Charlie Parker laughing at Coleman Hawkins’s attempt to do playback on his own recorded improvisation

This is the coolest thing ever. In one of two known pieces of footage of Bird performing, the music is pre-recorded and the band is supposed to be pantomiming along. But he clearly thinks it’s stupid and starts to laugh until someone off-camera tells him to stop and then just look at his face. Bird was too cool for this world.

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100 Essential Jazz Albums: The Playlist

Based on this New Yorker list curated by David Remnick and David Brody, here’s around 100 essential jazz albums. Rdio is missing a couple albums, but you’ll find most of them on the playlist.

What follows is a list compiled with the help of my New Yorker colleague Richard Brody. These hundred titles are meant to provide a broad sampling of jazz classics and wonders across the music’s century-long history. Early New Orleans jazz, swing, bebop, cool jazz, modal jazz, hard bop, free jazz, third stream, and fusion are all represented, though not equally. We have tried not to overdo it with expensive boxed sets and obscure imports; sometimes it couldn’t be helped. We have also tried to strike a balance between healthy samplings of the innovative giants (Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, Davis, Coltrane, etc.) and the greater range of talents and performances.

Grab the list on Rdio here.

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Among the treasures: Coleman Hawkins, the first great tenor saxophonist in jazz, playing multiple ad-lib choruses on the classic “Body and Soul.” Billie Holiday, accompanied only by piano, singing a moving rubato version of “Strange Fruit,” a chilling musical condemnation of lynching. The Count Basie Orchestra performing at the world’s first outdoor jazz festival, the 1938 Carnival of Swing on Randall’s Island in New York City. Basie’s tenor sax stars, Lester Young and Herschel Evans, sharing solos on “Texas Shuffle.” Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson—on harpsichord instead of his usual piano—performing “Lady Be Good!” And the list goes on. The collection is, in a word, historic.

And, Morgenstern says, “the sound quality of many of these works is amazing. Some of it is of pristine quality. It is a cultural treasure and should be made widely available.” The question, however, is whether that will happen anytime soon. And if it doesn’t, music fans might be justified in putting the blame on copyright law.

A Trove of Historic Jazz Recordings has Found a Home in Harlem, But You Can’t Hear Them - Magazine - ABA Journal
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