Thursday, November 8, 2012

More Treasure From JazzHaus

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"This is the stuff collectors dream of. The numbers induce salivating: a literal trove of never-before-released live jazz recordings dating back to 1947, some 3.000 hours of music. In all, there are 1.600 well-preserved, German-made audio recordings and 350 TV broadcasts by more than 400 artists and groups... That's three down, 1,597 to go. Bring 'em on!"
- Jeff Tamarkin, JazzTimes

With the October 30, 2012 JazzHaus release of 3 more performances from the archives of the S├╝dwestrundfunk [a regional public broadcasting company based in southwestern Germany], I think this may have brought the Jeff Tarmarkin’s yet-to-go number down to 1,594, but who’s counting!

Michael Bloom, a long-time friend of Jazz whose firm is handling the media relations on behalf of the US distributors for the series - Naxos of America, Inc. – caringly referred to these previously unreleased treasures from the S├╝dwestrundfunk vaults “… an embarrassment of riches.”

Michael went on to say: “I met the JazzHaus guys at a Naxos sales conference this summer and got a peek at the future releases – Whoa!”

Perhaps it is just as well that these recordings are being periodically released in small batches as each contains so much great Jazz that it takes multiple listening sessions to absorb it all.

Here’s a closer look at the recordings in the latest series.

The Lost Tapes: Zoot Sims in Baden-Baden [JazzHaus #101710]

This concert recording lay long forgotten and lost to Jazz enthusiasts. A pressing issued in 1988 was flawed and of relatively poor quality. That alone was reason enough for allowing Zoot Sims and others one more opportunity to be heard.

What you get with Zoot Sims in Baden-Baden, recorded on June 23, 1958, is a single jam session with each number featuring a different line-up and instrumentation:

Zoot Sims (as, ts, cl), Hans Koller (as, ts, cl), Willie Dennis (tb), Adi Feuerstein (fl), Gerd Husemann (fl), Helmut Brandt (fl, bs), Hans Hammerschmid (p), Peter Trunk (b), Kenny Clarke (dr).

© -Ulli Pfau/JazzHaus, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


“In 1958 Sims played with Benny Goodman at Expo '58 in Brussels, where he met the Viennese-born Hans Koller, then Europe's coolest tenor sax. Two years earlier Sims had made a Blue Note recording with the German pianist Jutta Hipp and he was keen to meet other European jazz musicians. So Joa­chim-Ernst Berendt, head of the jazz department at the then SWF, invited the two to a studio concert, supplementing the horn section with Adi Feuerstein and Gerd Husemann, Willie Dennis and Helmut Brandt. The ensemble also featured Hans Hammerschmid on piano, Peter Trunk on bass and on drums Kenny Clarke, who had quit the Modern Jazz Quartet and moved to Paris.

What you get with Zoot Sims in Baden-Baden is a single jam session in which each number features a different line-up and instrumentation: Sims and Koller on tenor sax get in the frame with All The Things You Are, before switching to clarinet for Minor Meeting For Two Clarinets. Sims' brilliant interpretations of Allen's Alley and Tangerine are met with the nimble, elegant ripostes of Koller's Fallin' In Love and Brandt's I Surrender Dear. Blue Night (featuring a six-piece horn section) is a number which beguilingly alternates between big band and ensemble jazz. The same goes for Open Door, in which Kenny Clarke urges the ensemble inexorably onwards with every bar, and the alto saxophone of Zoot Sims briefly opens the door to allow the sound of the day - bebop - to flood the studio.”

Legends Live: The Albert Mangelsdorff Quintet [JazzHaus #101706]

Recorded live at Freiburg on June 22,1964  with Albert Mangelsdorff (tb), Heinz Sauer (ts, ss), Gunter Kronberg (as), Gunter Lenz (b), Ralf Hiibner (dr)

© -Ulli Pfau/JazzHaus, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“It is hard to believe this concert lay all but forgotten in the archives for almost 50 years - particularly as it marks the breakthrough of Albert Mangelsdorff as Germany's one true international jazz star. At the insistence of Joachim-Ernst Berendt, head of SWF's jazz department, the Goethe Institut dispatched Mangelsdorff and his quintet on a tour of Asia in 1964. Nobody had reckoned on concert sell-outs, a frenzied media circus, and prestigious honors. Back home and swinging from their encounters with Asian folk and dance music, the Quintet guested in Freiburg with a performance of pure avant-garde: a tense, frantic bop, shifting playfully between musical styles from Mali ("Burung kakak"), Thailand ("Ramwong") and Japan ("Sakura Waltz"), and ultimately reaching the point of entry to free jazz.

For five soloists at the top of their game the formula was a simple one: Heinz Sauer's tenor is Trane-like in quality (Theme from Father Panchali)-, Glinter Kronberg's alto (Set 'em Up) develops rugged, edgy figures in the style of a young Wayne Shorter; Gtinter Lenz on bass and Ralf Hiibner on drums combine to form a heart-lung machine that provides oxygen for the horns and oceans of space for improvisation. This material later gave rise to Now Jazz Ramwong, the quintet's best known recording. It would launch the ensemble to the top of the "downbeat" polls (Talent Deserving Wider Recognition). It also assured Albert Mangelsdorff a place in the pantheon of jazz greats.”

Legends Live: The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet [JazzHaus #101711]

Recorded live at Stuttgart, November 27, 1961 and Frankfurt November 29, 1961 with Dizzy Gillespie [tp], Leo Wright [as/fl], Lalo Schifrin [p], Bob Cunningham [b] and Mel Lewis [d].

The biggest surprise here is Mel Lewis, who supposedly, at the time, was a scion of the more laid back “West Coast” style of drumming, making these gigs with Dizzy and playing his backside off.

Taking nothing away from Kenny Clarke and Charlie Persip, who always did a magnificent job of booting Dizzy Big Bands along in the 1940’s and 1950’s, respectively, I always wondered what Mel, whom many consider to have been the ultimate big band drummer, would have done with that band.

Thanks to the addition of Argentinean pianist Lalo Schifrin, who also composed and arranged Dizzy’s masterful Gillespiana around this time, Dizzy is once again playing with fire and brio during these concerts.

© -Karl Lippegaus/JazzHaus, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

To Be or Not To Bop!

The Mooche was written by Duke Ellington in 1928 for the trumpeter Bubber Miley. In his long version, performed in Stuttgart, Dizzy Gillespie explores it at length. Lalo Schifrin's piano solo uses block chords to further heighten the dramatic intensity of this soul remake. Schifrin had had doubts in 1960 whether Dizzy even wanted him in his band; he could never get hold of him by telephone and almost returned home to Buenos Aires. "I've had many mentors in my life, but only one master - Dizzy," Schifrin explained. "Dizzy is always hungry for new musical food. Calypso today, bossa nova yesterday, tomorrow - who knows?"

The trumpeter loved the open form above an Afro-Cuban rhythm, such as in Con Alma, the number he had composed back in 1956. He engaged the versatile saxophonist and flautist Leo Wright after a sensational concert at the Monterey Festival. Willow Weep For Me provides a reminder of his enormous talent on flute. Dizzy's hipster contribution is Oops-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be, a humorous pastiche on scat, from which Dizzy launches his solo like a fountain gushing skywards. In I Can't Get Started he throws in quotes and saunters through the upper registers as if it were child's play. The Frankfurt versions of Kush and Con Alma demonstrate how the Quintet is able to inject new life even into these familiar themes. The manner in which a muted Dizzy, without piano accompa­niment, dances with bass (Bob Cunningham) and drums (Mel Lewis) in Kush remains an audio adventure even today.”

The holiday gift season is right-around-the-corner; perhaps you can add one or more of these new JazzHaus CD’s to your Wish List?