By Scott Yanow

ZEV FELDMAN’S MONTH

Zev Feldman

            Producer Zev Feldman has been rather busy. During the past few years Feldman (the Sherlock Holmes of jazz) has unearthed and released a remarkable number of previously unreleased gems from jazz greats, most notably multiple sets by Wes Montgomery and Bill Evans. Apparently doing his best to challenge himself, recently Feldman has come out with no less than 10 releases by the likes of Art Tatum (the rather remarkable three-CD Jewels In the Treasure Box), Yusef Lateef, Sun Ra, Chet Baker & Jack Sheldon, Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The other four releases are reviewed in this piece.

          

Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Recordings[3 CD]

  Sonny Rollins’ Freedom Weaver, a three-CD set, differs from the other recent Feldman releases in that all of its 26 selections had previously been out. However they were released on such bootleg labels as Solar, Bird-Notes, Ingo, Moon, Royal Jazz, and the more legitimate Dragon. With this new release, the sound is greatly improved, royalties are being properly paid (as they are with all Feldman productions), and Rollins gave the project his blessing and cooperation.

            The music is comprised of all of the live performances that exist from Sonny Rollins’ European tour of 1959 which includes stops in Stockholm, Zurich, Laren (Holland), Frankfurt, and Aix-en-Provence (France) that date from Feb, 21-March 11. At the time Rollins felt dissatisfied with his own playing, feeling that he was not being creative enough and that he was not deserving of the fame he had achieved in the jazz world. He would retire from the scene shortly after the tour for three years, spending his hiatus practicing his tenor constantly on the Williamsburg Bridge before returning with his The Bridge recording in 1962.

            However, Rollins was being a bit too self-critical. He plays quite brilliantly throughout these concert performances. His pianoless trio features bassist Henry Grimes (who is a major asset) and drummer Pete LaRoca. Because of some personal differences, LaRoca was replaced by Joe Harris on three songs from a television broadcast (although he had played with Rollins earlier that day) and by Kenny Clarke on three lengthy numbers from the March 11 concert that are dominated by tenor-drums tradeoffs. While they had slightly different styles, all three drummers can be heard giving the music what it needed.

            Despite his own misgivings (which have mellowed over time), Rollins is in top form throughout the performances which include such songs as “St. Thomas,” “How High The Moon,” “Oleo,” “Paul’s Pal,” a mostly unaccompanied “It Could Happen To You,” “I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star” (four rewarding versions are included), “A Weaver Of Dreams,” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing.” While one may think that three CDs that showcase a saxophonist might get a bit tiring, tempo variations, a bit of wit, and Rollins’ endless flow of creative and unexpected ideas, (check out the ending of a nearly 19-minute version of “Lady Bird”), make this reissue a gem.

            An extra bonus is the 56-page booklet which, in addition to definitive liner notes by Bob Blumenthal and interviews with Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, James Carter, the late Peter Brotzmann, and James Brandon Lewis, has Rollins himself talking about the tour and the period before he went out to “The Bridge.” Sonny Rollins’ Freedom Weaver is available from www.resonancerecords.org.

Shelly Manne : Jazz From The Pacific Northwest (CD) -- Dusty Groove is  Chicago's Online Record Store

            Jazz From The Pacific Northwest is a two-CD set that features drummer Shelly Manne & His Men. Manne (1920-84) was a very skilled drummer who sounded equally at home driving the Stan Kenton Orchestra, heading combos, playing with all-star groups, and working in the studios. Two different versions of his bands are featured on the previously unreleased music. His quintet from 1958 (with altoist Herb Geller, trumpeter Stu Williamson, pianist Russ Freeman, and bassist Monty Budwig) is heard from the first (1958) Monterey Jazz Festival. Geller takes honors during a set consisting of “Stop, Look and Listen” (which has some fine interplay between the horns), “The Vamp’s Blues,” and the lengthy “Quartet (Suite In Four Movements)”; the latter evolves from a medium tempo blues to a ballad, a happy jam, and an uptempo blues. The other group (with Frank Strozier on alto and flute, trumpeter Conte Candoli, pianist Hampton Hawes, and Budwig with two vocals from Ruth Price) is featured on a pair of radio broadcasts from 1966. Best is Strozier’s flute playing on “Secret Love.” The music during these two sets is worthwhile but not all that unusual or unique. It just has Shelly Manne putting in a couple of honest days’ work, sounding typically professional and reliable. Jazz From The Pacific Northwest is available from www.cellarlive.com and includes a 36-page booklet.

Cannonball Adderley - Wikipedia

            Cannonball Adderley (1928-75) was a brilliant and influential altoist, led one of the most popular jazz bands of the 1960s, and was quite articulate, witty and hip when speaking to his audiences. His best recordings took place during his period with the Riverside label (1959-63) when his group swung in exciting fashion while crossing over between hard bop and soul jazz. When Riverside went broke, Adderley signed with Capitol and at first his recordings were in a similar vein. But after he had a major success with Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” in 1966, the quality of his recordings declined with attempts at other hits, a more commercial approach, and the altoist sometimes almost sounding like a guest on some of his own sessions. In 1975 for the double-album Fenix on Fantasy, he revisited some of the music of his past and showed that he could still play as great as ever but unfortunately he passed away unexpectedly just a few months later.

            Two of Zev Feldman’s recent discoveries, released for the first time by Elemental Music (www.elemental-music.com), feature Adderley and his quintet in his later years. Fortunately these are generally on a higher level than his more commercial Capitol recordings. The twofer Burnin’ In Bordeaux features the quintet (which also includes cornetist Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul on acoustic and electric piano, bassist Victor Gaskin, and drummer Roy McCurdy) on a wide variety of material in 1969. Best are an adventurous “The Scavenger,” “Work Song,” and the lengthy “Experience In E.” Much weaker are an uneventful “Somewhere,” “Why Am I Treated So Bad” (an obvious follow-up to “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”), and Nat’s singing on “Oh Babe.” This twofer would have made for a classic single CD if only the best cuts were included. It is a mixed bag although the 16-page booklet is worthwhile.

Cannonball Adderley - Poppin' In Paris: Live At L'Olympia 1972 - Amazon.com  Music

The single CD Poppin’ In Paris, which has nearly 79 minutes of music from 1972, is much better. By then the group consisted of the Adderley Brothers, McCurdy, keyboardist George Duke, and bassist Walter Booker. Highpoints include A 20-minute “Black Messiah” that holds one’s interest throughout with Duke in fine form, Nat Adderley burning during a blistering “Autumn Leaves,” “Doctor Honoris Causa” (with Cannonball sounding quite effective on soprano), and Nat’s  funky “Hummin’.” The group’s post-bop explorations with Duke’s electric keyboards were much different than in the earlier days but, at least in concert, they were blazing some new and potentially rewarding musical paths. Duke and Nat Adderley in particular are heard in top form and get to stretch out along with the leader. Poppin’ In Paris gives listeners a fine sampling of Cannonball Adderley’s music during the early 1970s, topped off by a 20-page booklet that includes interviews with McCurdy, Nat Adderley (from 1983), Tia Fuller, and Vincent Herring.

SHADOWING DIZZY GILLESPIE

Shadowing Dizzy Gillespie: 100th Birthday Anniversary (B&W Edition): Brown,  David G.: 9780985442934: Amazon.com: Books

            David G. Brown, a skilled writer who loves jazz, met Dizzy Gillespie quite by accident in 1985, made a wisecrack that caught the trumpeter’s attention, and they became close friends. The trumpeter, who was 67 at the time, invited Brown to concerts, on road trips, and simply to hang out during various episodes during his final seven years. To celebrate what would have been Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th birthday in 2017, Brown collected together many personal anecdotes, publishing his book Shadowing Dizzy Gillespie. The book is still very much available and easily recommended to fans of the innovative Gillespie.

            Brown fills the 154 pages with many new stories that reveal what Gillespie was like offstage; pretty much the same as onstage. The tales are often humorous, occasionally touching, and give one a good idea of Gillespie’s thoughts on life, music, and human nature. There are also interviews with his longtime manager Charley “The Whale” Lake (a major character in the book) and broadcaster Ron Della Chiesa, but the bulk of the work is what Brown remembers about his friend.

            Shadowing has accessible and conversational writing by Brown that, rather than being a musical analysis or a straight biography of Gillespie, draws one into Dizzy Gillespie’s world in his later years. One gets to travel with him and hear Brown having occasionally deep conversations with the trumpeter that permit one to learn more about the human side of the trumpeter.

            Shadowing Dizzy Gillespie is available from www.amazon.com and will be a treat for fans of the great trumpeter.

JEREMY MONTEIRO’S LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS

Jeremy Monteiro: Late-Night Thoughts of a Jazz Musician: Late Night  Thoughts of a Jazz Musician See more

            A world-class pianist, Jeremy Monteiro has long been considered Singapore’s top jazz musician. For a period his trio included bassist Eldee Young and drummer Redd Holt (Ramsey Lewis’ former rhythm section) and he has worked and recorded with guitarist Ernest Ranglin, trumpeter Leroy Jones, saxophonists John Stubblefield, Ernie Watts and Greg Fishman, singer Eden Atwood, and drummer Lewis Nash along with top musicians from Asia, recording over 40 albums as a leader. Monteiro is an excellent straight-ahead jazz pianist with his own style who recently also revealed himself to be a very effective singer.

            After gigs and his musical activities of the day and night are over, Monteiro often writes down his thoughts at home, usually between midnight and 4 a.m. Late Night Thoughts Of A Jazz Musician collects together 80 of his essays. The topics include him reminiscing about his musical experiences past and present, advice to younger musicians, his philosophy about many aspects of life, some political ideas, overcoming adversity, the music industry, betrayals, positive thinking, and tributes to Ahmad Jamal, Michael Brecker, Ernie Watts, James Moody, and Louis Solianio (who he calls the “Godfather of Singapore Jazz”). While a few of the essays deal with issues and personalities that, because they focus on Singapore, will be obscure to Americans, most of the short articles are relevant and quite readable.

            It makes for an enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Late-Night Thoughts Of A Jazz Musician (available from www.amazon.com) is easily recommended and makes one hope that Jeremy Monteiro will someday also write his memoirs.

DANNY ALGUIRE’S LOST MEMOIRS

ABOUT

            It is a bit of a miracle that this book, Dust Bowl To Disney, exists. Danny Alguire (1912-92) is today mostly remembered as being the trumpeter with the always-popular Firehouse Five Plus Two during 1949-71. He wrote his memoirs in the 1980s, sent the typed manuscript to his friend William McDonald, and then it was forgotten and assumed to be lost. Decades later it was discovered in the McDonald family archives and, after a four-month search trying to locate him, it was sent to Alguire’s son.

            It is a blessing that the book has finally been published. Danny Alguire is a masterful storyteller and he had a lot of stories to tell. Born in Oklahoma, he was originally part of a middle-class family in the 1920s that lived in Kansas City during part of the 1920s where he enjoyed hearing the Bennie Moten Orchestra. He took up the mellophone in 1921, switching to trumpet a few years later and, after his family moved back to Oklahoma, he played with dance bands in the late 1920s. The Depression took its toll with his father losing his government job and many years of struggling took place. Alguire’s tales of surviving the Depression with a variety of day jobs and his freelance life as a trumpeter are fascinating, sometimes humorous, and really give readers a vivid idea of how difficult it was for most Americans during that era. His self-deprecating tone along with his attention to detail are strong assets throughout his memoirs.

            Alguire spent time playing music in Los Angeles later in the decade and had an early break by becoming a member of the short-lived 16-piece Bob Wills big band during 1941-42 where he was influenced and inspired by fellow trumpeter Benny Strickler. He recorded with Wills and took the vocal on the popular “Home In San Antone.” Never quite sure whether to pursue music as his livelihood, he made some mistakes, spending time in the Navy working at potentially dangerous jobs during World War II. when he could have been part of a military band. After his discharge, he had more day jobs in addition to working with T. Texas Tyler’s Western Swing band and freelancing in Los Angeles.

            In 1949, Alguire joined the Firehouse Five Plus Two, a group of mostly amateur Dixieland musicians who had important day jobs as animators for Disney. They held lunch hour jam sessions for years and Alguire’s playing became a permanent part of both the sessions and the band. Although thought of as a novelty group that utilized sound effects (including a siren during their overheated final choruses) and dressed in fireman outfits, the Firehouse Five Plus Two (which caught on big in 1950) was a fine trad jazz band that always had a good time playing the music they loved. Alguire supplied a relaxed and melodic but hot style that held the group together.

            Thanks to its leader trombonist Ward Kimball (a very significant animator), Danny Alguire was employed by Disney starting in the mid-1950s as an assistant director for animated features and shorts. A few chapters discuss in detail the work that he did and the many great animators who he came in contact with, including Walt Disney. After the Firehouse Five disbanded in the early 1970s and Alguire retired from Disney, he and his family moved to Oregon where he played with clarinetist Jim Beatty’s group before ending his music career in the early 1980s.

            In addition to the many colorful and heartwarming stories, Dust Bowl To Disney, which was brought to life and edited by Lucas O. Seastrom, drummer Hal Smith and Didier Ghez,  concludes with articles by Smith, Seastrom, and Chris Tyle that fill in some of the gaps, including an interview with Alguire, his chili recipe, and a list of recommended recordings.

            The 276 book is a gem and available from www.bearmanormedia.com.  

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Anyone with any interest in Gerry Mulligan’s music and life will learn a great deal by acquiring Writings On A Jazz Original. 50% of all the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Gerry Mulligan Foundation which supports school music programs. This essential book is available from www.amazon.com.

I have a new book that is available from amazon.com. Life Through The Eyes Of A Jazz Journalist. It is subtitled My Jazz Memoirs and is my 12th book and first in a few years. I discuss in an often-humorous fashion my early days and discovery of jazz, my period as the jazz editor of Record Review, the story behind my involvement with the All Music Guide, and I reminisce about some of my adventures as an amateur musician. Included are vintage interviews with Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, and Maynard Ferguson, encounters with Clint Eastwood, summaries of the Monterey and Playboy Jazz Festivals (including a full-length review of the 1985 Playboy Festival), memories of other events (such as the IAJE Conventions), and brief snapshots of many memorable club and concert performances. There is also background information about my other books, evaluations of the jazz critics who inspired me early on, and my thoughts on jazz criticism which includes advice to up-and-coming jazz journalists. Rounding out the book is a chapter on how the jazz writing business has changed over the past 50 years, and appendixes that include the jazz greats of the past, 86 jazz giants of today, 21 young performers to look for in the future, jazz books and DVDs that everyone should own, and a dozen enjoyable Hollywood jazz films.
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