An Evening of Jazz History

Moanin Jazz VinylI had a fun-filled evening listening to some lovely jazz vinyl last night. I had planned to stay up in the country to get some writing done – in the real world I get paid to write about information technology and business. For those of you who didn’t know that, now you do. I’ve had an inordinate amount of assignments lately, which is why I’ve been blogging less often than usual on Jazz Collector. When you’re writing 1,500 to 2,000 words every single day about some esoteric business or technology issue, sometimes the last thing you want to do is sit at the computer and compose something new. At least, that’s how it is for me. Anyway, I was expecting to experience the first tastes of spring up here in The Berkshires, but instead we’ve had a couple of days of snow and quite frosty temperatures. There must be 5-6 inches of snow on the ground. No spring at all. Anyway, I am up here alone together with my dog Marty, which means I can play whatever music I want at whatever volume I want. Marty is very considerate that way. I have a very nice system  with a Linn Sondek turntable, Macintosh integrated amp and Wilson Sophia speakers. I also have about 6,000 records to choose from and, for last night, there was the availability of fresh stimulants for the mind, which never hurts either.

For some reason I decided to start with classic Louis Armstrong. As you all know, my taste runs more modern. I wanted to try this because I know it’s great, yet it’s not something I listen to very often. I tried the Columbia Hot Seven with Potato Head Blues and Wild Man Blues. In the movie Manhattan, the Woody Allen character is listing all the things that make life worth living and one of them is Potato Head Blues. So I put that on and, yes, it is brilliant. You can listen to this and basically hear the invention of jazz. Armstrong had such modern phrasing he was light years ahead of his contemporaries, or so it would seem until Johnny Dodds comes in with a clarinet solo that actually sounds like an extension of Louis.

Anyway, I’m not looking to review the music, just share my experience. As great as the music sounded, I didn’t fully get into it after the first three tracks so I decided to get into my sweet spot and I put on one of the great Blue Notes, Art Blakey, Blue Note 4003, which I always think of as “Moanin’.” I’ve listened to this album thousands of times – no exaggeration – bit this was nice, blasting it loud with no neighbors or anyone else to worry about. Three things struck me: Lee Morgan’s incredible trumpet solo; Benny Golson really sounded very Trane-like here and was very underrated as a player; the Bobby Timmons solo is ridiculous. Perfect, soulful and brilliant.

I decided to explore Timmons and see if he was always this good, so I went to Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco, the side with This Here and Spontaneous Combustion. The answer is, yes. Brilliant again. Plus, the band is just incredible. You want to hear some great, great jazz from the era, put on This Here. It’s also super well recorded, so blasting away on my nice stereo system — well it sounded live. It also put me in a soulful, kind of R&B groove and I went to Louis Jordan, and again I was blown away. Another genius who sounded so modern it’s hard to believe he was making these records in the 1940s. If you want to check one thing out, look for Saturday Night Fish Fry and you can hear the roots of rock and roll, only better. I was in quite a groove now and wanted to get modern again and went to another Blue Note, this time Sonny’s Crib. More brilliance. Great Coltrane, more great piano, another solid group.

And that was my evening. How was yours?


  • Sounds nice.

    I went to a wine bar in Flatbush and caught James Falzone and Josh Sinton in a clarinet/contrabass clarinet duo, which was quite excellent. Got home late, reviewed it, and hit the hay. No turntable time for me.

  • …It’s amazing how all these great vintage Jazz LP’s sound when its just you and your best friend Al ! Coincidentally enough, I did the very same thing last week while the wife was out one evening. My Boston Terrier, and I were breaking in a pair of new speakers, and before I knew it, I frantically began pulling out and interchanging as many of my favorite lps as possible in order to re-experience the resolution of this new and improved soundstage when played to match the levels of the live Jazz club experience. It definitely makes what we collect all worth while ! Sadly, this is the point of no return for most of us, as all those once acoustically enjoyable spaces, like ones in-car system or home theatre, even that wave radio you may have in the kitchen just don’t sound as sweet anymore once you return back to the banality of socially accepted dB’s… I guess it’s true what Oscar Wilde said, “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

  • Nice post. Got back home from an heavy working day, my wife leaved for the seaside with daughters. I am all alone with my records, a spring rain is falling. Spring, spring…Springsville, Miles ahead! My old Dahlquist 10 and Marantz tubes, a glass of Pinot, life seems so nice with Miles & Gil. Try another glass of Pinot with Jimmy Giuffre The easy way, what a musician! Miss my family dear Mr Giuffre, but every time I listened to your music…so good! I repeat again and again: great great American Art , you should be proud of it!

  • There is not much that I’d rather do than indulge myself in such an uninhibited and leisurely listening session… lighting the tubes, making the selections, pouring an IPA or on occasion a nice Willets bourbon, perhaps even a smoke and then relax and float downstream.

    I love the whole scene… and then there’s that feeling of well-being accompanied by the thankfulness that I can enjoy such luxuries.

  • Giovanni Zanoni

    I listened to Gato Barbieri on Giorgio Gaslini ‘s “New feelings” on La Voce del padrone.Quite an ensemble:Don Cherry, Gato, Steve Lacy.. Free with deep passion.

  • Hey, almost all records sound great with fresh mental stimulants! (but of course those you mention always sound great!) I got rid of my Linn years ago (did not relish constant tonearm fuss), but still use my SOTA Star Sapphire. Last night’s listening was, strangely enough, Braxton playing “classic” covers, followed by the original recordings he was covering (I kind of had to do this for my day job, life is tough, right?!) And yes, my wife is abroad, and her final words were “now you can play music as loud as you like for the next ten days!’. Luckly I have access to a “critical listening” lab with more audiophile goodies than you can imagine (including Wilson WATT/Puppy combos, and a suite of 8 BW 801s for very high-end surround sound (of limited use for jazz lp listening). Nice to think of folks scattered here and there spending last night in jazz bliss!

  • Great Post Al, lovely to hear appreciation of the music.
    I try most evening to dedicate some time when the rest of the house retire to play some nice things.
    Last night, on the LP12 with World Design KT88 Valve amplification and beautiful British made Kudos speakers, I was getting off on – Carla Bley & Charlie Haden – The Ballad of The Fallen Angel, then on to Dexter Gordon, Manha de carnival from Getting’ around, which with Bobby H’s Vibes just flows everywhere… and then finished with Miles, Flamenco Sketches from Kind of Blue, which i have the amazing 45rpm issue from MFSL which for my money blows the original issue out the water !! No stimulation needed last evening. Sometimes playing with Linn keeps me up into the Wee Small Hours…That reminds me Frank will be passing by my living room tonight!

  • …I’ll second that one for this evening Adamski ! (As fate would have it the wife is out at a class this evening, so its just gonna be me, Oscar and Frank, with Count Basie and his orchestra circa 1966, live from the famed Copa Room at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas… In a command performance from my listening room via a refurbished / upgraded vintage Oracle Delphi MKii, McIntosh C50 / MC275 / Paradigm 75f’s)

  • I had an interesting evening on Sunday in Tokyo, visiting a number of record shops on a business layover. If you have the opportunity in Tokyo, visits to Disk Union’s stores in Shibuya and Shinjuku are a must. They have separate levels for various genres, including jazz. The Shinjuku jazz store is a standalone store, very large and well stocked. I found that the prices were not has exorbitant as I had feared. I found Prestige All Star’s All Night Long ($200) and Wheelin’ and Dealin’ ($300), and Art Pepper Two Altos ($150), all in EC for vinyl and cover. I picked up a NM copy of Coltrane’s Live at the Village Vanguard on Impulse A-10 in stereo with the Am-Par label for $55 (the shop owner maintained it was a second pressing … didn’t understand the Am-Par importance). Anyway, I could have spent an entire day in Disk Union and RecoFan … and spent more money than I should have. I will definitely set aside more time should I get there again.

  • Told mama To go shopping and cranked up some old 10″ Gill Melle, Zoot, and Johnny Smith. Snap, crackle, and pop I was groovin’ hard !

  • The Am-Pars were the first pressing on the Impulse A-10’s Mac, here’s a great this link from our friend the London jazz collector for reference:

  • The Gaslini mentioned upthread is really something… would love to have an original, of course.

  • Agreed Clifford. I have the second pressing; in fact I just played it maybe only a few weeks ago. A fantastic session with an all star lineup.

  • Several evenings ago I enjoyed several lps… EXPLORATIONS by Teo Macero on 10″ Debut / THE ELMO HOPE TRIO on Hifi and the PRESTIGE JAZZ QUARTET with Teddy Charles and Mal Waldron. Did my taxes and had some vodka & lemonade while listening.

  • It seems a lot of jazz lovers enjoy the LP12, including myself. It also seems many jazz lovers especially love listening to jazz when their better half is away from the house, also including me. Thanks for the great post! Recently a few LP’s I’ve been listening to are Sahib Shihab- Sentiments, Don Sleet- All Members, Sonny Clark Trio on Time, Hank Mobley- Soul Station and Michel Sardaby- Gail.

  • great inspirational stories you have Al!!

    … i was at the house, …the wife was away.. (she’s always away, …there is no wife..), and i listened to some nice blue note’s on Spotify ( Apple laptop, Realistic STA-90 receiver and Wharfedale Denton 2 speakers), had some brewskies from the supermarket… ( andrew hill-smokestack, horace silver-cape verdian blues , sam rivers- contours, donald byrd-byrd in hand, and ofcourse: adderley- something else…)
    ggrrrrrreat evening!

  • Count me as another LP12 owner, with ITTOK LVII/ AT 33 MLocc / Lundahl sut. Audible Illusions Mod3, Cary 40Mse monoblocks, Triagle Titus 202 monitors, AR3a used as subs- powered by a MAC 2100. I also have a AR-ES1 Shure V15-Vmr / Musical Fidelity A3.2 integrated/ Spica TC50 combo as my computer system…can spin vinyl while surfing the net, and I can also rip vinyl to digital for playback downstairs in the HT.

    I have a listening room upstairs, and can choose whatever volume I want….but as I get older, I don’t listen quite as loud as I did when younger.

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