Monday, October 31, 2005


One of the most prolific figures in the hard bop scene, Milt "Bags" Jackson played vibraphones with a virtual who's who of jazz giants including Coltrane, Bird, Woody Herman, and Monk. In fact, Milt was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie in 1946. When Dizzy's horn section needed to rest their chops, Milt was to play in a quartet with band members John Lewis, Percy Heath, and Kenny Clarke. This group eventually became known as the Modern Jazz Quartet.

MP3: "Sunflower" by Milt Jackson from Sunflower (CTI, 1973)

MP3: "Stella By Starlight" by Milt Jackson Sextet from Invitation (OJC, 1962)

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Led by legendary pianist Chucho Valdez, the legendary Irakere is widely considered one of the best bands to ever come out of Cuba. Blending Afro- Cuban rhythms with jazz, funk, rock, and classical music, Irakere has made waves with its music and its defectors, most notably Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D'Rivera, who have gone on to have monster solo careers.

MP3: Bacalao Con Pan by Irakere
from Grandes Momentos de Chucho Valdez y Irakere

MP3: Misa Negra by Irakere
from The Best of Irakere (Columbia)

MP3: Juana Mil Ciento by Irakere
from Latin Jazz: La Combinación Perfecta (Smithsonian Folkways)

Grupo Fantasma and their Latin Funk side project Brownout! are two bands influenced by the sound of Irakere. I have heard nothing but good things about them. Definitely a band to keep your eyes and ears on.

Check out some tracks and drop them a line for me.
Grupo Fantasma

Friday, October 21, 2005

October 21

Being that today is the birthdate of Dizzy Gillespie and myself, I have decided to post my favorite jazz composition of all-time: Night In Tunisia.
Perhaps it is too soon to have another Dizzy post but you really can't go wrong with Dizzy. Taking a page from Taxi Driver, here are some of my favorite renditions of another classic jazz standard.

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Lee Morgan
from Cooker (Blue Note, 1957)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Arturo Sandoval
from Tumbaito (Messidor, 1991)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Sonny Rollins
from A Night at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Kenny Dorham
from Round About Midnight at the Cafe Bohemia(Blue Note)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Eric Dolphy
from Hot & Cool Latin (Blue Moon)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Cal Tjader
from Latino (Fantasy)

MP3: Night In Torino(Tunisia) by Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez
from Italuba (Universal Latino, 2004)

MP3: Night In Tunisia by Dizzy Gillespie
from Dizzy's Diamonds (Verve, 1992)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Los Amigos Invisibles

I was rummaging through the numerous, neglected stacks of cd's that dwell under my bed and I came across some stuff that I had forgotten about. It's pretty cool to rediscover something you already have. Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles have been one of my favorite bands of the past five years or so. There sound is a hybrid of styles and influences ranging from funk, salsa, acid-jazz, disco, bossa nova, and everything else in between. Already an underground hit in Caracas, they moved to New York in 1997 and signed with David Byrne's Luaka Bop label.

MP3: "Las Lycras del Avilia"
MP3: "Mango Cool" by Los Amigos Invisibles
from The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera (Luaka Bop, 1998)
MP3: "Arepa 3000"
from Arepa 3000: A Venezuelan Journey Into Space (Luaka Bop, 2000)

Friday, October 14, 2005


A true prominent figure in avant-garde jazz, Pharoah Sanders initially started out playing in the West Coast. His "free" style of playing grew weary out west, so Pharoah relocated to New York where he met up with Sun Ra and further developed his avant-garde style of playing. In 1965, Sanders accepted an invitation to play and record with John Coltrane. After Coltrane's death, Sanders formed his own band and garnered considerable success. Pharoah continues to play and inspire to this day.

MP3: "The Creator Has a Master Plan"
by Pharoah Sanders from Karma (Impulse!, 1969)
MP3: "The Creator Has a Master Plan" remix
by Pharoah Sanders from Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool (GRP, 1994)
MP3: "Last of the Hipmen"
from Blues for Coltrane (MCA, 1990)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Eric Dolphy (1928-1964)

“When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air, you can never capture it again.”- Eric Dolphy

To say that Eric Dolphy was simply a great saxophonist would be an understatement. Dolphy stretched the limits of what traditional bebop had to offer and bridged the way to avante-garde without totally ignoring chordal improvisation. Dolphy often experimented with, at the time, unique instrumentation by incorporating his expert flute and bass clarinet playing into his arrangements, which usually showcased his use of harmonic dissonance. Unfortunately, like many greats, Eric Dolphy died at the age of 36 from undiagnosed diabetes.

MP3: "Burning Spear"
by Eric Dolphy from Iron Man (Fresh Sound, 1963)
MP3: "Mambo Ricci"
by The Latin Jazz Quartet w/Eric Dolphy from Caribe (Prestige, 1961)

Friday, October 07, 2005


I remember my father telling me about Bill Chase when I was in high school. He said that Chase was a pretty cool jazz rock band in the 70's with an intense trumpet section. He played some Chase on the stereo for me and it actually sounded like Maynard Ferguson playing along with King Crimson or some other 70's prog-rock band. I've been a fan ever since.

Initially a classical trumpet player, Bill Chase shifted to jazz when he saw and heard a young trumpet player in Stan Kenton's band. That trumpet player evidently was Maynard Ferguson. Maynard can be heard everywhere in the playing of Bill Chase. He ended up playing lead trumpet with Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, and Woody Herman. Chase eventually grew tired of being just a trumpet player in the background. He wanted to make the trumpet the main element of a band. This band would be known simply as Chase. Chase were basically a rock band fronted by four trumpets. The results were loud to say the least. They even opened up for Black Sabbath. At times they were told to tone down their performances because the headlining bands were having trouble following them. In all, Chase released three albums with mixed success. Changes in lineups and changes in public taste constantly lead Bill Chase to explore different directions to take his band. Unfortunately, we can only wonder what could have been. In August 1974, Bill Chase along with three members of his band perished in a plane crash while en route to a gig in Minnesota. He was only 39.

MP3: Cronus (Saturn) by Chase from Ennea (One Way Records)
MP3: Weird Song #1 by Chase from Pure Music (One Way Records)

Check out los amigos de durutti and drop a line to Matt. He has a classic Maynard cut with some intense screeching as well as some funky Chick Corea tracks. Definitely check it out. Thanks Matt for the cool words.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Johnny Griffin

"I like to play fast. I get excited, and I have to sort of control myself, restrain myself. But when the rhythm section gets cooking, I want to explode."- Johnny Griffin

Once hailed as the World's Fastest Saxophone Player, Johnny Griffin was one of the hardest boppers of the time. Getting his break with Lionel Hampton at the age of 16, Griffin had brief stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Thelonious Monk. Griffin's solos were often blues inspired and often played at break neck speeds. Although age has slowed down his playing a bit, he still continues to tour and play around Europe.

The first track is "The Way You Look Tonight" from Blowin' Session. This track contains an allstar cast of hard boppers including Griffin, Coltrane, and Lee Morgan on trumpet. I don't think Frank Sinatra ever sang this song this fast.
The second track is "Greens at the Chicken Shack" from Roy Hargrove and the Tenors of Our Time. This track shows off Johnny Griffin's blues roots.

MP3: "The Way You Look Tonight"
from Blowin' Session (Blue Note, 1957)
MP3: "Greens at the Chicken Shack"
from Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, 1994)