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Mac Gollehon and Smokin’ Section: In the Spirit of Fats Navarro

With a range, power, and technique even the gentle Fats would have killed for, trumpeter Mac Gollehon here engages 12 numbers, four of which-“Eb-Pob,” “Nostalgia,” “Fats Blows” and “Boperation”-are Navarro originals, with the remainder consisting of Lockjaw Davis’ heated “Spinal,” Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels,” Tadd Dameron’s “Our Delight” and five of the leader’s … Read More “Mac Gollehon and Smokin’ Section: In the Spirit of Fats Navarro”

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Henry Johnson Quartet: An Evening At Sea

Not knowing what other musical presentations were being offered on the QE II’s Nov. 1999 transatlantic voyage, it nevertheless may be assumed that catching a set by guitarist Johnson’s quartet would have constituted, at best, a relaxing interlude between other, more exciting, moments being played out elsewhere on board. Indeed, apart from the rousing opener, … Read More “Henry Johnson Quartet: An Evening At Sea”

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Preston Love: Omaha Blues

Best known to jazz historians and record collectors as lead altoman Earl Warren’s replacement in Count Basie’s 1943 to ’47 band, Preston Love, since then an accomplished tenorman and vocalist as well, went on to enjoy a wide and varied career in R&B and early rock-n-roll, largely in collaboration with lifetime friend Johnny Otis. Now, … Read More “Preston Love: Omaha Blues”

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T.K. Blue: Eyes of the Elders

Global jazz-fusion might be a convenient term to use in reference to at least some of the music that altoman T. K. Blue offers on this release, but, for the most part, it is straightahead contemporary jazz. Bearing a tone that seems to have its origins in Cannonball and later clean-cut, postbop players, the well-tempered … Read More “T.K. Blue: Eyes of the Elders”

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Jerry Ascione Big Band: Beautiful Love

Herman West Coast jazz scene, for around 25 years now Sea Breeze has remained a beacon of light and hope for both aficionados of the genre and the hundreds of qualified musicians who, without the opportunity to record for major labels, might otherwise have gone unheard outside their native locales. Perhaps typical of Sea Breeze’s … Read More “Jerry Ascione Big Band: Beautiful Love”

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Harry Allen: Love Songs Live!

Although the rampant romanticism that suffuses tenorman Allen’s balladeering may not meet the imperatives of contemporary improvisation that avant-gardists have set for our music, so be it. Clearly, we’re talking about two entirely different approaches to, and definitions of, jazz. Unlike the screechers and bleaters who have inhabited the latter world since the late ’60s, … Read More “Harry Allen: Love Songs Live!”

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Andre Previn/David Finck: We Got it Good: An Ellington Songbook

Although likely to fall between the cracks of the dozens of Ellington tributes released during the globally celebrated centennial anniversary of Duke’s birth last year, this one deserves at least passing acknowledgement. Putting aside for the moment Previn’s many accomplishments in the worlds of formal orchestral music, film scoring, and conducting, he has been a … Read More “Andre Previn/David Finck: We Got it Good: An Ellington Songbook”

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Big Band De Lausanne: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music

Outside of Ellington’s three original concerts, as recently reissued on RCA’s mammoth boxed set, this is probably the only recording that brings together so many of the composer’s devotional pieces in one place. For this project, conductor Roby Seidel not only obtained copies of the original Ellington scores, but also the services of such American … Read More “Big Band De Lausanne: Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music”

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Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Fletcher Henderson’s Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman

Short of discovering another batch of previously unissued recordings of the classic late 1930s Goodman big band, the best stroke of fortune in recent years was the unearthing of a number of Fletcher Henderson charts that, for one reason or another, never got past the stage of on-the-gig performance. It took clarinetist Bob Wilber, a … Read More “Bob Wilber and the Tuxedo Big Band: Fletcher Henderson’s Unrecorded Arrangements for Benny Goodman”

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George Masso Sextet: C’est Magnifique!

Followers of the Nagel-Heyer label know what to expect from this high quality, amazingly consistent German firm-hot, live, combo-jam performances by some of the best swing-oriented jazzmen in the world today-and this release will not let them down. Under the leadership of broad-toned, melodically imaginative trombonist George Masso, this 1999 Hamburg concert set features Boston … Read More “George Masso Sextet: C’est Magnifique!”

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Louis Armstrong: Satch Plays Fats

Satch Plays Fats is rightfully judged, along with Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy, as of one of the two most compelling albums that the Armstrong All-Stars recorded for Columbia. This updated reissue of the 1955 album offers the edited alternate takes of “Black and Blue,” “I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby,” “Blue Turning Grey Over You” … Read More “Louis Armstrong: Satch Plays Fats”

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Louis Armstrong: Satchmo the Great

Satchmo the Great comes largely from the soundtrack of an eponymous TV documentary coproduced and narrated by Edward R. Murrow. With the New Orleans-born swing clarinetist Edmond Hall taking the place of Bigard in the summer of 1955, the All-Stars toured Europe, Africa and the United States well into 1956. Interspersed between such concert staples … Read More “Louis Armstrong: Satchmo the Great”

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Louis Armstrong: Ambassador Satch

Recorded in Amsterdam, Milan, Hollywood and New York, the performances on Ambassador Satch are largely of the same order as those on Satchmo the Great, except that this collection contains no narrative interludes. Following “Royal Garden Blues,” “Tin Roof Blues,” “Muskrat Ramble” and other tunes, Young is featured on a way-up “Undecided,” Ed Hall on … Read More “Louis Armstrong: Ambassador Satch”

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Gene Krupa/Harry James: The Complete Capitol Recordings of Gene Krupa and Harry James

At the height of their success as star soloists with the Benny Goodman orchestra in 1938 and 1939, respectively, drummer Gene Krupa and trumpeter Harry James left to form their own bands. Despite their obvious talents and popularity, however, neither had an easy start. For different reasons, breakthrough success did not immediately come for either … Read More “Gene Krupa/Harry James: The Complete Capitol Recordings of Gene Krupa and Harry James”

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Doc Severinsen and his Big Band: Swingin’ the Blues

If it’s difficult to avoid a sense of cynicism regarding this studioman outing, it’s only because Severinsen’s highly polished product is too superficial, glitzy and redolent of 1960s Las Vegas show bands to be taken seriously as a jazz recording. Without question, the charts by former Tonight Show tenorman/straw boss Tommy Newsom, as well as … Read More “Doc Severinsen and his Big Band: Swingin’ the Blues”

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The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Thad Jones Legacy

Thirty-three years after its first performance at the Village Vanguard under the name of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, today’s version of that inspired group continues to wield the banner of big band excellence with just as much spirit and imagination as it had a generation ago. Here, in tribute to one of its two … Read More “The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Thad Jones Legacy”

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Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra: Ellington Celebration

Co-directed by reedman Miles Osland and pianist/narrator Dick Domek, the Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra is, to my knowledge, the only academically-situated ensemble perpetuating the whole spectrum of Ellington’s music, from the 1920s through the 1970s; from the obscure gems to the hits. As a performing jazz educator, Osland is no stranger to the jazz press, … Read More “Kentucky Jazz Repertory Orchestra: Ellington Celebration”

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Benny Goodman: Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall-1938: Complete

Rightly proclaimed as being the most significant concert in jazz history, the Jan. 16, 1938, appearance of the Benny Goodman orchestra at Carnegie Hall was not only an unprecedented coup for jazz and racially integrated public performance, as has so often been stated. It also served to open the doors of this prestigious venue to … Read More “Benny Goodman: Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall-1938: Complete”

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Rich Perry/Harold Danko: Cancoes do Brasil

On this unusual recording, we find two widely experienced North American jazzmen, tenorman Rich Perry and pianist Harold Danko, embracing nine pieces by Brazilian composers that seem to have come about independently of the bossa nova movement. As a matter of fact, so as to emphasize the uniquely lyrical quality of this material, Perry and … Read More “Rich Perry/Harold Danko: Cancoes do Brasil”

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Nick Brignola: All Business

In 1943, when Ben Webster first heard Charlie Parker play the tenor, he is reported to have said, “That horn ain’t s’posed to sound that fast.” Most likely, that sentiment would have been shared by Harry Carney and Ernie Caceres five years later, when they, the leading baritone saxmen of the ’30s and ’40s, first … Read More “Nick Brignola: All Business”

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Ellis Marsalis: Duke in Blue

While some of his sons have received more than considerable attention from both the jazz press and other forms of media, the regrettable fact is that Ellis Marsalis’ abilities as a pianist have gone largely unnoticed. Perhaps, though, this solo collection of Ellington songs, ranging from the romping to the ruminative, might tend to redress … Read More “Ellis Marsalis: Duke in Blue”

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Eddie Henderson: Reemergence

Although endowed with a full, rounded sound, good intonation, and chops to spare, trumpeter Eddie Henderson had the misfortune to enter the business at a time when hopes were running high for fusion. Born in 1940, he had benefited from solid training on his horn at an early age, met his parents’ friend Miles Davis … Read More “Eddie Henderson: Reemergence”

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Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport 1956 (Complete)

A significant addition to Ellington’s latter day recordings, this double-disc release presents for the first time in true stereo every note that the band played at Newport over that famous weekend of July 7/8, 1956. Moreover, it also includes the performances recorded in studio on July 9, with dubbed-in canned applause, simulated live ambiance, reverb, … Read More “Duke Ellington: Ellington at Newport 1956 (Complete)”

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Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy In South America, Vol. 1

Recorded in July and August 1956 during the Gillespie big band’s State Department-sponsored tour of South America, the ten tracks heard here augur well for the remaining two, as yet unissued, volumes, all of which material consists of previously unreleased performances. The personnel of the band is almost identical to the one that recorded two … Read More “Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy In South America, Vol. 1”

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Jazz Profiles: The Spirit of the Nineties by Reginald Carver & Lenny Bernstein

Handy and concise, this collection of brief Q&A interviews with 40 contemporary jazz artists, accompanied by thumbnail biographies, lists of selected recordings, and arresting photos, should be useful to anyone interested in the careers of Carver’s and photographer Bernstein’s chosen subjects. The chapters are arranged according to instrumental groupings and feature such musicians as Terence … Read More “Jazz Profiles: The Spirit of the Nineties by Reginald Carver & Lenny Bernstein”

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Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra: Live in Swing City Swingin’ With The Duke

What a responsibility, what an inspiring challenge, what an honor it is to have the opportunity to replicate and help preserve the greatest body of music America has yet given to the world! Intimidating and awesome, to be sure, but that is exactly what the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra has undertaken in its endeavor to … Read More “Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra: Live in Swing City Swingin’ With The Duke”

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Nick Levinovsky Big Band: Listen Up!

The first American release by New York-based, Russian-born pianist and composer/arranger Nick Levinovsky, this program of six originals and two standards, a swinging “My Favorite Things” and the placid “Lazy Afternoon,” augurs well for the future of the leader’s new orchestra. Levinovsky has been in the States only since 1990, but prior to that he … Read More “Nick Levinovsky Big Band: Listen Up!”

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