The 1951 All-Star team of jazz was Miles Davis, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan all of which played on that year’s landmark album of “cool” Conception. Each delivered a tune or two to create this now classic release. Guitarist Billy Bauer delivered tonal color to Indian Summer one of two Saxophone duets he played with Lee Konitz and pianist Al Haig shines on two Stan Getz originals Intoit and Preservation. Hell, who isn’t on this record! Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes and Stan Levey work the drums; Jackie McLean throws in some Alto Sax along side Sonny Rollins and Zoot Sims on Tenor. Kal Winding and J.J. Johnston add some bebop slid trombone while Gene Ramey and Arnold Fishkin keep time. By the end of the decade, they all would become big names in the world of Jazz.
Conception finds Miles Davis painting the broad soundscapes he Mulligan and Konitz first constructed during the Birth of the Cool sessions recorded in the late 40s. He would go back to this big band classical style several times in the 50’s with the help of arranger Gil Evans. Together they created the classic albums Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain, which earned both Davis and Evans a Grammy in 1960.
Miles gets a lot of well deserved credit for the birth of the “cool style”, but the real stars on this record are Konitz, Getz and Mulligan, each of which were instrumental in the idiom’s conception, and its burgeoning popularity. If you ever wondered where the slang term comes from, here you go. Cool huh?
In 2002 Nora Jones released her debut album, Come Away With Me. It was categorized as Jazz, and Jone’s smoky voice had a soft peaceful calming pulse perfect for soothing and unwinding. Every night for the first year of my daughter’s life, I danced her to sleep to this record. Sometimes it would only take a song or two to put her down, other times it would take the entire album. After 12 months of listening to this same record every night, I was finally relieved when she released her follow up, Feels Like Home, which was more of the exact same. To this day, the instant I hear any cut from either of those two records, I get really tired fast and have to lie down.
That’s the great thing about music. There’s a different sound for every occasion and emotion. And those voices have different effects on each person. Roxy Music’s Avalon from 20 years earlier is sleepy-time tea for my brother and his daughter, but to others, like myself, it embodies passion and desire. On the other hand, Nora Jones’ Come Away With Me? It’s my lullaby. My ether. It’s a knock out punch!
That daughter is now a teenager. Happy Birthday Sweety. I want you in bed by 10!
Typically when you hear someone say that, you have to brace yourself for some sappy tune from the seventies or eighties by a band like Air Supply or Lionel Richie. Well, I’m saying it about today’s runner, and even though it would never make the play list at our wedding, it is a record that bookmarks an important slice of time for my wife and I, and every time a tune from this record comes on, we look at each other in that funny way and smile.
In the mid 90’s, my studio was on the 25th floor of a downtown Chicago high-rise, and it had a bank of windows, a wall from floor to ceiling, that overlooked the city’s Magnificent Mile. At about 700 or 800 square feet, it was a pretty tricked out space, loaded with the latest technology; computer design stations, servers, multiple large screens, the works. One night, I found myself working late, as usually, with a couple of dedicated freelancers. We were finishing up some project, one that probably had something to do with “the other white meat” and scrambling to make the last Fed-X pick-up. You see, this was in the days before PDFs, FTPs, or e-mail attachments. If you didn’t make the last Fed-X, you found yourself in your car driving out to O’Hare Airport by 10PM to drop off your package containing large plastic SyQuest disks to the Fed-X sorting center. And believe me that’s no fun. So, the countdown was on and the clock was ticking and the technology was tripping, because SyQuest disks always had a way of failing at the most critical times.
Well, after my friend and colleague Mark B. left with the package in tow, I headed over to the stereo and popped in this new CD, Throwing Copper. My other dedicated freelancer walked over to the studio door, closed it, and turned off all the lights. The transformation was instantaneous. An implosion of darkness collapsed upon the room and a thousand sources of light from the city outside torched through the mirrored wall of windows. The perspective in the studio swung, from the florescent light inside, to a galaxy of city lights outside. It was as if someone had reached up and tore off the entire side of the building, and we were floating in space 25 stories above Michigan Avenue. We could see everything from the tallest buildings to the street lights below. We could peer into other buildings right across the street, close enough to touch, and yet a million miles away. We were all alone, with a million lights all around us.
For months, that freelancer and I had been flirting with each other at work. We both knew it was dangerous to do so. More so for me than her, because I was her boss, but we did anyway. That night, these future lovers sat in that room, in the dark, not touching, not talking, just staring out those windows. For the first time we were together. That was 20 years ago.
“… leave you there, by yourself, chained to fate.
I alone love you, I alone tempt you, I alone love you,
fear is not the end of this!”
If you like rock, blues and great guitar playing, and are unfamiliar with Irish Rocker Rory Gallagher, just push play! While touring for his second album in 1973 Gallagher wrote these 9 vintage hard punching originals that would make up his brilliant classic set titled Tattoo. Out of the box Tattoo’d Lady and Cradle Rock, followed by some fine delta slide with 20:20 Vision and Who’s That Coming. This record jams from start to finish, bound tightly by Lou Martin’s keyboards and hard pounding Rod de’Ath drums. The expanded remastered set closes with an acoustic waltz Tucson, Arizona and the Rosco Gordon blues classic Just a Little Bit.
Tattoo clocks in at just under one hour.