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Category Archives: Jazz Music
This is the last blog in my series on live albums. MILESTONE JAZZSTARS IN CONCERT is a fantastic “Live” LP featuring three jazz giants: McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, and Ron Carter. They were accompanied on drums by a much younger Al Foster.
This 2 record set documents the 20 concert tour of the “Jazzstars” in the fall of 1978. McCoy Tyner (Piano), Sonny Rollins (Saxophone), and Ron Carter (Acoustic Bass) each had very different but potentially complementary styles. They were fascinated by the musical challenge of working together. The only reason it was able to be done, however, is because at the time they all recorded on Milestone Records.
The Album features solo’s by Tyner, Rollins, and Carter, as well as songs performed by duet, trio, and with the entire quartet.
I bought this LP at a garage sale. I had never heard it before nor did I know anything about this album. I think I paid 10 cents for it. I was blown away by the music as well as the sound quality of this record. Let’s give it a listen…
The Cutting Edge
This song was written by Sonny Rollins and it is performed by the entire quartet. The announcer is Quincy McCoy, who also helped with staging and lighting. This song is a tour-de-force of powerful Jazz. You think the opening riffs of Rollins are amazing and then Tyner takes over! Then Ron Carter lays a spell on everyone with his bass solo. This acoustic jazz with the force of fusion jazz. Rollins returns for an even more inventive solo, never losing any of the rhythmic power of the music.
This song was written by Howard Deitz and Arthur Schwartz. It was first introduced in a Broadway play called Flying Colors. The first jazz recording of this song was by Artie Shaw in 1939. It went on to become a Jazz Standard. This cut is a duet between Tyner and Carter. Tyner’s playing virtuosity defined! The bass at the end by Carter is mesmerizing. I love the word play of the title. They are alone, but they are also together. What a great name for a duet.
Saxophone solo written and performed by Sonny Rollins. This is a truly historic document of a genius at work. This solo is stunning! Rollins improvises for over 5 minutes and never bores you or becomes repetitive. This melody literally is a continuum. Live in front of an audience he puts to shame every musician who ever tried to improvise a solo. Everyone from the Grateful Dead to Coltrane must stand in awe of the genius of the man.
This song was written by McCoy Tyner. It appeared on his album Together, which was recorded and released the same year. Together was also produced by Orrin Keepnews. This is an emotional composition that features the entire quartet. Return to Forever would have been proud to have written this one. Tyner takes us on a 15 minute musical journey that out Chicks – Chick Corea.
This song was written by Ron Carter and features the entire quartet. Ron Cater has played with everyone from Bill Evans to A Tribe called Quest. He may be the most recorded acoustic bass player in history. This is an awesome jazz-blues number. About half way through Cater gets his turn to solo and displays the talents that he is so revered for: creativity, soul, and technique all in one. I love the slide at the end of his solo that leads back into the main theme.
Willow Weep For Me
Side three of the album is the Ron Cater Side. He wrote N.O. Blues and then he solos on this song written by Ann Ronell. This is a brilliant choice for a bass solo. Once again improvisational skills are at the genius level.
In A Sentimental Mood
This is the Duke Ellington classic that is performed by Rollins and Tyner. I think The Duke would have loved this arrangement of his classic tune.
A Little Pianissimo
Written by and performed solo by McCoy Tyner. Tyner is again using word play in the title of his song.Pianissimo hints at a combination of the words Piano and Solo yet it’s meaning is quite. Translated literally, the title would mean “a little quiet”. This composition is anything but small and quiet. It does have the “little pianissimo ” main theme. You can sense the spell he put the crowd under because of the slight moment of silence before the applause.
Don’t Stop The Carnival
This song is a traditional tune arranged by Sonny Rollins. The song is performed by the trio of Rollins, Carter, and Foster. It has that great Brazilian beat. It takes me straight to the streets of Rio… You can hear the crowd at several points in the recording and it sounds like a party’s goin’ on… The Milestone Jazzstars leave them dancing in the aisles.
So where did they go from this tour in 1977? Since 1996 Al Foster has been touring with his own band. Ron Carter became a great music educator. He recently retired from City College in New York where he was a Distinguished Professor of Music. He currently sits on the board of the Harlem Jazz Music Center. McCoy Tyner is still going strong. He has a new album out called “Guitars”. It features Derek Trucks, Bella Fleck, Bill Frisell, John Scofiled, and Marc Ribot. In addition the core band that plays with all of these great guitar players is Jack DeJohnnette, and of course Ron Cater! Last, but not least is Sonny Rollins. He went on just a few years later to record some memorable Sax solos on the 1981 Rolling Stones LP – Tattoo You. Including the great one at the end of the song Waiting on a Friend. Sonny Rollins has just announced that he, like McCoy Tyner, will tour in 2013. He just tweeted that details will follow after January 1st. What a world, what a world…
My next project is to write a series of blogs about 3 very different, but highly collectible “Live” LP’s. The first blog will be about the worst live album from one of the most famous live bands. I am referring to “Steal Your Face” by the Grateful Dead. This LP is widely considered to be the worst live recording of the Dead. The LP is still highly collectible, however; because of the album cover. Exterior condition is almost more important to the value of the LP than the interior condition of the actual vinyl. Here’s what the cover looks like:
This is the first appearance of the famous Grateful Dead logo. I think the album is better than advertised.
Next up will be a “Live” LP from an artist who is also known for his high quality “Live” performances. This record is a fantastic “Live” LP, but the artist has attempted to suppress it in spite of attempts by his fans to force him to re-release it. The LP I am referring to is: Time Fades Away by Neil Young. When the LP came out it got great reviews and sold over 1,000,000 copies. It was his first “Live” LP. It was never released on CD and Neil doesn’t even plan to include it in the next volume of his Archives. He has his reasons and we will discuss them in the blog at that time…
Here’s the album cover:
Last but not least is a “Live” LP from three Jazz giants: McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins. This is a truly great “Live” LP, and yet; I had never heard of this album before. I bought this LP by chance when I bought over 500 LP’s for $50 at a garage sale. I never knew the three of them had toured together and recorded a “Live” LP! This is music making at a very high level. It’s a mystery to me that this LP is not more well known. The LP is called “Milestone Jazzstars: Ron Carter, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner – In Concert”
Here’s the Album Cover:
All three of these LP’s are collectible in their own right. Each is collectible for a different reason. I’m lucky to have all three. Each LP has a fascinating story behind it too. We will delve into each one. First up: The worst “Live” LP from one of the most famous “Live” bands in Rock-n-Roll history. The Grateful Dead – “Steal Your Face”…
My Wife’s birthday resulted in the discovery of an amazing new musican. My wife wanted to get out of town for her birthday so we planned a weekend trip to Fort Worth. It just so happened that a new live music venue was opening up that weekend and my wife found an article in the weekend guide of The Dallas Morning News promoting a concert there the same weekend. The performer was a singer/songwriter from Austin named Kat Edmonson. We had never heard of her, but the article described her as follows: “that beautifully gray area that separates Americana from Jazz, country from folk”. Well that was enough for me. We bought tickets. She was performing at a new venue in Fort Worth called The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge. This is a great new place on the south side of Fort Worth. It has an outstanding restaurant, a rooftop bar with an incredible view of Forth Worth, and a Music Hall that seats a little over 200 people. The entire menu in the Lounge is also available in the Music Hall. Pretty cool!
Our experience at the Lounge was first class. The food and wine selection was excellent. After dinner we went into the music hall and enjoyed the concert. The opening act was Luke Wade. He is a local artist from Fort Worth. He was late because he had just played a private fundraiser for President Obama that was hosted by Bill Clinton. The guy came in through the main entrance for the public, ran up on stage, and asked for two minutes to get ready. He performed on guitar with a fiddle player. He put on a very enjoyable show. He sounded too much like John Mayer to me. That should tell you that he could sing and play at a very high level.
After a brief intermission Kat Edmonson sang and was accompanied by a acoustic guitar player. Her guitar player was a French Canadian and he was a spactacular musicain. She performed every song from her latest album and covered a song by Ella Fitzgerald (Champagne) and also Brian Wilson (I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.) Her cover of the Brian Wilson song was easily one of the highlights of a very magical night. She infused the song with a pathos that exceeded the brilliant original song by The Beach Boys.
Kat Edmonson was raised in Houston by her Mother and Grandmother. She grew up listening to their LP records. (This is this story’s link to my blog..) She especially loved her Grandmothers LP’s. She grew up listening and loving The Great American Song Book. Her songs are full of amazing lyrics. She is also a very effective and interesting live performer. She understands subtlety and technique like very few performers I have seen recently. I picked up her latest CD “Way Down Low” and I cannot stop listening to it. The CD features a duet with Lyle Lovett. The lyrics are a great example of her work:
The Long Way Home
I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright Going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, before I call it a day I’m making stops along the way Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thinking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright, going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, first, before this day is through I’ve got some things I’ve gotta do Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thanking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight Well I’ll be winking to the (? wise one?) who always knew And babbling with the brook about my love for you
When I, take the long way home tonight, tonight When I, take the long way home tonight.
If you can’t hear the Soul of Cole Porter in those lyrics then you must not have ever heard a song by him…
Check out Kat Edmonson. She just recorded an episode of Austin City Limits with Willie Nelson. Here is the link to her site: Kat Edmonson. Her music and lyrics are fantastic. The ghost of Cole Porter lives!
My wife went to several garage sales Friday while I was at work. When I got home she told me about one place she went that had a large number of LP records.
“How many do you think they have?”, I asked.
“I don’t know, but there were about 4 or 5 medium sized boxes’, she says.
“Like what?” I ask.
“Well, like Buckingham – Nicks, The Rolling Stones, Genesis… You know, some pretty good rock -n -roll…”
We change the subject and life goes on until the next morning. I wake up and the conversation from Friday is still rolling around in my brain. I have to see what records these people have in their garage. We decide to go back and see how many LP’s are left.
When we get there I see seven boxes are still left. The people say that they want 50 cents per disc. I pick out 22 that I can’t live without. There were many that I wanted to buy. It’s a garage sale so I negotiate. “Since I’m buying 22 how about $8.00?”
“No, I really need 50 cents a record, sorry…”
I was really worried about all that vinyl. It’s out in the Texas heat. It’s over 100 degrees. The records are barely in the shade. It’s probably 100 degrees in the shade too. I couldn’t stand to leave all that great music out in the heat. What would happen to all that vinyl if I didn’t take it with me? I don’t know what came over me but I blurted out “What if I give you $50 for all of them?”
The lady was stunned. So was my wife! The lady says “Sorry I can’t do that.”
“Well” I said, “if you don’t sell them here’s my number.”
I thought that was the end of it. Pam and I go have lunch. We are about to go home when the garage sale family calls me back.
“Does your offer still stand?”
“Sure, I’ll be there in 20 minutes.
We dr0ve back and loaded them in the SUV. I had no idea how many LP’s there were. When I got back home we counted them. 513! Basically, I bought them for 10 cents a piece. Unbelievable!
There is much more to tell but suffice to let the picture speak for itself for now. I rescued a lot of vinyl this weekend!