Happy Birthday Elvin Jones
Drummer and gunslinger.
Happy Birthday Elvin Jones
Drummer and gunslinger.
Steve Lacy: Master of the Soprano Saxophone and Monk Song Book
Reflections: Steve Lacy Plays Thelonious Monk was also the first of many collaborations between the saxophonist and pianist Mal Waldron. They are a perfect match for the songs and “Ask Me Now’ is the album’s highlight. Buell Neidlinger plays bass and Elvin Jones, two years away from joining Coltrane’s band, is on drums.
“Ask Me Now” (1958)
Recorded on this day
Fifty-seven years ago, Miles Davis recorded the Cool jazz Blue Moods with Charles Mingus (bass), Britt Woodman (trombone), Teddy Charles (vibes) and Elvin Jones (drums). Blue Moods was just one of twenty-six albums released on Mingus’ Debut label.
“Easy Living” (1955)
Joe Henderson: The Blue Note Sideman Sessions 1963-64
Like Bobby Hutcherson’s The Kicker, Grant Green’s Solid inexplicably languished on a shelf for fifteen years until 1979. Poor Joe Henderson — as on the Hutcherson session, this album also had a sweet version of the tenor’s classic “The Kicker.” Besides “The Kicker,” the album’s loaded with great songs, including Duke Pearson’s (anything but) “Minor League,” the guitarist’s original “Grant’s Tune,” Sonny Rollins’ title-track, and our favorite cut, a burning modal version of George Russell’s “Ezz-Thetic.” Grant was at the peak of his guitar powers, but has a smoking band to inspire him to new heights with Henderson and James Spaulding on saxes, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and 2/3 of Coltrane’s rhythm section in pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones (just months before recording A Love Supreme).
“Ezz-Thetic” by Grant Green (1964)
Happy Birthday Tommy Flanagan
Flanagan’s doesn’t get enough respect because he was Ella’s piano accompanist for much of the 60’s and 70’s, but he made some great Bop trio records in the late-50’s for Prestige and Savoy. These two tracks from Overseas, Bluely Noted’s favorite Flanagan album, highlight his skills on hard swingers and ballads. The Flanagan Trio’s rhythm section is Wilbur Little (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums).
“Relaxin’ at Camarillo” and “Chelsea Bridge” (1957)
Happy Birthday Jimmy Garrison
How is it possible to have played with Coltrane, Tyner and Jones and still be underrated?
Garrison’s nearly 4-minute bass solo starting at 4:35 helps the Quartet reach cruising altitude before Coltrane sends them into outer space.
Lee Morgan: The Quintessential Hard Bop Trumpeter
“Night Dreamer” by Wayne Shorter (1964)
From his triumphant 1963 return to his tragic 1972 death, Morgan recorded nearly 20 albums as a leader, but was also getting busy as a session musician. It’s difficult to single out any 1 session — he played on superior albums by McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Lonnie Smith, Larry Young, Hank Mobley and Jack Wilson — but at Bluely Noted, we always rush to Wayne Shorter’s Night Dreamer. Shorter and Morgan were always a dynamic duo with The Jazz Messengers and with John Coltrane’s rhythm section on hand — McCoy Tyner (piano), Reggie Workman (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums) — the album gives us the closest thing to a Blue Train Coltrane-Morgan reunion.
He really knew how to sport shades too.
“Ask any drummer… When you sit down to a modern drumset you must contend with something Max Roach has invented as soon as you touch stick to cymbal or skin. Play a ruff, a set of strokes, a roll. Stoke it like Blakey, tap-step like Haynes, flick the accents back like Philly Joe, let it go loose like Elvin or put it on springs like Tony. You can contradict, comment upon, alter or ignore Max Roach, but unless you’re Sunny Murray or Milford Graves you still can’t do without him. He has invented the basic language of the instrument; you use it if you want to talk.”
-Rafi Zabor on Max Roach, 1980
Barney Kessel: 1969
Following Hair Is Beautiful, Kessel made 2 solid albums in 1969. On Feeling Free, Kessel returned to Contemporary Records for an album that showed the influence of jazz experimentation of the period, with Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Chuck Domanico (bassist) and Elvin Jones (drums).On Guitarra (RCA), Kessel recorded a smokin’ bossa nova influenced set with a group of Italian musicians in Rome. I couldn’t agree more with the cover tagline: “It’s Modern. It Swings. It’s Vibrant!”
“The Sound Of Silence” from Feeling Free
“B.J.’s Samba” from Guitarra
Kessel continued to record albums until the late 1980s (though these, in my opinion, never reached the heights of his early Contemporary years). His recording and performing career ended in 1992 after a suffering a stroke and he passed away in 2004.
Wes Montgomery and John Coltrane
Shortly after recording The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane asked Montgomery to join his quartet. Although Montgomery never joined that band, Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, Montgomery and Eric Dolphy formed a sextet and played 3 songs together at the 1961 Monterey Jazz Festival. There are rumors that a Holy Grail bootleg exists (they played “My Favorite Things,” Coltrane’s “Naima,” and a medley of Miles Davis’ “So What” combined with Coltrane’s “Impressions”), but I’ve never been able to find it. Our loss — I can’t imagine how that Coltrane band could have been any better than it already was. In a classic quote, Montgomery noted in a 1961 Downbeat interview, “I really didn’t understand what Coltrane was doing, but it was exciting the thing that he was doing… ”
Montgomery covered Coltrane’s “Impressions” on Willow Weep For Me (Verve, 1965) and in this video, live in Belgium.