I set out this morning to record a mixed mellow tape of 1960s vintage stuff for you, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that and instead I seem to have put on tape a variety of stuff which for one reason or another has tickled my fancy recently and might, here and there, intrigue you too – even if only a couple of tracks set you off exploring, that would be above average… Anyway, here’s a run-down of the tape to explain my horrible scribbled titles on the label.
“Lady be Good” by Bengt Hallberg and friends, mid 1980s – a relaxed Swedish pianist with a nice sense of space that I am very partial to. Been around for years – he first recorded as a boy star in1951 with Stan Getz.
”Bemsha Swing” a Thelonius Monk tune played here by young American girl called Jessica Williams, about whom I know nothing except that she loves Monk and sounds good. Man in Ray’s Jazz Shop in Shaftesbury Avenue (nice place) said to me once:” Didn’t Jessica Williams used to be a bloke called Jesse Williams?”
(Editors Note: We have used Jessica Wiiliams playing Thelonius Monk's "Green Chimneys" as "Bemsha Swing" wasn't available)
“M Marie” – duet between amazing Danish bass player Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen and equally impressive Belgian guitarist Philip Caterine.
(Editors note: As we couldn't find "M Marie" we have selected "Spanish Nights" as a substitute )
“Gravy White” – a stunning duet between trombonist Phil Wilson and young Japanese pianist Makote Ozone.
(Editors Note: Substituted - Back Home in Indiana )
“ Fording the Tweed” – this is a real oddity, a piece by Scottish harpist Savourna Stevenson, who once heard Duke Ellington and never recovered. It’s just a harp-bass duet, I think, and it’s from a suite commissioned for an arts festival by Mrs David Steel. I like it.
(I once saw Savourna Stevenson playing last year at Edinburgh. She was stunning. In all senses.)
“A Little Bit of Luck” (two versions) by Ruby Braff and Dick Hyman, cornet and piano. Ruby Braff is a white American trumpeter who was born just in time to be a modernist, but refused and stuck to this mainstream channel. I think he’s lovely and wonderfully inventive. These two versions are from an album of MY FAIR LADY. There was a time when jazz musicians used to do albums of musicals all the time, to give the songs proper treatment, but they don’t any more. I think it’s because musicals don’t have good songs any more.
(Editors note: As this wasn't available, we have used "Get Me to the Church on Time" from the same album)
“Mercy Mercy Mercy” – Cannonball Adderley from a 1960s concert in Tokyo. Nice.
‘Broken Doll” – Didier Lockwood. With a name like that, he has got to be a poncey French violinist and you’re right – he’s a poncey French violinist. But he and his two guitarist friends are bloody good.
“My Funny Valentine”, Gerry Mulligan (baritone), Art Farmer (trumpet), Dave Bailey (drums), Bill Crow (bass). Early 1960s, before Miles Davis started recording the tune. Mulligan never seemed to lose his temper, but I have always liked him. He became famous in the 1950s for having a pianoless quartet. He always said it was to achieve the right contrapuntal flow, but I suspect it was to avoid the horrors of finding out-of-tune pianos. Bill Crow, the bass player, has just produced a book called JAZZ ANECDOTES, which is wonderful. Two of the guitarists are white, two black
“Slop” and “Song with Orange” by Charles Mingus. I think Charles Mingus is my all-time favourite jazz band leader, after Duke. These two tracks are late 1950s and both pretty good.
“Rambling” by Ornette Coleman. In 1962 or whenever, this sounded disturbingly modern. It doesn’t now.
Trio Con Trombe playing “Bilingual” and “Django”. Bengt Hallberg again, with Jan Allen (trumpet) and George Riedal (bass) – no drums. “Bilingual” is a tricky tune by Hallberg – “Django” is the tune that the Modern Jazz Quartet wrote in tribute to Django Reinhardt – have you ever heard the original version? Lovely…
(Editors Note: We couldn't find the titles Miles wanted. Have substituted with "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Mulen". Also click here for the MJQ's wonderful "Django")
“Over the Rainbow” and “Blues” by Keith Jarrett – two encores from a BBC Radio3 concert, pirated by me; the producer once told me that that version of “Over the Rainbow” was the best thing in the concert. Best thing ever, I sometimes think, when drunk. (Editors Note: This isn't the BBC Radio3 concert as it is not available. However this Hamburg 1982 concert is quite wonderful)
“Moody Mood for Blues”- by James Moody. I’d forgotten all about James Moody until this fell out on me the other day – he was an alto player who learnt from Charlie Parker and never quite got out of his shadow, but when he plays like this, who cares? The bass player in the first twelve bars plays one or two wrong notes. Moody plays alto, and switches to tenor half way through. Spot the join. The last twelve bars of band were arranged by Quincy Jones. He was 21 years old and this session was among his first jobs. Now he wins Oscars for film scores and does Michael Jackson’s music. Well, it’s a living.
I’m away in Edinburgh for a while, but if you are sufficiently interested in anything on the tape, I could tape the rest of the relevant record for you. If you don’t like any of it much, I’ll have another bash. But I enjoyed putting it together.
August 10th 1992