Sunday Jazz

Each week on Sunday Jazz at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit we shine the spotlight on a jazz-related topic, from artists to events to songs and albums. Sunday Jazz is a great way to end the weekend, so make sure to come back every Sunday morning for a new entry.

Sunday Jazz: Shorty Rogers, Stan Freberg, and “Three Little Bops”

Sunday Jazz: Shorty Rogers, Stan Freberg, and “Three Little Bops”

Music, Sunday Jazz
I'd like to deviate from the usual Sunday Jazz fare to pay small tribute to one of my favorite cartoons of all time. "Three Little Bops" is one of the great entries in the Looney Tunes catalog, and came out in 1957 -- a time when Beat culture was very much in the American consciousness. Not only is it funny, it swings! Dig it, man: I could watch that all day. So anyway, not much is absolutely confirmed about the men behind "Three Little Bops." Stan Freberg and Shorty Rogers are credited with vocals and music, respectively, but that's about it. Some enterprising folks have done a lot of digging to uncover the rest of the musicians, and have come up with this lineup: Vocals -- Stan Freberg (credited on the short) Saxophone -- Pepper Adams (or possibly Jimmy Giuffre) Trumpe...
Sunday Jazz: First Cosins Jazz Ensemble, ‘For the Cos of Jazz’

Sunday Jazz: First Cosins Jazz Ensemble, ‘For the Cos of Jazz’

Music, Sunday Jazz
This album has been making the rounds on jazz .mp3 blogs for quite a few years, but I like it so much I feel compelled to share it myself. It's called For the Cos of Jazz, and it was recorded by a group called the First Cosins Jazz Ensemble. As far as I can tell the group was a one-off project put together just for this album. As the name of the group and album might hint, Bill Cosby was a major figure in putting this together -- which makes sense, as he was pretty involved in the music world in the '60s and '70s in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career. Indeed, Cosby is listed as a musical consultant and co-arranger on the record. Musically, For the Cos of Jazz is pretty typical of the jazz/funk that was popular in the mid-to-late '70s. It brings to mind one of my favori...
Sunday Jazz: Andy Summers, “The Three Marias”

Sunday Jazz: Andy Summers, “The Three Marias”

Music, Sunday Jazz
While Sting got all the attention (and record sales) after the Police broke up in the mid-1980s, I've always found guitarist Andy Summers' solo material to be more consistently satisfying. And the one album of his I love more than any other is 1997's The Last Dance of Mr. X. Summers is backed by a crack unit including Tony Levin on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums. The trio crackles with energy on "The Three Marias," the second track on the album. Enjoy! (listen to "The Three Marias" by Andy Summers) And because I know you're curious, here's a live performance of "The Three Marias" by Wayne Shorter, recorded in 1995. The original version can be found on his 1985 solo LP, Atlantis. (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to
Sunday Jazz: Remembering drumming great Paul Motian

Sunday Jazz: Remembering drumming great Paul Motian

Music, Sunday Jazz
Jazz drumming legend Paul Motian died last Tuesday at age 80 due to complications of a bone marrow disorder. My first exposure to Motian was through his output with Bill Evans in the late '50s and early '60s. Motian was a member of Evans' trio when they recorded a pair of immortal albums at New York's Village Vanguard in 1961 -- Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby. Motian recorded and performed almost up until his death, although to be honest it's his Evans stint I remember the most. But hey, there are worse things to be remembered for, right? For my humble remembrance of Motian, then, a selection from Waltz for Debby. It's the Miles David modal workout "Milestones." Listen to Motian carry the tune along as Evans and bassist Scott LaFaro play off each other brilliantl
Sunday Jazz: Thanksgiving Jazz Playlist

Sunday Jazz: Thanksgiving Jazz Playlist

Music, Sunday Jazz
OK, so I'm cheating a bit on this one. I can't think of very many jazz numbers written specifically about the Thanksgiving holiday, so it pretty much all comes down to the titles. Still, I think you'll agree that this is a decent feast of music. (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) Dave Brubeck, "Thank You" Thelonious Monk, "Stuffy Turkey" Kenny Burrell, "Wavy Gravy" Vince Guaraldi, "Thanksgiving Theme" Mongo Santamaria, "Sweet 'Tater Pie" Ella Fitzgerald, "Flying Home" Related articles Sunday Jazz: Halloween jazz! (grayflannelsuit.net) Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Alone in San Francisco (Review) (popmatters.com)
Sunday Jazz: My favorite Satchmo songs

Sunday Jazz: My favorite Satchmo songs

Music, Sunday Jazz
Because it's never a bad time to play Louis Armstrong, here's a handful of my favorite Satchmo tunes. (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) "You Rascal You" (with Louis Jordan) "Rhythm Saved the World" "I'm in the Mood for Love" "Struttin' With Some Barbecue"
Sunday Jazz: Halloween jazz!

Sunday Jazz: Halloween jazz!

Music, Sunday Jazz
Halloween is just a few weeks away, so what better time to unveil a few vintage, spooky jazz numbers to get you in the mood? (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) "Blues for Dracula" -- Philly Joe Jones Sextet "Halloween Spooks" -- Lambert, Hendricks & Ross "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" -- Vince Guaraldi "Skeleton in the Closet" (from Pennies From Heaven) -- Louis Armstrong
Sunday Jazz: “All the Things You Are” (feat. Slam Stewart)

Sunday Jazz: “All the Things You Are” (feat. Slam Stewart)

Music, Sunday Jazz
I first encountered the unique stylings of bassist Slam Stewart on the excellent Dizzy Gillespie album Groovin' High, which captures some of the earliest recordings of bebop ever heard. Stewart's solo, which combined his arco (bow) bass playing and singing, grabbed my attention right away. He typically sung his vocals an octave above his bass part, to great effect. Stewart was born in my home state of New Jersey -- Englewood to be precise -- 97 years ago this Wednesday, and died at the age of 73 in Binghamton, New York. He was never the most celebrated of bassists, although he did enjoy commercial success as one half -- along with Slim Gaillard -- of the Slim and Slam duo. The pair notched their biggest hit in 1938 with Gaillard's humorous "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)." Toda...
Sunday Jazz: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s ‘Race Riot Suite’

Sunday Jazz: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s ‘Race Riot Suite’

Music, Sunday Jazz
I don't want to give away too much of the Best Music of 2011 list that will run in December, but I can say with confidence that the latest album from Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey -- Race Riot Suite -- will be included. Race Riot Suite -- composed by Chris Combs, the group's lap steel player -- draws deeply from the well of pre-Swing jazz, but incorporates it into a series of distinctly modern arrangements. It's a remarkable achievement in modern jazz, even without the tragic back story. But once you know the story behind the music, its power is increased tenfold. In 1921, Tulsa was home to a powerful and affluent African-American community. In one of the largest racial conflicts and cover-ups in American history, massive race riots resulted in the death of hundre...