Jazz Appreciation Month continues on WRTI! During the week of April 6th, 2015, we're sharing our favorite vintage jazz recordings. Tune in to hear top favorites from Bob Perkins, Jeff Duperon, Zivit, J. Michael Harrison, Bob Craig, and Maureen Malloy throughout the week at 7 pm, 9:30 pm, 12:30 am and 5:30 am.
Listen to our hosts discuss their vintage jazz favorites below.
1. Bob Perkins: Modern Jazz Quartet - "Django" - Django
Many talented souls in various walks of life have departed the planet well before their loved ones thought they should have. The abbreviated stays of the gifted makes us ponder what other wonders they might have contributed, had they lived.
Oliver Nelson comes to mind. He was less famous than Clifford Brown or Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, all of whom were innovators and pioneers and who died well before their time. But Nelson was not only a gifted multi-instrumentalist but also a top-flight arranger and composer. He advanced the careers of many performers, and not just those in jazz.
I first heard of Nelson in the early 1960s via his composition “Stolen Moments,” which became a jazz classic. A few years later I broke into radio and began hosting a jazz program. He then became an even more familiar name to me, because I played his music on the air.
Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” with Nelson on tenor saxophone, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, et al.:
Oliver Nelson was born into a musical family on June 4, 1932 in St. Louis. He played piano at age six, and several years later, the saxophone. He got his first major job with Louis Jordan while still in his teens, playing alto saxophone and arranging. Military service called, and he joined a band in the Marine Corps. While traveling in Tokyo, he heard the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, which he credited with whetting his appetite to become more advanced as an arranger.
After the military, Nelson studied harmony and theory at Washington and Lincoln Universities and privately. He moved to New York City and made music with Erskine Hawkins, organist Wild Bill Davis and a host of other established musicians. He also landed a job as house arranger for the Apollo Theater.
Prestige Records signed Nelson to a contract, and he recorded six albums for them. He later moved to the Impulse label and recorded The Blues and the Abstract Truth, a landmark LP that included “Stolen Moments.” It’s a work of art. With the likes of pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, drummer Roy Haynes, Eric Dolphy doubling on also sax and flute, Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, and Nelson on tenor sax—how could it not be the monster that it was? It still is.
Doors began to open. Not only was he producing and arranging for Nancy Wilson, James Brown, the Temptations, Diana Ross, organist Jimmy Smith, and other well-known artists, he was also composing for TV shows, including Ironside, Longstreet, and The Six Million Dollar Man (for which he wrote the theme). He also arranged the music for the motion picture Last Tango in Paris.
Those close to him knew he was spreading his gargantuan talents too thin by racing from the East Coast to perform with his jazz group, then to the West Coast for music-arranging jobs. Their concern for his well-being turned out not to be an abstract truth: Nelson suffered a massive heart attack in Los Angeles in 1975, and died at the age of 43. The word was that he had literally worked himself to death. So, Oliver Nelson, like some of his ever-youthful jazz predecessors, left while still having much more to say. But he, like they, kicked up a lot of creative dust prior to departing.
One of his best CDs (besides The Blues and the Abstract Truth) is one he shares with vibraphonist Lem Winchester, Nocturne. Oliver Nelson’s solos on “Azur’te” and “Man with a Horn” please the ear and massage the heart.
Trumpeter Duane Eubanks isn’t yet as well known as his brothers (trombonist Robin and guitarist Kevin), but his highly listenable album, Things Of A Particular Nature, should mitigate his under-the-radar status. This Philadelphia native is a top-notch musician, having fronted the horn section in the late pianist Mulgrew Miller’s group, Wingspan, and as a member of two-time Grammy-winning Dave Holland Big Band, while playing with many others.
Albert "Tootie" Heath is one of the most accomplished jazz drummers of the past 60 years. The 79-year-old has played with everyone from John Coltrane to Ethan Iverson, the piano player for The Bad Plus. Iverson and bassist Ben Street join Tootie Heath for his new album, Philadelphia Beat, named for the fertile jazz city of Heath's upbringing — where, as a young man starting out, he once piloted a group consisting only of the drums and two horns.
Be sure to listen to WRTI between 9 pm and midnight on March 23rd through the 25th for your chance to win tickets to see acclaimed pianist Jason Moran and his band, The Bandwagon, perform at the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater on Sunday, March 29th at 7:30 pm. J. Michael Harrison and Bob Craig will present excerpts of a recent interview with Jason Moran, and they'll give away passes to this much-anticipated show.
A sweet weekend of romantic music is planned for all of our listeners...so get ready! We're warming up for Valentine's Day on Friday, just after 12 noon. Jack Moore will bring you Romance for Cello, Harp and Strings by Hungarian composer Leo Weiner, Rachmaninoff's ultra-romantic Piano Concerto No. 3, and Pablo de Sarasate's virtuoso Fantasy on Gounod's Romeo and Juliet for violin and orchestra.
Growing up, Warren "Butch" Oree never had dreamed of becoming a musician. Though jazz was a constant presence in both his home life and social activities, the thought of actually getting on stage didn't cross his mind until he wandered into a music shop in his mid-twenties.
Upon learning that Oree had a long-standing interest in the upright bass that he had never pursued, the shop keeper, James Mitchell, accused him of cowardice - one thing that Oree, who was then a respected gang member, deeply resented.
What do you get when you put together a hard-driving percussive Bebop saxophonist with a lyrical, warm Cool Jazz saxophonist? Sonny Stitt and Stan Getz, of course! February 2nd marks the birth of both of these giants of jazz, and Bob Perkins is getting set to celebrate.
Stitt and Getz both arrived on the jazz scene in the mid 1940s. And both went through numerous assignments in big bands and combos as they continued developing their unique jazz voices.
Vocalist Venissa Santi's musical journey has been one of intimate self discovery. Since childhood, her Cuban parents familiarized her with the sounds of her culture, but not until adulthood did she make pilgrimage to Havana and truly fall in love with the country's songbook.