|THE UNBEATABLE JAZZ DISCOGRAPHY
Jazz fans and collectors love discographies. A good jazz discography tells all of the important information about a recording session: the songs,
personnel, recording dates and location, and the CDs and/or Lps on which the music has been released. There have been many comprehensive
jazz discographies ever since Charles Delauney came out with his Hot Discography in 1936. However, despite the importance of the numerous
groundbreaking works, none can touch Tom Lord’s The Jazz Discography.
Originally a 34-volume series available in books, Tom Lord’s The Jazz Discography is now available online (for a monthly fee of $9.99) and is
updated on a daily basis. It traces every known jazz record session from 1917 up to the present plus earlier sessions (going back to the late
1890s) that are of interest to jazz collectors. While the main index lists the bandleaders in chronological order, one can use the massive work in
a variety of ways. If you want to find out every session on which bassist Milt Hinton or Oscar Peterson was on (including as sidemen) in
chronological order, or find every jazz version of “Stardust,” it only takes seconds to get the list. There is information on nearly 200,000
sessions and over a million musicians and songs yet the data is sorted in seconds for whatever question one has. It is also possible to catalog one’s
own record collection on the discography to make it easier to see what is left to acquire.
More information on signing up for the TJD Tom Lord Discography) Online can be found at www.lordisco.com. I have found this remarkable
work to be indispensable and use it on a daily basis.
DALE FIELDER AT HOTEL NORMANDIE
The Dale Fielder Quartet, comprised of the leader on baritone, alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, pianist Jane Getz, bassist Bill Markus and
drummer Thomas White, has been together for over two decades. They currently perform once a month at the beautiful and historic Hotel
Normandie in downtown L.A. Recently they celebrated the debut release of Fielder’s earliest album as a leader, Scene From A Dream, which is
mostly comprised of a timeless 1983 session featuring the late great pianist Geri Allen.
Fielder began the night with some passionate soprano playing on “Sensuous Universe,” one of his many originals performed by the group. The
quartet stretched out on “Consensus,” an original in 5/4 that featured the leader on his powerful baritone and Getz who contributed some
classic bop piano. Fielder and the bowed bass of Markus brought in “Periphery” which had some fiery baritone along with piano playing by
Getz that hinted at McCoy Tyner. Paul Cohen, who co-produced Scene From A Dream, did a fine job sitting in on drums during “A Good Friend
Of Mine” and “Fugue 1978,” numbers that had Fielder displaying perfect control on alto along with the influences of Charlie Parker and Jackie
McLean. The always appealing singer Rita Edmond performed winning versions of Paul Desmond’s “Embarcadero” (with Fielder’s lyrics) and
“I Thought About You.” The second set found the quartet performing “Dimensions” (an original utilizing the chords of “Star Eyes”), “Profane”
and the jazz waltz “Light Blue” before Ms. Edmond closed the night with a few more songs including “Almost Like Being In Love’ (which had
some warm tenor from the leader), “Moon River” and “Route 66.” With Thomas White driving the band, Bill Markus taking occasional solos,
Jane Getz in particularly inventive form, and Dale Fielder sounding very much at home on each of his four horns, it made for a very musical
evening. Be sure to check out the Dale Fielder Quartet at this attractive venue.
THE ASCAP JAZZ AWARDS
Vibrato recently hosted the 2018 ASCAP Jazz Awards. Five different artists were honored and one song apiece was performed before a packed
house with the emphasis on avant-garde jazz. Trombonist Mariel “Spencer” Austin received the Foundation Phoebe Jacobs Award, playing a
complicated and partly written-out work with her sextet. Matthew Shipp introduced pianist Gerald Clayton who was given the Vanguard
Award and performed a thoughtful improvisation. Shelea sang “Make Me A Rainbow” with the accompaniment of a tape (why no live band?)
and a tenor-saxophonist, paying tribute to Marilyn Bergman who received ASCAP’s President’s Award. Baritone saxophonist Benjamin Barson,
who won the Johnny Mandel Prize, performed an odd piece in 7/4 time that featured his wife on an operatic vocal, a rapper, and trumpeter
Winston Byrd who gamely belted out some expressive high notes. The great Roscoe Mitchell, founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and an
avant-garde giant for a half-century, was presented with the Founders Award. With pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Junius Paul and drummer
Vincent Davis providing a stimulating backdrop, Mitchell took a 15-minute solo on soprano that utilized circular breathing. While starting
peacefully, the music became quite intense and stayed at a very passionate level.
It was great that ASCAP chose to honor adventurous musicians.
THE REMARKABLE JAMES MORRISON
James Morrison, who was born and raised in Australia, has been a brilliant musician for decades. Equally skilled on trumpet and trombone (he
can also play all of the saxophones, piano, bass, tuba and drums quite credibly) and well versed in all eras of jazz from trad to hard bop and
beyond, Morrison is also a witty announcer who clearly loves playing swinging jazz. At Catalina’s he headed a 17-piece big band that included
his talented sons Will and Harry on guitar and bass. After the orchestra played a version of “Caravan” that ran through several styles,
Morrison came on stage and led the band through a dixielandish chorus of “All Of Me” before the music became boppish. Whether playing
trombone on “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (which featured some very high notes), trumpet on the level of Arturo Sandoval, jamming a
medium-tempo blues with a quartet on piano (sounding a bit like Oscar Peterson) or performing originals, Morrison put on a spectacular show.
Also excellent was singer Becky Martin who performed “What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Sway” (which featured Rusty Higgins leading the
sax section on soprano) and “Dream,” displaying a strong voice, swinging phrasing and the ability not to get overwhelmed by the high-
powered band. Catalina’s was packed on a Monday night and the performance was quite memorable. James Morrison is a musical marvel who,
while popular on the jazz party circuit, deserves to be much better known by the jazz public
BRUCE FORMAN’S THE RED GUITAR
The great bop-oriented guitarist Bruce Forman has often performed his continually evolving one-man show “The Red Guitar.” At the Main in
Newhall, Forman told stories about his guitar, the jazz life and such inspirations as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Django Reinhardt and Ray
Brown while accompanying himself on guitar. Highlights included “Imagination,” “Now’s The Time” (playing Bird’s solo), a Wes Montgomery
blues, “Nuages” (which he chorded using just two fingers in his left hand like Django, and then one), “I’m An Old Cowhand,” and his vocal on
the satirical “Mr. Sound Man” (based on “Mr. Sandman”). Forman put on a relaxed yet fast-paced hour. After intermission, he continued the
music with such songs as “Eddie’s Twister” (by Eddie Lang), “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” and “You And The Night And The Music.” As
with Joe Pass, Forman is a colorful orchestra by himself and there was never a time when one missed the bass and drums.
Bruce Forman’s fascinating The Red Guitar should be caught by every jazz fan.
LORI ANDREWS – JAZZ HARPIST
The harp has never been a common jazz instrument and one can only name a handful of great jazz harpists from the past 80 years. One of the
very best around today is Lori Andrews, who always puts on an entertaining and witty show.
At the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, she performed with her husband Bart Samolis on fretless electric bass, drummer Kurt Walther and
Mark Hollingsworth on tenor, flute and clarinet. Most of the first half of the program was devoted to classical themes with the harpist playing
melodies by Debussy (“The Girl With The Flaxen Hair”), Faure, Bizet and other composers. The performances, while quite respectful, were far
from dry as Ms. Andrews told humorous stories, Hollingsworth made two appearances on flute, and Samolis performed some Spanish guitar.
The set closed with “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby,’ leading to the jazz-oriented second half. On such songs as a blues waltz reminiscent of
“All Blues," a swinging "Alice In Wonderland,” “Senor Blues,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Spain,” and “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” Lori Andrews showed
that there was no reason why she could not play as inventively as her sidemen. She created dazzling solos that were both melodic and
unpredictable, showing that she has few peers when it comes to playing jazz harp.
STAN KENTON’S CONCERTS IN MINIATURE
Stan Kenton’s Concerts In Miniature was one of the most musical radio series in jazz history. There were some previews in April 1952 and then
the series ran on a weekly basis from June 3, 1952 until Nov. 3, 1953. The half-hour programs broadcast on NBC were mostly unscripted.
While there was an announcer to help out, Kenton was really the host. His friendly, informative and witty talking, which was quite
spontaneous, helped make the show a popular attraction. Kenton treated his musicians with respect and good humor, sometimes allowing
them to talk briefly on the shows.
It was an intriguing time for Kenton, with a musical tug of war taking place. The advanced and sometimes classical-oriented arrangements of
Bill Russo fought for dominance with Bill Holman’s more swinging charts. While Kenton personally leaned towards the former, Holman’s
arrangements were favored by his musicians and the 1952-53 Kenton band became one of his most swinging outfits.
While many of the broadcasts (recorded live wherever the orchestra was appearing) had been previously available in piecemeal fashion,
Sounds Of Yester Year has become the first label to ever work on releasing all of the music complete and in order. The series, which will
probably end up with 25 volumes, usually features three shows on a CD. Recently Concerts In Miniature Parts 20-22 have been released.
During this period Kenton’s orchestra included such notables as trumpeter Conte Candoli, trombonist Frank Rosolino, altoist Lee Konitz (who is
in consistently superb form), Zoot Sims and Bill Holman on tenors, guitarist Sal Salvador and drummer Stan Levey along with many fine
section players. While the earlier volumes includes some of Kenton’s more forbidding pieces, by Part 20 (which begins with the June 30, 1953
broadcast), the band was swinging as hard as it ever did.
Rather than give a play-by-play of the music, suffice it to say that anyone interested in Stan Kenton and rousing big band music in general
will want all of these well-recorded volumes which are available from www.cityhallrecords.com. They add a great deal to Kenton’s musical
legacy and make for a very enjoyable listen.