My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

18 January 2006

Music - Jazzy Hands


I got several great albums for Christmas...here are two for us aspiring jazz snobs.

The Thelonious Monk Quarter w/John Coltrane, live at Carnegie Hall

Recorded in 1957 during a the few months when Coltrane played with Monk, this cd was the big news of the jazz world in 2005, when it was unearthed by an engineer working for the Library of Congress. It was big news for good reason. Not only is it somewhat historically important, but it is simply excellent. The recording itself is beautiful and clear (amazing for something recorded almost 50 years ago) and the playing is outstanding.

I haven't listened to too much of Monk, but I'm most impressed by the thoughtfulness of his playing. He's not flashy, but he somehow gets it right every time. And John Coltrane, what can we say? This was a fruitful time in his career, having spent a few months learning how to play with Monk's quartet and then coming to thrive in that quartet. Were my theology different, I would say that his playing on the album is downright inspired. As it is, I will say that it is amazing and beautiful.

The album comes with extensive liner notes - and the coolest album cover I've seen in a while.

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The Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery - Smokin' at the Half Note

Wes has always been a favorite of mine. Not just because he's Indianapolis' best export, jazz-wise, but because he lived up to that "trailblazer" moniker like few others. Half Note is the live version of many of his best songs, most made popular by his Incredible Guitar album.

Like the above album, this one is excellent. Recorded in 1965, the sound quality is not quite what I'd like it to be, but there's nothing glaringly wrong. Wes is outstanding; having dabbled ever-so-slightly in guitar, I can barely comprehend some of the things he does. He pioneered a style of playing solos with two, three, or four-note chords rather than single notes; so when most guitar players are struggling to sound good playing single-line runs, there's Wes doing four times as much and sounding four times better.

The rest of the band is excellent as well. Listening to it with some good bass is pretty important, because Paul Chambers' upright bass is so solid and smooth it just keeps the whole thing moving along and feeling like jazz should feel.

This album is quite cheap at amazon.com (only 8$), and is a worthy addition to your collection.

3 comments:

Josh said...

With some of the money I have left over from Christmas, I'm giving some real thought into getting that Monk/Coltrane cd. I like what I'm hearing about it from you. Thanks! I need to expand my jazz horizons anyway.

Ellen Olivetti said...

Josh has money left over from Christmas?????

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