Sunday Jazz: The Bill Evans Trio, “Waltz for Debby” (1965)

More than 30 years after pianist Bill Evans’ death, his legacy still towers over the jazz landscape. I can’t imagine a pianist worth their salt who hasn’t had their playing informed by his style in one way or another, even if subconsciously. Ample evidence of this exists, in particular the double whammy of classic 1961 live albums, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby.

Evans led a number of fantastic trios over the years, and this is one of the better ones. It features Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums. This clip is from a March 19, 1965 performance in London, broadcast on the legendary BBC program Jazz 625. It’s the Bill Evans Trio performing the Miles Davis composition “Nardis.”

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Sunday Jazz: Happy birthday to Sarah Vaughan

Today would have been the 87th birthday of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan, born on this day in 1924 in Newark, New Jersey. Known alternately as Sailor, Sassy, and The Divine One, Vaughan got her start in music by playing piano and singing in her church choir. She dropped out of high school in her junior year to concentrate on her musical career, and in 1942/43 she won first prize during an Amateur Night performance at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater.

Sarah Vaughan’s career remained active, if not always commercially successful, throughout most of her life. Even when she was not recording she was touring extensively. She won the Grammy for Best Female Jazz Vocal Performance in 1983. In 1989 she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and she died on April 3, 1990, a week after her 66th birthday.

To remember one of the greats, here’s just a sampling of Vaughan performances throughout the years.


“Autumn Leaves” (w/Wynton Marsalis)

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

“Lover Man” (w/ Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie)

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Sunday Jazz: The Jazz Crusaders on Frankly Jazz

Welcome to a new feature here at The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit called Sunday Jazz. Check back every Sunday for a sample of some of the best jazz around. Some installments will feature YouTube videos, others .mp3 links. If you have a request let me know and I’ll see what I can do for you!

To kick things off right I’m sharing this clip of one of my all-time favorite artists, the Jazz Crusaders, on a TV from the ’60s called Frankly Jazz. It was hosted by jazz DJ Frank Evans and was inspired by his KRHM-FM radio show of the same name.

This episode of Frankly Jazz features the Jazz Crusaders performing “The Young Rabbits” and “Weather Beat.” The first number is one of the group’s signature songs and is elevated by Joe Sample’s excellent piano work and brilliant drumming from Stix Hooper (what a seemingly effortless solo!). But I certainly don’t want to overlook the outstanding front-line horn section of Wilton Felder (saxophone) and Wayne Henderson (trombone).

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