Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Generalissimo / Live Date!: Core Collection

Inspired by this, I thought it might be fun to make a list of my own. I was initially thinking about making it a stand alone entry but then reconsidered so as to showcase one of the more obscure titles included. (The fact that I had been struggling with a satisfactory piece on it for several months was, needless to say, also a factor)

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— Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings
Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy
The Complete Louis Armstrong and the Dukes of Dixieland
— Art Ensemble of Chicago: Americans Swinging in Paris: The Pathe Sessions
Bix Beiderbecke Volume 1: Singin' the Blues
Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk
— Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: The Big Beat
— Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet with Harold Land: Complete Studio Recordings
— Don Cherry: Symphony for Improvisers
— John Coltrane: Blue Train
— John Coltrane: Olé Coltrane
— Miles Davis All Stars: Walkin'
— Miles Davis: Miles Ahead
— Miles Davis: Nefertiti
— Miles Davis: In a Silent Way
— Buddy DeFranco: Generalissimo / Live Date!
— Duke Ellington: Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band 1940-1942
— Duke Ellington: Masterpieces by Ellington
Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins
— Duke Ellington: ...And His Mother Called Him Bill
— Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster
— Jackie McLean: New and Old Gospel
— Charles Mingus: Blues and Roots
— Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
MJT+3
— The Modern Jazz Quartet: The Last Concert
— Lee Morgan: Tom Cat
— Art Pepper: Complete Surf Club Sessions
Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section
The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 1
Time Waits: The Amazing Bud Powell, Volume 4
— Sonny Rollins: Way Out West
— Clark Terry: Color Changes
— Fats Waller: If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It!
— Lester Young: Lester's Be-Bop Boogie
The Young Lions

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A few points of interest:

The Penguin Guide to Jazz considers the albums on their list to be essential to any serious jazz collection. I make no similar claim, not even for my own jazz collection. These are simply my favourites. I certainly recommend each and every one of these but I also appreciate that failing to pick up a copy of MJT+3 may not go down as a profound regret to carry with you to your dying day.

Bix Beiderbecke Volume 1, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section and Time Waits were all purchased by me in the past year. While it certainly is possible the gloss may well wear away in the years ahead, I can't see it happening. Other recent discoveries such as Shelly Manne's My Fair Lady, George Shearing's Complete Savoy Trio and Quintet Sessions and Jabbo Smith's Complete Hidden Treasure Sessions have impressed me but they weren't given much consideration.

• I hate to say it but the artists who appear more than once were probably held to a higher standard than the rest. Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens and his Ellington collaboration The Great Summit probably ought to appear as well but I don't get the same enjoyment from them than the three that appear. Same goes for Ellington. Davis' situation is slightly different since I'm largely going on memory. A sizeable chunk of my jazz CD's went missing a while ago and I'm forced to go by those that stand out most in my memory. Having said that, maybe there's something to making selections based purely on recollections. Walkin' and Miles Ahead are the two albums of his that I miss the most while I was so devastated by losing Nefertiti that I picked it up again almost immediately after I knew it was gone for good. In a Silent Way was a late addition to the list because it's not one I have much of an inclination to re-purchase but the impact it had on me back when I first listened to it in 1998 was pretty significant so it got an eleventh hour push.

• Seeing as how this entry is supposed to be about Buddy DeFranco's Generalissimo / Live Date!, I suppose I should state my reasons for including it. Firstly, it's probably my favourite album on my iPod - and the vast majority of the above are on it too. I take a lot of long bus rides and the jaunty, almost playful bop - particularly on the Generalissimo half of the two-fer - is the perfect antidote for many a long, boring commute. His version of the standard 'Sunday', which is the opener, swings beautifully and DeFranco, Barney Kessel and Sweets Edison all account for themselves very well. Even Hebie Mann, showing up on Live Date, does surprisingly well for himself. Second, it's given me a whole new appreciation for the clarinet. I admire the fact that DeFranco persisted with the licorice stick when it had clearly fallen out of favour in the post-Parker landscape. And, finally, it feels like an event, an important work by a major figure. I'm convinced that DeFranco and his co-horts knew they were doing something special on both of these April, 1958 sessions. The trouble is, I like it too much and feel I cannot adequately critique it as a result. As an outtake, here's the opening paragraph of my intended piece. Hopefully I can get my act together in the near future and do this fine musician the justice he deserves. Until then, appearing on a lowly blogger's Core Collection will just have to do.

All right, first things first: I kind of like the title. Perhaps an adequate amount of time has lapsed or I am woefully lacking in taste or I have long since accepted that the best way to belittle the horrifying aspects of a brutal dictator is to mock him ceaselessly; whatever the case may be, Generalissimo is a funny title and, as the well-intentioned liner-notes suggest, a nice bit of irony considering that everyone enjoyed working with Buddy DeFranco and he was happy to give his talented sidemen as much of the spotlight as he was getting. The notes even go on to state that the cover was also in bad taste but I think it only adds to the humour. Besides which, DeFranco's album covers often seem to edge their way into the comedically grotesque.) Even the notion that it was some tactless record company suit who came up with the title is to me an endearing throwback to pre-politically correct tiptoeing: could you possibly imagine a modern label allowing - much less suggesting - a title such as Osama's Bin Laudin' The Necks!? (Well intentioned though I'm sure he is, Morton James' introductory notes frequently lack a sense of perspective: the suggestion that the title may have impeeded it from being reissued sooner avoids the painful truth that Buddy DeFranco is no longer the name he once was - and it's not as though he was a household name fifty or sixty years ago. Though lauded by jazz musicians and industry types, who else has even heard of him?)

1 comment:

Falcon Ramirez said...

Great list Paul! ethan