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Guy Lafitte's Quartet and Quintet

Guy Lafitte's Quartet and Quintet

Paris was loaded with French saxophonists in the years immediately after World War II. Native-born eed players included Alix Combelle, Michel de Villers, Michel Attenoux, William Boucaya, Maurice Meunier, Andre “Teddy" Hameline and Andre Debonneville, Armand Conrad, to name a handful. One of the best of the French soloists was Guy Lafitte (above). More on him ...

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Introducing Alex Mercado

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Introducing Alex Mercado

Today, let's take a look at some videos featuring pianist Alex Mercado, who will make his St. Louis debut in a concert next Friday, September 28 at the Kranzberg Arts Center. The date is part of a brief tour of the Midwest, for which Mercado will be accompanied by Rodrigo Villanueva on drums and St. Louis' ...

Electrifying: Eurupeans Only

Electrifying: Eurupeans Only

In July 1953, drummer Louie Bellson recorded an album in Los Angeles for Norman Granz's Norgran label called Skin Deep. For the big band tracks, he assembled quite a stellar showcase of talent. The band featured Harry “Sweets" Edison, Maynard Ferguson, Conrad Gozzo and Ray Linn (tp); Hoyt Bohannon, Herbie Harper and Tommy Pederson (tb); Benny ...

Helen Merrill With Strings

Helen Merrill With Strings

Between 1954 and 1957, singer Helen Merrill recorded five albums for Mercury's EmArcy division. Yesterday, while writing, I spent the day listening to all of them as well as a bunch of assorted tracks she recorded for the label. Perhaps the best known album of the bunch is Helen Merrill, which she made in December 1954 ...

Red Mitchell and Tony Fruscella

Red Mitchell and Tony Fruscella

After my post last week on trumpeter Tony Fruscella, reader Don Frese wrote and asked if knew of bassist Red Mitchell's vocalese rendition of Fruscella's recording of I'll Be Seeing You. That song appears on Fruscella's Tony Fruscella, recorded by Atlantic in April 1955. I wasn't aware of Mitchell's vocal so I tracked it down and ...

Tony Fruscella: Lost Trumpet

Tony Fruscella: Lost Trumpet

Tony Fruscella is among the least known trumpeters of the cool jazz movement. His dry tone sits somewhere on a sliding scale between Miles Davis and Chet Baker, with touches of Art Farmer. Yet Fruscella's sound was plenty distinct. With Fruscella, there were no piercing or bent notes or a fleshy romanticism. His improvised lines were ...

Electrifying Track: A Primera Vez

Electrifying Track: A Primera Vez

Two Jims and Zoot (1964) is a spectacular album that began as guitarist Jimmy Raney's idea. For some time, he had wanted to record an album with two guitars. When guitarist Jim Hall became available, the pair added tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Osie Johnson. On the album, the quintet takes on ...

Ron Feuer: Vital Organ

Ron Feuer: Vital Organ

Organist Ron Feuer recorded just one jazz leadership album—Vital Organ, in 1959. It also happened to be his first album. The date for Bob Keane's Del-Fi label featured Frank Rosolino (tb), Bill Perkins (ts), Ron Feuer (org), Paul Moer (p), Jimmy Bond (b) and Frank Butler and Bill Higgins (d). Feuer was just 20 at the ...

10 Clips: End of a Love Affair

10 Clips: End of a Love Affair

Here's what we know: The End of a Love Affair was composed by Edward “E.C. or Bud" Redding and published in 1950. That's it. There's virtually nothing about Redding's career online or the purpose of the song. So I rolled up my sleeves and discovered that it was likely written for a New York cabaret or ...

Electrifying Track: The Eagle Flies

Electrifying Track: The Eagle Flies

Vibraphonist Teddy Charles was one cool cat. Every time I called him back in the late 2000s, his lingo was straight out of the hipster's manual. And it all came naturally to Teddy, since he lived the jazz life. In addition to being a swinging vibraphonist, he was a superb record producer. In April 1957, Teddy ...