Jazz for aficionados

Jazz for aficionados

I'm going to review records in my collection, and you'll be able to decide if they're worthy of your collection. These records are what I consider "must haves" for any jazz aficionado, and would be found in their collections. I wont review any record that's not on CD, nor will I review any record if the CD is markedly inferior. Fortunately, I only found 1 case where the CD was markedly inferior to the record.

Our first album is "Moanin" by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. We have Lee Morgan , trumpet; Benney Golson, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie merrit, bass; Art Blakey, drums.

The title tune "Moanin" is by Bobby Timmons, it conveys the emotion of the title like no other tune I've ever heard, even better than any words could ever convey. This music pictures a person whose down to his last nickel, and all he can do is "moan".

"Along Came Betty" is a tune by Benny Golson, it reminds me of a Betty I once knew. She was gorgeous with a jazzy personality, and she moved smooth and easy, just like this tune. Somebody find me a time machine! Maybe you knew a Betty.

While the rest of the music is just fine, those are my favorite tunes. Why don't you share your, "must have" jazz albums with us.

Enjoy the music.

Frogman, that guy on the subway "gravely voice" probably a wino and heavy smoker. He made me think about a guy I knew who was a St. Louis celebrity for a few minutes; he could really cook on the organ, and packed the house wherever he played, but he couldn't stay away from the wine bottle. You know the rest.

My stories are beginning to tie together; he's the same guy who learned music by watching my best friend's brother practice for gaining admission to Julliard. He could play on the piano, every thing he heard that brother had practiced.

Friends brother got a degree, and was very successful teaching music, but never played as a musician. The guy who watched him practice was a successful musician until he became a wino; life is weird ain't it.

Enjoy the music.
Maybe the piano player WANTED to teach.  Not everyone is cut out to be a performer; a LOT of pressure.  Maybe the organ player, had he gone to school, would have learned the importance of discipline; and, that may have kept him away from the bottle.  Just maybe.
Too many to lists, but will mention one particular artist that shamelessly was over looked, and neglected. 

Frank Hewitt, and here are 6 of his albums:

We Loved You

Not Afraid to Live

Four Hundred Saturdays

Fresh from The Cooler

Out Of The Clear Black Sky


His style definitely in the school of Bud Powell, another favorite of mine. Some backgrounds on this beautiful artist if you are interested:

"In New York City, the cabaret laws enacted in 1926 during Prohibition strictly forbade the gathering of more than three musicians and forbade the use of brass or percussion instruments, except in those few nightclubs that were specially licensed and regulated by the city. The laws were believed by many to be in part instruments for preventing the congregation of black people, and the mixing of races. Jazz was held as a culprit, a source of moral decadence, and the cabaret laws afforded the city the means to zone jazz into virtual extinction. The laws persisted on the books until 1988 when they were overturned on the grounds that they violated the constitutional right to free speech, as famously argued by Paul Chevigny. In the aftermath, myriad small jazz clubs flourished in a renaissance of jazz in New York. Smalls was notable among them.

Smalls, and its successor in the present day, Fat Cat, were the brainchildren of quixotic jazz-lover Mitch Borden, who wanted to build a club that would serve the needs of jazz musicians and enthusiasts. Artists of special merit were featured regularly, receiving the rare opportunity to develop their repertoires and styles to maturity. During the day, musicians would come to Smalls to rehearse, some even sleeping there when they couldn't find housing. Each night, music flowed until dawn -- and the price was right. As word spread, Smalls developed into the social hub of the NY jazz scene. A steady stream of musicians from around the world came to listen and to congregate in its fabled back room, which hosted long listening sessions, and a perpetual conversation about music and life. We who were involved with Smalls on a week-to-week basis formed a close-knit community, bearing witness to one-another's lives, loves, and sometimes deaths. We are the "we" in the title of this record, and we count ourselves fortunate to have had Frank working and living amongst us.

Frank Burton Hewitt was born in Queens, NY on October 23rd, 1935, and grew up in Sugar Hill, Harlem. His mother, a church pianist, exposed Frank to piano music and started him on lessons early in childhood. Over the course of ten years of classical study, he developed into a capable pianist. He attended the High School of Needle Trades, originally intending to become a tailor, but as a teenager he was increasingly drawn to the jazz piano. One night, while washing dishes for a church social at his mother's apartment, he heard Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square" on the record player. After all had gone home, he played it over and over again, ever more intrigued by its dark, subtle beauty, and the mystery of its melodic lines. This, he felt, was the kind of music he wanted to explore. Over time he met up with Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Elmo Hope, whom he would later count as his greatest influences. By his early twenties, Frank was playing often as a sideman on the New York scene, appearing with such notables as Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, John Coltrane, Howard McGhee, Cecil Payne, and many others. In 1961, he performed in The Living Theater's groundbreaking production of "The Connection." Over the years, he held down the piano bench at countless sessions, appearing often at Barry Harris' jazz workshops, at the University of the Streets, and at the Jazz Vespers at St. Peter's Church. He was also often heard accompanying the late underground saxophone legend Clarence "C" Sharpe, himself a direct influence upon many from the Smalls community, and the subject of a future Smalls Records project.

Frank was the featured artist at Smalls, appearing two or three times weekly for nine years running. During that time, he was heard by tens of thousands of Smalls fans, among them numerous jazz pianists from around the world who came to listen and learn. The history of jazz is often mistaken as the history of jazz recordings; but in truth, the history of the music is constituted by sessions, night after night, only a few of which are ever recorded. In a club like Smalls, where Frank was featured weekly, we had the unique opportunity to experience the long process of coming to appreciate the depth and breadth of his music, its expressive force, and its melodic and harmonic ingenuity. We cannot afford you the same experience on records. But we feel these recorded performances attain the highest level of achievement, and that repeated listening will yield continual rewards.

The two sessions highlighted here show Frank in two distinctly different moods, affording the listener new to Frank's music some appreciation for his expressive range. Frank is accompanied throughout by his long-standing bassist Ari Roland. They are joined on one session by veteran drummer Jimmy Lovelace, and on the other, by up-and-coming drummer Danny Rosenfeld. These two groups represent Frank's two working trios from Smalls. The level of interplay in these trios is very high, developed over many years together on the bandstand.

The sessions were run in the manner of a live performance and recorded and mixed live using no isolation. [We hope the listener will excuse the occasionally uneven quality of these recording experiments in lieu of their historical importance.] Frank never called his tunes ahead of time on these sessions, preferring to let his mood dictate the selection. Take special note of Frank's improvised introductions to each tune. Frank felt that the verse was an important part of a composition, and the introductions are original verses, which establish a thematic basis for subsequent improvisation. The thematic development in Frank's improvisations is ingenious, so much so that new listeners often underestimate him. We had the unfair advantage of hearing him night after night, which helped to settle all questions over time. Frank's ingenuity was all in the service of the poetic spirit, which is what makes the experience of listening to him such a complete one in the end.

Though Frank was the master musician in our midst, the major record labels overlooked him in their incessant quest for young, photogenic, crossover musicians. The crass negligence of the major labels gave rise to the moral imperative to create a record label for the Smalls community to ensure that Frank Hewitt, and jazz artists like him, would not be neglected in recorded history. We hoped to give Frank a few years in the sun, but tragically, he died on September 5th, 2002 before this record could be released. We'll miss you Frank."

Excellent!  Will check him out. Thank you.

Alex, I have Mosaic MR4-106, The Complete Blue Note Tina Brooks Quintets, it consists of 4 LP's and two booklets. Although there are many good cuts, my favorites are "Star Eyes" and "Stranger In Paradise"; Tina captures the beauty in these tunes far better than most versions I've heard, and considering all the versions of these tunes I've heard; that's saying a lot.

I see that it's not a coincident that Blue Note had all the junkey musicians, and that story tells why. "The better to exploit you my dear". It's like finding a man in the gutter, pouring gasoline over him and striking a match.

Enjoy the music.