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...
This piece originally ran in June 2012. I'm running it again as a very small tribute to the late Dave Brubeck, who passed away on Wednesday, December 5 at age 91. I'm in the midst of a fairly comprehensive attempt at helping newcomers to jazz build a good music collection. I'll offer a spoiler here and say that one of the albums on the list is the landmark 1959 Dave Brubeck Quartet record, Time Out. Time Out was one of the albums that really drew me into jazz when I was in the early days of my exploration, and for good reason. It's both cerebral and swingin', and accessible without compromising artistic integrity one bit. The Paul Desmond composition "Take Five" is probably the group's most-known song, but I've always been partial to the opening cut -- Brubeck's "Blue Rondo
One of the downsides to so much good music coming out this year is that I don't get nearly enough time to enjoy or write about everything I want. And so I've been remiss in mentioning one of the many great new albums from this year -- On the Way by Negroni's Trio. I very recently discovered the trio -- Puerto Rican-born pianist José Negroni and his son Nomar on drums, as well as a rotating bassist -- through the magic of the internet and they are my favorite current jazz act. In many ways they've supplanted The Bad Plus as my go-to group for adventurous, muscular jazz. If you really want to get technical, you can consider their music Latin jazz, but that's just a label. What it is is stirring, melodic, daring music that any music fan can appreciate. On the Way -- the group's seventh
I offered up a selection of four tracks for a Halloween jazz playlist last year, and I'm back for more this year. These tunes are perfect for setting a spooky, fun mood -- whether you're setting out for trick or treat or holding a classy (and classic) retro Halloween party of your own! Each of these selections has a YouTube video that's up for now, and I've also embedded a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post. Speaking of which... (Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.) Kay Starr -- "The Headless Horseman" Artie Shaw -- "Nightmare" The Casa Loma Orchestra -- "The House Is Haunted" The Boswell Sisters -- "Heebie Jeebies" Henry Hall and his Orchestra (vocals by Val Rosing) -
I see at least half a dozen PR emails a day concerning albums and projects I have little interest in. So it figures that I missed the February release of PolCat, the debut album from a project featuring Chris Poland, one of my all-time favorite guitarists. The name, I'm certain, comes from Poland and tenor saxophonist Frank Catalano, who make up half of this astoundingly talented quartet. How I stumbled upon this album is not important -- I'm just glad I did. It's one of the freshest, most enjoyable releases of any genre I've heard this year, and hopefully points the way to more output from this group. I haven't heard much of anything from Catalano prior to this album, but his sax playing is agile and tuneful. Likewise, the rhythm section of bassist Sean O’Bryan Smith and drummer
School is almost out for the summer for a lot of kids in the U.S., but they can still learn! And what better topic to learn about than jazz? That's what Julian "Cannonball" Adderley must've thought, as he narrated a 1961 album called A Child's Introduction to Jazz. It was released on Riverside Records (RLP 1435) as part of their "Wonderland" series, designed to teach kids about a variety of topics in an entertaining way. Throughout, Adderley narrates the history of jazz and talks about the genre's roots in work songs, blues, and ragtime, and brings the listener through Dixieland, Swing, and Bebop. He also explains the instrumental makeup and musical structure of jazz. Numerous songs and clips back up his lessons, which makes the whole experience rather rich and informative. Some of t
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.)
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...
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