Saturday, February 28, 2015

Joe Morello - "It's About Time"

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

“One thing about Dave Tough: he always was Dave Tough, just as Buddy Rich always was what he was. Tough realized we are what we are. The important thing is to be put into a musical situation where what you are can ‘happen.’ Tough found his place with Woody Herman.” [And Joe Morello found a place where he could ‘happen’ in the classic Dave Brubeck Quartet from 1956-1968].
- Mel Lewis, drummer and bandleader

“Joe Morello: One of my favorite drummers was Davey Tough. 'Cause he could keep a nice rhythm with a band and he kept good time. He didn't hardly do anything with his left hand. He was just straight ahead on the big cymbal, but he got it cookin' real good.

Sidney Catlett I used to listen to.

Scott K Fish: Did you ever get to meet those guys?

JM: Sid Catlett I met once. One time in New York.

J.C. Heard was another fine drummer. I don't know if you've ever heard of him.
And then Jo Jones, who is still a good friend of mine. He's still here. Old man Jo Jones. ‘Jonathan Jones to you.’ [Morello mimics Jo Jones’ raspy voice.] Boy, that guy taught me a lot, because I played opposite him for about six or seven weeks at the Embers. He was working with Tyree Glenn and Hank Jones. He use to play his bass drum open, see. He had a little 2O-inch bass drum, and a snare drum, cymbal, and a hi-hat cymbal. That's all he had. Oh, and he had one little floor torn. And he'd get up on the drums with brushes and he'd get that bass drum going. [JM taps drum stick on leather sofa cushion, imitating the sound Jo Jones' would get from this bass drum at the Embers].

SKF: When you say "open," you mean he had no felt strips at all?

JM: Not at all. [Keeps tapping stick on couch] and he'd get a sound just like that. A good sound.

I'd get up there and I'd play something and it would go BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. And I'd say to him, "Jo, how do you do...?" And he wouldn't talk to me for the first two or three days. He just sort of flugged me off, you see.

But I sat down and I watched that f***in' bass drum, and I said, "I'm doing something wrong." 'Cause he sounds tap, tap, tap, and when I hit it it goes BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I couldn’t play it!

The only way you could play it, I found out, was by pressing the beater ball on the bass drum pedal into the head. He’d play up on his foot like that, but he’s been playing it like that for so long that he can control it, see. Jo was always playing toes down with his heals up!

I learned a lot about hi-hats from Jo, because Jo would always get a breathing sound from his hi-hats. We became good friends.”
- Scott K. Fish, Modern Drummer, 1979

In a previous posting entitled “Joe Morello In A Big Band Setting,” we highlighted Rick Mattingly’s insert notes to Joe Morello RCA Bluebird- 9784- 2 RB, a CD that essentially combined 7 previously unreleased big band sessions from 1961-62 with eight of the ten tracks that were issued featuring Joe Morello in a quintet setting on the RCA LP It’s About Time [RCA LPM-2486].

Since the original liner notes to It’s About Time were not included with the the CD reissue, the editorial staff thought it might be helpful and instructive to have these available online.

Joe’s quintet included his boyhood chum, Phil Woods, who also arranged some of the tunes along with Manny Albam [the arranger for all of the subsequently released big band charts], Gary Burton on vibes [these were some of Gary’s earliest recordings], John Bunch on piano and Gene Cherico on bass.

You will find two of the tracks from It’s About Time on the video tributes that conclude this portion of our ongoing feature on one of the most respected and revered Jazz drummers of all time.


“Every limit in jazz and popular music has been stretched and broken with the passing years. Technical skills have been sharpened; musicians have turned what was once dazzling virtuosity into the professional norm. The frontiers of harmony are extended constantly—yesterday's radical dissonances are today's conventions.
"Times" have changed, too. The simple time-rhythms of the past are no longer enough for today's musicians. Improvised subdividing of the standard four-beat measure by the earlier jazzmen was a hint of what was to come. Many musicians today use 6/4, 3/4, 5/4, and far more complicated rhythms with the same freedom and skill with which variations on the customary 4/4 are tossed off. Drummers—notably, at first, Art Blakey and Max Roach—were the natural leaders of this development.

But it was a pianist Dave Brubeck who took over leadership in the extension of rhythmic horizons. As Dave's drummer, Joe Morello played a key role in winning a large public to what have remained a private enjoyment for under for musicians only. In this, his first album under his own direction, Joe clearly displays a number of the rhythmic devices for which he, as a member of the Brubeck Quartet, has become known. But - make no mistake - Joe’s first love is swinging and driving a band, whether small or large. So this album is indeed, “about time” - but the preoccupation with time never gets in the way of making swinging music.

Joe’s fantastic technique - probably the most overwhelming, ever - is never just for showing off. Throughout the record, he is heard as an integral member of the group; even his longest solo is actually an extension of what the band has been playing. That he is the member who provides most of the spark and drive for each performance is plainly evident at all times.

A basic small combo is heard throughout the album, with a brass ensemble added for four numbers (I Didn't Know What Time It Was, Every Time We Say Goodbye, Time on My Hands, and It's About Time). Manny Albam, arranger and conductor for these numbers, has integrated the combo so that there is frequently a concerto grosso quality to the sound of the ensemble.

Phil Woods, alto saxophonist throughout this set, is the arranger of five of the six remaining selections. Completing the album is a trio improvisation (Fatha Time) by pianist John Bunch, bassist Gene Cherico, and Joe.

Joe's approach, in assembling the musicians and asking Manny and Phil to write for them, was that the music must, at all times, swing. There was no attempt to use complex rhythms for their own sakes. The musicians, of course, had to be chosen with care. The principal soloists — Woods, Bunch, and vibraphonist Gary Burton — are strong "blowers." They are soloists of the type who dig in and go.
Woods, the best-known soloist, is one of the finest saxophonists of the post-bop era. He is a musician whose blazing musical temperament is perceptible even on ballads. Gary Burton is a teenage virtuoso who has bowled over seasoned musicians for the last two years and is just beginning to become known. He impressed Chet Atkins, RCA Victor's recording manager in Nashville (and one of the great guitarists of all time), so deeply that Chet promptly signed him. His first RCA Victor album will appear shortly. John Bunch, whose vigorous piano is sprinkled liberally throughout this album, is a youthful veteran of the Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson bands, and has also played in the small combos of two of the country's most popular drummers, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

As for more on Joe Morello — well, few people would be better qualified to tell you about him than Marian McPartland, with whose trio Joe sprang to fame—first with his fellow musicians, and then the jazz public.”


“Joe Morello is a drummer's drummer. As long as I have known him, which is close to ten years (when he first came to New York and sat in with me at the Hickory House in 1952), he has always been surrounded by drummers who came from all over to listen to him play, to talk to him, to work out or to study his amazing technique at close range. Joe joined my trio in 1953, and it was always interesting to me to see how much time he devoted to the study of the drums, even to practicing every spare minute between sets. He was absolutely fanatical about this, and at times there seemed to be a kind of controlled fury in his playing — sort of a fierceness which belies the appearance of this quiet, soft-spoken guy. Only when he plays does he reveal some of the inner conflicts and frustrations that have shaped and directed him in his restless drive for perfection.

Joe was a child prodigy on the violin, and can play piano quite well. He is a sentimental person who thinks deeply, who loves to daydream and to philosophize while listening to music—every kind of music. His musical tastes run all the way from Casals to Sinatra to Red River Valley. He is a complex person: on one hand, gentle, quiet and imaginative; then, in the next instant, a complete extrovert, doing impressions of his friends and laughing like a schoolboy; then again he becomes remote, moody, shut off from everybody in his own self-contained little world.

In the past few years Joe has traveled all over the world with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He is now a seasoned performer, and shows the results and benefits of working with Dave. He has made a great reputation, and this is revealed in a different approach to his solos.

His musical ideas run along new lines; he uses his fantastic technique to better effect than ever, and he seems to have broadened his scope, not only in his playing but in various little intangible ways — in his increased confidence, in a certain gregariousness he never used to have. Yet, he is humble and at times almost disbelieving of his success. He has unquestionably made a great contribution to the Brubeck group, and I am sure that Dave would be among the first to agree that the success of tunes like Take Five, the Paul Desmond composition which put the Quartet on the nation's best-selling charts, is in some measure due to Joe's unique conception of unusual time signatures and his ability to play them interestingly.

The time is right for Joe, now one of the most illustrious sidemen in jazz, to record for the first time as a leader (although, of course, in public he is still the drummer of the Brubeck Quartet). For Joe, this has a very special meaning. It is not just an opportunity to perform with a hand-picked group of musicians, including his great friend Phil Woods as saxophonist and arranger. This album represents the fulfillment of a long-expressed desire which grew out of his first tentative experiments, as a boy, with a pair of brushes on the kitchen table in his home in Springfield, Massachusetts.

I believe that Joe was born to be a brilliant musician. This album will justify and renew the faith he has in himself, as well as the high praise and respect he has received from musicians all over the world. In discussing Joe recently, Buddy Rich called him "the best of the newer drummers; he has tremendous technique, and he is the only one to get a musical sound out of the drums."

The tunes and arrangements by Manny Albam and Phil Woods give him ample scope to express himself — whether with sticks on a hard-swinging, white-hot, uptempo tune such as Just in Time; or the delicate mimosa-leaf shading with brushes in Time After Time or Every Time We Say Goodbye.

In Joe Morello's playing you can hear the fire, the relentless drive, the gentleness, and the humor that is in him, and he has surrounded himself with some of the best musicians there are, to help him make this — his first album on his own — great.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Clark Terry - Bob Brookmeyer Quintet and The Power of Positive Swinging

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

It is true that at the Half Note, the staff refers to Terry and Brookmeyer as "Mumbles and Grumbles." "Mumbles" is the title of a widely popular Terry recording, and "Grumbles" alludes to Brookmeyer's occasionally sardonic view of the world and the foibles of its inhabitants, including his own. Yet I wonder if at base, the two are actually that disparate.

Both are the antithesis of pretentiousness off as well as on the stand. Both have never regarded jazz as so "serious" that it cannot also be unabashed fun. And both are very much themselves. Beneath Terry's gentleness and open good will and beneath Brookmeyer's wry (and sometimes self-deprecating) wit are an insistence on going their own ways. Each has resisted being compressed into any one "bag" and accordingly, the two together are — to use a favorite Duke Ellington commendation — beyond category.
- Nat Hentoff, Distinguished and Esteemed Jazz author and critic

When I acquired my copy of Clark Terry-Bob Brookmeyer Quintet: The Power of Positive Swinging [Mainstream LP 56054] in 1965, I never gave the subtitle much thought.

From the vantage point of the 20 years preceding 1965, Modern Jazz, to use the term collectively and inclusively, had experienced a surge of both stylistic growth and popular approval and it seemed that this would continue to be the case going forward.

Unfortunately, the music and many of its musicians took themselves too seriously, not to mention, taking the music in directions that caused it to lose its future audiences to Rock ‘n Roll.

Looking back on the post 1965 Jazz World many years later, a re-reading of the following insert notes by Nat Hentoff, this time as they appeared in the CD version of Clark Terry-Bob Brookmeyer Quintet: The Power of Positive Swining [Mainstream JK 57117], helped the subtitle of the recording become more understandable.

Sadly so because in many ways, 1965 was a year when Jazz began its descendancy as music and its ascendancy as an art form, and an ever-increasingly obscure one at that.

“EVER since critics and other verbalizers began to involve themselves with jazz, categorizations have grown through the music like weeds. And also like weeds, these stylistic labels are often difficult to cut down so that you can experience the music directly. One index of the singular pleasures to be had from the music of the Clark Terry & Bob Brookmeyer Quintet is that it not so much defies categories but rather ignores them. Their invitation to simply make contact with the music itself is so immediate and infectious that only the most rigidified academic would try to sort this combo and the music it plays into some constrictingly neat niche.

"That," observes Mr. Brookmeyer, himself chronically reluctant to verbalize about music, "is what our music is for - pleasure, not historical diagnosis. We all enjoy each other personally, and perhaps it's that mutual enjoyment that comes out in the music." As of August, 1965, Brookmeyer and Terry will have been together four years. They are not together all the time, of course, because their multiple skills often occupy them in other assignments. But their nights as co-leaders of this unit usually add up to about three months a year, with New York's Half Note their basing point. And in addition, they play other locations and cities from time to time.

Heightening the evident pleasure which Brookmeyer and Terry absorb from this association is their pride in the group. "This," Brookmeyer notes, "is ours. Clark and I have always worked for other people and whatever renown -or notoriety, if you will - we've accumulated has been with other people. After all that time, it's a continuing enjoyment for us to shape our own band."

As you can hear on this set, the relaxed cohesion of the co-leaders is buttressed by a similar collective flow of skills in the rhythm section. Dave Bailey and Bill Crow have been with the group for two and a half years and are also colleagues of Brookmeyer in the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. Pianist Roger Kellaway, the most recent of a series of resourceful pianists with Brookmeyer and Terry, blends into the section with attentive resiliency.

"Roger," notes Brookmeyer in a rare surge of adjectives, "is one of the most impressive, versatile talents I've heard in recent years. He can play any way; and no matter what way it is, it's clear he's not jiving. He really is able to become part of a wide range of contexts."

The initial "Dancing On The Grave" by Brookmeyer has become the combo's theme song. It is a cheerful kind of "walpurgisnacht," and Brookmeyer considers it unnecessary to be specific about what the title implies. Each listener is left to his own connotations. The "Battle Hymn Of The Republic" is a particular favorite at the Half Note, especially for Frank Canterino, the chef-in-chief of the establishment. "We refer to the song," says Brookmeyer, "as getting Frank out of the kitchen." In this head arrangement, incidentally, the musicians sound as if the battle has already been won and all that's left to do is to celebrate.

"The King," a number written by Count Basic, is a distillation of the verb "to swing" - both in its original manifestation and in this version. "Ode To A Flugelhorn" points up Clark Terry's brisk mastery of this instrument which seems particularly attuned to his qualities of wit, lithe grace and concern for textural values.

Brookmeyer arranged the vintage "Gal In Calico" having been attracted to the song because it allowed the combo to explore yet another nuance of mood. "Green Stamps," by Brookmeyer, is an ebullient event, marked by a series of exchanges between the co-leaders which turns into a circle of wit. "Hawg Jawz" is Clark Terry's and it particularly reflects Clark's antic humor. It also is an illustration - by Terry and Brookmeyer - of the art of breakmanship. Their dialogue of breaks here is consistently fresh, pointed, and relevant.

"Simple Waltz" is by Clark and in this song too, there are quick-witted ripostes by the two leaders as well as solos by them that reveal their easy - and unerring - sense of swing. The final "Just An Old Manuscript," a Don Redman/Andy Razaf collaboration, is a model of how a combo can achieve a wholly relaxed, organic unity.

In recalling the nearly four years of his association with Terry, Brookmeyer observes that "It was a pleasure from the very beginning, from the first rehearsal-talk over in my apartment." "And yet," Brookmeyer adds, "we're very disparate personalities."

It is true that at the Half Note, the staff refers to Terry and Brookmeyer as "Mumbles and Grumbles." "Mumbles" is the title of a widely popular Terry recording, and "Grumbles" alludes to Brookmeyer's occasionally sardonic view of the world and the foibles of its inhabitants, including his own. Yet I wonder if at base, the two are actually that disparate.

Both are the antithesis of pretentiousness off as well as on the stand. Both have never regarded jazz as so "serious" that it cannot also be unabashed fun. And both are very much themselves. Beneath Terry's gentleness and open good will and beneath Brookmeyer's wry (and sometimes self-deprecating) wit are an insistence on going their own ways. Each has resisted being compressed into any one "bag" and accordingly, the two together are — to use a favorite Duke Ellington commendation — beyond category.

What does, then, link their personalities is independence. And it is an independence secure enough in itself to be flexible. They are flexible in terms of music and flexible with regard to their ability to respond fully to each other and to the rest of the musicians in the combo so that this unit is an egalitarian meeting of compatible spirits. It gives pleasure because it takes pleasure in itself.

Clark Terry distills the essence of the Terry/Brookmeyer fusion: "It seemed to me there's too much put-down music, put-on music, hurray-for-me music and the-hell-with-everybody-music. So we thought we'd have some compatible music."

Nat Hentoff Original sleeve notes from 1965

The following video tribute to The Clark Terry-BobBrookmeyer Quintet features Clark, Bob, Roger, Bill and Dave on Count Basie’s The King.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Original Clark Terry Band Featuring Clark Terry on Garden Hose

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

Clark Terry died on February 21st. He was ninety-four [94] years old [born: December 14, 1920].

While the editorial staff at JazzProfiles prepares an extended feature on this revered Jazz master, we thought you’d enjoy this anecdote about Clark’s “earliest days” in music as told to Gene Lees and the video tribute to him that follows.

"We had this little band. We used to play on the corner. My first thing was a comb and tissue paper. The paper vibrates. Then I came across a kazoo, which is the same principle. Later on in my life, we had to have kazoos as standard equipment in the studio. Sometimes we would have do little things when you were record­ing for different commercial products.

"We had a guy named Charlie Jones — we called him Bones - who used to play an old discarded vacuum hose, wound around his neck like a tuba, into a beer mug." Clark sang a buzzy bass line in imitation, mostly roots and fifths. "It was a better sound than the jug." The jug of course was the old earthenware jug used in country music and jazz.

"We had a cat who played the jug, too. With the two of them, we had a good solid foundation. My brother Ed played — we called him Shorts, he was a little short cat — played the drums. He took the rungs out of some old chairs for sticks. In those days we didn't have refrigeration, we had ice boxes, and when the pan wore out, started leaking and got rusty, it would sound just like a snare. They had those tall bushel baskets in those days, I haven't seen one in a long time. He'd turn one of those upside down and hang the old discarded ice pan on the side and take the chair rungs and keep a rhythm like that. He got an old washtub and put a brick and fixed it so he could beat it." Clark laughed that delicious and slightly conspiratorial laugh of his as he pounded a beat.

I said, "He sounds like some kind of a genius."

"Yeah!" Clark said. "He was. Well, I got an old piece of a hose one day and coiled it up and got some wire and tied it so that it stuck up in three places so it would look like valves. I took a discarded kerosene funnel and that was my bell. I got a little piece of lead pipe — we didn't realize in those days that there was lead poisoning — and that was my mouthpiece."

It struck me that Clark had invented a primitive bugle, on which he could presumably play the overtones.

"Yeah!" he said. "By the time I got into the drum and bugle corps, I had already figured out the system like the Mexican mariachi players use. They were taught back in those days to play the mouthpiece first."

He did a rhythmic tonguing like a mariachi player, then pressed his lips together and buzzed. "After a while I figured out how to change the pitch." Pursing his lips, he did a glissando, up one octave and down, flawlessly. "And then they could do that with the mouthpiece. After you got the mouthpiece under control, and you got a bugle, you could play notes. You could make all the notes that went from one harmonic to the other."

Never having seen Clark teach, I realized what makes him such an incredible — and so he is reputed — pedagogue, and why young people who study with him worship him. And all of it is communicated with laughter and a sense of adventure.”

One of the earliest Jazz long-playing records I ever heard was a Emarcy sampler which included a track from Clark Terry’s first album as a leader. The tune is entitled Swahili which I found out many years later was co-composed by Clark and Quincy Jones.

I’ve used it as the audio track for the following video tribute to Clark.  On it, Clark is joined by trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, baritone saxophonist Cecil Payne, pianist Horace Silver, Oscar Pettiford on cello, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Art Blakey.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Kenny Barron 1 + 1 + 1

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

In Your Own Sweet Way - Composed by Dave Brubeck

“In Your Own Sweet Way is not just a title but could serve as a guide to the piece's performers. According to the composer the song is one that "musicians can adapt to their own uses"—in other words, play in their own sweet way. Certainly many have done just that. "One disc jockey sent me a tape of 32 versions of it," Brubeck once noted, "and another collector told me he had over 50 versions." In fact, Brubeck may have underestimated his song's impact—more than 300 cover versions have been recorded by jazz artists.”
- Ted Gioia, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire [Oxford]

It’s hard to believe that pianist Kenny Barron has been on the Jazz scene for fifty years; first as the perfect sideman in groups led by iconic Jazz masters such as trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and tenor saxophonist Stan Getz; later in the piano chair of the group Sphere that played the music of pianist Thelonious Monk and included tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse and drummer Ben Riley, each of whom had long stints as members of Monk’s quartet; lately as what Richard Cook and Brian Morton in their Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed. have described as “a leader of genuine presence and authority.”

Along the way, Kenny has made a few of solo piano and piano and bass duo recordings that allow the listener to more clearly and fully appreciate his approach to Jazz piano without the encumberance of having to play accompany horns.

Although such recordings have become more frequent in recent years, Kenny in a solo or duo setting was a fairly rare occurrence earlier in his career.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to acquire a copy of Kenny’s 1 + 1 + 1 LP on Black Hawk Records when it was issued in 1984 as BKH 50601-1 [it has since been reissued on CD as BKH-506-2].

On it, Kenny is joined by bassists Ron Carter [4 tracks] and Michael Moore [Kenny performs solo on the recordings eight track - ‘Round Midnight].

Adding to my elation is the fact that Kenny along with Michael Moore plays one of my all-time favorite Jazz standards, Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way.

Ira Gitler wrote these liner notes which also appear as an insert to the CD and which will give you more background information on Kenny Barron’s career and some excellent insights into each of the tunes on this classic piano-duo recording.

“1+1+1 usually = 3, and there are three people involved here, but these three divide into two piano-bass duos and, in one instance, a solo piano. The pianist in all situations is Kenny Barron whom critic Neil lesser has called "a portmanteau pianist, summing and summoning up in one style a highly accurate picture of what has gone before, and where it has all led."

Barron once named the pianists who have been his main influences: "Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Wynton Kelly, McCoy Tyner and Thelonious Monk. And, of course, Bud Powell," he added. "It's impossible not to be influenced by him."

It is a heavy duty list to which Kenny Barron's name can be spliced for the young pianists who have followed him. The talented teenager, heard with Yusef Lateef, James Moody and brother Bill Barron, moved into his early 20s with Dizzy Gillespie quintet in the first half of the 1960s and a lot of people took notice. He went to build his reputation with the bands of Freddie Hubbard, Lateef, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Heath, Stan Getz, Buddy Rich and Ron Carter, among others.

Presently [1983-84] Barron is an integral member of the world-class quartet, Sphere, and also appears in a duo context with various bassists at New York piano rooms such as Bradley's. He is a true keyboard artist in that he can put you into a celestial state by the very sound he extracts from his instrument. The what and how of an artist must be thoroughly wedded, but before Barron's ideas begin to really sink in, you are already captivated by the touch, tone and technique.

Those ideas are lyrical, psyche-penetrating and contain the rhythmic impulses needed to activate the swing gland which, as everyone knows, is located just above the coccyx. Kenny's knowledge of the jazz literature and the way he presents it, makes listening to him so easily delightful that one must be wary not to take the experience lightly. His expertise did not arrive overnight.

Barron has recorded as the leader of a sextet and a quintet. He has also done a solo album. This is a duo album that includes one solo track. Kenny, who did two weeks in Toronto last summer, solo, feels playing alone is the toughest. "In a trio," he says, "you can kind of float over the rhythm section. In a duo you are responsible for making more happen. You have to play stronger but there's more opportunity for interplay."

Here Barron had a chance to interact with long-time colleague, Ron Carter, and first-time collaborator, Michael Moore. Each complements Kenny in his own special way: Carter more bottom-oriented; Moore more toward the upper reaches. Both are superb and Barren responds in kind.

The Man I Love is a most unsentimental, up-tempo treatment of Gershwin's evergreen, showing off Barron's fleet right hand and Moore's equally swift dexter.
Carter's line, United Blues, is very much in an Oscar Pettiford groove and the good blues abound.

Ron stays on board for Prelude To A Kiss, underlining perfectly Barron's interpretation of the Ellington classic. The first side closes in the Dukedom with Moore on bass for Barney Bigard's C Jam Blues. Kenny gives the venerable riff a Monkish cast, both in the statement of the head and the opening part of the improvisation. Then Barron bops with the best of them. Does Kenny play C Jam a la Monk all the time? "This was the first time I ever played it this way."

Moore is the bassist on Dave Brubeck's standard, In Your Own Sweet Way, where Barren's flow is quietly tidal, exposing all the harmonic touch-points along the way. Michael's delicate plucking enhances the mood.

John Coltrane's Giant Steps is not a song you hear everyday. Kenny combines filigree and fire in a completely absorbing performance, backed by Ron's sure hands and beat.

On 'Round Midnight Barron takes you on a solo tour of Monk's witching hour and its environs, bewitchingly, with tempo shifts and subtle effects.

The bass is back on Victor Young's Beautiful Love, the highlight of which is two choruses of four-bar exchanges between Barron and Carter, the latter quoting from Topsy, and the former easing seamlessly back into the melody chorus from his final "four."

Kenny Barron is more than merely good. He is a presence and a personality at the keyboard. His two bassists are from the same top shelf. 1+1+1 may add up to 3 but 1+1+1 is a sum far greater than its equal parts.”

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that Kenny along with Michael Moore perform In Your Own Sweet Way on the following video montage which serves as a tribute to Kenny and his music.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Joel Dorn: 1942 - 2007 - “The Masked Announcer” [From the Archives]

“I became a lifelong Horace Silver fan back in the ‘Sister Sadie’/ ‘Senior Blues’ days. I loved the bands he put together as much as I dug his playing and composing. I especially liked his front lines, Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley, Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson and, of course, Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook.

For me, the band with Blue and Junior was special; it had a phenomenal feel. Some of his other quintets may have been more famous or "better," but the group with Blue and Junior (and Roy Brooks and Gene Taylor) had a thing all its own. I used to catch them at The Showboat in Philly in the early sixties. Even on the last set on a Tuesday morning when the joint was practically empty, that band smoked. They always brought it. And on the weekends when the club was wall to wall people -forget about it.

Those Showboat memories and the fact that Junior rarely recorded as a leader make having these two albums in our catalog very sweet. As usual, I won't discuss the music, but I'd like to use this space to make amends for something I did more than thirty years ago.

When I was twenty-three, I wrote liner notes for one of Horace's Blue Note albums, Silver's Serenade. In those notes, I tried to make a point by using a boxing analogy in which I referred to Junior's playing as ‘middleweight.’ Being young and foolish, I didn't realize at the time how condescending and thoughtless that remark was. When I read those notes a few months back, that ill-conceived sentence literally jumped off the page and bit me. Junior Cook was no "middleweight"; he was the real thing.

He's gone now so I can't apologize to him personally, but I truly hope that he wasn't offended the time a lightweight called him a middleweight.”
- Joel Dorn

“I'll tell you one story about Rahsaan. In the late 60s we were in the studio getting ready to mix one of his albums. He wouldn't let me start working with the tapes until I could ‘do it like me.’ I didn't know what he meant. He told me to sit down and close my eyes. He got behind the chair and started to wrap my head, mummy style, with masking tape from the neck up. Enough room was left for me to breathe. When Rahsaan was convinced that I couldn't see, he held a gun to head and said ‘I just want you to know how I feel all the time.’ He wasn't out of control, or crazy or menacing or evil or anything...he was cool. He was just telling me something.”
- Joel Dorn

“Enjoy the music, always say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You,’ and I’ll talk to you later.
Keep a light in the window.”
- Joel Dorn

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights

While doing research for its continuing series on small, independent Jazz record companies, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles recently came across a listing of the Jazz recordings made possible by veteran record producer, Joel Dorn [1942-2007].

We thought it might be nice to “Thank” Joel for all that he’s done for the music with a brief remembrance on these pages.

Dorn, a one-time disc-jockey at a Philadelphia jazz radio station, was perhaps best known for his work with Atlantic Records' prestigious jazz stable between 1967 and 1974. Working alongside the label's Jazz chief, Nesuhi Ertegun, he produced recordings by musicians such as Max Roach, Herbie Mann, Les McCann and Eddie Harris, Mose Allison and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

In the pop field, he helped set Bette Midler and Flack on the course to stardom, producing their debut albums. He and Flack won consecutive record-of-the-year Grammys, for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (1972) and "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (1973).

He also ventured into rock with the Allman Brothers Band's second release, 1970's "Idlewild South," and Don McLean's 1974 album, "Homeless Brother." (McLean was the inspiration for the songwriters of "Killing Me Softly...")

In his later years, he formed his own labels - 32 Jazz and Label M - both of which combined in reissuing over 250 classic Muse and Landmark recordings.

Joel also oversaw reissues of classic jazz albums for Columbia Records, Rhino Records and GRP Records including including a 13-CD historical overview of the Atlantic Jazz years, a 7-CD John Coltrane boxed-set entitled The Heavyweight Champion and collections by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Cannonball Adderley, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Les McCann, Eddie Harris and Oscar Brown, Jr.

In 1995, the Smithsonian Institute added Joel’s works and papers to its permanent collection in honor of his accomplishments as a record producer.

At the time of his death, he was a partner in the roots label Hyena Records, and was working on a five-disc tribute to his mentor, "Homage A Nesuhi."

Here is some of Joel’s own writing in the form of an excerpt from his insert notes to 20 Special Fingers 32 Jazz two-fer [#32125] which is followed by a video tribute to him using the Fiesta Español track from tenor saxophonist Junior Cook’s 32 Jazz Senior Cookin CD 32095 [Cedar Walton, piano, Buster Williams, bass, Billy Higgins, drums. The tune is by Cedar].

© -Joel Dorn, copyright protected; all rights

“Back in the late fifties, when I was in high school and just get­ting into jazz, I read every issue of Down Beat from cover to cover. If I'd paid as much at­tention to my schoolbooks, I might have become a successful orthodontist with two or three offices and a pension fund with eight or nine hundred grand in it. Or maybe I'd be one of those divorce lawyers who gets twenty-five thousand up front just to take your case and is a master of the gentle art of double billing.

But no, I wanted to produce jazz albums, so to find out what was happening "on the scene," I read Down Beat. I might not have known how to figure out the square root of 422 or what the specific gravity of bauxite is, but I could tell you where Cannonball Adderley's quintet played last week and how many stars the latest Horace Silver album got.

When they said that so-and-so was the next great sax or piano or trumpet player, I assumed they were right. What'd I know? I was a kid. But in 1958. some­thing happened that gave me an opportunity to form opinions of my own. A twenty-four hour, seven-day-a-week jazz station, WHAT-FM, went on the air in Philly. For the first time, I could actually hear albums and artists that up to then I'd only read about.

I discovered that Third Stream music and most avant-garde jazz, stuff the boys at Down Beat used to rave about, bored the shit out of me. And while we generally agreed on Cannon, Horace, Blakey and the like, we disagreed on organ/ tenor music (I dug it; they didn't). I could give you many more examples of where we dif­fered, but I think you get the point.

One artist whom Down Beat had an especially contemp­tuous attitude toward was a young pianist from Los Angeles by way of LexingtonKentucky, named Les McCann. His records regularly got anywhere from half a star to one star from the crit­ics, and their reviews of his work were rife with condescension and disdain. I constantly read about his shortcomings and about how shallow and cliché-filled his playing was.

I'll get back to Les in a minute. During that same time, there were two artists whom

Down Beat and I both loved, The Mitchell/Ruff Duo, pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist/French horn player Willie Ruff. The big news concerning them was that at the height of the Cold War, they were part of a cultural exchange program with the Russians. If you read the reports of their re­ception by the Evil Empire, you'd have sworn that world peace was just a couple of choruses away.

Years later when I was a disc jockey, one of the records I used to get a great response to was Les' Limelight recording of Franz Lehar's "Yours Is My Heart Alone." Every time I played it, the phones would light up. On one of his visits to the station, I asked Les how he came to that song. He said he'd heard Dwike Mitchell play it. Then he went on to sing Dwike's praises, not only as a great pianist but as one of his three major influences. (The other two were Errol Garner and Miles.)

Just as so many of Les' records were listener favorites, so too was the Mitchell/Ruff Trio's album, The Catbird Seat (they'd added Charlie Smith on drums).

I thought that since there was already a connection be­tween Les and Dwike, that you guys might enjoy these two al­bums in one package. We've been doing this two-different-artists thing lately with Yusef and Rahsaan (Separate But Equal- 32 Jazz, 32111); and we've got one coming that features Fathead and Hank. If these work – that means if they sell - we'll do more.

Despite Down Beat's early opinion of Les, he's had a fabu­lous career as a recording artist and on concert stages and in clubs the world over. I'm not sure, but I think Dwike and Willie have been very active on the aca­demic side of music. Somewhere in the back of my head, I remem­ber reading about a connection between them and Yale Univer­sity.

I haven't read Down Beat in  years. Not because there's any­thing wrong with it. It's just that when you cross that not-so-imaginary line that separates wide-eyed fans from the trenches of the music business, the price of the journey is a loss of innocence. It's not a bad thing, just a one-way bridge. Sometimes I wish I could be that kid again.

Anyway, enjoy the music, and I'll talk to you later.

Keep A Light In The Window,

Joel Dorn

Winter '99

P.S,: Late last year we re­leased a "live" album Les re­corded in 1967 called How's Your Mother? Down Beat gave it 4 1/2 stars. The gentleman who re­viewed it praised everything about Les' playing that the old gang at Down Beat used to put down. Go know.”

Oh, by the way, Joel, we will "put a light on in the window" for you and thanks again for all the great music.