayne up as a Jazz Messenger where he remained for five years until 1964 when he got that call from Miles. For someone so new, Wayne made his recording debut with about the fastest company around – his Messengers front line side-kick Lee Morgan and Miles’ then rhythm machine. If that doesn’t separate the men from the boys… you know the rest. These recordings that he taped for Chicago’s predominantly R&B Vee Jay label may well capture young Wayne working in Trane’s shadow, but he’s still able to partly imbued the occasion his own identity. But, it wouldn’t be until he moved to Blue Note in 1964 and cut Juju followed by Speak No Evil and Adam’s Apple that he helped opened up a fresh new directions separate from those of Miles. Of these Vee-Jay recordings, the standout is by far his interpretation of ‘Mack The Knife’. Only an essential purchase if you’re already in possession of all the Messengers, Miles and Blue Note material. Roy Carr
50 NOVEMBER11 // Jazzwise