Wednesday, January 16, 2008
"When I was growing up, black connoted gloom, skepticism, no hope, no foreseeable way out of the muck and the mire. And the blues then to me were centered around gloom and darkness, too. The old blues and funk were good for their time and place, but what I'm trying to do now is to get the meat out of the old blues while also presaging the different kind of blues to come. In this particular piece (Charcoal Blues), I'm both looking back at the good things in those older blues and also laughing at that part of my background. The laughter is satirical but not mocking. It's laughter from the inside. During the earlier periods of the blues, moreover, you'd get to where there seemed to be a point of no return. Things were so bad that the only way to go was to laugh - that kept you going. There's some of that, too, in 'Charcoal Blues.' "
Wayne Shorter, Composer, Saxophonist.
Charcoal Blues, recorded by Wayne Shorter on Duke Ellington's birthday, April 29th, in 1964, appears on the album Night Dreamer. Widely acknowledged as a classic, Night Dreamer was recorded during the same period as the phenomenal Jazz Messenger's album Indestructible. Both sessions feature Lee Morgan on trumpet and Reggie Workman at the bass. By the end of that same year Shorter would join Miles Davis, making his debut as a member of the now mythic quintet of Hancock, Carter & Williams. The first recording of this group can be heard on the album Miles in Berlin.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
The ecstatic swing of the great pianist Phineas Newborn is fully in evidence here. The lp of which I write, A World of Piano, is in fact many worlds. From the beguiling and mercurial interpretation of Strayhorn's Lush Life to the enchanting depth of Cheryl, a blues by Charlie Parker, our ears are delighted and enlivened. The inspired accompaniment of Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones (side A) and Sam Jones and Louis Hayes (side B) creates the necessary affinities for Newborn to reveal the full powers of his intuitive response. The enormous and fecund insights Newborn reveals into these sets of jazz originals are joyous. Among the composers featured are Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, the aforementioned Charlie Parker and Billy Strayhorn, as well as Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie and a big beautiful surprise from Leroy Vinnegar, For Carl. Caru, from Roland Alexander closes out the lp. Recorded in 1961 for Lester Koenig's Contemporary record label, Phineas Newborn has offered us an album that defines the meaning of upliftment and inspiration through music. Much more than a jazz record, this is a monument to the beauty and humanity of the African throughout the Americas!