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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Perfect music for the pleasant winter blues!

Boy here is an album that never gets talked about. This by all accounts was Lester Young's last recording. This album was recorded March 4, 1959 in Paris. Lester returned to New York very soon after and died March 19. How come this album gets nary a mention on the web? This album has been reissued as part of a Jazz in Paris series or some such under the title "Le dernier mesage du Lester Young" (Pardonez moi mon francais!). However, I could not find one review of the recording itself. I do remember after buying it I read a mini review maybe in the all music guide book which said Lester sounded really weak on this session. But when I went to the all music guide this morning (and say while i am on it whats up with the malware on that site!) I could not find a real review or the same review. This album features Kenny Clarke on drums (Klook!), and some european musicians: Jamil Nasser (bass), Jimmy Gourley (guitar) and Rene Urtreger (piano). This is real late night music or perfect music to watch the snow falling outside (as is the case here today). Its almost like Lester's final revisiting of many old friends. The tempos are real slow but Lester's sound is all beauty (wistful though it may be..).. These are all classic American songs: Oh, Lady be good!, Almost like being in love, I cover the waterfront (Billie Holiday), I can't get started (Billie Holiday did this one too I think), Pennies from Heaven, etc..... The liner notes consist largely of an interview of Lester around the time he was performing at the Blue Note in Paris. The interview is by Francois Postif who writes that Lester used to hang out after playing until 5 am having a drink and in fact the interview was held at 6 am at his house with Lester asking if he could talk jive which he does. Its a very interesting interview particularly keeping in mind that its probably the last.... Its also interesting because it made me think a bit about the movie Round Midnight with Dexter Gordon... I wonder if the movie was at least loosely based on Lester Young..Lester does not have nice things to say about Verve record label head Norman Granz not letting him record an album with strings..And he really gets mad when asked about Billie Holiday.. gets mad not about being asked but about how generally people want to get into people's private business about the drugs they do.. Say by the way why did Billie and Lester want so much to record an album with strings? Was it some sort of status thing or they just were really into the idea.. its well known Billie Holiday was happiest with her own album with strings ("Lady in Satin"). Anyways the music is extremely mellow but nice.. The accompaniment is very tasteful....It does remind one of Billie Holiday's latter recordings. Did Lester have the strength of his earlier recordings? perhaps not- but the expressiveness is all there and to this ears this is a wonderful listen. Originally released on Verve MGV-8378 (mine is not trumpter label but is deep groove- I know MGV 8375 Buddy Defranco is trumpeter so there may be a trumpeter pressing around too but this would seem to be early pressing).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On a Blue Note kick yet again- Grant Green

So finally after a few years of wanting to get my hand on the Blue Note Grant Green "1961-1966 Retrospective" box set I finally found it for a reasonable price. Curiously enough my set was made in Europe and shipped from Germany. Not sure why this is the case. Anyways, I feel like a kid in a candy store again. I mean this set has is jam packed with great jazz and incredible musicians over 38 tracks on 4 cds. I love vinyl but it has just become imposible to get all these records without having to fork over a few kidneys. Of course I have heard a ton of these tracks but not all.. not all.. I would calculate I may not have heard 14 of the 38 tracks compiled although I probably have a bunch of them on mp3 format somewhere..The pictures in the booklet, inserts etc (some should be in the picture immediately above this blurb) are the typical wonderful Francis Wolff photography. Its always interesting to me that these jazz cats always look so sharp in all the pictures. I mean they are perfectly groomed, manicured, dressed, styling gentlemen. All of them. For all the stuff you hear about who was doing what drug or having what problem when you look at the pictures Francis Wolff took they are all dressed to the nine's and styling.

Of course after taking a probably forced leave of absence from the label Green was back at Blue Note in 1969 and cut some incredible yet more on the funky/popular spectrum of things. Bob Blumenthal, like most critics, sort of dismisses the later Green and I feel thats very misguided but having said that the music on this box cannot be argued with or dismissed. Its great jazz. I am not a fan of compilations but for $20 this is a very worthwhile look at my favorite guitarist. Right now I'm listening to Jimmy Smith jamming with Green on their only collaboration now one of my favorite tracks I can tell its Lou Donaldson from the Natural One- Funky Mama- just came on.. This stuff is very hot....Of course Grant Green begins the song... One thing I found interesting is how young Green looks in the pictures be they from his arrival to New York City in 1961 or from later sessions in 1965.. and to add something to the discourse Gran Green apparently smoked Kool cigarretes by the way...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sean Taylor

So Sean Taylor is dead. Listening to music as much as I do I couldn't
help but be struck by how many violent deaths relatively young black
men suffer. Sam Cooke and King Curtis came to mind.

Rene Bloch: Rene and his pachanga orchestra LP

SO I picked this up yesterday. I was struck by the really cool album cover... there is no credit for the album cover.. anyways the LP is on Capitol Records T-1530 .. must have come out around 1962... Capitol- as I recall- did not have much in the way of latin music.. the full title for the band is "rene and his pachanga orchestra" and the album itself "la pachanga"... the album features a song by johnny pacheco who i guess was just beginning to make his mark.. also some participation from paul lopez on trumpet who co wrote two tracks.. paul lopez has his own website here 
I wonder if Willie Bobo or Mongo Santamaria who at times played in Rene Bloch's orchestra played on this? i doubt it as it would seem to be too late for them to be on it.. anyways the music is pretty good and with capitol's normally good standards on packaging and sound...too bad there are no credits for the band! i note bloch played for perez prado and the album was produced by curly fact right now i'm listening to paul lopez jamming on his solo on "lola catuna"!