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Hugues

JAZZ

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I haven't had time to read the whole thread yet, so forgive me if my questions might already have been touched on.

Unlike Hugues, I am not necessarily looking to find a gateway into and a map of the ginormous jazz world. Rahter, I just want a couple recommendations you think I might like, based on my current, very limited, jazz enjoyments. The list is very short.

1) I've spent a little bit of time with some real cursory, basic compilations like the Verve Jazz Masters. I mildly liked some stuff, could take or leave the rest.

2)The Girl from Ipanema is one of my favourite songs. Not just in jazz. So some Samba (?) recs would be appreciated.

3) I have several Brad Mehldau albums and I like them a lot. I don't listen to them a lot but once in a while they hit the spot. I got into him because of his Radiohead (and other contemporary non-jazz bands) covers but I like him for more than just his covers now.

That concludes my very limited list. So any recommendations?? Again, I'm not looking to learn the entire history of jazz or develop any sort of serious relationship. We're still flirting.

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2)The Girl from Ipanema is one of my favourite songs. Not just in jazz. So some Samba (?) recs would be appreciated.

In that case you'll love Getz/Gilberto from 1963, an absolutely great collaboration between saxophonist Stan Getz, guitarist/singer Joao Gilberto (and occasionally his wife Astrud), and composer/arranger Antonio Carlos Jobim. This is the quintessential bossa nova album, and it doesn't get any better than this.

3) I have several Brad Mehldau albums and I like them a lot. I don't listen to them a lot but once in a while they hit the spot. I got into him because of his Radiohead (and other contemporary non-jazz bands) covers but I like him for more than just his covers now.

Mehldau is heavily influenced by Bill Evans, so Bill Evans sounds like a natural connection to me. I'd recommend Sunday at the Village Vanguard, one of the greatest jazz trio recordings, and Conversations with Myself, a triple solo album of sorts in which Evans overdubs himself three times and achieves some remarkable interplay.

If you're looking for some interesting/fun jazz covers of rock/indie touchstones, I'd recommend The Bad Plus, whose first two albums (These Are the Vistas and Give) feature covers of Nirvana, The Pixies, and, amazingly, Black Sabbath.

Incidentally, pianist Christopher O'Riley has two solo piano albums of Radiohead covers -- True Love Waits and Hold Me to This.

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I've only played a few songs at random from the Brazilian albums I bought, and am totally fond of that music! On the Gal Costa's Best Of, there's a duet with Maria Beth

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Some comments/first impressions on what I've listened to so far:

Louis Armstrong: The Best of the Hot Five & Hot Seven Recordings (1926-1928)

These recordings are filled with poetry and a kind of joy that seems lost today. It's indispensible to any collection, and a great starting point. 5/5

The Boswell Sisters: Shout, Sister, Shout! (1931-1936)

I'm just amazed how good it is, and wonder if they're well-known? I've never hear more perfect vocal harmonies, and rhythmically, it's always inventive. Pure listening pleasure. There's something light and creamy in Connee's voice (lead singer). She recorded solo after the trio broke up, in a torch-singer style that wasn't a great success, I've read. I thought of purchasing it to make my opinion (I feel almost like a Connee Boswell fan), but decided to go to Lee Wiley for a next step instead. Anyway: I highly recommend this Boswell Sisters collection to anyone. It's hard to beat in 30's swing era, if not any era. 5/5

Coleman Hawkins: Body & Soul (Complete Victor Recordings, 1939-1956)

I enjoyed the first CD, but didn't find the second one as good, due to the strings. 4/5

Peggy Lee & Benny Goodman The Complete Recordings (1941-1947)

I first thought it was good. But actually it's forgettable. Peggy Lee wasn't self-confident enough and hadn't found her style yet. And Benny Goodman's loud big band ends to be tiresome in my opinion, with all due respect. "Why Don't You Do Right?" was a lovely hit, though. 3/5

Charlie Parker Yardbird Suite (1945-1952)

I was lucky enough to find that great collection used, at affordable price, since it's out of stock and highly expensive now. If you ever find it the same way, don't wait, buy it right away (if you don't know Charlie Parker already, of course). So, my opinion? Simply put: the best thing I have heard in jazz music so far. It's my first listen of the whole thing, and if you except a few tracks on the second CD (again, with useless strings), I'm totally impressed. With Charlie Parker it seemed to be about doing "soli" (do you write it that way too?) the most naturally possible, as to make them a new form of music, filled with feelings and deep emotion. Some players are economical with notes, but with Parker it's the opposite. It wasn't about being economical, but about getting over endless improvisations, while playing with textures and notes, to the point of reaching a high grace. I think he paved the way for free jazz to some extent. I will realize that later while listening to Lennie Tristano (which was today). 5/5

Miles Davis Birth of the Cool (1949-1950)

Several sessions released in the 50's under the name of Birth of the Cool. I enjoyed it. It's light music, with an interesting sense of orchestration. What Miles Davis brought to the jazz world, it seems, is Vision. Unlike Parker, with whom he played a lot (and probably learned a lot, too), Miles isn't immediately impressive. He does seduce our ears in a more ambient way. 4/5

Lester Young with the Oscar Peterson Trio (1952)

First impression: good stuff, but I'd need more listens to say more. Nothing immediately impressive to me. 4/5

Peggy Lee Black Coffee (1953+1956)

Do you know that in a slow, sensual and smoky swing style, Peggy Lee may be the Queen? She proves it here, with special highlights such as "(Oh The Apple Trees) When The World Was Young" and "You're My Thrill", and also with the almost equally marvellous Dream Street recorded in 1956 (along with the extended Black Coffee sessions). 5/5

Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan (1954)

Well, thanks for the recommendations, it's a masterpiece indeed! So far I can say I prefer Sarah over Ella and Billie as a singer. What's impressive with this album is its "science" and savoir-faire (whoopi, a French word). Only one listen so far, and I feel I can hear it many times before I even start to be tired of such mastery. Fave tracks: "Lullaby of Birdland", "April in Paris", "I'm Glad There Is You", "It's Crazy". And what a beautiful album cover. 5/5

Miles Davis Round about Midnight (1955-1956)

It's a very nice album, but nothing extraordinary at first spin, either. I certainly need other listens. Nice album cover as well. 4/5

Frank Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours (1955)

A concept album - lots of tracks for the times - the LP was called Hi-Fi, and 15 songs collected in a same tone, that was a big effort. I must say I'm not a big Sinatra fan so far, there's something mundane in Sinatra's music that doesn't touch me. He's a great singer, no question about it, but I'm not fond of the place he goes to. He sounds like the urban ladies guy, the crooner of a world made of Hollywoodish dreams. In the real world at the same time, you could listen to the lonely urban voice of Lightnin' Hopkins, which sounds like Taxi Driver compared to Gone with the Wind. Is my critic fair? I don't think so. I'm just sharing a feeling. After all, there always were many different musics for everybody everywhere... 4/5

Thelonious Monk Brilliant Corners (1956)

That jazz one sounds pretty close to "musique contemporaine" (I don't know how you name it in English). You know, Boulez, Satie, stuff like that. Of course I'll give it more listens. 4/5

Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus (1956)

Cool stuff. Sonny Rollins likes drums soli. Did he influence all these metal and prog rock bands ten years later? I found Way Out West (1957) better again. 4/5

Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin' Lovers! (1956)

Same comments as the other Sinatra album above. 4/5

Mel Torm

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Hello Nardis, thanks a lot for the recommendations!

Yes I think I enjoy more the recordings Peggy Lee did with Dave Barbour - I have some from the Best of Miss Peggy Lee comp (with a DVD), and songs like "It's a Good Day", "It's All Over Now" and "Golden Earrings" are delightful. There's something cosmopolitan, "chic" and modern in Peggy Lee that I appreciate, she wasn't a purist and tried different things, nevermind how light it could be, it was refreshing, and done with feeling. She was a great pop singer. I wouldn't be surprised if I was enjoying her latin albums, too.

How about doing another thread for the Brazil stuff? I'll post my little list there. I haven't listened to the full albums yet, since I'm going at it chronologically.

I could also suggest a BLUES thread, since I also invested in a basic collection of some of the most essential blues pioneers. :)

To which I'dd add country and folk as well. :mrgreen:

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Thanks for your comments, Hugues. I could head off in many directions here, but I'll focus on Sonny Rollins.

I love the album (Saxophone Colossus) that you thought was merely pretty good, so keep that in mind as you read. But I find that that there are so many worthwhile albums that I have to recommend a few more.

Since you are smitten with Charlie Parker (and with good reason), you might enjoy Sonny Plays for Bird, a 1956 album of Sonny playing songs usually associated with Parker. It might be interesting to listen to the album and compare the very different saxophonists playing the same tunes. From the same year, I'd also recommend Sonny Rollins Plus 4 -- Sonny sitting in with trumpeter Clifford Brown (just a couple months before his tragic death) and Max Roach. Tenor Madness is a straightahead blowing session, but check out the competition: John Coltrane. To hear those two trading off on solos is a wondrous thing. And from a few years earlier (1953), I'd heartily recommend Thelonious Monk & Sonny Rollins. Rollins was a part of Monk's early '50s band, and, in my opinion, recorded the definitive version of "Misterioso" in 1951. So this album is a reunion of sorts, with Rollins playing a few of Monk's best-known compositions, and an absolutely shredding version of the standard "The Way You Look Tonight." Listen to that and you'll never be able to hear Sinatra's well-known version in the same way again.

I agree with Nardis -- The Bridge is a classic album.

And from an often overlooked period in Sonny's music, I'd recommend the three mid-'60s albums on Impulse Records -- Sonny Rollins on Impulse!, Alfie, and East Broadway Rundown.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Frank Sinatra In The Wee Small Hours (1955)

A concept album - lots of tracks for the times - the LP was called Hi-Fi, and 15 songs collected in a same tone, that was a big effort. I must say I'm not a big Sinatra fan so far, there's something mundane in Sinatra's music that doesn't touch me. He's a great singer, no question about it, but I'm not fond of the place he goes to. He sounds like the urban ladies guy, the crooner of a world made of Hollywoodish dreams. In the real world at the same time, you could listen to the lonely urban voice of Lightnin' Hopkins, which sounds like Taxi Driver compared to Gone with the Wind. Is my critic fair? I don't think so. I'm just sharing a feeling. After all, there always were many different musics for everybody everywhere... 4/5

Frank Sinatra Songs for Swingin' Lovers! (1956)

Same comments as the other Sinatra album above. 4/5

Well, considering your opinion, you are generous with your ratings. You might be right about Sinatra, but there are things to consider. Male vocalising has changed since Sinatra because of him. It is a challenge not to sound like him as a baritone. One has to attempt different things within the song to separate oneself. Elling's poetic flight of poetry for example. Sinatra never did vocalese. That is another point of separation. Watching old film of him singing is anti-climactic. On recordings, his sound is powerful and his phrasing and breath control a challenge to duplicate. To see him do all of this is to watch him do it all so effortlessly as to seem to toss it off. Like he isn't even singing. Finally, he was never excessive in his interpreations and his performance. No chorus after chorus of improv. He sort of straddled ballad singing and modern jazz singing. It is hard not to list singers as before and after Sinatra.

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I would never deny the high quality of Sinatra's recordings, my comments are subjective, and first impressions, I can change my mind upon several listens. My ratings try to be less subjective, I guess.

Since my latest comments, I've listened to Where Are You? and was blown away. The difference? Gordon Jenkins! He does the best strings ever! :)

On this album, I heard what I was hoping to hear from Mr Sinatra: a deep, echoing voice, on voluptuous, spacious orchestrations. 5/5!

and how about the album cover:

IPB Image

The same happened to me with Nat King Cole: I wasn't that amazed by his songs, until I hear "When I Fall In Love" and "Stardust", songs arranged and conducted by... Gordon Jenkins. Wow!

Anita O'Day: I've listened to Anita Sings the Most last night and want to say how great this album is! She's a great singer, as early as the first track, "S'Wonderful/They Can't Take That Away From Me", I was in the ether. She's accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Quartet, and Peterson on piano and Herb Ellis on guitar play stunning counterpoints. Other favorite songs: "Love Me or Leave Me", "Taking a Chance On Love" and "Them There Eyes". Anita Sings the Most: 5/5.

IPB Image

And I played "I've Got the World on a String" at the radio today. Did we just lose the best white female jazz singer?

Thanks Andy for the Sonny Rollins special recommendations. Looks like he has a big worthy body of work, which of course doesn't surprise me, it must be the case for many other great jazz names.

Edited by Hugues

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Here's the thing (for me) about Sinatra, even at his best: I like his singing, but really dislike the arrangements he used. (I bet he'd have been much better off doing a lot of this material with small combo backup.)

Not a fan of Nelson Riddle in general, his arrangements are on what I think are some of Sinatra's best recordings. Fascinating counterpoint to his restraint. Have you heard his late fifties recording with Basie?

Rich, I have a feeling that you'd enjoy his work a lot.

I've had my ups and downs with him. Like him or not, he's the elephant in the room for male singesr and particularly baritones. I am still amazed at what he did with so little evident range. Most baritones can go a bit further up and down.

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(His Mafia ties and tendency toward violence - includes hitting reporters - have always colored my view of him...)

And his work with Linda Ronstadt.

Kidding. I actually kinda liked that stuff, which, I confess, is the ONLY Riddle stuff I know :(

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I really have to stop sneaking glances at other peoples

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Just did. That's an eyeful! You might describe those patterns as ... jazzy. (getting the thread back on track here...) ::blush::

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Riddle's charts for Linda Ronstadt were very nice, I think.

No way, really? No offense, but they were soft even for Ray Mancini. I always thought those were a good voice wasted arrangements. The Francis Albert/Riddle combinations were bombastic, yes, but a sort of contradictory 50's macho male kind of thing. My favorite is a standard example: Under My Skin has almost a croon vocal, gleefully admitting the unmanful love hook while struggling to loosen and keep one's cool. Then the screeching bridge with bouncy rhythm section shares what is really happening inside under that cool. At that point then Sinatra is modulating up a bit, louder and almost veering off course of the melody, intoxicated at the thought of love. I never liked Riddle at all accept with Sinatra and I like the late Capitol years almost exclusively. Then there is the (now standard, everyone uses it now) accompaniment to Fly Me to the Moon which almost never refers to the melody at all, but winds in and out of it except during the vocal rests.

But it was Frank who punched out reporters and all... I hope Mr. R. had no such nefarious ties (of any kind). ;)

That got a lot of publicity (the reporters thing). Did you know that if an interviewer ever mentioned the word "jazz" within the context of Yusef Lateef's career, he would go into a tirade about the meaning of the word, how insulting it was to refer to his work and "African American Classical Music" in total with such a vulgar word. And end the interview with the tirade? I'm not saying this because briusing Sinatra is a sore spot with me. I'm saying this because there has always been a certain amount of criminal involvement in entertainment. Some rolled with the punches, but no one could really fight it and work. There are plenty of examples of artists on short fuzes acting out lousily (Sinatra usually punched out reporters when asked about Mafia ties, then confronted them each succeeding time he encountered the particular reporters). I am reminded of Miles' contempt for audiences. In the long run, you either like the music or you don't. You rarely have to meet these people.

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Last night I was listening to "The Man I Love" by Ella Fitzgerald, with strings arranged by Nelson Riddle. Despite Ella's wonderful voice, it tends to be a bit bombastic to me, but it's just my sentiment.

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My mom too. He also called Katherine Graham a two dollar whore. I think it was in response to her husband's paper being more concerned with his crime ties than his latest album at the time. But as I said before, what ends up mattering is what we are listening to today, no matter how much of a schmuck any of these folks could be.

On Riddle: it was Sinatra that made the arrangements work. With Ella, the arrangements sometimes butchered the songs. I am the great Gerschwin defender (I even have recordings, some original to the late forties and early fifties, of the greatest Gerschwin apologist of all time in his prime, Oscar Levant), and Ella defender, but the Gerschwin Songbook stinks (so does the Mercer Songbook, BTW). One watching of An American in Paris will ruin that album for you forever and it is not supposed to be that way, even though the performances and arrangements in the film are mostly wonderful. On the album, some of the songs that should be bright and shiney, just fall flat. They are done as if they are there as documents that a song was written and it was performed.

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This topic might deserve its own thread: Gender Gap Among Jazz Performers, and More Specifically, Jazz Audiences

Amanda Ameer wonders:

If jazz publicists and marketers are not concerned with the gender situation, they certainly should be. In my (albeit limited) experience with jazz, the genre is men playing music for men. Like football. (Yes, I realize women watch football, but you see my point.) In the four years I was at Dartmouth, there was one woman in the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble. Girls auditioned, but none except this one was good enough to make it, apparently. I asked members of Stefon Harris' Blackout about this issue when we were at a Chamber Music America New Music Institute together, and they said most of the time women are singers in jazz, but rarely instrumentalist performers. The sign at the Village Vanguard says the capacity is 123 people. At the 11:30pm set on Saturday, I counted 17 women including myself watching the three men on stage. What is that all about? It really bothered me. ...

I have to say, spooked as I was by the gender imbalance, I was extremely impressed by the age range at the [brad] Mehldau concert. We were sitting behind a table of about eight high school boys (ordering soda - so cute) and next to two couples, one pair well over 60 and the other mid-40s. My kingdom for that range around me at a classical concert. So like I said, we all have our own demographic issues to grapple with.

I gave Sarah a Cyrus Chestnut CD for Mother's Day. We once saw him in concert together (third date), but recently decided against seeing him again -- her decision (budgetary, or so claimed), not mine! ;)

Edited by Christian

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I never really thought about it, but i suppose improv is largely about male posturing and self absorption

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So I finally dived into Bill Frisell's catalog today.

Wow, wow wow wow. I've only picked up The Intercontinentals and Floratone, but both are pretty amazing. I wish I had more insightful stuff to say, but I need to let it sink in. I'm really impressed with Frisell's texturing techniques; I've read that's he's cut back on all of the effect pedal-soaked madness of her earlier stuff, but effects or not, he seems to really get that atmosphere is as important as soul.

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I have to say, spooked as I was by the gender imbalance, I was extremely impressed by the age range at the [brad] Mehldau concert. We were sitting behind a table of about eight high school boys (ordering soda - so cute) and next to two couples, one pair well over 60 and the other mid-40s. My kingdom for that range around me at a classical concert. So like I said, we all have our own demographic issues to grapple with. </i>

I'm trying to see Mehldau tonight at the Library of Congress. Tickets are free, but they've all been taken. So I'll get in the "standby" line for no-shows and hope for the best. Gotta get down there and get a number, then come back later (depending on when I arrive) and see if my number gets called. Feels like a long shot, but it's worth it.

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I can't pull up any reviews of last night's amazing show, but my searches did turn up news about Mehldau's latest release, of which I wasn't even aware until I saw the CD table after the performance.

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So I finally dived into Bill Frisell's catalog today.

Wow, wow wow wow. I've only picked up The Intercontinentals and Floratone, but both are pretty amazing. I wish I had more insightful stuff to say, but I need to let it sink in. I'm really impressed with Frisell's texturing techniques; I've read that's he's cut back on all of the effect pedal-soaked madness of her earlier stuff, but effects or not, he seems to really get that atmosphere is as important as soul.

If the effects stuff is a bother for you, I'd suggest Good Dog, Happy Man or Nashville--with two lovely vocals by Robin Holcomb--and a much earlier recording on ECM entitled Lookout For Happiness.

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Piano jazz fans would do well to check out Kenny Werner's latest, Balloons (Half Note). It features four new long compositions and the quintet includes trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist David Sanchez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The tunes are very song like, full of interesting but utterly accessible melody and rounded harmonic interplay. Given the length of these jazz songs, there is lots of room for individual improvisation, but it is all on the melodic side. Fans of Werner's more angular and quirky work might have to adjust a bit, but this is a very elegant, emotionally honest recording from start to finish.

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Has anyone else heard the new Fred Hersch, Alone at the Vanguard? Thom, I noticed that you praised it over in the New Stuff... thread, and I vaguely remember Christian, perhaps, being a fan of this man. I couldn't help but notice the four-and-a-half star review at All Music-- which hails it as a "once in a decade album." Wow!

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Has anyone else heard the new Fred Hersch, Alone at the Vanguard? Thom, I noticed that you praised it over in the New Stuff... thread, and I vaguely remember Christian, perhaps, being a fan of this man. I couldn't help but notice the four-and-a-half star review at All Music-- which hails it as a "once in a decade album." Wow!

I like almost everything Hersch has recorded, but his solo piano work in a live setting usually floors me because you can measure how much growth is there. Alone At The Vanguard is over the top great.

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Piano jazz fans would do well to check out Kenny Werner's latest, Balloons (Half Note). It features four new long compositions and the quintet includes trumpeter Randy Brecker, saxophonist David Sanchez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Antonio Sanchez. The tunes are very song like, full of interesting but utterly accessible melody and rounded harmonic interplay. Given the length of these jazz songs, there is lots of room for individual improvisation, but it is all on the melodic side. Fans of Werner's more angular and quirky work might have to adjust a bit, but this is a very elegant, emotionally honest recording from start to finish.

Thom, I really appreciate the recommendation. I have not heard the album yet, but I am listening to the title song, which is streaming here, and thinking this is one I may need to try to pick up tomorrow afternoon. Quite lovely!

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