Posts Tagged ‘Jazz At The Philharmonic

25
feb
12

Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice (last episode).

Norman Granz - 1918 -2001.

This is the last blogpost about the live of  Norman Granz, based on the book “Norman Granz, The Man Who Used Jazz For Justice” by Tad Hershorn.

On November 22, 2001, Norman Granz died in bed in his Geneva appartment in the early hours of the morning. His tremendous contribution to the world of jazz will never be forgotten. As founder of the Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts which he rolled out in the USA, Europe and Japan, his innovative first live jazz recordings, the Clef, Norgran,Verve and Pablo labels he founded, his business management over decades for Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, his commitment to numerous and famous jazz musicians, his involvement in the Montreux Jazz Festivals, one can say the world of jazz would have looked totally different without him.

As The Los Angeles Time wrote: “Norman Granz set the business of jazz through most of the twentieth century. He helped end the two-track system in which white players generally earned more than blacks and helped integrate jazz on a large commercial scale”. An extensive interview with author Tad Hershorn of the book cab be found on JazzWax. To close the circle, here is the famous Coleman Hawkins version of “Body and Soul”  which made Norman Granz a jazz fan when he heard this for the first time in his life.

06
feb
12

Last JATP concert Tokyo 1983.

In 1983 the Jazz At The Philharmonic series came to an end after Norman Granz started the first JATP in 1944 in Los Angeles. The concerts were held in Japan by invitation of a large Japanese music publisher. JATP had toured Japan a number of times and Granz selected the musicians which had been JATP core members for so long, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. The line up was completed with Joe Pass, Harry Edison, Clark Terry, Zoot Zims, Eddy ‘Lockjaw” Davis and J.J. Johnson. Listen to this incredible version of ‘On Danish Shore” with Oscar Peterson’s Big 4 with Joe Pass, Niels Pedersen en Martin Drew.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

28
jan
12

Oscar,Niels and Joe: The Trio.

As Norman Granz was the business manager of both Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass it was logical he would bring the two giants together on his new founded Pablo recording label. He did so by recording and releasing the album The Trio with Joe Pass and Niels Pedersen on doublebass. The albums showed how seamlessly Pass had combined his own playing with the highly competitive dialogue of Petersen and Pedersen. The album won a Grammy Award. Here is a video recorded twelve years later in Italy where the trio performs “Cake Walk”. It is a witness of the longtime period this fantastic trio worked together.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

20
jan
12

“I’m afraid Duke that I’ve had it with you”

“I’m afraid Duke that I’ve had it with you” comes from a letter that Norman Granz wrote to Duke Ellington April 11 1967. After Granz stopped the JATP tours in the US he concentrated on his management for Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson, organizing JATP tours in Europe and producing jazz albums for Verve records. Granz also started to work for and with Ellington. Their relationship resulted in a number of projects like the film Jazz on A Summer’s Day in 1966, tours in Europa and albums. However their relationship deteriorated as Granz felt that Ellington treated him merely as a servant rather than a manager. In the same letter Granz asked Ellington to hire “a new so called manager”. But in 1965 things were OK and they worked on the album “Ella at Duke’s Place and here is an incredible swinging live version of Ella and Duke’s band in “Sweet Georgia Brown”.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

16
jan
12

“Delightful counterpoint and thrilling ballads – the last JATP US Tour

Jazz At The Philharmonic (Google / Life Images)

In the fall of 1957 Norman Granz organised the last JATP tour in the US. After fourteen succesful years the audience numbers had been down since the opening of  the show’s twenty-one city tour in New York in September that year. The Swing Era was coming to an end and new forms of jazz events like the Newport JazzFestival were emerging. For this last tour Granz had put together a stellar line up with Ella Fitzgerald, The Oscar Peterson Trio, J.J. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and newcomers The Modern Jazz Quartet and tenorist Stan Getz. Especially the Stan Getz and J.J.Johnson combination was a big success  as can be heard on this recording of the last 1957 JATP tour in the US, of course on Granz’s own Verve Records label.

As a critic said:” Their [J.J.Johnson and Stan Getz] counterpoint was delightful and their individual ballads were thrilling”. They were accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Trio and MJQ’s drummer Connie Kay.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

10
jan
12

A smash hit: Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter.

Google / Life Images

Next to his activities as JATP impressario and record producer, Norman Granz became in 1954 the personal manager for Ella Fitzgerald. Until then Ella had performed mostly in clubs and ballrooms but Granz believed he could take her to a higher level. And he did. In 1955 he signed Ella for his own Verve record label and started one of their great successes: “The Cole Porter Songbook”. It became a thirty-two-song, two-LP set and was an instant hit with over hundred thousand copies sold. It went to #15 on the Billboard charts and # 2 by the Downbeat poll of best-selling jazz albums. Granz insisted that Ella would sing verses where applicable. Verses were normally left out by singers, with the exception of Sinatra. Ella reluctantly agreed as it meant extra work and rehearsal but it al worked out. After the album was finished Granz went to Cole Porter in his Waldorf Astoria appartment in New York and played him the entire album.  Porter was delighted and said “My what marvelous diction that girl has”.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4

05
jan
12

Norman Granz records Charlie Parker with Strings.

While Norman Granz successfully grew his JATP business he also did very well as a record producer. He was not afraid of putting money in projects which were questionable in as much they would be commercially a hit. In 1956 he founded Verve records in which he folded his earlier founded Clef, Norgran and Down Home labels. Verve would become one of the most successful independent jazzlabels. The Charlie Parker with Strings project was a controversial project. Granz later said he talked Charlie Parker into doing it whereas Parker said he had already wanted to do this way back in the forties and that Granz finally let him do it and put up the money. The album was praised and critizised but everybody seems in agreement that Just Friends is a great version by Charlie Parker with Ray Brown and Buddy Rich in the rythm section.

Source: Hershorn, Ted  – Norman Granz – The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice – University of California Press 2011 – ISBN 978-0-520-26782-4




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