Today, let's check out some videos featuring trumpeter and East St. Louis native Russell Gunn, who's bringing his Blackhawk Revisited" project to St. Louis to perform starting next Wednesday, November 15 through Saturday, November 18 at Jazz at the Bistro.
The word Blackhawk" in this case refers not to the hockey team, the comic-book hero, or the helicopter, but to the Black Hawk nightclub in San Francisco where Miles Davis in 1961 recorded In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, which turned out to be one of the more enduring live albums of his long career.
Since his death in 1991, musicians frequently have paid tribute to Davis by revisiting and sometimes re-imagining music from Kind of Blue, Birth of the Cool, and Davis' post-1967 electric bands. In contrast, this time period- between the recording of KoB and the formation of Davis' Second Great Quintet" a few years later- has remained relatively under-examined, making Gunn's interest in it that much more notable.
The trumpeter's engagement with Davis' music from the turn of the '60s also gets a significant boost in authenticity from the presence of Jimmy Cobb, the 88-year-old drummer who's the last living participant from the Kind of Blue sessions and will be in the band for Gunn's shows at the Bistro.
So how close do they get to the sound of Miles' band in 1961? You can decide for yourself by checking out today's videos, starting up above with a clip of So What" recorded in November 2015 at the Velvet Note in Atlanta, with Gunn, Cobb, pianist Kevin Bales, saxophonist Mike Walton, and bassist Kevin Smith.
After the jump, there's a version of Thelonious Monk's Well, You Needn't"- another staple of Davis' repertoire in the late 1950s and early '60s- recorded at the same gig.
Below that, there are two full sets of the Blackhawk Revisited" band in action, the first featuring Gunn, Cobb, Bales, saxophonist Morgan Guerin, and bassist Corcoran Holt in October 2016 at Dizzy's Club in NTC's Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the second from the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Festival, with Gunn, Bales, Walton, Smith, and Kinah Botto Ayah in for Cobb on the drums.
Next up are three videos that show Gunn working out on three more tunes associated with Davis- Solar," Walkin'" and Blue in Green"- recorded at various jam sessions in 2017 and 2016 at Churchill Grounds in Atlanta.
Finally, the last video features an interview with Jimmy Cobb, recorded in November 2014 at SubCulture in New York for NYU's Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series, in which Cobb discusses his career, his time with Davis, and other topics.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.