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James P. Johnson: Parlor Piano Solos From Rare Piano Rolls

James P. was one of the earliest jazz musicians “to command respect.” He played a big role in the transition from ragtime to stride, and thence (hence) to jazz. His influence on Waller and Ellington was of immense significance, and his “Carolina Shout” was undoubtedly one of the most pivotal of piano solos. It is … Read More “James P. Johnson: Parlor Piano Solos From Rare Piano Rolls”

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Hot Lips Page: After Hours in Harlem, 1940-41

This was caught live by Jerry Newman on his “portable disc recording equipment,” and ears accustomed to the standards on today’s studio recording will have much adjusting to do. They will, however, quickly be repaid by the exceptional music made in informal circumstances. Jam sessions, once so common, were remembered for moments of glory and … Read More “Hot Lips Page: After Hours in Harlem, 1940-41”

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Art Tatum: God Is in the House

This performance was caught live by Jerry Newman on his “portable disc recording equipment,” and ears accustomed to the standards on today’s studio recording will have much adjusting to do. They will, however, quickly be repaid by the exceptional music made in informal circumstances. Jam sessions, once so common, were remembered for moments of glory … Read More “Art Tatum: God Is in the House”

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Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern: Reunion at Arbors

The Arbors reunion took place after the gathering of the faithful in Clearwater, Florida, in 1997. Such get-togethers clearly bring out something special from the two pricipals. Annotator Ross Forestone has elicted helpful comments on their differences from Davern, who here plays clarinet solely while Wilbur alternates on it to good effect but mostly sticks … Read More “Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern: Reunion at Arbors”

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Ray Bryant: Ray’s Tribute to His Piano Friends

The pianists to whom Ray Bryant pays tribute here are Duke Ellington, Ramsey Lewis, Dave Brubeck, Horace Silver, Vince Guaraldi, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Bobby Timmons, Kenny Barron, Randy Weston, and Joseph Zawinul. He either plays one of his compositions or a number made famous by one of them. It works well; Bryant doesn’t imitate … Read More “Ray Bryant: Ray’s Tribute to His Piano Friends”

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Louis Armstrong: Master of Jazz: Louis in Chicago, 1962

Among the 17 performances are several not previously issued, such as Billy Kyle’s feature, “When I Grow Too Old to Dream,” Trummy Young’s untypically rambunctious outburst on “Once in a While” and a sober “Basin Street Blues.” The recording is generally good by the standards of 1962 and the remastering ’90s, but the leader’s voice … Read More “Louis Armstrong: Master of Jazz: Louis in Chicago, 1962”

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Various Artists: Jazz Piano Anthology

At Laserlight’s modest prices, these two anthologies are wonderful values for beginners anxious to experience the broad scope of the piano and saxophone in jazz. The first, I believe, is the better, or more representative of the vital, innovative core. The artists are, of course, determined to a large extent by the material available to … Read More “Various Artists: Jazz Piano Anthology”

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Coleman Hawkins: On Broadway

Here’s the Grand Master in six 1962 sessions that provided material for more than three LPs. He is not perhaps in peak form, because of restrictive production requirements, but he is still a figure of immense authority. The Prestige set is excellent value in terms of time and taste. Made for the company’s subsidiary label, … Read More “Coleman Hawkins: On Broadway”

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Benny Carter: Further Definitions

The Impulse CD contains the music formerly on two LPs recorded in 1961 and 1966. They were made in recognition of the classic 1937 Paris session organized by Hugues Panassie on which Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter and two able French saxophonists were backed by a four-piece rhythm section that included Django Reinhardt and, on piano, … Read More “Benny Carter: Further Definitions”

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Count Basie: April in Paris

“April in Paris” was one of the biggest hits by Basie’s New Testament band-so big that he got tired of answering requests for it, just as Thad Jones got tired of repeating the “Pop goes the weasel” quote in his solo. The trick ending and Basie drily ordering “One more time!” and “One more once!” … Read More “Count Basie: April in Paris”

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Ray Bryant: Potpourri

This is Ray Bryant of 1960 vintage with Mickey Roker on drums and Jimmy Rowser on bass in a good program that includes titles by Ellington, Basie, Shavers, Monk, Gillespie, Bud Powell, Lester Young and Miles Davis, not to mention an Englishman’s “My One and Only Love.” It is an exemplary disc that is good … Read More “Ray Bryant: Potpourri”

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Louis Armstrong: Wintergarden, 1947; Blue Note, 1948

These illustrate three phases of the All Stars and make an excellent supplement to Victor’s splendid, recent four-CD set. The Storyville disc contains two broadcasts, on each of which Jack Teagarden is agreeably prominent as trombonist and vocalist. The supporting 1947 group consists of sympathetic white musicians like Bobby Hackett and Peanuts Hucko, with Sidney … Read More “Louis Armstrong: Wintergarden, 1947; Blue Note, 1948”

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Mary Lou Williams: Roll ‘Em

On this 1944 transcription session for World Broadcasting, Milt Gabler caught Mary Lou Williams at her marvelous best, just before she was seduced by the charms of bebop. As with the era’s trumpet players, compressive jazz histories tend to overlook so many great pianistic talents, leaping from Johnson, Waller and Hines to Art Tatum, thence … Read More “Mary Lou Williams: Roll ‘Em”

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Marian McPartland: Piano Jazz with Guest Charles Brown

Marian McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” series, on radio and records, has quietly been one of the notable success stories in jazz of recent years. As a pianist, she has grown with the show, and it is hard now to think of anyone of comparable ability and knowledge who could handle the role with such equilibrium. It … Read More “Marian McPartland: Piano Jazz with Guest Charles Brown”

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Count Basie: The Golden Years

the Pablo recordings in this attractive four-CD set were made between 1972-1983, the final phase of Basie’s long career. They were “golden years,” too, in the sense that during them he was fortunate to enjoy Norman Granz’s powerful support. The first disc is devoted to live performances by both the band and all-star concert groups. … Read More “Count Basie: The Golden Years”

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