Great “Live” Jazz
Joel Dorn and the boys and girls at Hyena records have put together a new, low-priced (less than $10 at CD Now/Amazon) compilation of live jazz, drawing from their catalogue of releases both on Hyena and Dorn’s previous label, M. Since I reviewed most of those original releases, what I have done here is put together a “compilation” of sorts of my own, quoting my old reviews as appropriate and adding new material when necessary.
That’s right — it’s Ink 19’s equivalent of a cheesy sitcom “clip show.” So just pretend I’m being held at gunpoint and being forced to ruminate on the recent past…
It starts with Les McCann’s rhythmic “Maleah,” an immediate hit with me. This is what I want from a piano player, sheets of cool beauty slowly melted by warm, silver ripples. Al Cohn & Zoot Sims’ “Mr. George” follows; a tenor sax duet falls into the category of music that is perfectly fine, but does not happen to do anything for me personally…at least at first. I must admit that by the end, the way the two swing together has really grown on me.
Someone once said that if you cannot tap your foot to it, it is not a jazz song. This may be unacceptably limiting, but if we accept that definition, then “Work Song” from Cannonball Adderley has to be one of the jazziest songs I have ever heard. Man does that thing roll!
“My Foolish Heart” by Stan Getz is next. This is the perfect soundtrack to watching the rain on the windows of a train. As you ride away thinking of a meeting with an old lover in which sparks flew but turned to ash when you tried to catch them like fireflies.
Freddie Hubbard & Jimmy Heath’s “Bluesville” is a good jazz-funky jam from 1965. Heath’s tenor sax just bounces along and Hubbard’s trumpet punctuates the duo’s thoughts like the score to a good thriller. It does not take a special ear to say that Eddie Harris was a remarkably skilled tenor sax player, or to appreciate the quotes that he mixes into his “Chicago Serenade” (I counted “My Favorite Things,” “So What?” and I think, “The Odd Couple”). Or as Joel Dorn himself told me,
“‘Chicago Serenade,’ that is as good an example of how you can swing lightly and pull an audience with you… “
“Night Train” is more to my liking than some Rahsaan Roland Kirk I’ve heard, being a rare instance of him playing a bluesy, honking tenor (in duet with Kenny Rogers on baritone). Unfortunately, to my ears the rhythm section sometimes swings like a dusty crate here, but why pick? “Slow Freight,” a solo piano blues by Ray Bryant, is next to appear. Dorn’s typically chatty, informal liner notes have it that in his humble opinion, Bryant is “the living master of the solo piano.” I dunno if I would go that far. The stripped-down sound of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s piano pieces is more to my personal liking — but there ain’t no flies on Bryant, neither. Or on Sonny Stitt’s Deuces Wild, with Don Patterson on organ and Stitt on electric saxophone.
So: Some wonderful soloists leading bands of great musicians playing great music. What more do you want out of life?