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Old 03-20-2010, 11:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bebop, Hard Bop and Free Jazz album reviews and discussion

I have to confess I'm kind of a jazz novice, so I'm always a little unclear on where one subgenre of jazz ends and another one begins, but what I'm basically talking about here is jazz that was produced from the mid 40s to the mid 60s. It seems like most of my favorite jazz is from this era, and I think Bebop, Hard Bop and Free Jazz pretty much cover the sounds I'm talking about. I'll post some of my favorites and I hope other people will do so as well. Maybe we can all find out about some great albums we've never heard before. Your comments can be as long or as short as you want, but please say something about the album.

Here's one to start with...




A Night at Birdland Volume 1—Art Blakey Quintet (1954)

This is not only one of my favorite Jazz albums but also, without a doubt, one the best live albums of any genre that I've ever heard in my life. For one thing the production is amazing, especially for the mid 50s; every single time I listen to it I feel like I'm right there sitting at a table at Birdland drinking a glass of bourbon.

It begins with a track of Pee Wee Marquette introducing the band. You can practically smell the cigar smoke on his breath and it sets the tone perfectly. Then the latinesque "Split Kick" jumps out of the speakers at you, grabs you by your hands and makes you want to dance. But Clifford Brown's trumpet lines do all the dancing the song requires. The man was truly a brilliant player and I was dismayed to find out recently that he died only two years later at the age of 25. Of course Art Blakey also really shines here as well, but that's pretty much a given.

The album's quality never wanes. From the soft tones of "Once in a While" to the sweaty "Quicksilver" all the way through to the rapid-fire closing track "Mayreh" this recording is pure sonic joy. And though I specifically mentioned Art Blakey and Clifford Brown in describing "Split Kick", the remaining members of the band are astounding too. Curley Russell on bass, though probably the most subdued of the bunch, manages to tie everything together beautifully. Lou Donaldson's saxophone intertwines with the trumpet magnificently. And Horace Brown on the piano is in a league of his own here. Even though he seems to push the spotlight away somewhat he's always doing something gorgeous and unexpected beneath and between everything else that is going on.

My copy of the album also includes two bonus tracks: "Wee-Dot" and "Blues (Improvisation)" both of which are taken from the third volume of this now two volume series. Both are quite good in their own right, apart from the album proper.
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Old 03-20-2010, 11:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Interesting. I really like Free Jazz. That album sounds primo, i'd really like to hear it now.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:04 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Very interesting idea for a thread this, especially as bebop and hard bop are areas I've been looking to have a nice dig around in lately. I've got a handful of those kinds of albums myself, so I'll flag them up when I've got a bit more time on my hands.
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Old 03-21-2010, 01:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Bebop, Hard Bop and Free Jazz album reviews and discussion-brownroach.jpg

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Here are a couple of great albums featuring Clifford Brown on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Ritcie Powell on piano and George Morrow on bass. "Clifford Brown & Max Roach at Basin Street" and "Sonny Rollins + 4" were recorded in the early months of 1956 on June 26, 1956 both Clifford and Ritchie were killed in a car crash. These recordings are definitely must haves for Jazz fans.
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Old 03-21-2010, 06:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A Night at Birdland Volume 1—Art Blakey Quintet (1954)

This is not only one of my favorite Jazz albums but also, without a doubt, one the best live albums of any genre that I've ever heard in my life. For one thing the production is amazing, especially for the mid 50s; every single time I listen to it I feel like I'm right there sitting at a table at Birdland drinking a glass of bourbon.
^That's a great writeup! I only vaguely remember the album but your take sounds spot-on.

I also agree with you about the time period you mentioned: To me those are the best jazz years.

I'll suggest one of my well-loved Jazz albums:
KRUPA AND RICH, a session made with the 2 legendary drummers recorded in 1955 that was marketed as a battle between the two best drummers who ever lived.


Krupa was the established legend and Rich the young upstart. Both are backed up by other legends like Roy Eldrige, Dizzy Gillespie, and Oscar Peterson among others..
You be the judge.



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Old 03-21-2010, 07:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Attachment 4013

Attachment 4014

Here are a couple of great albums featuring Clifford Brown on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Ritcie Powell on piano and George Morrow on bass. "Clifford Brown & Max Roach at Basin Street" and "Sonny Rollins + 4" were recorded in the early months of 1956 on June 26, 1956 both Clifford and Ritchie were killed in a car crash. These recordings are definitely must haves for Jazz fans.
I'll definitely have to check those two out. As I mentioned in the OP, I'm definitely a fan of Clifford Brown though my exposure to him is limited to the Night at Birdland albums.

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-2010, 07:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'll suggest one of my well-loved Jazz albums:
KRUPA AND RICH, a session made with the 2 legendary drummers recorded in 1955 that was marketed as a battle between the two best drummers who ever lived.
That sounds great! I'm already a fan of Krupa's big band-era stuff so I'm sure I'll enjoy this.

And that video of him playing is fantastic. Any idea what it's from?
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I got a hold of Krupa & Rich earlier today and am giving it a listen right now. "The Monster" is amazing! Any idea which horn players are on that track?
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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And that video of him playing is fantastic. Any idea what it's from?
No, I just found it on youtube when I was looking for any Krupa recording from those years. A great piece of footage.

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I got a hold of Krupa & Rich earlier today and am giving it a listen right now. "The Monster" is amazing! Any idea which horn players are on that track?
I have a re-issue CD and it has personnel listed together for both of the last tracks which were added later (but recorded a few months earlier than the others). So, between "Sunday" and "The Monster" horn players are: Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Ben Webster, and Frank Wess. Both songs are on the LP, The Wailing Buddy Rich.
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Old 03-26-2010, 12:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Ahmad's Blues—Ahmad Jamal (1958)

Ahmad's Blues is another live album that I'm pretty fond of. Though unlike A Night At Birdland it's not all taken from one performance but is instead culled from a series of live dates in Chicago. As a former resident of that city I wish I knew where it was recorded. Some of those old Jazz clubs are still open and it would be nice to have a mental image to put with the music.

Anyway, I should probably mention that unlike my previous review this album is not all sweat and fire and intensity, in fact it's totally background music. That may sound like a put-down but it's not at all. I mean that in the sense that, say, Tortoise is background music. It's low key and it just kind of permeates the air, coloring everything around you.

This is also very intimate music, just drums, bass and keyboard played with a lot of restraint and subtlety. It's also filled with a lot of interesting, mellow takes on jazz standards. My favorite of these is probably "Autumn Leaves", which is presented with very train-like chugging drum beat passing through cascading streams of piano.

Ugly cover art aside, this one is definitely a terrific late night album and certainly worth a listen if you enjoy that kind of thing.
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i'm not gonna spend my life on music banter trying to convince people the earth is flat.
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25 Albums You Should Hear Before the Moon Crashes into the Earth and We All Die


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