32 Hours of Cool Jazz and Soul Jazz Classics

I was in a jazzy mood when I got home from the office so I compiled a list of the top-rated albums where %GENRE%=”cool jazz” and a second list of %GENRE%=”soul jazz” on RateYourMusic.com.

After about an hour I’d successfully constructed two 16-hour playlists from the selections I’d compiled.  Below are the resulting album playlists.

Stan Getz Focus

THE COOL JAZZ SET

[1958] Miles Davis – Ascenseur pour l’échafaud
[1957] Miles Davis – ‘Round About Midnight
[1958] Miles Davis – Milestones
[1959] Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
[1958] Bill Evans – Everybody Digs Bill Evans
[1960] Bill Evans – Portrait in Jazz
[1961] Bill Evans – Explorations
[1963] Bill Evans – Undercurrent (w Jim Hall)
[1977] Bill Evans – You Must Believe in Spring
[1961] Gil Evans Orchestra – Out Of The Cool
[1975] Jim Hall – Concierto
[1962] John Coltrane – Ballads
[1956] Art Tatum meets Ben Webster
[1963] Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train
[1955] Dave Brubeck – Jazz Red Hot & Cool
[1959] Dave Brubeck – Time Out
[1961] Stan Getz – Focus
[1976] Bernard Herrmann – Taxi Driver OST

FreddieHubbard_RedClay

THE SOUL JAZZ SET

[1958] Jimmy Smith – The Sermon
[1960] Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack
[1963] Jimmy Smith – Prayer Meetin’
[1964] Jimmy Smith – The Cat
[1965] Jimmy Smith – Organ Grinder Swing
[1966] Jimmy Smith – Jimmy & Wes The Dynamic Duo
[1973] Clifford Jordon – Glass Bead Games
[1974] Gil Scott Heron – Winter in America
[1967] Pat Martino – El Hombre
[1963] Donald Byrd – A New Perspective
[1972] Archie Shepp – Attica Blues
[1960] Bobby Timmons – This Here is Bobby Timmons
[1965] Big John Patton – Let ’em Roll
[1961] Ray Charles – Genius + Soul = Jazz
[1962] Grant Green – Feelin’ the Spirit
[1970] Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay

What do you think?  Are there any glaring omissions?

I have a number of these albums on vinyl, but there are several LPs on the list I’ve never heard – and some by artists who are completely absent from my library.

I’m looking forward to 32 hours of outstanding jazz music, and all of the new favorites I’ll find along the way.

It was NPR’s feature on the cocktail jazz duo, Twin Danger that got me in the mood for these mixes, so have a listen to them below.

Miles has arrived, and he is LIVE.

The Miles Davis official website and Facebook page have been brimming with news about the March 25th release of MILES AT THE FILLMORE Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3.  I’ve really enjoyed discovering Miles’ work for this period, and the notion of new live material certainly caught my attention.

Sadly, these recordings are set for release exclusively on CD, with no option for vinyl or digital download that I could see.  The official site does make mention that many of Davis’ recordings are currently being “remastered for iTunes…” (and I will bite my tongue here.)

Not to have my excitement shattered, I hurried over to discogs.com.  The official site stated that these recordings had for the most part only been available as bootlegs before this new release.  A few minutes of digging and I learned that a sampling of both shows were issued on an official compilation double LP on the Columbia label in 1970.  I instantly dismissed this option and pressed onward.  Surely, I could secure a copy of at least one of these legendary performances complete and in a vinyl format.

While on the hunt I found that these two performances are said to have been a pivotal moment for Davis – introducing the deadheads and other rock and roll cultures of the Fillmore scene to fusion and Davis’ own brand of new jazz.  Furthermore it is said that these performances are what secured Miles Davis’ induction as the first instrumentalist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And that’s when I found it.  Apparently, the Fillmore West performance was released in its entirety as a double LP in 1973, exclusively in Japan.  But before I scrambled for the discogs marketplace, I acted instead, on a hunch.

I phoned the Bop Shop in my old home town of Rochester, NY.  Tom at the Bop Shop has been the core of the jazz scene in the city for over 30 years.  He’s brought countless jazz acts to the city, and his shop is a must-visit for any discerning music fan.

I told him what I was looking for, and he breathed deep.  “Jeez, I’ve never come across that record,” he confessed.  But before ending the call, he asked me to hold on while he dug around in his back stock just in case.

30 seconds later, he returned to the line.  “Here it is!  Black Beauty, 1973!”

This evening it was waiting on my doorstep.  There’s nothing better than finding great music you never knew you wanted.

DSC04379
DSC04374

DSC04380

DSC04381

And here’s a 30 minute sample from the performance.

The Mega-Box-Set Post

Recently, while exploring the early Miles Davis recordings, I discovered the Miles Davis Quintet LPs released on the Prestige label in the years before his signing with Columbia.
For the past several months I’ve been enjoying the 72-disc Complete Columbia Recordings Collection so I picked up a digital archive of the Miles Davis Quintet albums and enjoyed the sessions very much.

Their final four albums released on the Prestige label were Cookin’… (57), Relaxin’… (’58), Workin’… (1959), and Steamin… (’61) …with the Miles Davis Quintet.

cookin

relaxin

workin

steamin

A quick scan of discogs.com made it clear that original pressings were out of my budget, but that remasters were pressed throughout the 80s and early 90s and readily available, still sealed, for around $20 apiece.  The total with shipping would be $86 for the remasters, so I spent a few extra days investigating a cheaper option.

The following Saturday I found my answer!  In 1972 and 1974, Prestige released two double-LPs with matching artwork and typography remastering all four of the albums I was after.  Better still, I acquired both sets in VG+ for a total of $21.

R-595825-1166182613

R-1436533-1304538088

Proud additions to my Miles Davis collection!

Next I jumped at the opportunity to order a copy of Moondog’s second self-titled LP from 1969.  It was my first exposure to the legendary blind avant-garde classical street performer and Odin-impersonator, and I knew I had to have it for my library.  The LP was reissued in 2003 but I secured a clean original pressing for $50, so I was happy.

R-1078494-1190462193

Later, while discussing early German avant garde-music with a coworker, he mentioned The Second Viennese School, which I investigated as soon as I was home from work.  There is a digital Collection available which includes Webern: The Complete Works (a 6-disc set), Schoenberg: The Piano Music, and the 1909-1935 Berg Collector’s Edition, (an 8-disc set).  I will be exploring these recordings while reading about the composers more in the coming weeks.

Out of curiosity I searched for the term “avant-garde” in the digital marketplace and found a wonderful set to further my education.  The Progressive/Kraut/Avant Garde/Psych Collection contains 753 albums totaling over 517 hours of material, most of which are out of print on vinyl.  Resources like these are excellent starting points for those taking their first steps into progressive rock and who learn best by actually listening to these rare recordings before ordering the original pressings.

Also on the subject of volumous box sets, there is a magnificent 8-DVD collection which I can’t recommend enough for listeners looking to explore the psybient genre I featured in my previous post.  The discs are expertly organized – the first disc compiling the works of Simon Posford (Celtic Cross, Dub Trees, Hallucinogen, Shpongle, The Infinity Project, etc.)

And DVD #6 is a compilation of fourty official psybient various-artists collections.

In all, the set contains over 329 hours of psychill albums and is an essential collectable for archivists or for anyone in need of some meditative chill-out music to spin while they’re working.

And the final multi-disc set of the week is the limited-edition Klaus Schulze: Ultimate Edition which compiles 50 CDs of previously unreleased or limited-release recordings into one massive set of ambient bliss.

I’ll be playing each of the collections highlighted above at the office for certain.

And to celebrate my new career (and having my own office for the first time in my life), my girlfriend presented me with a 24×36 framed print of a young Miles Davis to hang behind my desk.

Miles Prints sm

I added a framed original pressing of Birth of the Cool to the adjacent wall and picked up a new pair of speakers for my desk.

Image

I’m going to like it there.

Journey into Jazz

Inspired by a lady-friend jazz-fan (who found Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music captivating upon first listen!), I decided it was time I ventured further into the world of jazz.  Until now I had steeped comfortably in my hot kettle of Miles Davis’ electric period and Sun Ra’s psychedelic avant-garde trips like Space is the Place.  I was ushered into this flavor of fusion by Herbie Hancock and his electro-funk jazz classics like Headhunters, Thrust and Sextant.

Image

But I knew full-well that the 50 years which led up to these electric freak-out albums were rich with milestone recordings which demand to be heard.  Every “must-hear” jazz list is brimming with albums from 1922 to 1970, so I went to work compiling a list of albums to introduce me to classic jazz.

I constructed a starter-set of 65 essential jazz records from 1925 to the 1970 and have been experiencing them one record at a time.

I explored resources such as r/jazz’s sidebar of essential jazz, I conducted an RYM search for highly-rated LPs in the jazz genre from 1920-1965, and at the recommendation of some friends I ordered a copy of The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette.  I was delighted to find a first-edition available for $1, so I ordered it right away.

Image
Beginning chronologically, I sampled The Hall of Fame 5-disc collection of Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens (1925-1930), The 24-disc Duke Ellington Centennial Edition (1927-1943), and the undeniable jazz classic – Ellington at Newport (1956).

Image

Image

Image

I enjoyed the fast-paced bebop stylings of Dizzy Gillespie.  It had a similar energy to what I would soon hear on Coltrane’s Giant Steps (1960).  Blue Train (1957) and A Love Supreme (1965) followed shortly thereafter in my first-listen journey.

Next on the recommended list was The Quintet: Dizzy Gillespie / Charles Mingus / Charlie Parker / Bud Powell / Max Roach – Jazz at Massey Hall (1953).  The album is clearly one of the finest examples of a live jazz recording – a collaboration of the biggest names in jazz at the time of the session.  It adds a great energy to the room when it’s played, and I’m certain that I’ll be revisiting this disc often.

From there I picked up four of Charles Mingus’ most memorable recordings – Blues & Roots (1959), Mingus Ah Um (1959), Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963) and the classic – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, also from 1963.

But what really grabbed me at first-listen was a strong fascination with the more experimental free jazz LPs like Ornette Coleman’s boldly-titled releases including The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959), Free Jazz (recorded in one single take in 1960), Change of the Century (also from 1960) the spacey Science Fiction (1971) and Body Meta (1978).  From Coleman I branched out further and listened to Eric Dolphy’s 1964 classic, Out To Lunch.  As avant-garde as it is, the album has quite a mellow feel and I left it on repeat for three full plays through.

I already have 75 Sun Ra albums ripped from vinyl in my library, but I have yet to really explore them beyond The Heliocentric World and Space is the Place.  Now that I’m really getting into jazz it seems appropriate that I add his library to my listening list as well.

Bill Evans’ albums between 1958 and 1961 were next on my list, along with Cannonball Adderley’s Something Else (1958), the Complete Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Sessions, Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto’s 1963 classic, Getz & Gilberto, and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane from 1961 (recorded in 1957).

Image

That disc secured my certainty that I needed to hear more from the biggest names in jazz, so I was very happy to find a 54-disc archive of Ornette Coleman, and three 24-bit vinyl rip discographies of John Coltrane, Duke Ellington and of Thelonious Monk.

I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy the Ornette Coleman library, and I will wait a few days to receive my copy of The Penguin Guide to Jazz… before sinking my teeth into the 24 bit vinyl archives of Coltrane, Ellington and Monk.  (A fella could get lost in there without some direction.)

The autumn season has two paid weeks of vacation in store for me, and I plan to spend them reading, researching, and listening to these ~250 new records and will have a blast picking out a handful of titles for which I’ll order original pressings to finally expand the jazz section of my library.

Fall is coming – warm your home with beautiful music!

Psychedelic Sunday

I had a fantastic day antiquing with friends today!

You come across some unique characters at flea markets and antique shows and today I learned that the man I always see with a table full of archived science fiction radio broadcasts is a good friend of Mark Evanier and has personally met Sergio Aragones on numerous occasions!  This man has encyclopedic knowledge of all his archived programs including all 26 seasons of Doctor Who.  When I asked him if he had any of the rare merchandise of the 1960s The Prisoner series, he smiled and replied, “you mean the three paperbacks?  No… but the third one is the best.”  This blew my mind because few Americans I’ve met have heard of The Prisoner, let alone read the books.

But on to the records of the day…

A sealed limited edition colored vinyl landed on my doorstep last night.  After verifying the catalog number I promptly re-sealed the packaging and shelved it away until the end of June.  It’s going to be a little birthday gift to myself.   Stay tuned for my birthday post where I’ll unveil the album.

The first table I hit at the antique market was a routine stop, and this time I found not one but two Miles Davis LPs from his electric period.

The first, Big Fun is one I’d seen at the local annual record show just a week prior.  The copy at the show was $30 so I couldn’t pass up the double-LP for the $4 it was marked this time around.  Big Fun is a collection of outtakes, but as a Miles Davis record even the outtakes shine.  The standout track is the 20 minute, “Great Expectations.”  The Allmusic guide calls it a disc for fans, because it fills in the puzzle of what was happening between 1969 and 1970.

I was delighted when I read the closing sentence of their review which stated that others should look to Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, Jack Johnson, or Live Evil as starting points.  This rang especially true for me as my in-progress introduction to Davis followed that precise path of albums, with Live Evil as the next on my list.

Miles Davis - Big Fun

The other Miles Davis record was one I’d been eying at the market for the past 4 weeks and luckily, no one had purchased it.  A Tribute to Jack Johnson is a wonderfully funky album.  Herbie Hancock had been passing through the building where the jam session was taking place and ended up sitting in on the Hammond organ.  I later learned that the first twelve minutes of the second side revolves around a single bass riff lifted from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

Before leaving the vendor’s booth, he noticed the album had a very minor seam split on one corner.  He taught me a great fix – you first place a 12″ fitted poly bag around the album jacket with the open end on the same edge as the open end of the jacket.  The tight fit holds the seam together rendering it unnoticeable and prevents further tearing.  You then slide it into a 12.5″ poly bag with the open end at the top of the album.  Finally, insert the disc and dust jacket vertically into the outer sleeve.  The disc can now be easily accessed and the album back cover is still visible.  Soon you’ll forget all about the seam split.  This is just one of the many reasons I love the markets I visit.

Miles Davis - Tribute to Jack Johnson

The cement statue vendor I was looking for was away for an estate sale this weekend, so I continued on to another booth where I found a table of LPs all in poly bags.  I instantly spotted Pink Floyd’s A Nice Pair which is a double album of their first two LPs.  The copy has the generic “dentist” sticker at the upper right instead of the original ” W. R. Phang’s dental surgery” photo, and the nude center image is covered by the round pink “A Nice Pair” sticker, so I believe this is the more common version of the disc.  Still, it is a temporary remedy for not owning a vinyl copy of “Piper…” so I picked it up.

I did however discover that there are a few differences in the audio between the original releases and the US pressings of A Nice Pair.  The most disappointing change is the substitution of the live version of “Astronomy Domine” from the Ummagumma LP instead of the original recording from Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  As that was one of the tracks I was most looking forward to, I will likely be putting this double LP up for sale once I secure an original pressing of their first album.

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (original cover uncensored)

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair (Dentistry sticker)

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (Nude Sticker and Dentistry sticker)

I’ve also just ordered two Funkadelic recordings – one which has been missing from my P-Funk library for too long and the other will serve as a replacement for a copy I bought at a record show which has significant needle wear.

More to come, thanks so much for tuning in!

UPDATE: I made a few additional discoveries about the Miles Davis recordings which I would hate to leave out of this post.

In the year 2000, Columbia Records released a double CD version of Big Fun, catalog #C2K 63973.  This version featured four additional tracks which did not appear on any of the prior releases.  I researched the bonus tracks and discovered that originally appeared on the 1998 four CD set titled The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (C4K 65570).

One of these tracks is a beautiful near-ambient piece titled, “Recollections” which nearly 20 minutes in length.  If you enjoyed a single moment of In a Silent Way, you should give this track a listen.

The other track I discovered is quite different from “Recollections.”   I had been further exploring Davis’ electric period and came upon a live album titled Agharta from 1975.  The lengthy opening track, titled “Prelude” was unlike anything I’d heard before.  The Allmusic Guide stated simply that Agharta is “the greatest electric funk-rock jazz record ever made — period.”

Turn your speakers up and check out Pete Cosey’s guitar solo.  Start viewing at the 7 minute mark of this clip.  During the next sixty seconds the band falls silent and Cosey goes absolutely wild.   Enjoy this outstanding minute of music.

I am already on the hunt for an original copy of Agharta.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again!

Electric Eclectics

Added three more classic albums to my library!

First I spotted Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman at a flea market.

moog the electric eclectics of dick hyman

If you’re not familiar with the album, it’s got some great Moog tunes, including a track that Beck sampled on his album, Odelay.  The first few seconds of the track should be instantly familiar.

Here’s “The Moog and Me.”

Next up I found a copy of a double LP Underworld album missing from my vinyl collection at a great price (and in the States, no less) so I couldn’t resist ordering it.

Beaucoup Fish came out in 1998/99 and includes both cerebral headphone tunes (such as “Winjer”) and floor-stomping concert-encore anthems like “Moaner.”

But I saved the best for last.  I’ve been on the look out for modal and more downtempo works by Miles Davis as I better acquaint myself with his catalog.  In a local record shop I passed a repressing of an album called In a Silent Way.

The title had “ambient” potential so I went home and looked it up.  Ten minutes into side B I was tracking down a mint first pressing on the Web.

Astonishingly, I found a man who had purchased a copy in 1969 when it came out, played it for a few minutes on his turntable, and then shelved it for 43 years because he thought it was, “boring!”

Have a listen to the title track from side B.

And watch for the funky little bass line that creeps up on you at 08:18.  I think that was the moment when I smiled and said, “it will be mine.”

Most Satisfying Find of the Season

I picked up a near mint 1964 stereo pressing of Kind of Blue from a local antique shop last Sunday. It had been in the seller’s personal collection for over thirty years and he decided to sell it only after tracking down the original 1959 mono pressing which he called his desert island holy grail.

Image

What could I possibly say about this monumental recording that hasn’t been said in the last 50 years?

I am just getting started started with jazz. Davis’ Carnegie Hall LP and Bitches Brew were my first.

I really love the modal theme of the album, and as a lover of ambient music the smooth, cool feel is just my style. I welcome any other recommendations of similar records so that I can further explore jazz.

UPDATE: A few days later I spotted a new issue of Davis’ In A Silent Way at a local shop.  I went home and gave it a listen online.  It’s essentially two ~20 minute tracks, and apparently it divided the jazz community due to it’s usage of electronic instruments.  Herbie Hancock joins in on keys and both tracks journey deep into space-jazz territory.  What more could an ambient aficionado ask for?  I’ll be picking up an original issue of In A Silent Way just as soon as I can.

Published in: on March 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,