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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

$64,000 Jazz

Let's Get Away From It All
$64,000 Jazz
Photograph: Alfred Gescheidt
Columbia CL 777

From the back cover:

Honeysuckle Rose

(Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, recorded November 20, 1939.) This rocking Fletcher Henderson arrangement played by the King of Swing and his great band, typifies the swing era in all respects. Guitarist Charlie Christian and trumpeter Ziggy Elman share the solo spots with Benny, and the band not only swings but demonstrates the keen precision which sets Goodman apart from so many other swing bands of the period. The use of dynamics in the last chorus is especially effective. When going through the Columbia catalog for more Goodman, don't overlook his fabulous Carnegie Hall concert album of "Jazz Concert No. 2." They are the two biggest seller in the history of jazz recordings.

Ain't Misbehavin'

(Louis Armstrong, recorded July 5, 1955.) Louis Armstrong changed the whole course of solo jazz playing with his imaginative approach to swing improvising and his vocalizing is the foundation of jazz singers right to the present time. His work on this new version of Fats Waller's Ain't Misbehavin' show that he is still the master. Louis' albums of Fats Waller's and W. C. Handy's compositions are key sets for any jazz collection, as are the four volumes of Columbia's "Louis Armstrong Story."

I'm Coming Virgina

(Eddie Condo and his All-Stars, recorded April 20, 1955.) This is from an album in which Eddie paid tribute to his old pal, Bix Beiderbecke, the legendary "Young Man With a Horn," whose tragic story inspired a novel and a motion picture of that name. You can read and hear all about Bix in Comlubia's "Bix Beiderbecke Story," and there's lots of Condon in the catalog, too. No attempt is made on this record to imitate the magical sound of Bix's horn, but the trumpet solo (by Pete Pesic, so the original notes say, and we'er striking to it) evokes some of the spirit of the immortal cornetist from Davenport. As with the Armstrong extract above, there is a feeling of Dixieland in this performance although the emphasis is on the solo work of Dick Cary (alto horn), Ed Hall (clarinet), Cutty Cutshall (trombone) and Pesci.

One O'Clock Jump

(Harry James and his Orchestra, recorded January 5, 1938.) Just before Harry James launched his career as a bandleader, he recorded a couple of sessions with an all-star group drawn from the Benny Goodman and Count Basie orchestras. This version of Basie's swing classic was Harry's first hit record, and helped get him off to a fast start; it is still one of the favorites in his large and unusually fine catalog of Columbia recordings. Featured along with Harry are pianist Jess Stacy, Hershel Evans of tenor sax, and Veron Brown on trombone.

How Hi and Fi

(A Buck Clayton Jam Session, featuring Woody Herman, recorded March 31, 1954.) High-Fidelity studio jam sessions of the highest caliber is something Columbia first came up with in the winter of 1953-54, and Buck Clayton is the artist around whom we built them, because he is a great talent, and adaptable musician, and the kind of warm soul who can mole a heterogenous group of musicians into a homogeneous ensemble. The title of this one spoofs both the over-playing of How High Is The Moon and the high-fidelity craze; it's an origianl by Buck. An extra surprise on this date was Woody Herman, who dropped in a few hours before flying to Europe with his band. This version is trimmed down from the original one because of time restrictions, but for the complete version (which runs nearly 14 minutes) and many other fine Clayton jam session performances, check you Columbia dealers

I Let A Song Out Of My Heart

(Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, recorded March 3, 1938.) Again we have a combination of great repertoire and a great performance. This is, in fact, the definitive performances of one of Ellington's finest pop tunes. Hearing once again Johnny Hodge's alto sax, Harry Carney's baritone sax, Larry Brown's trombone, and Barney Bigard's clarinet, is like a sip at the Fountain of Youth; those freshman days are getting hard to recall without something like the help of Duke's incomparable band of that period.

A Fine Romance

(Dave Brubeck Quartet, recorded October 12, 1954.) Brubeck's well-deserved success after years of struggling and lack of sympathy from an uncomprehending public is a tribute to his devotion to an intensely personal kind of jazz which brings into improvisation many elements of "serious" music. Even the brief arranged parts of this performance are essentially improvised; the first and last choruses, in which Dave creates a fascinating fugue out of this familiar melody, form an excellent example of Dave's imaginative use of the materials of longhair music. Paul Desmond (alto sax), Bob Bates (bass), and Joe Dodge (drums) complete this fine quartet, whose Columbia albums are the best-selling jazz sets in the country today.

The Shrike

(Pete Rugolo and his Orchestra, recorded June 21, 1954.) Pete, a gifted young arranger who was Stan Kenton's chief of staff through lean years and fat, is one of the most advanced thinking musicians in jazz. In common with many contemporary arrangers, Pete does not hesitate to use all the instruments of a symphony – not just the conventional ones of a jazz orchestra – and the results are, as one can hear in this interpretation of Jose Ferrer's theme music for his motion picture of the same name, unusually varied in tone color as well as sleekly modern in conception. (This composition was originally known as Conversation, a title derived from it question-and-answer construction).


(Sarah Vaughan, recorded September 5, 1950.) This is another record which is something of a classic. Sarah Vaughan, one of the finest jazz vocalists of the day, and the girl who is considered by many to be the originator of "modern" jazz singing, gives a three-chorus demonstration of how to develop a piece vocally in the contemporary idiom, much as instrumentalists might do it with a series of solo choruses. This number, one of the mainstays of the Duke Ellington "book" of the forties, was picked up extensively by musicians of the post-swing be-bop era and later, but this treatment of it remains unique. The lyrics, added after the tune was an instrumental success; like the plot of Jack Webb's movie, "Pete Kelly's Blues," they are an interesting example of unintentional surrealism of hight quality.

Let's Get Away From It All

(J.J. Johnsone and Kai Winding, recorded June 23, 1955.) This is a modern jazz group entirely unlike any other, if only because of its daring instrumentation. Jay and Kai are perhaps the two finest trombone players in the modern idiom, and that they have made a success of a combo in which they are supported only by a rhythm section is a tribute to their imaginative arranging and playing. Here they make sport with a familiar Matt Dennis tune; for an analysis of which plays where, see the notes of the album form which this is taken.


(Erroll Garner, recorded January 11, 1951.) Until Erroll Gardener's emergence on the jazz scene in the mid-forties, jazz piano had not had a major influence since another Pittsburgher, Earl Hines, originated the style that launched Teddy Wilson, Art Tatum, and a hundred other fine pianists. Garner was and still is an unorthodox, highly gifted, and thoroughly uninhibited improviser (he does not read music) who quite literally played in his own way. Laura is a popular-type Garner improvisation, but contains all the elements in which Erroll expanded previous conceptions of harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic boundaries. There are still bolder Garner performances in his large Columbia catalog, but this strikes us as being a perfect introduction to this delightful innovator.

Mulligan Tawny

(Woody Herman and his Orchestra, recorded May 21, 1954.) The choice of Woody Herman to close this collection is particularly apt, because Woody himself is a cross-section of jazz. He has run the gamut of jazz, and changed with the times – more correctly, always ahead of the times. His first orchestra leaned on the dixieland tradition for its foundation, but in 1945 he began the series of orchestras – each better than the one before! – which have since been dubbed "The Three Herds." (A Columbia album of that name commemorates the highlights of this extraordinary phase of Woody's career.) Mulligan Tawny salutes the unusual and highly influential Gerry Mulligan Quartet of a couple of year back, when Chet Baker was playing trumpet with Gerry, in the deliberate imitation of its sound in the intro and coda. The main body of the piece, however, is pure Third Herd.

From Billboard - November 5, 1955: As this is written, the jazz-minded contestant on the fabulous TV show has attained the $32,000 mark, which is a great plug for jazz, and especially for this LP. The collection itself is like a de luxe "sampler," with the best and near best gleaned from a number of top Columbia jazz LP's. It figures to get immediate action if displayed, and any dealer would be missing a sure bet if he didn't display it prominently while the show is providing the heat. And it's a great collection of jazz besides.

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