4-27-2016 Jazz Marathon edition
Charlie MingusSonny Rollins & Thelonius Monk
Nat King Cole
*************************Okay, I was all set for another edition of my British Blues series until I went down to the station Thursday and realized our Jazz Marathon was this weekend. I always enjoy trying to set a mood for you with some of my favorite Jazzmen (and occasionally even women), but it is a genre that, in spite of how much I enjoy it, I don’t listen to that often. So, with less than a week to put it all together, I didn’t go deeply into the artists’ outputs. Much of my Jazz music comes from multi-CD sets and I kinda just went with the earliest quality tunes I came across. Oh well, just leaves more to choose from in the future. Still, I think there is plenty here for three hours of pleasure. If you’ve been listening to my shows, you’re aware that it will be mostly up-tempo, but for a change you might just hear a pretty song. Yuck!
*************************The opening set of Charlie Mingus material is from Proper Records’ 4CD set Young Rebel. I particularly enjoy Proper’s reissues not only because they are affordable but because their documentation is thorough, including extensive biographical information. That said, it is unfortunate I cannot locate the booklet for this artist so all I can say is that is among the very earliest of bass player Mingus’ sessions, most before he put together his own bands.
*************************The set of Sonny Rollins and Thelonius Monk is taken from an album I found at the library so I have no information on it, but I do know they are among the highest regarded artists on their instruments, Rollins on saxophone and Monk on piano. Logically, the disc was titled Sonny Rollins with Thelonius Monk and my computer lists it as released in 1953.
*************************Jimmie Lunceford was one of those guys who helped make the transition from the big bands to smaller ensembles back in the days of the “territory bands”. These tracks were taken from the Quadraphenia 4CD set Life is Fine.
*************************I figured I needed a lady Jazz singer for this show so I went to my Proper 4CD box sets Billie Holiday? Dinah Washington? Ella Fitzgerald? Naw, I might have played them before. I think I’ll go with Sarah Vaughan this time. I went through all 94 tracks spanning 1944-1950 in the Young Sassy set and was getting pretty discouraged as I discarded so many songs I guess would be categorized as torch songs, and that seemed to be almost all of them, but I think the eleven songs chosen are a little bit livelier with a few slow ones thrown in as pace changers.
*************************If you think Nat “King” Cole was just a schmaltzy pop singer from the mid-40s to the late 60s, although that is true, then you would be sorely mistaken. In that function, Cole charted over 100 singles and two dozen albums in the pop field, second only to Frank Sinatra in that span of time. Here we have music taken from the first of a 10 disc set simply titled Nat King Cole. The set only includes track titles and songwriters so I’m afraid I can’t even tell you when they were recorded. I was thinking between 1939 and 1941 but that doesn’t jive with the online biography of AllMusic..
In July 1936 with his bassist older brother, Nat made his recording debut with Eddie Cole’s Swingsters. The band then was hired for the black Broadway musical Shuffle Along and, while the rest of the band moved on rather than go on tour, Nat stayed because of dancer Nadine Robinson, whom he married in January 1937 when he was 17 years of age. The tour closed in Los Angeles and the couple settled there as Cole set out to find work.
In the summer of 1937 Cole was encouraged by a club owner to put together a small combo, choosing bassist Wesley Prince and Nat’s decade long accompanist, guitar player Oscar Moore. For the first time applying his nickname to the group, the band performed as the King Cole Swingsters and later just as the King Cole Trio.
Between 1938 and 1940 the band recorded for small labels which led to radio work and extended their performances to gigs outside of California. Late in 1940 the band was signed to Decca Records and had a number one hit in 1941’s recording of the Cole composition That Ain’t Right, reaching that pinnacle on Billboard’s R&B chart in January 1943. Johnny Miller had taken over on bass by the recording of the song and the Decca contract had run out before it became a hit. Excelsior recorded their next single, All for You, in October 1942 but Capitol bought the rights from the small label and reissued it as the tune became their second number one on the Harlem Hit Parade.
That led up to the trio signing with Capitol and the band’s third release, Straighten Up and Fly Right, was #1 R&B for ten weeks commencing April 10th 1944, spent six weeks atop the country chart and climbed into the Top Ten pop chart. Following that, on October 21st Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You made it to the highest spot on the black chart as well as climbing into the popular rankings.
The trio placed four more singles in the R&B chart in 1944 plus releasing their first album. The album consisted of 4 78RPM discs with one song on each side, 5 instrumentals and 3 Cole vocals. The album stayed for twelve weeks at the top of Billboard’s very first album chart initiated on March 24th 1945. By this time Swing was declining in popularity and many Jazz musicians were heading into Be Bop. While the newer, more spontaneous style of Jazz reached a more selective fan base, Cole’s music maintained its audience, and this is where we will pause our story.
Three sets with vocalists? That’s pretty much unrepresentative of my jazz tastes!
*************************Lou Donaldson is a guy I came across when I picked up a couple of his LPs at the flea market probably in the very early 70s. I mean, how could I pass up a 25-cent album called Rough House Blues? Today’s selections are culled from the first of another 4CD set, this one on Real Gone Jazz, under the title Eight Classic Albums. Caravan, That Good Old Feeling and Move It (as well as L.D. Blues if we have time for it) were recorded January 27, 1957 for the LP Wailing with Lou, while the other three tracks were laid down on June 9th that same year and appeared on Swing and Soul. Donaldson was on alto sax, Herman Foster on piano and Peck Morrison played bass on both albums with Art Taylor’s drumming and Donald Byrd’s trumpet can be heard on the first album, replaced by drummer Dave Bailey and the congas of Ray Barretto as part of the second LP’s quintet. Lou is still one of my favorite Jazzmen and I am happy to be able to hear him again since the acquisition of this CD set.
*************************The closing set is essentially a tribute to Bill Hazzard who, for more than twenty years, had the show that came immediately after mine. In fact Bill appreciated my warped sense of humor when one year +I handed him a Christmas card saying he was my show’s longest follower. Bill had a definite idea about keeping a distinct difference between shows. He would always start off with World music and then get into an hour each of Classical and Jazz. I told him it would be easier for me to do a transition to his show if he started with Jazz, but he did not see that as a clear enough break. I remember twice in all the years he thought that my closing tune was World-y, once with Screaming Jay Hawkins and again when I closed with a tune where the Animals clapped percussively for about two minutes. Not only did Bill do a diverse program but he also served as head of the Jazz department and as station manager, or some similarly never-appreciated official task.
Bill was also a performing musician and it is from the ensemble with whom he played vibraphone for many years, Octobop, that I will leave you with today. This was the first of three discs Bill turned me on to, Night Lights from 2002, but not the first they released. While they were not quite as raucous or spontaneous as I prefer, both times I saw them I found them highly enjoyable.
I am very fortunate that the Razzberry allows me to go over a minute or two on what I consider to be too often, but Bill was a stickler for starting right on time and would fade out the last tune if it ran over at all, except for the occasions when I would end with Octobop. I found humor in that.
Okay, so in some ways I guess I’m a sloppy sentimentalist because I still send an email to Bill’s address before each Blues Marathon (June 24th to 26th this year, by the way) knowing full well I’ll receive the message that it was undeliverable. As long as I remember, I hope I will end all my Jazz Marathon pre-shows with Octobop until I run out of their music.
*************************Well, not as much information as usual but also not as much prep time either. Tune in to the Jazz Marathon beginning at 10am Friday and running all the way through Sunday at midnight. That’s this weekend, April 29th through May 1st. Enjoy.
*************************Since it is still relatively new, I thought I’d mention that KKUP is now streaming on the internet and, while it is still in a developing stage, we have been putting out the word. I’m not all of that good with high-tech stuff, but it seems pretty easy to access. If you go to our website at KKUP.org you will see on the home page a strip of options immediately above the pictures of the musicians the next to the last option being LISTEN ONLINE. By clicking this, it brings up a choice of desktop or mobile. I can only speak for the desktop but after maybe a minute I was receiving a crystal clear feed. As already mentioned, this is still a work in progress and we are currently limited to a finite number of listeners at any one time. I mention this so you will be aware to turn off the application when you are not actually listening. (I put the player in my favorites bar for the easiest of access.) Now we can reach our listeners in Los Gatos and Palo Alto, even my family in Canada. Let your friends elsewhere know they can now listen to your favorite station, and while they have the home page open they can check out our schedule.
Don’t Blame Me
Scrapple from the Apple
The Way You Look TonightWork
Sonny Rollins and Thelonius Monk
Oh BoyHittin’ the Bottle
Perdido September 1950No Smokes Blues December 1941
Summertime December 1949
Ain’t Misbehavin’ May 1950
East of Eden (and West of the Moon) Dec 1941
Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child Oct ‘47
What a Difference a Day Makes December 1947
Mean to Me May 1945
I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and
Write Myself a Letter November 1947
I Cover the Waterfront July 1947
De Gas Pipe She Leakin’ Joe December 1950
Dixie JamboreeBlack Spider Stomp
Let’s Get Happy
By the River Saint MarieI Like to Riff
Nat King Cole
CaravanL.D. Blues (time permitting)
That Good Old Feeling
Grits and Gravy
I Won’t Cry Anymore
Walkin’ ShoesBlue Mist