Tag: Charlie Parker

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.)
Road Trip! — Ten Songs Inspired by Real Places

Road Trip! — Ten Songs Inspired by Real Places

Featured Posts, Listcruft, Music
Many people are inspired by their favorite songs about places to visit the locations that inspired them. But don't bother looking for 22 Acacia Avenue or Xanadu on Google Maps -- they don't exist anywhere but in their songwriters' minds. Elsewhere, however, there are plenty of songs that were inspired by real places. Here are ten of them, should you feel the urge to make a pilgrimage. (You can also check out this list on my Spotify playlist.) #1. "Lakeside Park" -- Rush Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, Ontario and spent many youthful summers on the village's most popular beach -- Lakeside Park. Peart paid tribute in an atypically nostalgic song on Rush's third album, 1975's Caress of Steel. Peart later reminisced about his Lakeside Park experience
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: Happy birthday Lester Young

Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday Lester Young

Music, Sunday Jazz
Yesterday was the 102nd birthday of saxophone immortal Lester "Pres/Prez" Young who was born in 1909 in Woodville, Mississippi. His contributions to jazz are immeasurable, and his story is typically tragic. Young was in the grip of alcoholism for the last years of his relatively brief life, and he died at the age of 49 on March 15, 1959. Prez's lyrical and relatively subdued sound is cited as a major influence of not only later players like Charlie Parker and Stan Getz, but of the entire Cool/West Coast Jazz sound. His pre-World War II recordings tend to have a little more fire in them, but there is plenty worth hearing from his late '40/early '50s period as well. The notion that Young's experience in the U.S. Army robbed him of his ability has by now been thoroughly debunked. The fi...
Sunday Jazz: Cannonball Adderley, “Jive Samba” 1963

Sunday Jazz: Cannonball Adderley, “Jive Samba” 1963

Music, Sunday Jazz
Is it possible that I've been posting Sunday Jazz segments all this time and haven't gotten around to possibly my favorite saxophonist ever? Well a search of the archives says yes, so today I will correct that oversight. Here's a clip of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley leading one of his most potent groups ever -- brother Nat Adderley (cornet), Yusef Lateef (tenor sax, oboe, flute), Joe Zawinul (piano), Sam Jones (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums). This is from a 1963 TV appearance I can't place, performing Nat Adderley's "Jive Samba." Cannonball clearly is in the Charlie Parker school, but carved out a sound all his own. Listen to that trill at around the 2:26 mark. Awesome. The whole sextet is in the zone here, but Cannonball in particular is in complete control. He makes it look so dam...
So fresh — 10 Steely Dan songs that will never get old

So fresh — 10 Steely Dan songs that will never get old

Music
Steely Dan is one of those bands that evokes an instant response from people -- usually a big, goofy grin or wretching noises of some sort. There really seems to be no middle ground for people once they've been exposed to the unique and acerbic brand of jazz-rock practiced by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Like a lot of others, I figured that the Dan was all about "Reelin' in the Years" and "Black Cow," and not much else. Boy how wrong was I! Here's ten shining examples of what this great band has to offer beyond the classic rock radio staples, if only you'll come along for the ride. 1 -- "Fire in the Hole" (from Can't Buy a Thrill, 1972) No need to go any further than the band's debut LP to find evidence of their greatness. And if you're ever going to appreciate Fagen's earnes...
Sunday Jazz: Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section

Sunday Jazz: Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section

Music, Sunday Jazz
On January 19, 1957 -- one day after appearing on The Steve Allen Show -- alto saxophonist Art Pepper joined forces with the fantastic rhythm section from the Miles Davis group -- pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones -- in Hollywood, California. That day's recording sessions resulted in the excellent and aptly named Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, released on the Contemporary label (Mono C 3532/S 7532; Stereo S 7018). It's a great album, and one that beautifully blends Pepper's distinctive tone and West Coast cool sound with a decidedly more upbeat pace. Take, for instance, this hot rendition of a Pepper original, "Straight Life." Pepper's Charlie Parker-esque soloing bookends the song brilliantly, and he is matched step-for-step by Garland. Cham...
Album cover of the week: The Birth of Bebop and Blues

Album cover of the week: The Birth of Bebop and Blues

Album Cover of the Week, Music
While digging up information for yesterday's edition of Sunday Jazz, I came across this old jazz compilation from Remington Records called The Birth of Bebop and Blues (RLP 1031). This 10" LP contains seven songs, many of which feature legendary saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker playing with Clyde Hart's All Stars. They were originally recorded for the Continental Records label, and later transferred in various combinations to Remington in the early '50s. I don't have any info on the graphic design or illustration, but I can say that I've seen quite a few Continental/Remington covers and they are very cool indeed.
Sunday Jazz: Vintage Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie for Memorial Day

Sunday Jazz: Vintage Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie for Memorial Day

Music, Sunday Jazz
Memorial Day is upon is once again, and so for this edition of Sunday Jazz I'm offering up a pair of wartime-related jazz numbers. They're billed to Clyde Hart's All Stars and feature Hart on piano, but the true attractions were jazz immortals Charlie Parker on alto sax and Dizzy Gillespie on trumpet. Information on the recording sessions varies, but it seems that these tracks were laid down in New York City on January 4, 1945 -- just a few months before Hart's death from tuberculosis. They also feature Rubberlegs Williams on vocals. Listen carefully to his rather loopy performance, which sounds that way for a very strange reason. Seems Rubberlegs helped himself to some of Bird's coffee, which happened to be laced with Benzedrine. Yup, that explains a few things. So what's the Memori...