"Three Little Bops" from Looney Tunes, 1957

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

"Three Little Bops" from Looney Tunes, 1957

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)
  • Trumpet/flugelhorn — Shorty Rogers (credited on the short)
  • Piano — Pete Jolly
  • Guitar — Barney Kessel
  • Bass — Red Callender (or possibly Red Mitchell)
  • Drums — Stan Levey (or possibly Shelly Manne)

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First Cosins Jazz Ensemble – For The Cos Of Jazz

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

First Cosins Jazz Ensemble – For The Cos Of JazzThis 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 favorite bands from the period, the Crusaders. The arrangements and performances are tight, and range from smooth, lite-funk like “Please the Pleaser” and “Beans and Sauce” to more cookin’ and slappin’ numbers like “Psalm” and “Flat Meat.”

The album was released in 1977 on Capitol Records, but has never seen an official CD or digital release. ‘Tis a shame, as it’s really quite good. The back cover lists saxophonist Rudy Johnson and keyboardist Stu Gardner as featured players, as well as the following personnel:

  • Bass – David Shields
  • Drums – James Gadson, Nate Neblett
  • Guitar – Wah Wah Watson, Ray Parker
  • Keyboards – Larry Farrow
  • Percussion – Allen Estes
  • Producer, Arranged By [Synthesizer] – Stu Gardner
  • Saxophone, Flute – Doug Richardson
  • Trombone – Dick “Slide” Hyde
  • Trumpet – Bobby Finley, Gary Grant

Anyway, I’m a big fan of this album and recommend you check it out.

Please the Pleaser [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/01 Please the Pleaser.mp3″]
Psalm [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/02 Psalm.mp3″]
Gently But Nasty [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/03 Gently but Nasty.mp3″]
Flat Meat [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/04 Flat Meat.mp3″]
Beans and Sauce [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/05 Beans and Sauce.mp3″]
A Plush Moment [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/06 A Plush Moment.mp3″]
Funky Johnson [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/07 Funky Johnson.mp3″]
Banana Peel [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/08 Banana Peel.mp3″]
I Don’t Know [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/09 I Dont Know.mp3″]
Fit-It to the Rhythm [powerpress url=”https://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/audio/sundayjazz/For the Cos of Jazz/10 Fit-It to the Rhythm.mp3″]

Andy Summers, The Last Dance of Mr. X (1997)

Sunday Jazz: Andy Summers, “The Three Marias”

Andy Summers, The Last Dance of Mr. X (1997)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 my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)

The Bill Evans Trio, 1961

Sunday Jazz: Remembering drumming great Paul Motian

The Bill Evans Trio, 1961

Paul Motian (r) with Scott LaFaro (l) and Bill Evans, 1961

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 brilliantly.

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Detroit Thanksgiving parade - Jazz Festival float

Sunday Jazz: Thanksgiving Jazz Playlist

Detroit Thanksgiving parade - Jazz Festival float

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”

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Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)

Sunday Jazz: My favorite Satchmo songs

Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)

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”

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"Jazz Ghosts" (Jonas Bergstrand)

Sunday Jazz: Halloween jazz!

"Jazz Ghosts" (Jonas Bergstrand)

"Jazz Ghosts" (Jonas Bergstrand)

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.)

Philly Joe Jones Sextet - Blues For Dracula

“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

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Slam Stewart

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

Slam StewartI 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).”

Today’s song is “All the Things You Are,” from the aforementioned Groovin’ High album but found on countless others. It was recorded on February 28, 1945 and features Stewart on bass, Gillespie on trumpet, Charlie Parker on alto sax, Clyde Hart on piano, Remo Palmieri on guitar, and Cozy Cole on drums.

Enjoy “All the Things You Are” featuring the bass and vocals of Slam Stewart!

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

Sunday Jazz at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

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 OdysseyRace 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 hundreds of black Tulsans and the destruction of the entire Greenwood city district, including the area known as Black Wall Street. As explained further on Wikipedia:

"Running the Negro Out" image from the Tulsa Race Riots“The riot began because of an alleged assault of a white woman, Sarah Page, by an African American man, Dick Rowland. The Tulsa Tribune got word of the incident and published the story in the paper on May 31, 1921. Shortly after the newspaper article surfaced, there was news that a white lynch mob was going to take matters into its own hands and kill Dick Rowland.

African American men began to arm themselves and join forces in order to protect Dick Rowland. Subsequently, white men armed themselves and confronted the group of African American men. There was an argument in which a white man tried to take a gun from a black man, and the gun fired a bullet up into the sky. This incident promoted many others to fire their guns, and the violence erupted on the evening of May 31, 1921. Whites flooded into the Greenwood district and destroyed the businesses and homes of African American residents. No one was exempt to the violence of the white mobs; men, women, and even children were killed by the mobs. In an effort to completely destroy the Greenwood District of Tulsa, firemen were held at gunpoint by whites making it impossible to put out the flames.

Troops were eventually deployed on the afternoon of June 1, but by that time there was not much left of the once thriving Greenwood district. Over 600 successful businesses were lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half-dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. Property damage totaled $1.5 million (1921). Although the official death toll claimed that 26 blacks and 13 whites died during the fighting, most estimates are considerably higher. At the time of the riot, the American Red Cross listed 8,624 persons in need of assistance, in excess of 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed, and the delivery of several stillborn infants.”

Here’s a clip of JFJO performing the first two songs from Race Riot Suite — “Prelude” and “Black Wall Street” — at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center in Tulsa on May 20th, 2011 (with special guests Jeff Coffin, Steven Bernstein, Peter Apfelbaum, Mark Southerland, and Matt Leland).

(Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)