Slowly cycling back through my stash of music – extensive but not infinite, although sometimes when I survey the accumulated cds, tapes and digital formats, I wonder... I used to travel light...
I saw Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in the UK, back in the old days, hip, finger-snapping stuff, cleverly self-referential – what could be more self-reflexive than putting words to improvised jazz solos? The vocalese sub-genre of Eddie Jefferson, Babs Gonzales and King Pleasure taken to new heights. Here is a track from 'Sing a song of Basie,' where this conception is extended further: the material is based on the Count's tunes, the band sections were recreated by vocal over-dubs ( new technology at the time – for jazz, at least, although Lennie Tristano had done some multitracking in 1955) as the original idea of using a group of backing singers did not work in practice. It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing, etc. And the rhythm section came from the Basie band, minus the boss with Nat Pierce in the piano chair. 'One O' Clock Jump,' perfect swinging music for a sunny Sunday morning. The gig I went to, they were on tour with the Basie Ork and to hear them riffing off the source was a blast indeed...
Update: just found this memento - L, H and R with Basie and Ocie Smith on vocals, from the Juan Les Pins jazz festival in 1961. Go here...
A ten o' clock jump, as it were – to John Zorn's Masada. Mysterious bass over drums lead in on 'Hadasha.' Joined by the trumpet and alto, long notes on a sad theme cutting into each other. Zorn opens a slow spiral over deep trumpet that progresses into more enervated keening and high register squalls before dropping into an Ornettish line. Baron disrupts the background vamp with sudden surges. Dave Douglas solos, some gentle bluesy figures before he opens it out – yet keeping on a conversational level – vocalised tone and inflections. Zorn returns to parry lines as the trumpet drops back themewards. A sudden fast flourish and then wending onwards into a double improvisation. Free-ish and also operating within a fairly restricted area – an interesting paradox...
More singing – one of my favourite folk/blues/acoustic performers, Kelly Joe Phelps. Who came from a jazz background before he started to explore a mixture of slide and finger-picking styles to accompany his vocals and oblique songs. This is 'Wandering Away,' yet another song of the restless on the road, but a good few notches above the usual banalities we have become used to. Slide shadows voice, the vocalised guitar that came out the country blues call and response. Channelled, not 'tribute.'
A Milt Jackson date for Blue Note, featuring what would become the first incarnation of the Modern Jazz Quartet (Conny Kay replaced Kenny Clarke in 1955), with Lou Donaldson added for his first recording session. A sprightly jog through 'Don't get around much anymore.' Donaldson is usually figured under the sign of Parker but here he gives echoes of an older tradition, a shadow of Johnny Hodges, perhaps, in the fractional slides into notes of the theme statement.
Did Milt Jackson ever take an uninteresting solo?
Percy Heath and Kenny Clarke again in the engine room for an oddity – Kenny Dorham, one of the great bop trumpeters – also singing here: 'Lonesome Lover Blues.' Showing that perhaps the rhythm and blues roots weren't so far away from modern jazz. Dorham sings, plays some fiery trumpet, followed by a snatch of Jimmy Heath (Percy's brother) on tenor... Recorded in New York, 1953. Dorham was always somewhat overshadowed by Diz, Clifford Brown and Fats Navarro perhaps, but could hold his own in any company. He also recorded with Donaldson and Milt Jackson on some seminal Monk sessions round this time – must dig them out...
To go out: a different 'Lonesome Lover Blues' done by Billy Eckstine, fronting his kicking big band in 1946-ish. Playing some neat valve trombone as well... Here... Come to think of it, Kenny Dorham was in the band round that time, replacing Fats Navarro in the trumpet section...
Lambert Hendrick and Ross
Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, Annie Ross (v) Nat Pierce (p) Freddie Greene (g) Eddie Jones (b) Sonny Payne (d)
One O' Clock Jump
John Zorn (as) Dave Douglas (t) Greg Cohen (b) Joey Baron (d)
Kelly Joe Phelps (v, g)
Milt Jackson (vib) Lou Donaldson (as) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
Don't get around much anymore
Kenny Dorham (t, v) Jimmy Heath (ts, bars) Walter Bishop Jr. (p) Percy Heath (b) Kenny Clarke (d)
Lost lover blues