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Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits


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Jazz Resources

More Jazz Resources

Children’s Picture Books

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
by Chris Raschka
Amazon.com
It would seem a riddle worthy of the sphinx: how do you give children a sense of jazz music without playing a note? Chris Raschka answers loudly and clearly with the illustrated, syncopated Charlie Parker Played Be Bop. This sparse, rhythmic, repetitive text (inspired by a recording of Parker's "A Night in Tunisia") embraces and reflects the sound and feel of jazz when read aloud: "Charlie Parker played be bop. / Charlie Parker played saxophone. / The music sounded like be bop. / Never leave your cat alone." Whether in complete phrases or in nonsense refrains that taste like music in your mouth ("Alphabet alphabet, alphabet, alph, / Chickadee, chickadee, chickadee, chick, / Overshoes, overshoes, overshoes, o, / Reeti-footi, reeti-footi, reeti-footi, ree."), Raschka brings melody to the page, and rhythm to eager ears.

Raschka, whose Yo! Yes? won a Caldecott Honor, and whose Mysterious Thelonious--another ebullient, musical exploration of a jazz legend--was named a 1997 ALA Notable Book, proves once again that he is just as at home with a paintbrush as he is with a pen. His bold, quirky illustrations add movement and light to the words, buoying their already lyrical effect. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is a colorful, whimsical romp through the world of jazz, sure to set young and old toes a-tapping. (Ages 4 to 8) --Brangien Davis
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
by Andrea Davis Pinkney, J. Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)
Amazon.com
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, "King of the Keys," was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C. "He was a smooth-talkin', slick-steppin', piano-playin' kid," writes master wordsmith Andrea Pinkney in the rhythmic, fluid, swinging prose of this excellent biography for early readers. It was ragtime music that first "set Duke's fingers to wiggling." He got back to work and taught himself to "press on the pearlies." Soon 19-year-old Duke was playing compositions "smoother than a hairdo sleeked with pomade" at parties, pool halls, country clubs, and cabarets. Skipping from D.C. to 1920s Harlem, "the place where jazz music ruled," Duke and his small band called the Washingtonians began performing in New York City clubs, including the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and his Orchestra was officially born. By 1943, Duke Ellington--writer of more than 1000 compositions, including ballet and film scores, orchestral suites, musicals, and choral works--had made it all the way to Carnegie Hall.

We applaud this talented husband-and-wife team--award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney and writer Andrea Pinkney--for making music fly in this fantastic tribute to a jazz legend. Andrea does an extraordinary job of translating music into words, with blues "deeper than the deep blue sea" and "hot-buttered bob, with lots of sassy-cool tones," while her husband visually interprets the movement of music as spirals, waves, and swirls of color, prepared as scratchboard renderings with luma dyes, gouache, and oil paint. Andrea writes, "Toby let loose on his sleek brass sax, curling his notes like a kite tail in the wind. A musical loop-de-loop, with a serious twist," while Brian paints those curling notes, the loop-de-loops, and the kite sailing up to the New York City skyline. Young readers will enjoy the rhythm and beauty of the story itself, and may even be inspired to give Raffi a rest and swing with the Duke! (Great read-aloud, ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (Illustrator), Andrea Davis Pinkney, J. Brian Pinkney (Illustrator), Scat Cat Monroe (Contributor)
Ella Fitzgerald began her life as a singer on the stage of the Apollo Theater when she was just seventeen years old. Her rich voice and vocal innovations brought her fame and a remarkable career than spanned half a century and won her generations of fans around the world. Acclaimed author Andrea Davis Pinkney has told Ella's inspiring story in the voice of Scat Cat Monroe, a feline fan whose imagined narrative sings with the infectious rhythms of scat. Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Brian Pinkney's dramatic perspectives and fantastical images offer a jazzy improvisation all their own.
Heaven's All-Star Jazz Band Heaven's All-Star Jazz Band
by Don Carter (Illustrator)
n a text that grooves and swings with the rhythms of jazz, Don Carter celebrates some of America’s greatest jazz legends. Grandpa Jack loved jazz. He called it “heavenly.” So now that heaven is where Grandpa Jack’s at, his grandson imagines it to be a place filled with music. In a club called the Cotton, Grandpa Jack can hear all his favorite musicians play together in Heaven’s All-Star Jazz Band. And when that glorious music has filled his soul, Grandpa Jack steps up onto the stage and adds his own bit of rhythm with his famous spoons solo. Don Carter celebrates some of jazz’s greatest legends and the lasting bond their music creates between a boy and his grandfather.
Hot Jazz Special Hot Jazz Special
by Jonny Hannah (Illustrator)
Join young Henry at the Body & Soul Cafe and enter a world of hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin' daddies--where to jump is to jive and to bop is to be! Some of the greatest names in jazz are about to hit the scene, ready to blow those blues away. Meet Jelly Roll Morton, Django Reinhardt, Walter Page, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, and Duke Ellington, all on one stage for a night you'll never forget. Jonny Hannah has created a one-night special of red-hot rhymes and bold poster-style art that captures the rhythms and feel of jazz for newcomers and fans alike. Musicians' biographies at the end offer suggested listening for savoring the true flavor of each cat's style.
If I Only Had a Horn : Young Louis Armstrong If I Only Had a Horn : Young Louis Armstrong
by Roxane Orgill, Leonard Jenkins (Illustrator)
Roxane Orgill's vivid words and Leonard Jenkins's dramatic pictures combine to tell the story of a boy who grew up to be a giant of jazz - the legendary and beloved Louis Armstrong. As a poor boy in New Orleans, where music was everywhere - dancing out of doorways, singing on streetcorners, crying from the cornet of the great Joe Oliver for all to hear - Louis longed for a horn so that he too could sing, bring home pennies, and, most of all, tap happy-feet blues till the sun rose. It wasn't going to be easy. Many things, not all of them good, had to happen before he got his horn. But when at last he did, he sent music spiraling up into the New Orleans night sky like a spinning top gone crazy.
Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
by Wynton Marsalis, Phil Schaap (Contributor), Paul Rogers (Illustrator)
A is for "almighty" Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like the letter he stands for. As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose "robust style radiates roundness," could there be a better tribute than a poetic rondeau? In an extraordinary feat, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmonizes his love and knowledge of jazz's most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms — from simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life.

Matching Wynton Marsalis's musical cadences note for note is the bold, poster-style art of Paul Rogers, highlighted in two phenomenal foldout spreads. The art's vibrant nostalgic feel is echoed in an exquisite design, with its size simulating an old 78 LP and its endpapers die-cut to mimic a vintage record sleeve. Complete with a discography and brief biographies of the featured musicians as well as notes on the various poetic forms, this is truly an incomparable gift book — for older children learning about jazz, longtime jazz aficionados, lovers of poetry, and readers of all ages who appreciate the finest in book design.
Jazz Fly, The Jazz Fly, The
by Matthew Gollub, Karen Hanke (Illustrator)
A singular story about musical insects celebrating language and the inventive spirit of jazz. Includes narration set to a jazz quartet on audio CD.

A fly, who speaks jazz, asks different critters which way to town. “Rrribit,” replies the frog. “Oink,” says the hog. Although baffled, the fly hears music in their words, and that evening he stirs up a solo that sets the dinner club a hoppin.’ The computer enhanced artwork of Karen Hanke perfectly complements the text and CD. Get ready to tap, snap, and swing to the beat as Nancy the Gnat, Willie the Worm, and Sammy the Centipede take the stage.
John Coltrane's Giant Steps John Coltrane's Giant Steps
by Chris Raschka
Mysterious Thelonious Mysterious Thelonious
by Chris Raschka
Amazon.com
Vibe, rhythm, beat! There have been many tributes to the great jazz composer and performer Thelonius Monk, but none so arresting and surround-sound-appealing as this small, unassuming book. If you're looking for verbose or technical explanations of Monk's music, look elsewhere. Here, you'll find nothing but pure, punchy music. Scant words jump and dance over pages that bear greater resemblance to musical staffs than still places for text to sit idly. Chris Raschka, creator of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, uses beautiful watercolors to splash and adorn the pages' multi-boxed backgrounds in a smooth, harmonic pattern based on the tones of the chromatic scale. A groovy piano makes the occasional appearance, along with the slouchy, jivin', slumpy, jammin' image of Monk doing what he did best. Do not read this book--instead, sing it, swing it, and sway to its infectious music. (Ages 4 and up)
Once Upon a Time in Chicago Once Upon a Time in Chicago

Amazon.com
Legendary jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman's life is a classic American Cinderella story. Born into a large family (12 kids!) of poor Jewish immigrants, Benny was given his first clarinet in fourth grade. His sweet, supportive father, David, hoped that young Benny and his siblings could make a better life for themselves than their parents had. Quiet Benny liked playing his clarinet more than he liked talking. It wasn't long before he was playing music in nightclubs with grown men, astounding audiences with his hot, beautiful jazz sounds. Benny's father's dream for his son paid off--but sadly, not before David was tragically killed. Benny poured his grief into his music; as a result, the "King of Swing" is still heard around the world in dozens of recordings from the 1930s to the 1980s.

Jonah Winter and Jeanette Winter have created a lively tribute to one of America's true musical greats. Jonah Winter writes in short, clean sentences, telling Goodman's story with respect and quiet humor. Jeanette Winter's colorful early-American style illustrations charmingly reflect the era that produced this brilliant musician. The mother-son team has also written a wonderful biography about artist Diego Rivera, called Diego. (Ages 4 to 7) --Emilie Coulter
Sound That Jazz Makes, The Sound That Jazz Makes, The
by Carole Boston Weatherford, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
A symphony of sound and color, The Sound That Jazz Makes is an eloquently rendered celebration of a remarkable heritage. Author Carole Boston Weatherford's lyrical stanzas combine with the power of luminous oil paintings by Coretta Scott King New Talent winner, Eric Velasquez (The Piano Man) to trace the development of jazz. From African forests to wooden slave ships to Harlem nightclubs, the tragic and joyous legacy of the African-American experience gives jazz its passion and spirit.
Summertime : From Porgy and Bess Summertime : From Porgy and Bess
by George Gershwin, Dubose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin, Mike Wimmer (Illustrator)
Summertime
and the livin' is easy,
Fish are jumpin',
and the cotton is high...
Nothing captures the feelings of summer better than the much-loved song from Porgy and Bess, "Summertime." Its majestic imagery and deep spirituality touch listeners today as they have for generations. Now, with acclaimed illustrator Mike Wimmer's lush oil paintings depicting a family's routine one summer day earlier in this century, an American classic takes on a whole new meaning. Including the score of the song, Summertime is both a gentle book for family sharing and a lavish gift to be treasured.
...there's a nothin'
can harm you
With Daddy and Mama
standin' by.

Jazz Books

Fancy Fretwork: The Great Jazz Guitarists Fancy Fretwork: The Great Jazz Guitarists
by Leslie Gourse
Traces the evolution of the guitar in jazz history and profiles the world's greatest jazz guitarists from the early 1900s to the present.
History of Jazz, The History of Jazz, The
by Ted Gioia
Jazz is the most colorful and varied art form in the world and it was born in one of the most colorful and varied cities, New Orleans. From the seed first planted by slave dances held in Congo Square and nurtured by early ensembles led by Buddy Belden and Joe "King" Oliver, jazz began its long winding odyssey across America and around the world, giving flower to a thousand different forms--swing, bebop, cool jazz, jazz-rock fusion--and a thousand great musicians. Now, in The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia tells the story of this music as it has never been told before, in a book that brilliantly portrays the legendary jazz players, the breakthrough styles, and the world in which it evolved. Here are the giants of jazz and the great moments of jazz history--Jelly Roll Morton ("the world's greatest hot tune writer"), Louis Armstrong (whose O-keh recordings of the mid-1920s still stand as the most significant body of work that jazz has produced), Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club, cool jazz greats such as Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, and Lester Young, Charlie Parker's surgical precision of attack, Miles Davis's 1955 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, Ornette Coleman's experiments with atonality, Pat Metheny's visionary extension of jazz-rock fusion, the contemporary sounds of Wynton Marsalis, and the post-modernists of the Knitting Factory. Gioia provides the reader with lively portraits of these and many other great musicians, intertwined with vibrant commentary on the music they created. Gioia also evokes the many worlds of jazz, taking the reader to the swamp lands of the Mississippi Delta, the bawdy houses of New Orleans, the rent parties of Harlem, the speakeasies of Chicago during the Jazz Age, the after hours spots of corrupt Kansas city, the Cotton Club, the Savoy, and the other locales where the history of jazz was made. And as he traces the spread of this protean form, Gioia provides much insight into the social context in which the music was born. He shows for instance how the development of technology helped promote the growth of jazz--how ragtime blossomed hand-in-hand with the spread of parlor and player pianos, and how jazz rode the growing p pularity of the record industry in the 1920s. We also discover how bebop grew out of the racial unrest of the 1940s and '50s, when black players, no longer content with being "entertainers," wanted to be recognized as practitioners of a serious musical form. Jazz is a chameleon art, delighting us with the ease and rapidity with which it changes colors. Now, in Ted Gioia's The History of Jazz, we have at last a book that captures all these colors on one glorious palate. Knowledgeable, vibrant, and comprehensive, it is among the small group of books that can truly be called classics of jazz literature.
Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits Jazz ABZ : An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits
by Wynton Marsalis, Phil Schaap (Contributor), Paul Rogers (Illustrator)
A is for "almighty" Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like the letter he stands for. As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose "robust style radiates roundness," could there be a better tribute than a poetic rondeau? In an extraordinary feat, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmonizes his love and knowledge of jazz's most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms — from simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life.

Matching Wynton Marsalis's musical cadences note for note is the bold, poster-style art of Paul Rogers, highlighted in two phenomenal foldout spreads. The art's vibrant nostalgic feel is echoed in an exquisite design, with its size simulating an old 78 LP and its endpapers die-cut to mimic a vintage record sleeve. Complete with a discography and brief biographies of the featured musicians as well as notes on the various poetic forms, this is truly an incomparable gift book — for older children learning about jazz, longtime jazz aficionados, lovers of poetry, and readers of all ages who appreciate the finest in book design.
Jazz Age, The: The 20s Jazz Age, The: The 20s
by Time-Life Books (Editor)
Flappers and the Charleston. Prohibition and gangsters. Lindbergh and the Dolly Sisters. Bessie Smith and Babe Ruth. F. Scott Fitzgerald said of the 20s "The pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser, and the liquor was cheaper." The trauma of the first World War had passed, there was a new face in the White House, Prohibition was in effect, and at night clubs and speakeasies across the land, a new sound was heard: jazz.

We've combed the archives of Time and Life magazines, as well as antique stores, libraries, and historical societies to create The Jass Age: The 20s It will take you back to a time when the nation seemed to stand on the verge of a bracing new age. This book brings it all to life with over 300 pictures and countless quotations.
Jazz for Young People Curriculum with Book(s) and Video and CD (Audio) Jazz for Young People Curriculum with Book(s) and Video and CD (Audio)
by Wynton Marsalis (Narrator), Jazz at Lincoln Center (Producer)
JAZZ FOR YOUNG PEOPLE CURRICULUM - 10-CD SET, VIDEO TEACHING GUIDE AND 30 STUDENT GUIDES

This multimedia jazz appreciation kit is based on Jazz at Lincoln Center's popular Jazz for Young People[TM] concert series. Designed primarily for up per elementary and middle school students, it is also well-suited for high school and college music appreciation, introduction to jazz, and music educ ation courses. The curriculum explores core concepts -- including improvisa tion, form, style, and swing -- and major figures in jazz through accessibl e, interactive lessons. Because it was written for both musicians and non-m usicians, the Jazz for Young People Curriculum is perfect for any teacher w ho wants an entertaining and structured way to bring jazz into the classroom
Real Book, The  - Volume 2 : C Edition Real Book, The - Volume 2 : C Edition

The Real Books are the best-selling jazz books of all time. Since the 1970s, musicians have trusted these volumes to get them through every gig, night after night. The problem is that the books were illegally produced and distributed without any copyrights or royalties paid to the master composers who created these musical canons. Hal Leonard is very proud to present the first legitimate and legal editions of these books ever produced. You and your customers won't even notice the difference...the covers look the same, the engravings look the same, the songlist is nearly identical, and the price remains fair even on a musician's salary! But every conscientious musician and music store owner will appreciate that these books are now produced legally and ethically, benefitting the songwriters that we owe for some of the greatest music ever written! 400 songs, including: Air Mail Special * Birdland * Bye Bye Blackbird * Caravan * Doxy * Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words) * Georgia * Girl Talk * I Remember You * I Thought About You * In Walked Bud * The Jodi Grind * Just the Way You Are * Killer Joe * Little Sunflower * Mercy, Mercy, Mercy * Moanin' * The Nearness of You * Now's the Time * Old Devil Moon * Phase Dance * St. Thomas * Speak Low * Stardust * Tangerine * Tenor Madness * Watch What Happens * Whisper Not * Willow Weep for Me * Yardbird Suite * and more.
Real Book, The, Sixth Edition - Eb Real Book, The, Sixth Edition - Eb

Real Book, The, Vol. 1 (B Flat, Sixth edition) Real Book, The, Vol. 1 (B Flat, Sixth edition)

Real Book, The: Sixth Edition Real Book, The: Sixth Edition
by Various Artists
The Real Books are the best-selling jazz books of all time. Hal Leonard is very proud to present the first legitimate and legal editions of these books ever produced.
Swing to Bop : An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s Swing to Bop : An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s
by Ira Gitler
This indispensable book brings us face to face with some of the most memorable figures in jazz history and charts the rise and development of bop in the late 1930s and '40s. Ira Gitler interviewed more than 50 leading jazz figures, over a 10-year period, to preserve for posterity their recollections of the transition in jazz from the big band era to the modern jazz period. The musicians interviewed, including both the acclaimed and the unrecorded, tell in their own words how this renegade music emerged, why it was a turning point in American jazz, and how it influenced their own lives and work. Placing jazz in historical context, Gitler demonstrates how the mood of the nation in its post-Depression years, racial attitudes of the time, and World War II combined to shape the jazz of today.
Who Was Louis Armstrong? Who Was Louis Armstrong?
by Yona Zeblis McDonough, John O'Brien (Illustrator), Nancy Harrison (Illustrator)
If not for a stint in reform school, young Louis Armstrong might never have become a musician. It was a teacher at the Colored Waifs’ Home who gave him a cornet, promoted him to band leader, and saw talent in the tough kid from the even tougher New Orleans neighborhood called Storyville. But it was Louis Armstrong’s own passion and genius that pushed jazz into new and exciting realms with his amazing, improvisational trumpet playing. His seventy-year life spanned a critical time in American music as well as black history.

Jazz CDs

Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert
Benny Goodman
Amazon.com
In jazz, live recordings not only document an artist or group's sound in its purest form but, in rare cases, herald the arrival of a musical genre. That's the case with this invaluable, two-CD collection that captures clarinetist Benny Goodman's historic 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, which exemplified the so-called "swing era." Originally released in 1950, it contains rare commentary from Goodman and music from the entire event, which was a unique mix of formality and spontaneity. Goodman's perfect intonation and lyrical improvisation front the big band here, featuring the smooth solos of trumpeter Harry James, the percussive power of Gene Krupa--jumping the blues on "Don't Be That Way"--and the Fletcher Henderson- arranged "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "One O'Clock Jump." Another segment of the evening, called "Twenty Years of Jazz," takes Goodman to New Orleans with a lickety-split reading of "Sensation Rag" and "When My Baby Smiles at Me." A spirited jam session follows with Count Basie on the keys, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophonists Johnny Hodges, Lester Young, and Harry Carney, along with trumpeter Buck Clayton. Goodman hangs tough with the crew on a rollicking read of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose." The spotlight turns to Goodman's color-line breaking small combos. His trio with Krupa and the elegant, fleet-fingered Teddy Wilson on piano delivers a harmonically delicious version of "Body & Soul" that would give Coleman Hawkins's version a run for its money. When vibraphonist Lionel Hampton gets into the mix and makes it a quartet, the standards "Avalon," "The Man I Love," and "I Got Rhythm," as well as "Stompin' at the Savoy," are transformed into timeless vehicles of improvisation. The big band returns with growling grandeur on Irving Berlin's optimistic "Blue Skies" and the British Isle balladry of "Loch Lomond," with the majestic vocals of Martha Tilton. One listen to Goodman and company's rockhouse romp on "Sing, Sing, Sing" will testify to the success of this event, which still reverberates today. --Eugene Holley Jr.
Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order, The Classic Early Recordings in Chronological Order, The
Django Reinhardt
Amazon.com
This wonderful five-disc box is an indispensable collection of prewar, prebop jazz that belongs in the company of your finest Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman sets. Technically, this isn't a true box set--it merely collects five single-disc compilations under one slipcase--but it is infinitely rewarding nonetheless. Disheartened by what he thought were sonically subpar Reinhardt collections, Ted Kendall undertook an ambitious mission to find the best original sources for this classic material and then meticulously remastered them. He wisely opted to leave in some of the surface noise to maintain the clarity and integrity of the music. And what glorious, jubilant music it is! Dating to the very first Quintet of the Hot Club of France sessions in September 1934 (before they'd even established that moniker), the collection includes all the landmark recordings Reinhardt made for Ultraphone, Decca (its English and French labels), and HMV up through the Quintet's 1939 breakup on the eve of World War II. Reinhardt's guitar work is spirited and adventurous throughout--lightning-quick runs, insistent rhythm work, and hybrid "riffs" that seem to split the difference. Nearly all the cuts feature the elegant but vivacious violin work of his most famous foil, Stephane Grappelli, who certainly deserves co-billing on the set. The way the two feed off each other's energy is magical. Despite their well-documented personality clashes, the twosome remains perhaps the most synergistic in jazz history, constantly engaging in their incredible cat-and-mouse games. Often overlooked are the songwriting talents of the two musicians, who contributed several standards to the jazz canon. Though mostly focused on the Quintet recordings, the set detours for such oddities as a pair of solo Reinhardt cuts from 1937 and collaborations with Coleman Hawkins. Simply delightful from beginning to end. --Marc Greilsamer
Complete Birth of the Cool, The Complete Birth of the Cool, The
Miles Davis
Amazon.com
Birth of the Cool is the first important leader date from Miles Davis, one of jazz's most seminal figures and farsighted practitioners. Having made his reputation in large measure from playing with bop giant Charlie Parker, Davis confounded expectations when he embraced the "cool" arranging style of Gil Evans, an arranger for Claude Thornhill's band. Evans, who was employing unique voicings by adding French horns and tuba to Thornhill's instrumentations, also emphasized a diminished use of vibrato in both reeds and brass, producing a drier, "cool" sound. Two of Evans's arrangements, "Boplicity" and "Moon Dreams," appear on the album. Also involved are baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, who contributed such outstanding tunes as "Jeru" and "Venus de Milo," and Modern Jazz Quartet pianist John Lewis. The result is a date that has withstood the tests of time, fashion, and Davis's own extraordinary growth as a performer. An enhanced set, The Complete Birth of the Cool expands the original issue with previously bootlegged live recordings of Davis's nonet at the Royal Roost in New York in 1948. Although the sound quality is far from perfect, the performances are remarkable, and worth the additional expense for the serious fan. --Fred Goodman
Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert
Ella Fitzgerald
Amazon.com essential recording
This live recording captures an exceptional performance from 1958, with a broad selection of standards that digs into the Songbooks that Ella Fitzgerald was then immersed in. Duke Ellington is prominent in the repertoire, with versions of "Sophisticated Lady" and "Caravan," as well as the lesser-known "Just Squeeze Me." There are nods as well to George and Ira Gershwin, with "A Foggy Day" and "I Loves You, Porgy," and Cole Porter, with Fitzgerald soaring on "Just One of Those Things" and "It's All Right with Me." The accompaniment is both perfectly supportive and unobtrusive, with Ella's working trio of Lou Levy on piano, Max Bennett on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums supplying just what's needed on ballads and up-tempo swing tunes alike. The birthday party ends with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis joining Fitzgerald and Johnson for a high-spirited "Stompin' at the Savoy." --Stuart Broomer
Hot Fives & Sevens, The Hot Fives & Sevens, The
Louis Armstrong
Amazon.com
Between 1925 and 1929, Louis Armstrong created one of the first great bodies of work in jazz. While he worked regularly as a soloist with big bands, he began his career as a leader with the first all-star studio group in jazz, the Hot Five. The other four musicians were Armstrong's wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong, on piano; Johnny Dodds on clarinet; Kid Ory on trombone; and Johnny St. Cyr on banjo. The music's first great soloist, Armstrong was reshaping jazz by sheer improvisational magic, gradually diminishing the role of the traditional New Orleans ensemble with the clarion brilliance of his trumpet. Possessing an uncanny blend of exuberance and creativity, he combined virtuosic declarations with a talent for the subtlest shifts in phrasing and melodic variation, creating rich emotional statements that could hint at loss in the midst of joy or the promise of better things in the most sorrowful blues. The band expands here, to the Hot Seven and larger ensembles, and it gains soloists who applied Armstrong's lessons to their own instruments--musicians such as pianist Earl Hines and trombonist Jack Teagarden--but all come under the imprint of Armstrong's flowering genius, as both trumpeter and singer.

It's almost impossible to overrate this material. It may be the most influential music in jazz history, establishing standards for originality and sustained invention that have rarely been matched. The JSP set is a superb reissue of Armstrong's essential work. The remastering is by John R.T. Davies, widely acknowledged as the dean of engineers in the field of early jazz, and the resultant sound is simply the best this work has ever enjoyed. There are alternate takes of the later material on Columbia Legacy (including Louis in New York and St. Louis Blues), so collectors will want both. But this recording is superior listening, at a price that also makes it an ideal introduction to one of the few titans of jazz. --Stuart Broomer
OKeh Ellington, The OKeh Ellington, The
Duke Ellington
Amazon.com essential recording
Digesting the music of Duke Ellington's revolutionary "jungle" period is a complicated pursuit because he recorded multiple arrangements for a number of labels between 1927 and 1932. Sony owns his OKeh and Columbia cuts (found on these two CDs), BMG owns his Victor sides, and Decca owns his Brunswick and Vocalion work (issued on the three-CD Early Ellington). All of them contain readings of standout compositions like "Black and Tan Fantasy," "East St. Louis Toodle-oo," "Black Beauty," "The Mooche," "Mood Indigo," and "Rockin' in Rhythm." The OKeh package lacks versions of "Solitude" and "Creole Love Call," but offers some noteworthy exclusives: superb solo stride-piano versions of "Black Beauty" and "Swampy River"; Jabbo Smith's wonderful trumpet solo on a 1927 version of "Black and Tan Fantasy" as a game-day replacement for "indisposed" co-composer Bubber Miley; and the first recording of "The Mooche," with Miley in control and guitarist Lonnie Johnson augmenting an already formidable lineup that includes Tricky Sam Nanton, Barney Bigard, Harry Carney, and Johnny Hodges. Even when a star like trumpet-growl pioneer Miley moved on, Cootie Williams would more than fill the gap. Musically, Ellington brought jazz to new levels of sophistication, complexity, and emotional depth during this first great period, synthesizing the classic New Orleans sound with a vibrant theatrical element and a dynamic rhythmic impulse. --Marc Greilsamer
Songs for Distingue Lovers Songs for Distingue Lovers
Billie Holiday
Amazon.com essential recording
This 1957 recording is a performance of heightened expression, with Billie Holiday able to shift the mood and meaning of these very familiar songs with the slightest inflection of pitch and time, her phrasing the equal of any great jazz instrumentalist. Her slight alterations to the melody of "Stars Fell on Alabama" suggest more complex texts of song swimming just below the lyric. The tunes feature solos by Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, and Barney Kessel. Throughout are highlights of shared creativity, while "They Can't Take That Away from Me" is a masterpiece of late swing. --Stuart Broomer
Swingin' Easy Swingin' Easy
Sarah Vaughan
Amazon.com essential recording
Sarah Vaughan had already mastered the roots of gospel music and the intricacies of bop when her overarching talents led her to be packaged as a pop-singing canary. Fortunately her work with EmArcy allowed for some straight-ahead, unadorned jazz performance, where Vaughan's talent could shine without the frills. On Swingin' Easy, Vaughan is backed by a pair of trios, both featuring the great drummer Roy Haynes, whose supple rhythms give Vaughan's voice the context it deserves. "Shulie a Bop," "Lover Man," "All of Me," "Body and Soul" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" are masterful performances. --John Swenson
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