Recorded at TTG Studios in Hollywood, CA (October 1968)
Count Basie- piano
Sammy Nestico- conductor
Bobby Plater- alto saxophone, flute
Marshall Royal- alto saxophone
Eric Dixon- tenor saxophone, flute
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis- tenor saxophone
Chrales Fowlkes- baritone saxophone
Al Aarons- trumpet
Oscar Brashear- trumpet
Gene Coe- trumpet
George Cohn- trumpet
Dick Boone- trombone
Steve Galloway- trombone
Bill Hughes- trombone
Grover Mitchell- trombone
Freddie Green- guitar
Norman Keenan- bass
Harold Jones- drums
I really enjoyed this album. I've always loved the big band sound, and Count Basie's Orchestra does great justice to the big band name. A quality I noticed about the tracks on this album were that the vast majority were radio-friendly lengths (DJ's: take note!) and kept the interest for the entirety of the time. Whereas a great many jazz track stray far beyond the 5 minute mark, no track on this album exceeded 4-and-a-half minutes (thus radio-friendly length). This was likely intentional to keep the album an easy choice for Radio DJs. This is not to say there are no solos, but rather that the solos are more finite and contained as opposed to free and meandering (not that one is better than the other, this is merely an observation).
Many of the solo backgrounds felt like a background conversation rather than an accompaniment, which was a surprisingly refreshing sound. In particular I enjoyed the flute solo in "Fun Time," which brings a nice textural contrast at its entrance and flows effortlessly above the big band sound upon its exit. The organ in "That Warm Feeling" was an interesting timbre as well which suited the mood of the piece.
There were also a fair number of soli interjections (more often than soli sections) which kept the texture exciting. Some of the timbres for the solis also caught my attention, such as the brief soli for flute and muted trumpet in "Hayburner." I found a lot of interesting musical textures in this album, and definitely recommend it to anyone looking for some more Jazz to listen to, or looking to start listening to more at all. This album is probably more palatable to most casual listeners than some other albums.
Recorded at 30th Street Studio, New York, NY (March/April 1959)
Miles Davis- trumpet
John Coltrane- tenor sax
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley- alto sax
Paul Chambers- double bass
Jimmy Cobb- drums
Bill Evans- piano, except "Freddie Freeloader"
Wynton Kelly- piano on "Freddie Freeloader"
Easily one of the best known jazz records, it's difficult to figure out just where to start. Whereas the Basie album mentioned earlier in this blog really focuses more heavily on ensemble gestures than powerhouse solos, this album is just about the opposite: all about his powerhouse sextet. Davis lays out the head and harmonies in a relatively succinct fashion, opening the door to free-range solos that dominate the album (as I mentioned above, it's not a good or bad thing, rather, just an observation). It may also account for some similarities in melodic ideas between heads (for example, one can basically hear the head of "So What" in "Freddie Freeloader")
Despite the longevity of the solos, the gestures at the beginnings and ends of them made a definite sense of coherence throughout the pieces, and felt related as opposed to completely separate ideas. The solos essentially established their own unique motives or set of motives and patterns that, although different from preceeding and future solos, played off of what was layed out by the performer(s) before them. It felt like an exchange of large related ideals as opposed to quick quips of small talk conversation, which may add to the complex sound of the album.
The modal feels and harmony changes were also quite interesting. Despite their relative simplicity, the soloists do a great job keeping the space full of ideas using the freedom of the often sparse chord changes. Needless to say, there's a reason this album is a quadruple-platinum. If you don't believe me, listen to it for yourself!