I have been listening to a lot of incredible records lately. Some of which may already be familiar to you and some not but I thought I would write about some that you may be interested in:
Up until about 10 years ago or so, give or take, pianist David Hazeltine was a relative unknown. Since then however he has gone on to release several records as a leader and dozens as a sideman. If you’re into the ‘hard bop’ scene in NYC then you quicly realize that David Hazeltine appears on a ton of records! In his own words this record is one of the only one he actually likes. He should, its a wonderful display of his writing abilities, his arranging abilities (something that he excels greatly at) and his beautifully melodic and soulfully swinging piano playing. The all star band of Joe Farnsworth on drums, John Webber on bass, Eric Alexander on tenor sax and vibraphonist Joe Locke work their way through a great program of cleverly arranged standards, and tunes for the pen of Hazeltine. Highly recommended SHARP NINE RECORDS.
Ever since George Coleman appeared at The Cella in September 2006 I have tried to get every thing that he has ever done. I have no idea why he is constantly under valued and under appreciated as a musician and saxophonist. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, for my money he was “THE” saxophonist in the 2nd great Miles Davis Quintet. I think conceptually Wayne was the better choice but for straight saxophone playing it was Big George as he is affectionately known. Upon searching for records with George Coleman I came across a series of Chet Baker records that were recorded over three days in 1965. The result of those three days were SMOKIN’, GROOVIN’, COMIN’ ON, COOL BURNIN’ and BOPPIN.’
The best one of the lot is clearly SMOKIN.’ I have to plead ignorance as up until hearing this record I thought of Chet Baker as a great West Coast trumpter/singer not necessarily a real bebopper. Boy was I wrong. Chet is absolutely killing on these dates playing with real passion and fire weaving in and out of the changes. His lines are long and fluid and executed with near perfection. George Coleman matches him note for note and pharse for phrase. His saxophone playing on these dates is pure greatness. His sound is so big and tough and he muscles his way through the changes on every tune. Particular highlights of the session are ‘Have You Met Miss Jones,’ (even thought the rhythm section gets lost during a bried moment in Chet’s solo) Grade A Gravy which features some bluesy saxophone work by Coleman. Check it out, its great!
When trumpeter Joe Magnarelli was in town back in October I was telling him about the Max Roach 4 Plays Bird album that I had come to love featuring Kenny Dorham. He insisted that I pick up his 1960 album ‘Showboat’ which in his estimation was the not only the best KD of all time but some of the greatest saxophone playing ever. The reedman in question was Jimmy Heath. Not someone tha I had checked out a lot I was very curious. This record is a tough one to find but after lots of ebay searches I found a copy of it in Japan and although I paid a pretty penny for it it was worth every penny.
Mags was right on about this one. This record features some seriously swinging music. Nothing pioneering or innovative, just straight ahead blowing by guys at the top of their game. Of particular note is a) the sound of Jimmy Heath’s tenor. His sound is so round and so full b) the sound of Kenny D’s trumpet is perfect. I would really like know how they mic’d these in the studio because both the tenor and the trumpet jump right out at you as if you were right there in the studio. All involved sound great including Kenny Drew (p) Jimmy Garrison (b) Art Taylor (d.