Posts Tagged ‘blue note records

07
mei
13

Blue Note Records: The Biography (8)

In 1957 nam saxofonist Sonny Rollins for Blue Note het album Sonny Rollins Vol. 2 (BLP 1558) op. Met een bekende hard-bop quintet formule waarin naast Rollins,  J.J. Johnson, Horace Silver, Paul Chambers en Art Blakey acte de présence gaven, kwam er een meesterwerk tot stand.

Pianist Thelonius Monk, bekend om zijn composities die nieuwe paden insloegen, had eerder het stuk Misterioso gecomponeerd, een typische Monk compositie. Monk zelf speelt een korte intro waarna Rollins in drie choruses een enorme spanning opvoert in samenspel met Monk zelf achter de piano.

Opmerkelijk van deze opname is ook dat er twee pianisten aan het werk zijn, want bij de solo van trombonist J.J. Johnson neemt pianist Horace Silver de begeleiding (comping) en solo over. Een dergelijke aanpak was nog niet eerder vertoont.

Opmerkelijk is ook de rol van Art Blakey. Hij speelt zeer gevarieerde grooves, van een 3/4 maat tijdens de intro en outro (in een 4/4/ stuk) en wisselt bij voortduring het reguliere tempo af met dubbeltempo’s. Ook fills zijn enorm creatief waarbij hij door het afklemmen van de vellen in hoogte afdalende sounds produceert. En natuurlijk speelt hij zijn onovertroffen press rolls.

Het stuk duurt 9:23 minuten en elke keer als je luistert ontdek je iets nieuws.

 

23
feb
13

Blue Note Records: The Biography (7)

richard_cook-bluenote_records_span3

The year 1957 was for Blue Note Records the year of expansion in terms of recording sessions (fourty-seven)  and booming  sales. Blue Note Records was on its way of becoming The record label for jazz.

It was also the year where now famous musicians, who started as important sidemen to Blue Note, made their “debut” as leaders, like Curtis Fuller and Sonny Clark. It was also the year that saxophonist John Coltrane made his first and only album for the label.

During a somewhat chaotic meeting John Coltrane and Alfred Lion agreed on a record deal by means of a handshake, nothing formally documented. What happened was that during the meeting the Blue Note cat jumped out of the window and producer Alfred Lion instantly went outside to rescue the cat. He managed to do so but when he returned to the office John Coltrane had left.

In spite of the fact that he had a contract with Prestige Records, Coltrane kept his promise to Lion and recorded “Blue Train” in the fall of 1957. He brought with him five compositions of which four were his own. The fifth was the Kern/Mercer composition “I’m Old Fashioned”.

Coltrane also brought with him an impressive line up of musicians: Curtis Fuller (tb), Lee Morgan (tp), Kenny Drew (p), Paul Chamber (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (ds). Listen to this video recording of “Moment’s Notice” with some of Coltrane’s unusual harmonic twists in the melody.

Source: Cook, Richard – Blue Note Records, The Biography.

10
feb
13

Donald Byrd overleden.

Ruim een maand geleden plaatste ik nog een artikel op dit blog over Donald Byrd: “A New Perspective” en afgelopen week bereikte ons het bericht dat Byrd op Maandag 4 Februari op tachtigjarige leeftijd is overleden. Weer een jazz icoon van die gouden generatie die in de jaren 1950 – 1970 zo een belangrijke invloed op de jazzmuziek heeft gehad.

Byrd stond erom bekend dat hij vaak de traditionele paden verliet om zijn eigen en de grenzen van de jazz te verleggen. Lees het artikel over A New Perspective er maar op na en luister hoe hij Jazz en Gospel (toch al verwant) op zo een bijzondere manier samenbracht. Ook deinse hij er niet voor terug om in de jaren ’90 nog een opname met een rapper te maken.

Veel over Byrd valt te lezen in het boek Blue Note Records-The Biography waar de schrijver van het boek Richard Cook nogal kritisch is over Byrd’s muzikale benadering. Hoe dan ook de man had een geweldige carriere en speelde met alle groten in de jazz.

Het overlijden van Byrd werd afgelopen Donderdag bekend gemaakt door zijn neef die zei: “”Let’s remember Donald as a one of a kind pioneer of the trumpet, of the many styles of music he took on, of music education. In sum, Donald was an avid, eternal student of music, until his death. That’s what I try to be, everyday!!
Rest in peace, uncle!”

R.I.P. Donald Byrd

14
jan
13

Blue Note Records – The Biography (6)

“What Did I Just Listen To ? “

Pianist Herbie Nichols (1919 – 1963) is THE example of a musician who was underrated during his lifetime an got the credits he deserved as a musician and composer only decades later. A typical late developer

Nichols played as a pianist in R&B bands, swing and Dixieland groups until in 1955 he finally got what he wanted, a recording session with Blue Note’s Alfred Lion. He had tried that for years but apparently he was not of much interest to Lion in the beginning.

Blue Note recorded Nichols with his trio, first with Art Blakey and Al McKibbon (bass) followed by sessions with Max Roach and Teddy Kotick. One of his talents was to write very unusual yet inspiring compositions which only became famous in the late 1980 – ties when most of his recordings were re-issued. He was also the composer of the Billy Holiday song “Lady Sings The Blues”.

Herbie Nichols

In 1956 he recorded the album “The Herbie Nichols Trio” with Roach and Kotick and recorded one of his most notorious compositions “The Gig”‘. It is sixty-seven-bar construction with an eight bar drum coda (Max Roach) and once the piece ends one feels bewildered: what were we just listening to here ?

Nichols’ music has been through a great revival and can still be heard today by a group called The Herbie Nichols Project. More on this great and extraordinary musician is on JazzWax.

Source: Cook, Richard – Blue Note Records.
Wikipedia

03
jan
13

Donald Byrd: A New Perspective.

Donald Byrd A new Perspective

Donald Byrd: A New Perspective.

Op het eerste gezicht / gehoor lijkt een combinatie van trompettist Donald Byrd met een koor niet voor de hand te liggen. Maar aangezien jazz, blues en gospel min of meer dezelfde roots hebben is zo een combinatie niet ondenkbaar. Dat moet Blue Note eigenaar en producer Alfred Lion gedacht hebben toen hij in 1963 de Blue Note LP “A New Perspective” met Donald Byrd opnam.

Met dit concept grepen Byrd en Lion terug op een beproefd oud New Orleans idee waarbij de jazzmusici van toen gospelmuziek uitvoerden maar met toevoeging van een jazz idioom. Met titels als Elijah, Beast of Burden, Cristo Redentor and The Black Disciple werd het bijbelse en spirituele accent van het album sterk benadrukt.

Donal Byrd was in 1963 al een Blue Note veteraan. Zijn eerste opwachting voor het label maakte hij in 1956 als sideman van Sony Rollins op diens debuut album voor Blue Note met de titel “Sonny Rollins”. Byrd had een masteropleiding afgemaakt op de Manhattan School of Music en speelde tijdens zijn opleiding al met Lionel Hampton en debuteerde in Blakey’s JazzMessengers.

Byrd is inmiddels 79 jaar oud (9 december j.l. was zijn verjaardag)  en hij is één van de weinige bopmusici die ook in de funk periode succesvol was.

A New Perspective werd opgenomen met wat je het huisorkest van Blue Note zou kunnen noemen met naast Byrd o.a.  Hank Mobley, Herbie Hancock en Kenny Burrell en weergaloos mooi opgenomen en gemixed dan wie anders, Rudy van Gelder. Het stuk Cristo Redentor (Portugees voor Christus de Verlosser) verwijst naar het beroemde standbeeld in Rio de Janeiro en is een indrukwekkend en spiritueel stuk.

Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro

Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro.

Bron: Blue Note Records, The Biography – Richard Cook – Justin, Charles & Co.

23
nov
12

Blue Note Records: The Biography (5)

In the early 19-fifties, when releasing an increasing number of jazz records,  Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff laid down the fundamentals for what was going to be the Blue Note trademark. First they moved gradually from the New York WOR Studio’s to Rudy van Gelder’s home studio in Hackensack after Lion heard a recording of saxophonist  Gil Melle which was engineered by van Gelder. They also started to hire designers to change the industry habit of using uniform and functional record covers. Especially the photography of Wolff played an important role. Rather then photographing musicians in a posed setting, he made pictures while the musicians were recording, grabbing their emotions and expressions and using his sensivity to light and dark. Another aspect of Lion’s approach as a recording producer was his insistence on having musicians rehearse before recording. He paid for the rehearsels as he was convinced that excellent ensemble playing was the key to succes. In 1953 Blue Note made a next step by assigning trumpettist Clifford Brown who was in his early twenties by then and had an amazing talent which even blew Dizzy Gillespie away when he first heard Brown playing. One of the recordings that Lion made was Brown’s composition  “Brownie Speaks” in which the three choruses played by Brown show his unique style, sound and phrasing.

28
okt
12

Blue Note Records: The Biography (4)

On August 6, 1949 Blue Note Records recorded the last bebop session of the decade with pianist Bud Powell (1924 – 1966). Producer Alfred Lion enlisted Fats Navarro on trumpet, a nineteen-year-old saxophonist by the name Sonny Rollins, with Tommy Potter on bass and Roy Haynes on drums. The group was named by Blue Note as “Bud Powell’s Modernists”. Before recording for Blue Note, Bud Powell had a bad experience behind him. When touring with Cootie Williams in 1945 he ended up one night drunk and was severely beaten by the police and soon afterwards hospitalized for two and a half months in a psychiatric hospital. His mental problems were a live long burden to Powell who received electroconvulsive therapy and medication for schizophrenia. His medication was also the cause that his technique deteriorated and a 1965 concert in Carnegie Hall in was a disaster. Bud Powell died in on July 31, 1966 due to tuberculosis, malnutrition and alcoholism.

In spite of all that, Bud Powell is regarded as one of the greatest Bop pianists of all time. He was a Thelonius Monk protégé, with a very distinctive approach of the right hand and very sensitive to percussive delivery. He had a great admiration for Charlie Parker and translated his ideas to the piano, which made him a very distinctive representative of the Bop generation. He was the first pianist who recorded Monk’s “Round Midnight”. In the YT video is a performance of Powell’s interpretation of that great composition. And watch a very young bassist by the name of Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen.

12
okt
12

Blue Note Records: The Biography (3)

Photographer Frank Wolff arrived in New York at the end of 1939, by legend on the “last boat out of Nazi Germany”.  He instantly sought contact with his old time friend from Germany, Alfred Lion. The couple would work together for decades to come to set the standard of the recording industry in many aspects, Lion as the producer, Wolf as the photographer.

In 1947 Alfred Lion was seeking a musician who would make impact in the world of bebop, taking into account that Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker had already made outstanding bop records that set the pace for that type of music.  He found it in the person of Thelonius Monk who was thirty at the time but had made no record yet as a leader. Although he certainly belonged to the bop generation and had adopted bop’s innovations, he stood apart from much of the language: the whirlwind tempo’s and virtuoso accuracy which typified most of the recordings. And apart from being a original jazz pianist he was an outstanding composer.

The first recording for Blue Note was Monk’s “Humph”which was way out for what Blue Note had been recording before. The strange descending line of the melody was certainly something note done before in bebop. Apart from Monk on piano are on this recording  trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, Danny Quebec West and Billy Smith on saxophone, bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Blakey.

Source: Blue Note Records – The biography – Richard Cook.

29
sep
12

Blue Note Records The Biography: Mission Statement and Sydney Bechet.

In today’s business environment it is business as usual that corporations submit mission statements to support their strategy and business vision. Blue Note Records was by far ahead of their time, also in this respect. In May 1939 Blue Note issued a flyer with a text probably written by Max Margulis, a committed left-winger who also put up the initial money to establish Blue Note Records. The text was as follows:

“Blue Note Records are designed simply to serve the uncompromising expression of hot jazz and swing, in general. Any particular style of playing which represents an authentic way of musical feeling is genuine expression.By virtue of its significance in plce, time and circumstance, it possesses its own tradition, artistic standards and audience that keeps it alive. Hot jazz, therefore, is expression and communication, a musical and social manifestation, and Blue Note Records are concerned with identifying its impulse, not its sensational and commercial adornments.”

Reading this after so many years, the only conclusion to date can be that Blue Note Records always lived up to this flyer text which turned out to be their mission statement, a mission statement avant la lettre.

On April 7 1939 Alfred Lion brought a six-strong group musicians in the studio which he named “”Port of Harlem Jazzmen”. The group included the soprano saxophonist Sydney Bechet, who would become worldfamous with his hit “Petite Fleur” later in the fifties. In below video you can hear “Pounding Heart Blues” recorded by this group with catalogue number Blunote4 6-A 1939.

24
jun
12

De geboorte van The Jazz Messengers.

In 1954 was Horace Silver een van de meest gevraagde pianisten in de New Yorkse jazz scene. Ook als componist had hij naam gemaakt en zes “guide lines to musical compositions” opgesteld: melodic beauty, meaningful simplicity, harmonic beauty, rythm,en environmental/regional and spiritual influences.Toen Blue Note aan Silver vroeg om een opname te maken met een kwintet riep hij Hank Mobley, Doug Watkins, Kenny Dorham en Art Blakey bijelkaar. Ze kozen de naam Jazz Messengers die Blakey in de late jaren ’40 eerder had gebruikt voor een zeventien-mans band en een septet dat eerder voor Blue Note opnam. The Jazz Messengers waren geboren, een van de meest invloedrijke Hard Bop combo’s ooit.




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