Posts Tagged ‘Verve Records


“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


“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


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


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


Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice.

Norman Granz (1918 - 2001)

Recent verscheen bij de University of California Press het boek: Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice. Het boek is een geautoriseerde autobiografie over Norman Granz, wellicht de meest succesvolle jazzpromotor ooit in de jazzgeschiedenis. Een geschiedenis die een aanvang neemt in 1939 als Granz voor het eerst “Body and Soul” hoort in een uitvoering van saxofonist Coleman Hawkins. Vanaf dat moment besloot hij zijn  leven in dienst te stellen van de jazz en met succes. Hij werd de initiator van de beroemde jamsessions “Jazz At The Philharmonic” (JATP), werd platenproducer die als eerste live opnames op de mark bracht, was oprichter van Verve Records, de eerste die landelijke en wereldwijde concerttours organiseerde en was businessmanager van jazzmusici waaronder Ella Fitzgerald en Oscar Peterson. Maar hij was ook een fervent aanhanger van gelijke rechten in Amerika en zette zich zijn hele leven in voor gelijke rechten van zwarte musici, of musici van welke herkomst dan ook. Hij besloot dat zijn passie voor jazz en zijn strijd tegen rassendiscriminatie goed te combineren waren met succesvol zakendoen. En zo is het gegaan. Auteur is Tad Hershorn die archivaris is aan het instituut voor jazzstudies aan de Rutgers University. Het boek geeft een uitermate boeiend beeld van de jazzwereld zoals die zich ten tijde van Granz ontwikkelde en geplaatst in de context van de Amerikaanse samenleving van toen. Een aanrader voor alle jazzliefhebbers. Je moet wel het Amerikaanse Engels redelijk beheersen anders is het lastig te lezen. Als ik het boek heb gelezen kom ik er zeker in een serie artikelen op dit blog op terug.

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

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