One of the pleasures of having an extensive jazz collection is that it gives you the opportunity to go back and review the history of jazz in real time, as it was happening. This is particularly the case when you look at old issues of Downbeat or Metronome, or review old liner notes, an art form that began approaching extinction with the advent of the compact disc format. In any case, allow me to share some interesting stuff from my archives.
Downbeat, January 18, 1962
Review: John Coltrane, Africa/Brass, Impulse 6
This record was a departure for Coltrane: The first time he ever played with a brass section. It is now regarded as a classic, rightfully so, particularly the title cut, which makes up the entire first side of the album. At the time, however, the Downbeat reviewer, Martin Williams, didn’t see it that way. He gave it only two stars, out of a possible five. Here’s a sample from the review:
“I question . . . whether here this exposition of skills adds up to anything more than a dazzling and passionate array of scales and arpeggios. If one looks for melodic development or even for some sort of technical order or logic, he may find none here.”
Downbeat, May 24, 1962
Advertisement, Riverside Records
This is a great one, an advertisement introducing a new set of albums from Riverside, including Bags Meets Wes, The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York, Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby. What’s so great about it is the headline and ad copy, which goes as follows:
“It’s Spring Cleaning Time!
So throw away your worn-out old albums and stock up on a really fresh batch from the varied and ever-swinging Riverside supply.”
Think of the message – throw away your old records – and think of the Riverside catalogue at the time. It’s enough to make you cry.
Tenor Madness, Sonny Rollins Prestige 7047
One of the great jazz albums of all time and the only recorded collaboration between tenor greats Rollins and Coltrane. Here’s an excerpt from Ira Gitler’s original liner notes:
“(Philly Joe Jones) tells me that Sonny was in his usual pessimistic form. After each number he would shake his head and say ‘Nothing’s happening.’ I have known Sonny since 1951 and he has always been this way. It is this constant searching and trying to improve on what he has done which has brought him about so many of the advances he has made and kept him a dynamic musician.”
That’s it for today. See you tomorrow at Jazzcollector.com. — Al