Bobby Hutcherson 1941-2016

Bobby Hutcherson 1941-2016

The jazz world lost one of the last living legends from the golden age of jazz when Bobby Hutcherson left us at the age of 75. Here are four live performances that I've been going back to this past week as a reminder of what a giant talent Hutcherson was as both a composer and a performer.

Read More

J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding - "Jay & Kay + 6"

J.J. Johnson & Kai Winding - "Jay & Kay + 6"

In 1954 J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding started a fruitful partnership that would run for the next two years, first on Savoy, then Bethlehem and finally ending with a few records for Columbia. The pairing would result in a run of quality albums that brought the two trombonists both critical praise as well as commercial fame. For most of this time they operated as a quintet, with the two trombone front-line joined by piano, bass and drums. Jay & Kai + 6 is rightfully billed to "The Jay and Kai Trombone Octet," as for this outing they are joined by six trombone players in addition to the regular rhythm section. The twelve tunes are arranged by either Johnson or Winding, who manage to not only find space for all the players, but to keep the music exciting and fresh as well.

Read More

Wardell Gray - "Memorial, Volume One"

Wardell Gray - "Memorial, Volume One"

I came across this one recently in the Jazz bins at my local record shop, and while I recognized the cover I was not at all familiar with the playing or story of Wardell Gray. My first instinct, and a good one as it turns out, was to check the label and - bingo! - it was a vintage yellow "fireworks" pressing. Whether the music turned out to be worthwhile or otherwise, the label pretty much sold me on picking up the record for the measly asking price of $13, I mean how could I pass up an original mid-1950's Prestige album?  As it turns out, a few needle drops on the store's turntable convinced me that this LP was going to be some fun listening, whether it was an original or not. 

Read More

Lionel Hampton - "Hamp's Big Four"

Lionel Hampton - "Hamp's Big Four"

I normally don't take a second glance at Lionel Hampton records when I come across them, but this cover caught my eye for a couple of obvious reasons, first off it appeared to be a vintage Verve pressing and the sidemen he was playing with were all jazz legends. This session is excitingly different from any notion I had of Hampton's work, a quartet session with three amazing improvisers who made an exciting record that fits in great with the direction the jazz world in 1956.

Read More