Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 67: Miles Davis "Boppin' the Blues" & Traditional Jazz The Language of New Orleans V.4

I'm going to hurt myself. It's going to happen, I complain about it happening every time and every time I do it. And I'm perpetuating it again, today, with today's choices. Though this time it's going to manifest itself as an impossibly long post in the next few days. Because I'm a deer in the headlights apparently.

Miles Davis
Boppin the Blues
This I believe puts Miles Davis in the lead as the most directly represented artist in the Albatross. There was of course that rash of Duke Ellington tributes, but only two of those were actually Duke Ellington.

So, from what I can gather from the liner notes this is a recording thought lost from a time when Miles was a trumpet player in Billy Eckstine's band. Eckstine's band also included such talents as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. This is a small unit recording from the larger band. How this makes it a Miles Davis recording is a little dubious. Certainly Miles Davis is in the band and featured (even if it's a young Miles, how can you not feature him?), but these aren't his tunes and from the rather confusing liner notes there doesn't seem to be an indication that Miles led the session. I suspect that someone rightfully assumed that the CD would be a much larger success as a Miles Davis recording than a Billy Eckstine recording. In fact, the liner notes go into great detail about how Eckstine's band was a 'musicians band' that never got the audience it deserved, largely due to poor recordings. And, apparently, Eckstine isn't on this recording, instead it's Earl Coleman. That might be another reason to not call it an Eckstine recording.

So this recording, this release actually, is for me. It's for the 'jazz historian' who wants that sample of early (20 years old at the time of the recording) Miles Davis, just after some sessions with Parker, a Miles in mid-development. Thus the completely listener unfriendly set up of the tracks. Each song gets anywhere from two to four 'takes,' all laid back to back so you can listen to the same song four different times, which is fantastic if you want to listen and compare the subtle differences between each performance, how the artist adapted and developed his approach during the session. Real jazz nerd stuff.

However, if you just want to listen to some Miles you might think that you accidentally putting the player on repeat. Sometimes you can get away with it in jazz, people won't notice that they've listened to the same song twice, or have been listening to the same song for half an hour. But these have lyrics, and that can throw the whole thing into focus.

And not only that, if you picked this up to get some Miles Davis it's like picking up a bunch of rough recordings of The Beatles doing Buddy Holly covers. Sure, you can hear the germ of the band that eventually recorded Rubber Soul, but it ain't Rubber Soul.

There is no information on the complete line up. I know who the singers are and who Miles is, but no idea who the saxophonist is. He sounds familiar, so I have this sinking feeling if I found out I'd be embarrassed to not know. And thanks to Google, now I know, Gene Ammons (I don't feel bad) but the drummer is Art Blakey, which is awesome.

Of course this puts Don't Explain to Me Baby in contention for most represented song on the hard drive with four off the same CD. Sort of unfair, but I have a feeling that it will hold at four for a really long time.

With all the repeated tracks, the album still manages to be just over half an hour long. Which is just long enough since it's the same four songs over and over again.

Various Artists
Traditional Jazz: The Language of New Orleans Vol. 4
So I've come across another water damaged CD. This one is a sampler of traditional or 'dixieland' jazz. It seems to range from the earliest jazz, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, to Kermit Ruffins.

Where the last CD's liner notes were confusing, these are just fused together and therefore unreadable.

I've never been as into traditional jazz as other forms of jazz. Mostly because it's 'pre-saxophone' and I tend to not like the clarinet (despite the fact that one of the contenders for 'most represented' is actually a clarinet player...). I grew up to a rather large traditional jazz festival, so every spring I had plenty of traditional jazz on tap (though as I've related before, I spent most of that time listening to a Scottish jump jive band.) It might be a by-product of what I talked about yesterday, context being everything. Traditional jazz, good traditional jazz, top performers, were not in anyway a novelty to me, just something that was seasonal. So when I listen to traditional jazz I just think 'spring' and maybe being the dorkiest kid to ever cut a class to go watch jazz downtown.

Having said all that, I love second line music, the marches. I love the idea of a band just marching down the street until there is enough people in the street and turning around and having a party. That's just awesome, how can you not like that? Well, I guess if you had to get out of your house and there was some jazz band party parade blocking your way...

South Rampart Street Parade even comes with a raging marching drum solo.  Not uncool.

These are all pretty clear recordings. Yeah, see, that's an electric bass on Whitle We Danced at Mardi Gras. These are not old recordings.

Maryland My Maryland sounds suspiciously like O Tannenbaum...and sure enough, it is.

Also, fantastic first line of a song, "I ain't gonna give you none of my jelly roll..." Awesome.

Ultimately, even when it's sad, traditional jazz music and related forms are 'feel good' music. It's hard to be in a bad mood when listening to it.

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