We Are Overdue For Some Freaking Jazz

The Music Enthusiast enjoys a good jazz tune more than every now and again. Herewith a random selection of tunes for your dining and dancing pleasure. (Pictured above: John Jorgenson.)

I first wrote about Herbie Hancock – wow – a couple of years ago. The song I want to feature here is called “One Finger Snap” and it’s from his 1964 album, Empyrean Isles.

Wikipedia: In the 1999 reissue liner notes, Bob Blumenthal writes: “If someone had ordered up a program that explored four distinct areas of jazz expression with equal brilliance, they could not have done better than Empyrean Isles. It is as if Hancock had set out to present ‘changes,’ modal, funk and free playing and delivered each at its apex.”

The stellar band includes Hancock on keyboards, Freddie Hubbard on cornet, Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums:

Spotify link

A while back I wrote about gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. You can go back and read that one at your leisure if you’re so inclined. While his group, the Quintette of the Hot Club of France was largely a force in the Thirties and Forties, their influence continues even unto this day.

John Jorgenson is an American (Madison, Wisconsin) musician who – while favoring the guitar – plays upwards of ten instruments including saxophone. Jorgenson has recorded or toured with Elton John, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams Jr., Barbra Streisand, Luciano Pavarotti, Roy Orbison, Patty Loveless, Michael Nesmith, and Bonnie Raitt.

A versatile guy, yes, he tours in three different configurations: a bluegrass band, gypsy jazz, and an electric band. And so, this being a jazz post, let us now concentrate our efforts on the song “Man of Mystery,” from his 2004 album Franco-American Swing.

If you half-recognize the tune, it was first done by Cliff Richard’s backup band The Shadows many years ago in a less virtuosic rock version. (Alas, no Spotify rendering of Jorgenson’s version):

The Montreux Jazz Festival is something I’d like to be able to actually go to one day. (In fact, it’s underway as I write this piece.) It’s been held since 1967 and was first set up “with considerable help” by Atlantic Records.

According to Billboard, what put Montreux on the recorded-live-in-concert map was the legendary Swiss Movement album recorded in June 1969.

The band includes Eddie Harris on tenor saxophone, Les McCann on piano, Benny Bailey on trumpet, Leroy Vinnegar on bass, and Donald Dean on drums. This song is called “Cold Duck Time,” but you should also at least check out “Compared to What,” that fellow blogger CB wrote about a while back.

Spotify link

I am not a piano player but if I could play a second instrument it would certainly be the piano. (And if I could actually sing, that too would be awesome.) Bill Charlap is a New Yorker by birth and, one might say, a musician by destiny. His father was a composer who wrote music to the play Peter Pan and his mother was a singer who had a minor hit or two.

Charlap is a relatively young man in his fifties who still tours and plays frequently around New York. In 2002, he released an album called Stardust: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael. This song, “The Nearness of You,” first debuted in 1930 in a version by Glenn Miller. It’s since been covered by pretty much everybody.

Here is Charlap with his trio including Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums.) No relation between those guys other than good chemistry:

Spotify link

7 thoughts on “We Are Overdue For Some Freaking Jazz

  1. Good stuff Doc. I listened to them all. Some new ones for me. I’m a bit of a Herbie guy (especially the early stuff). Freddie Hubbard jumps out from that cut. I always liked his horn and thought he was up with the best of them. If you remember past conversations I came to HH via The Headhunters and went back in the vaults for more.
    The truth be know, Hillbilly CB listens to jazz more than any other music. This post of yours is right in my mindset. I’m going to start featuring jazz albums to break up my routine. Not chronological just random picks. Soooo much great music to indulge in. I already have my first artist in mind. Can you say Duke? You the man Doc!

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    1. Glad you dug it. A lot of the followers here aren’t jazzers so you won’t see as much commentary. But as the Aussie guy – who’s seeing Southside Johnny tonight said – the important thing is you reach the few who will appreciate it. And then some who might learn to appreciate it. For me, I always intend to have at least 2 jazz posts a month but the Petty thing made it hard last month. Have another jazz post in mind, an album. Look forward to your eventual post about Sir Duke.

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      1. It’s such a big pool that the reminders are great but CB is always on the lookout for new leads. Keep them coming. I have a nephew who is probably the worlds biggest Stones fan. Recently he has discovered jazz guitarists and is absolutely eating up everything he can get. I’ve gave him a few and he is like kid in a candy store. So yeah, the music is still reaching folks.

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        1. I have a file that I used to save blog ideas. I noticed the other day I have jazz guitarists on there. Don’t know if I’ll ever do it. Might be too niche-y..

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