Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker – Town Hall NYC, June 22, 1945 (2005)

FrontCover1The historic live Town Hall sessions by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker from 1945 have been discovered on an acetate pressing, and are transferred with digital enhancement to CD. Why this concert was not issued initially is understandable, but Ira Gitler’s informative and insightful liner notes suggest they likely were misplaced. What Gitler’s essential writing also reveals is that these dates were approximate by only weeks to the original studio recordings of these classics, and there was no small amount of controversy surrounding this revolutionary bebop. Clearly bop was a vehicle for intricate melodic invention followed by lengthy soloing, aspects of which Parker with Gillespie were perfectly suited for. Fact is, the situation surrounding the sonic capture and extended neglected shelf life of this performance was far from optimal.


Symphony Sid Torin is the M.C., rambling as always, making repeated references to Dizzy “Jillespie” and misidentifying Max Roach as Sid Catlett on “Salt Peanuts.” (Catlett does sit in on “Hot House” in a more supportive than demonstrative role.) The tracks with the brilliant Roach are on fire, particularly the super-hot “Salt Peanuts,” with pianist Al Haig flying beside him. Haig is perhaps the most impressive musician. The rhythm section, especially Haig, is more present in the mix and up front, while the trumpet and alto sax are buried. As the concert progresses, it gets better, with Gillespie’s muted trumpet clearer. Parker lays back on the mike, but not in spirit or bravado for “Interlude,” which is now known as “A Night in Tunisia,” and better balanced during “Groovin’ High,” which was originally titled “Whispering.”

There seems to be an unplanned slight key chance in the bridge of “Groovin’ High.” A late-arriving Parker was in part replaced by tenor saxophonist Don Byas, who sounds terrific on the opener, “Bebop,” until Parker steps on-stage and ups the ante. At under 41 minutes in length, this can be looked upon as a historical document, likely appealing only to completists. But the overriding factor of previously undiscovered Diz and Bird makes the CD something all bebop fans should readily embrace, despite its audio deficiencies. (Michael G. Nastos)


Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet)
Al Haig (piano)
Charlie Parker (saxophone)
Max Roach (drums)
Curley Russell (bass)
Don Byas (saxophone on 01.)
Sidney Catlett (drums on 05. + 06.)

01. Intro 1.20
02-  Bebop (Gillespie) 7.11
03. A Night In Tunisia (Gillespie/Paparelli) 7.34
04. Groovin’ High (Gillespie) 7.16
05. Salt Peanuts (Clarke/Gillespie) 7.52
06. Hot House (Dameron) 7.14
07. Fifty Second Street Theme (Monk) 2.14



Glenn Miller´s G.I.´s – In Paris 1945 (2008)

GlennMillerFrontCover1Luck sometimes manifests itself in the most unexpected places at the most extraordinary times. This is the most unusual body of recordings ever to come out of the orbit of Glenn Miller — uniquely, real small-group style jazz by members of his band without any traces of the “sweet” band influence of their parent group. That said, none of the music here, or this combination of musicians, likely would have happened if Miller had not died when he did. Following his disappearance over the English Channel in December of 1944, the Army Air Force Band that he’d organized was sent over to France under the temporary command of a very unpopular lieutenant, who reacted to criticism of him in a letter by one disaffected member of the band by demoting the author and two colleagues; the demotion, in turn, led to a financial crunch for the men involved, who cut these sides at a series of recording sessions at a club in Paris, all to earn a little extra money and make up for the loss of pay accompanying the demotions.

That was how saxman Peanuts Hucko, pianist Mel Powell, trumpet player Bernie Priven, bassist Joe Schulman, and drummer Ray McKinley came to record these sides with Django Reinhardt on guitar in the winter and spring of 1945. And what sides; from the hot opening rendition of “How High the Moon,” featuring a killer trumpet solo by Priven, through the, well, stomping version of “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” to the elegant “I Must Have That Man,” on which bucko’s clarinet recalls Benny Goodman’s sound, there’s just a lot of superb playing to admire here in a multitude of sounds, even crossing into Dixieland territory on “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” and Hucko’s solo on “S’Wonderful” is almost worth the price of admission by itself. And there’s more Mel Powell-featured material here than in the whole rest of his catalog from the 1940s combined, capped by his four sublimely beautiful solo numbers from one afternoon’s sessions. Django Reinhardt, who only played on one day’s sessions, gets his licks in as well, particularly on “If Dreams Come True.” The final four numbers, credited to the Ray McKinley Trio, feature Hucko, Powell, and McKinley. The fidelity is excellent and the notes are extraordinarily detailed and enlightening. (by Bruce Eder)


Peanuts Hucko (clarinet, saxophone)
Carmen Mastren (guitar)
Ray McKinley (drums)
Mel Powell (piano)
Bernie Privin (trumpet)
Django Reinhardt (guitar)
Joe Shulman (bass)

01. How High The Moon (Hamilton/Lewis) 2.25
02. If Dreams Come True (Goodman/Mills//Sampson) 2,39
03. Hallelujah! (Grey/Robin/Youmans) 2,58
04. Stompin’ At The Savoy (Goodman/Razaf/Sampson/Webb) 2.49
05 I Must Have That Man! (Fields/McHugh) 2.57
06, Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone Side (Clare/Stept)m 2.55
07. ‘S Wonderful (Gershwin) 2.39
08. Someday, Sweetheart (B.Spikes/J.Spikes) 3.06
09 Blue Skies (Berlin) 2.40
10. Red Light (Powell) 2.44
11. You’re Driving Me Crazy (Donaldson) 2.41
12. You’re Driving Me Crazy (Donaldson) 2.41
13. On The Sunny Side Of The Street (Fields/McHugh) 2.58
14 Hommage à Fats Waller (Powell) 2.34
15. Hommage à Debussy (Powell) 3.08
16. For Miss Black (Poor Miss Black) (Powell) 2.15
17. Don’t Blame Me (Fields/McHugh) 2.51
18 Pennies From Heaven (Burke/Johnston) 2.34
19. One, Two, Button Your Shoe (Burke/Johnston) Glenn Miller 2.34
20. At Sundown (Donaldson/Whiting) 2.19
21 At Sundown (Donaldson/Whiting) 2.24
22. Stealin’ Smack’s Apples (Stealin’ Apples) (Razaf/Waller) 2.31
23. Sugar (Alexander/Mitchell/Pinkard) 2.55
24. After You’ve Gone (Creamer/Layton) 2.41
25. Shoemaker’s Apron (Hucko) 2.39
26. China Boy (Boutelje/Winfree) 2.40

Django Rheinhardt

Amalia Rodrigues – The Queen Of Fado (2011)

FrontCover1When Amalia Rodrigues died October 6th, 1999 (aged 79) the government of Portugal declared three days of national morning. Political activity in the country’s general election campaign came to a halt. The president was the chief mourner at the singer’s state funeral. It was a singular expression of national grief and in some ways a peculiar one.

Entertainers, however famous, rarely, if ever, depart in such ceremony. It did not happen to Maria Callas, perhaps the most celebrated opera singer of recent times, when she died in 1977; or to Frank Sinatra, who died in 1998. There was some sadness, certainly; a lot of reminiscences, of course; but life went on largely uninterrupted in Greece and America. The sanctifying of Amalia Rodrigues may say something about the nature of the Portuguese as well as about what the prime minister called “the voice of the country’s soul”.

Amalia01She was known simply as Amalia. The diminution of her name was itself a reflection of her fame (as was Britain’s Diana, or Di, whose death in 1997 also briefly interrupted the life of her country). Her style of singing is called fado, the Portuguese word for fate. “I have so much sadness in me,” Amalia said. “I am a pessimist, a nihilist. Everything that fado demands in a singer I have in me.” Amalia’s message of fatalism seems to have echoed a mood among her admirers. Portugal is still among the least modern of European countries, though it has been modernising rapidly of late. It expects its economy to grow by about 3% this year, compared with an average of only 1.9% growth for the rest of the euro area. But GDP does not change a country’s sentiment overnight. Portugal was the first European country in modern times to carve out a great trading empire. Go almost anywhere in the world and you find traces of Portuguese architecture, language and genes. Generation by generation, the once-rich Portuguese have seen their empire slowly vanish, and not very gracefully. East Timor is still formally Portuguese. “I sing of tragedy,” Amalia said, “of things past.”

Amalia02Amalia Rodrigues was never sure of her exact birthday. Her grandmother said it was in the cherry season, so she assumed she was born in early summer. Other details of her childhood were also obscure. Some accounts said her father was a shoemaker; others that he was a musician. The story that as a teenager she sold fruit on the docks of Lisbon, capturing the hearts of her customers with her singing, was willingly believed by those who adored her. The adoration was put to the test in 1974 when Portugal emerged from half a century of dictatorship. Amalia’s critics said she had benefited from the patronage of the most enduring of Europe’s fascist regimes.

“I always sang fado without thinking of politics,” Amalia responded angrily. It was a claim impossible to contradict. Yet fado, with its melancholy fatalism, was an appropriate accompaniment to the thinking of the Portuguese leader, António de Oliveira Salazar. Not for him the ruthless urgency of Hitler. Rather, in his corporate state he wanted to preserve Portugal as a rural and religious society where industrialisation and other modernising influences would be excluded. He kept Portugal out of the second world war. It was too wearisome.

Amalia03Fado was the music of Portuguese tradition. If it had any foreign ingredients they were from Africa, but these were acceptable: huge areas of Africa had been Portuguese. And here was Amalia, the queen of fado, clad all in black, her throbbing voice accompanied by two guitarists, her head thrown back, her eyes closed. She was the essence of sadness, bearing the memories of two marriages; both unhappy. When Salazar heard “O Grito” (“The Cry”) he allowed himself a tear.

Unsurprisingly, the Portugal that followed the dictatorship wanted cheering up, as well as modernising. The question of whether Amalia had been a supporter of the old regime became irrelevant. Fado itself fell out of fashion. Rock was the music of democracy.

Amalia, however, had built up other audiences abroad. The Brazilians, whose language is Portuguese, flocked to see her dozen or so films. A six-week tour to Rio and other cities had to be expanded to three months. In the United States record collectors said that her songs, with their four-line stanzas, were like the blues, and she did indeed make some recordings with a jazz saxophonist, Don Byas. Italians claimed to see links between fado and opera. The French said Amalia reminded them of Edith Piaf, who sang nostalgically of the tragedies in her life. A fado song given the English title “April in Portugal” became a hit in several countries.

In Portugal fado and Amalia gradually made a comeback. Amalia showed that she was really a democrat at heart by recording “Grandola Vila Morena”, the song that had swept the country when the dictatorship ended. The socialist government presented her with the country’s highest decoration, the Order of Santiago. She was giving concerts up to a year ago, and every one was sold out. “The sadder the song, the more the Portuguese like it,” she said. In this new time of change, pessimism was back in fashion. For Amalia, it was the happiest of endings.(by economist.com)

And this is a unique collection of her greatest and most popular songs from a glittering career spanning more than 50 years.

Amalia Rodrigues (vocals)
various orchestras and musicians

01. Barco Negro (1955) (Mourão/Ferreira/Velho) 4.12
02. Nao Digas Mal Dele (1953) (Barbosa/Armandinho) 3.26
03. Uma Casa Portuguesa (1953) (Ferreira/Seqeira/Fonseca) 2.28
04. Novo fado da Severa (1953) (DantasdeFreitas) 3.11
05. Perseguicao (1945) (deSousa/Pereira/da Maia) 2.35
06. Duas luzes (1945) (de Mata/do Amaral) 3.20
07. Faz hoje um ano (1952) (Galhardo/Ferrao) 4.40
08. Passei Por Vocк (1945) (de Brito/Marceneiro) 2.55
09. Fado do ciume (1945) (do Vale/Valério) 2.57
10. Sei finalmente (1945) (Barbosa/Armandinho) 2.53
11. As penas (1945) (Caldeira/Bacalhau) 3.10
12. A tendinha (1945) (Gallhardo/Ferraro) 2.06
13. Fado Amalia (1951) (Gallhardo/Valerio) 3.01


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