Historians and some Duke Ellington fans look askance at the brief period he spent on Capitol Records (1953-55). This was a hectic period in jazz, with bebop in the near-view, hard bop coming along as well, and the big band was considered by many to be a relic of bygone eras. Yet Ellington persevered, and not without another adversity: the temporary loss of signature alto player Johnny Hodges, who was off leading his own bands. The resulting five CDs worth of material collected here show an Ellington band more aimed at repetition, both of its own repertoire, which had sounded better in the 1940s, and of other bands' material.
These sessions document unequivocally why Dizzy Gillespie is still considered one of the greatest improvisers in the history of jazz, for his mastery of the instrument, his command of time, his control over musical ideas, and his ability to entertain. He was blessed during this period, which spans 1954 to 1963, with stellar sidemen, unparalleled arrangements, and a surge of excitement for making music.
A really amazing set of work from tenorist Clifford Jordan – a player who first rose to fame in the hardbop scene of the late 50s, but who moved into tremendous new territory with these Strata East recordings of the late 60s and early 70s! Jordan was a Chicago contemporary of players like Johnny Griffin and Von Freeman, but he was never content to rest on his laurels – and stretched out on these records with a spiritual vibe that he'd never expressed before – and which would go onto inspire countless other musicians in years to come! This set brings together all the Dolphy Series recordings that Jordan recorded – either as an artist or producer – two of which were never issued on record at the time.
Subterranea is the debut album from six piece ensemble Mosaic, led by 2015 Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize winner and British vibraphonist Ralph Wyld. A musician of real depth and creativity, Ralph Wyld has been described by Jazzwise Magazine as ‘one to look out for’ and has been praised by the FT for this ‘rhythmic accuracy and panache’. Produced by fellow vibraphonist Jim Hart, Subterranea not only marks Ralph’s arrival onto the UK scene but also anticipates what will inevitably be the start of a glowing career as a vibraphonist and composer.
Trumpeter Maynard Ferguson led his greatest big band during the years that he was signed to Roulette and all of the music from his 13 Roulette LPs (plus 11 previously unissued selections) are included on this deluxe limited-edition ten-CD box set. Although three of the LPs were originally recorded as dance records (and stick close to the melodies), this box as a whole finds Maynard at his peak and with an orchestra that includes such talented soloists as trombonists Slide Hampton and Don Sebesky (both of whom contributed arrangements), altoist Lanny Morgan, the tenors of Carmen Leggio, Willie Maiden, Joe Farrell, and Don Menza, pianists Jaki Byard and Joe Zawinul, and drummer Rufus Jones in addition to the leader. The music is very jazz-oriented and contains more than its share of classic moments, particularly the sessions that resulted in A Message From Newport and Newport Suite. It's highly recommended.
Oliver Nelson was one of the more distinctive arrangers to be active in jazz, the studios, and popular music of the '60s. While most Nelson reissues focus on his always-excellent saxophone playing (whether on tenor or alto), this six-CD set, Argo, Verve and Impulse Big Band Studio Sessions, focuses on Oliver Nelson the arranger-composer-bandleader. He does take solos on some of these dates on tenor, alto,and soprano (his only recorded solos on that instrument), but it his writing that takes center stage.
That sound. One group conceived it. Defined it. Perfected it. The Modern Jazz Quartet was certainly one of the most distinctive voices in the history of jazz, thanks to the unique qualities of personal expression and collective vision of its members Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Percy Heath and Connie Kay (who had replaced original drummer Kenny Clarke by the time the band started recording this music). They were also exceptionally prolific during their tenure at Atlantic Records, producing 14 albums in eight years. And now, that MJQ sound gets the complete respect it deserves, thanks to our new box, The Complete 1956-1964 Modern Jazz Quartet Atlantic Studio Recordings.