As an experiment, I tried to restrict the songs in my DJ set on Thursday to tracks that could in some way be considered ‘jazz’. However, this was usually just down to the label they were released on; it occurred to me the other day that my musical taste could be described as a jazz purist’s nightmare. While I browse through jazz records all the time, I have a suspicion that the ones I like are among the most pop-oriented ones, and would probably be dismissed by many ‘serious’ jazz fans. Anyway, I carefully removed all Ronnie Aldrich, John Schroeder, Buddy Merrill, and other overtly ‘easy listening’ records from my bag this time.
This was my set:
- Maria – Lalo Schifrin (Verve)
~ I love the dense strings and percussive beat on this track from 1962.
- Gringo A-Go-Go – Al Hirt (RCA)
~ This isn’t actually the track I would have chosen to play from this album, but a friend requested it. Lalo Schifrin composed and conducted this, and you can hear his taste in jabbing brass and tight rhythms.
- Sambao – Walter Wanderley (Verve)
~ More hypnotic rhythms on this track. I absolutely love all Walter’s organ albums on Verve. The earlier LPs on Philips and later ones on A&M; don’t seem to do it for me as much.
- Samba de Duas Notas – Maria Toledo (UA)
~ I bought this record once for a dollar; apparently it’s very sought after. The arrangements are by Eumir Deodato, and Luiz Bonfa plays. It’s pleasant stuff, although I’m not quite as hypnotized by Maria’s voice as some other people seem to be. This track is great though – a simple, uplifting Bonfa composition with a nice beat and the kind of dense string/piano arrangement that you hear on my favorite Marcos Valle recordings.
- No more blues – Jon Hendricks with Joao Gilberto (Reprise)
~ I bought this LP just recently, realizing afterwards that it has just come out on CD in the UK. A very nice album. The English language lyrics to songs by Jobim, Gilberto et al. can sound awfully corny when sung by some people, but not the masterful Jon Hendricks, who manages to make them sound completely charming. The arrangement is also first class.
- So um amor – Shorty Rogers and his Giants (Reprise)
~ A short, but astoundingly catchy bossa nova instrumental. This is from an LP on reprise called simply ‘Bossa Nova’, with a generic looking sleeve that is also used for a much less bossa-inspired Barney Kessell LP.
- Passa Por Mim – Marcos Valle (Warner Brothers)
~ This is a lush masterpiece with strings and brass, from his US release ‘Braziliance’.
- Swallowtail – Tipsy (Asphodel CD)
~ This track might seem out of place here, but as soon as I heard the preceding Marcos Valle track, it popped into my head (I just typed ‘pooped into my head’). Alongside Tipsy’s trademark kooky effects, the track features a strikingly similar lush string sequence, with some cool brass stabs pasted in.
- Along Comes Mary – Cal Tjader (Verve)
~ This is quite a free interpretation of the Association classic. From Cal’s excellent ‘Along comes Cal’ album, which by some fluke I was able to buy on ebay for $1.25.
- Cuban Fantasy – Tito Puente (BMG CD reissue)
~ I struggle with a lot of the Puente I’ve heard, just because my tolerance for vocals is low. This is led by the vibes, and is a winner.
- Cattin’ Latin – Dave Pike (New Jazz)
~ Probably the most ‘jazz’ track I played. From his 1961 ‘Limbo Carnival’ album.
- Huh! – Freddie McCoy (Prestige)
~ The other end of jazz vibes: McCoy plays a simple, blues-pop-soul hybrid that is very appealing.
- Soul Sauce (Guacha Guaro) – Cal Tjader (Verve)
~ A famous track that probably needs no explanation here. I still love it. I read recently that it was also played in ‘northern soul’ clubs.
- California here I come – Gary McFarland (Verve)
~ A jaunty bossa style instrumental with whistling
- Cuchy Frito Man – Claus Ogerman (RCA)
~ Although Cal Tjader’s version is more famous, I like Claus Ogerman’s version very much as well. This is from ‘Latin Rock’, an album that actually sounds very Brazilian, in spite of its attempt to cash in on the Latin trend.
- Walk on By – Mongo Santamaria (Colombia)
~ This is fast becoming one of my favorite versions of what is my favorite Bacharach song. Tight piano and beat start it off. Very nice.
- Blues in the Closet – Willie Bobo (Verve)
~ A short instrumental from the ‘Spanish Grease’ album. I have 2 or 3 of Willie’s albums now. I like it when he doesn’t sing. Sometimes it’s ok when he sings as well.
- Reza – Chico O’Farrill (Verve)
~ Another famous Brazilian song, here done in a brassy Latin style. This track, and the whole album (‘Married Well’) combine brassy Latin sounds with contemporary hammond/drum sounds to great effect.
- 1-2-3 – Nancy Ames (Epic)
~ This one has been in my collection for a while now – a driving latin vocal version of this famous song.
- West Side Radio – Kenyon Hopkins (Verve)
~ A nice, moderately-paced jazzy instrumental with hammond organ. From the Mr Buddwing soundtrack.
- Burning Spear – Jimmy Smith (Verve)
~ From an album (‘Livin’ it up’) that I bought the day before. Jimmy Smith albums are hard to come across at a decent price in decent condition, so I was pleased to get this one. The track has heavy drums, without being funky at all. Very energetic and upbeat though.
- Win, Lose or Draw – Jack McDuff (Cadet)
~ Finding most of his Blue Note records too brassy or straight ahead, I started buying his Cadet albums. I think they’re better, but I still don’t like many of them all the way through. This is the pleasant opening track on ‘Gettin’ our thing together’. It’s slightly generic, but has a cool sound.
- Ducky – Odell Brown and the organ-izers (Cadet)
~ Another nice hammond organ track.
- Freddie’s Dead – Young-Holt Unlimited (Paula)
~ The former members of Ramsey Lewis’s band take on a track from Superfly. Kind of silly, but nice.
- The Moving Finger – Dorothy Ashby (Cadet reissue LP)
~ Probably the first time I’ve played something out completely ‘cold’ – that is, I’d never heard this track before playing it, since the reissue of the prized ‘rubiayat of dorothy ashby’ LP arrived that morning in the mail. This is a nice slow jazz breakbeat track. It goes on though; I ended up fading it out.
- Come Live with me – Dorothy Ashby (Cadet reissue LP)
~ Back on firmer ground here, with probably my favorite track from ‘Afro Harping’, a theme from the movie ‘Valley of the Dolls’.
- Call me – Freddie McCoy (Prestige)
~ An extremely simple, but effective jazz vibes version of the Tony Hatch-penned classic.
- Chain of Fools – Dick Hyman (Command)
~ From an album I bought not too long ago, ‘Sweet Sweet Soul’, it’s an upbeat small jazz combo version, with Dick leading on the piano.
- Music for Night People – Artie Butler (A&M;)
~ I love this track, which was apparently penned by UK session guru Alan Moorhouse. I once had a nice version of this by the Larry Page orchestra.
- Dear Prudence – Ramsey Lewis (Cadet)
~ From ‘Mother Nature’s Son’, which I believe I’ve already made it clear that I think is astounding. This is a slowly-brewed masterpiece, building up to an incredible climax.
- Ode to Billy Joe – Oscar Peterson (MPS)
~ I love almost every track on this album (Motions and Emotions), but I’ve been on an ‘ode to billy joe’ kick for some months now, so this seemed like the one to play.
Oh, and well done England. Thanks to them, I’ve had very little sleep this week.