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Anita O'Day: August 1960

Anita O'Day: August 1960

In 1952, Norman Granz signed singer Anita O'Day to his Clef label. Clef became Norgran in 1954 and then Verve in 1955. Throughout the 1950s, O'Day recorded more than 20 albums for Granz's labels. Most of the recordings are quite good, but only a few are excellent. Two that stand out are Waiter, Make Mine Blues, ...

The Sammy Nestico Sessions

The Sammy Nestico Sessions

The swingin'est arranger around today is Sammy Nestico. In fact, Sammy probably has held that title since the late 1960s, when he first arranged Count Basie's album Straight Ahead. My first encounter with Sammy's finger-snapping scores was in the early 1970s, when I was in high school. As member of the school's dance band, I recall ...

Alice Darr and Kevin Gavin

Alice Darr and Kevin Gavin

Guitarist Mundell Lowe was a wonderful arranger with impeccable taste and intimate elegance. This was true of his big-band writing and those for small groups. Recently I posted on his Columbia albums for Joe Mooney (1963), his TV Action Jazz albums (1959), the score for Satan in High Heels (1961), Jerri Winters Again (1962) and J.J. ...

Perfect Album: Something Else

Perfect Album: Something Else

I was going to post today about a “Hot Track" but decided instead to simply start a new feature called “Perfect Album." Yesterday I was listening to Johnny Richards' Something Else, one of my absolute favorite big-band albums. Something Else was recorded for Bethlehem in Hollywood on August 2 and 3, 1956. What made Richards (above) ...

Pianist Romain Collin Launches #taurussesh: Intimate video series features Collin and special guests

Pianist Romain Collin Launches #taurussesh: Intimate video series features Collin and special guests

Romain Collin has just launched #TaurusSesh, a series of intimate videos in which he explores the vast musical possibilities offered by his unique combination of acoustic piano, vocal loops and textures, and the bass synthesizer Moog Taurus. The first clip, the original Collin composition “Raw, Scorched and Untethered," features Collin playing solo. All other videos will ...

Lockjaw Meets Gonsalves, 1968

Lockjaw Meets Gonsalves, 1968

I love the three albums that tenor saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis recorded for RCA in the mid-1960s. They maximized his badness perfectly, surrounding him with enormously talented artists and arrangers and songs that were perfectly suited to his take-charge sound. The first was Lock the Fox (1966), the second was The Fox & the Hounds (1967) ...

Sal Salvador: Colors in Sound

Sal Salvador: Colors in Sound

Sal Salvador is best known as Stan Kenton's guitarist from 1953 to 1955, at which point he left the band to work as a freelance small-group leader and studio musician. In the late 1950s, with the advent of stereo, Decca signed him for a pair of big-band albums that took advantage of the new format's sound ...

Gisele, Burt and Miles

Gisele, Burt and Miles

In The Wall Street Journal this week, I interviewed supermodel Gisele Bundchen for my “House Call" column in the Mansion section on her childhood in Brazi (go here). She talked about growing up with five sisters remai  best friends today. Her parents did something right. Gisele was discovered by a model scout in a Brazilian mall ...

MJQ: On the Road, 1964 + '61

MJQ: On the Road, 1964 + '61

The Modern Jazz Quartet wasn't big on obvious excitement. They tended to be subtle and hushed, more introspective than explosive. But the more carefully you listen, the more you'll hear the tender swing and beauty of pianist John Lewis, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Connie Kay. Here's the MJQ in London in April ...

Shirley Horn: Bern, 1990

Shirley Horn: Bern, 1990

Happy New Year to all of my JazzWax readers around the globe and to my Facebook friends and 10.7K Twitter followers! As a New Year's Day treat, I'm sharing a link that pianist Leslie Pintchik sent along featuring the splendor that was Shirley Horn. In the video, she sings and plays at the International Jazz Festival ...