Tag: jazz

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Outstanding Poster Art: Modern Jazz for ’56

Auction Finds, Ephemera
Sometimes I see a piece of pop art and just know it's from the 1950s without knowing anything else about it. Such is the case with this phenomenal piece from 1956, advertising a concert called Modern Jazz for '56, which seems to have been a package tour. It featured artists such as Chris Connor, the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Don Shirley Duo, and Herbie Mann and was sold as "an enjoyable evening with your favorite modern jazz artists." This particular concert was held on January 27, 1956 at the Victoria Theatre in what I believe is Kansas City. Dig this beauty, man: I would frame this gem in a heartbeat if I had it. So totally mid-century and just oozing with that hep cat charm you also find on a lot of jazz album covers from the period. A concert review published on January 29th b...
Album Cover of the Week: Jonah Jones, I Dig Chicks

Album Cover of the Week: Jonah Jones, I Dig Chicks

Album Cover of the Week
I Dig Chicks (Capitol Records ST/T 1193, 1959) is more properly billed to the Jonah Jones Quartet, but I'm not about to quibble. This cover is at once way too on the nose and supremely clever. I don't have a photography or graphic design credit for the front cover, so if you know who is responsible for this beauty let me know. As far as the personnel on the record, Jonah Jones gets vocal and trumpet credits but I haven't been able to ID the other musicians. Here is the album description from the back cover: "For those who appreciate the finer things in life, gentleman Jonah Jones supplies words and music for an album filled with songs about man's favorite hobby: Chicks! The now famous Jonah Jones style is thoroughly in evidence throughout this album. As he sails through these
In Concert: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Sellersville Theater, 1/9/15

In Concert: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Sellersville Theater, 1/9/15

Music
Like most Cherry Poppin' Daddies fans outside the Pacific Northwest region, I first heard the band when their Zoot Suit Riot compilation CD rode the wave of the late '90s swing revival to immense popularity. And if I'm being perfectly honest, I sort of lost tracks of the group a few after when it was clear they weren't about to be constrained by the retro-swing sound that so many new fans expected from them. But with the release of 2013's Black Teeth, White Thoughts, the Daddies' first all-swing record since Zoot Suit Riot, I was firmly back in the camp of Daddies fans again. Maybe that makes me a fairweather fan, but I just know what I like to hear. All this is to say that when the Daddies brought their tour to my area for one of the relatively few times in recent years, and announc...
Sunday Jazz: RIP Joe Sample (1939-2014)

Sunday Jazz: RIP Joe Sample (1939-2014)

Music, Sunday Jazz
It's been far too long since my last Sunday Jazz installment, but I'm compelled to post now to mourn the loss of one of my all-time favorite musicians -- the great Joe Sample, who passed away yesterday at age 75. Sample's contributions to the music world are immeasurable, but primarily I will remember him both for his work with the Jazz Crusaders and for some of his great solo music. What once was contemporary jazz is now known (derisively by some) as smooth jazz. Writers far better than I will have much more profound thoughts to share on Sample's music, so I'll just share some of my favorite moments from his long career. First up is a fine Jazz Crusaders side, "Tortoise and the Hare," from the group's 1962 LP Lookin' Ahead. It's a prototypical slice of the particular brand of sou...
Album Cover of the Week: The Billy Cobham/George Duke Band, “Live” On Tour in Europe

Album Cover of the Week: The Billy Cobham/George Duke Band, “Live” On Tour in Europe

Album Cover of the Week, Music
Credit for introducing me to this fantastic cover goes to one of my favorite record shops, Princeton Record Exchange, which recently posted it on their Facebook page. It's a joint effort between legendary jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham and multi-instrument star George Duke, 1976's "Live" On Tour in Europe (Atlantic Records, SD 18194). And boy is it ever strange. If you weren't too skeeved out to keep reading, that's Billy Cobham on the left and George Duke on the right. Credit for this illustration goes to Jim Warren, who is no stranger to freaky cover art involving hands. That all said, this is a pretty damn good album, so check it out if you can. Just keep your eyes closed.
Sunday Jazz: The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, “Walk Tall”

Sunday Jazz: The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, “Walk Tall”

Music, Sunday Jazz
One of the things I've always loved about Cannonball Adderley's approach to jazz is how he seamlessly infused elements of R&B and (later) soul into his arrangements. While he could play straight hard bop with the best of them, I think his best output comes from his willingness to expand and experiment. And so this week I want to highlight a song from Cannonball's his first album of the 1970s, Country Preacher (Capitol Records SKAO-404, 1970). It was recorded live in Chicago in October 1969. After a fiery introduction by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Adderley's quintet -- Cannonball on alto sax, Nat Adderley on cornet, Joe Zawinul on piano, Walter Booker on bass, and Roy McCurdy on drums -- busts out a greasy funk-inspired groove on "Walk Tall." This brilliant mix of late '60s funk and...
Time Capsule: “That Crazy Bop Joke Craze” (Life Magazine, 1952)

Time Capsule: “That Crazy Bop Joke Craze” (Life Magazine, 1952)

Capsules, History
In its September 29, 1952 issue Life magazine ran a piece on a new fad called "bop jokes," which sounds absolutely awful. When you think of the popular cultural image of bebop jazz fans of the early '50s (some of which went on to become the first Beatniks), you imagine someone really hip and into swingin' tunes, but sort of detached and reserved at the same time. I guess dignity is implicit. But not so much here. From the article, with photography by Yale Joel: From the world of jazz musicians and bebop players has come a new brand of humor: the bop joke. Until the last few months bop jokes have been limited, perhaps mercifully, to people in show business. But now bop humor is becoming something of a fad, and Life, feeling its readers should be warned of this wayward form of wit, offers a...
Album Cover of the Week: Miles Davis — Porgy and Bess

Album Cover of the Week: Miles Davis — Porgy and Bess

Album Cover of the Week, Music
I know for a fact that I'm not alone in my love of Miles Davis's seminal 1958 album, Porgy and Bess, or of its cover. In addition to being one of the landmark albums of Cool Jazz, it boasts a cover image that is every bit as alluring as the music within. It could just be my imagination, but what we have here is a rather suggestive image, but perhaps I'm reading into things. You may be wondering -- that's probably Miles on the cover, but who's the woman? And what does this have to do with Porgy and Bess? Well first, that is Miles Davis, and the lady holding his trumpet is Frances Taylor, his first wife. The cover was shot by famed photographer Roy DeCarava, who apparently had some trouble getting it taken in the first place. According to a poster on the All About Jazz message boar...

Sunday Jazz: Jay McShann & His Orchestra, “Swingmatism”

Music, Sunday Jazz
I'll cop to not being a huge fan of the Swing Era of jazz. I certainly appreciate it for its rich history and cultural importance, but the jazz I love the most starts with the Bebop era in the mid-1940s. Still, one of my favorite tunes ever is "Swingmatism" by Jay McShann & His Orchestra, particularly the rendition I'm presenting today. Now according to the video, this cut of "Swingmatism" was recorded with Charlie Parker on alto saxophone. I'm not enough of a historian to know any better, but it matters little. It absolutely sizzles and swings like few compositions from the era. So enjoy! (Spotify users — you can listen to this and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)