Most Wanted records: what you said

LJC-HipHop-DJ-siMC Jazz says: Some interesting lessons from the last few reader-participation posts I thought I might share. Thanks to all those who took the trouble to compile their lists and send them in. Isn’t this Internet thing great?  The Fantasy Record Collector exercise really hit the spot, those wants lists are great aren’t they? Some positively mouthwatering record collections out there, and pretty fertile imaginations too – wishful thinking!

LJC has never seen Daily Stats like this before. Phew, those page views…

Most-Wanted-stats

LJC has no commercial motive, it’s a labour of love, more a pride thing, so I am delighted with the response, and I’ve learned a lot.

Size of Jazz Collections

A total 139 collectors pushed the button before I took the poll results to the analysis couch. The distribution of LJC readers jazz collection size was  wide, varying from just a hand full of records to an astonishing 14,000. As a reminder, this is what 14,000 records looks like.

14000-records

Remember that when someone opines you have “too many records” . It is now a scientifically proven fact that the right size of a complete jazz collection is 14,001, (as pre-eminent collector Kat still has one on his wants list)

This was the overall distribution of posters collections by size of collection:

collectionsize 25-6-13

Half of collectors collections are below 500 records but over a quarter are over 1,000( and that includes me).

Conclusion: Almost everyone can and almost certainly should buy more records. I will certainly be doing my bit. My modest 1,200 simply isn’t enough.

But what records should you buy?

The Most Wanted Artists

Pressing buttons is easy, typing lists is harder work, nevertheless many lists came in, bravo and thank you. A total of a nearly 300 records were nominated by readers in their Most Wanted lists, a very high proportion of which were unique to each individual collector. That is good news for all you Ebay bidders – you are one of only very few who crave that title. However the same artist names – though often different titles – appear frequently among the Most Wanted.

Here is the LJC readers Most Wanted Artists Hall of Fame:

Recording Artist Mentions
1 Hank Mobley 13
2 John Coltrane 12
3 Miles Davis 11
4 Eric Dolphy 8
5 Sonny Clark 8
6 Sonny Rollins 8
7 Charles Mingus 7
8 Lee Morgan 7
9 Bill Evans 6
10 Grant Green 4
11 Herbie Hancock 4
12 Oscar Peterson 4
13 Duke Ellington 3
14 Freddie Redd 3
15 Jutta Hipp 3
16 Kenny Dorham 3
17 Mal Waldron 3
18 Nina Simone 3
19 Roland Kirk 3
20 Sahib Shihab 3
21 Sam Rivers 3
22 Sonny Criss 3
23 Thelonious Monk 3
24 Tina Brooks 3
25 Wayne Shorter 3

Over a hundred artists were nominated for just the one record, which may of course mean you have all their others on your shelf. Tricky interpreting these statistics. All kudos to “Middleweight Champion of the Tenor” Hank Mobley, whose records top the poll of most wanted records among our collectors, I suspect because his recordings are both musically very desirable and at the same time very difficult to find at an acceptable price.

Most Wanted Individual Record Titles (in the form of their original release, naturally)

Whilst a lot of Most Wanted records were unique to individual collectors, there were some particular titles that appear again and again in collectors lists. I’m guessing but a lot of collectors may have later reissues to access the music but really want that prized original. You probably won’t be surprised what they are. Eleven titles with three or more mentions ranked here by number of mentions.

Most Wanted Artist and Title number of mentions
John Coltrane Blue Train 7
Miles Davis Kind of Blue 7
Hank Mobley BN 1568 7
Sonny Rollins Saxophone Colossus 5
Sonny Clark Cool Struttin’ 5
Eric Dolphy Outward Bound 4
Bill Evans Waltz For Debby 4
Tina Brooks True Blue 3
Kenny Dorham Quiet Kenny 3
Jutta Hipp At the Hickory House 3
Lawrence Marable Tenorman 3

Hot Hints:

A lot of collectors might want to check how they spell “Debby” in their Ebay Bill Evans Waltz For Debby search. Seems it is commonly spelled Debbie. I’m not one to talk, as I can never remember how many S’s and L’s there are in Saxophone Collossus, and whether it’s Saxaphone or Saxophone. Perhaps that’s why I still haven’t got an original. And who is this Lorry Marble eh? Why don’t I know who he is?

The Most Desirable records in your collections

This post seemed the most challenging, as even I found it very difficult to separate out those in my collection  I myself liked most from those I thought other collectors would most covet.  In the end it’s probably a bit of both.

The biggest problem really was I have never heard of many of the very rarest records, artists whose name I am only dimly aware, and will probably never see in the field. This is the province of our Senior Collectors. I am not going to try and analyse the lists, you can quite simply read them for yourselves, but I echo the comment of someone in response to one list. Hardcore! the nearest thing to record porn I have ever seen.

Hope you have enjoyed taking part. It’s not winning, it’s the taking part that counts.
(Oh no it isn’t, its getting your grubby hands on those records, LJC!)

There will be more in future, stay tuned, and may The Jazz be with you.

LJC

Advertisements

54 thoughts on “Most Wanted records: what you said

  1. Sorry I’m late reading this! With all your page views, I wonder if any of your readers are employed by any of the Jazz specialty labels. Hopefully they will get some ideas on reissues.

    My vote would have been for ‘House of Blue Lights’ by the late pianist Eddie Costa, which I can get as a Japanese import for about $135. Second would be ‘Vinnie Burke Trio’, which also features the great Eddie Costa.

  2. LJC: “Women can play instruments and create works of art same as men. That doesn’t address why 98% of the roster of modern jazz musicians (say on Blue Note or any other jazz label) are men. Jutta Hipp, Shirley Scott (Mrs Turrentine) and that is about it apart from the jazz singers. Its the elephant in the room.”

    If we’re talking about recording artists being hired for a label, there’s a *chance* that there is sexism involved, but my hypothesis is if there were a survey done of the number of male and female *adult* musicians (teenagers forced to play an instrument by their parents don’t count), be it rock or jazz, you would find a gross lean toward men. So to some extent, the hiring labels do would then be a reflection of the reality of the situation. This gets complicated rather quickly though, as one then has to then consider the “talent level” of the musicians amongst a plethora of other factors, which could explain the tipping of the scales even further in favor of a natural imbalance.

    While we’re on the subject of discrimination in jazz, has anyone else noticed that it seems like Blue Note hired less white musicians than other labels, especially leaders who would end up on the album cover? Did Alfred Lion think that white was “uncool” in jazz? I have to admit (as I am a very honest person in general), that I have to work against being conditioned to think that “only black people make good jazz music”…thoughts?

    • Rich, Jazz misogyny was there from the very inception of Jazz as a genre, and it consistently dictated that women stick to their assigned role as singers (which they somehow clung on to – willingly or otherwise – for the next 100 years.).

      However, in (reluctant) defense of the existing gender role division (sex apartheid) in Jazz, I must say that some of the gender roles are fully justifiable.

      Firstly, women cannot muster physical stamina (yes, yes, I know, I know, women can do everything men can, including be warriors, etcetera), to perform more vigorous musical acts (tenor sax, drums, bass).

      Secondly, Jazz is cherished precisely because of its aggressively muscular improvisational modes, and women, possibly because of their physiological and biological role as mothers and life-givers/nurturers cannot or do not know how to unleash unrestrained male vigor, typically found in male group improvisations. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine Melba Liston or Marian McPartland ever playing anything as remotely as far out as Albert Ayler or Eric Dolphy.

      Finally, while feminine intuition is stuff of the legends, when it comes to Jazz, it fails miserably and it never fails to fail. I can’t think of a single all-female ensemble performance with a meaningful intellectual or musical interaction between the players, such as, for example, Oliver Nelson’s all-male ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth” or Coltrane’s ‘Love Supreme’. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a single all-female Jazz cast ever, anywhere, period.

      None of this should be interpreted as indictment of women in Jazz. It is simply a case of women operating on a whole different intellectual, biological and physiological plateau which, simply, isn’t always suited for Jazz, and is particularly ill-suited for Bop.

      I can’t speculate what prompted Alfred Lion to go for the (essentially) all-black cast of artists (a few minor exceptions notwithstanding). I am guessing there may have been more than one reason involved: firstly – let’s face it – black musicians have a much better sense of timing and tempo, and are much more finely atuned to the collective mindset needed for the collective improvisations (white folks gave us the giants of individualism, such as Rubinstein and Gould, but definitely NO Bud Powells or Art Tatums). Secondly, Blue Note was selling to the niche market which consisted primarily of black audience (which is why those Blue Notes are so difficult to find today and, when found, are scratched beyond recognition). Thirdly, but not least importantly, black artists were much easier to negotiate contracts with, and much easier to pay (read: screw) than the whites, because very few of them were unionized (those union dues were a pain, particularly when you had a serious heroin addiction to fund (Mobley, Dorham). In essence, Alfred Lion combined business and pleasure, his own appreciation for black culture with the idea that there is a quick buck to be made from the Black Art and the people who created it. Was there any intended anti-white sentiment on his part? Perhaps so, but who knows for sure?. One would have to find a good retroactive content (psycho)analyst to break down everything Alfred Lion ever said and wrote to come up with a meaningful answer. My guess is that, if there was one – which is entirely possible – this would be entirely immaterial to the great art he helped leave behind.

      • Bob, I would never agree with your verdict that “black musicians have a much better sense of timing and tempo“. I could easily name dozens of white guys who have proved the contrary: Art Pepper, Zoot Sims, Shelly Manne, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman… but no, I will not get caught in this trap of having to prove my point statistically. By the way, Art Tatum convinces me for a number of reasons, but timing is not the foremost. André Previn is better, and both of them are outdone by… well, I must admit: Oscar Peterson. But this doesn’t prove anything.

        • How about this: how many white Jazz rhythm sections can you name, as opposed to black ones?

          Let’s just agree to disagree.

          As for Oscar Peterson, it is a chess-mate. You got me there. I surrender.

          • White rhythm sections? Red Mitchell/Shelly Manne; Scott LaFaro/Paul Motian; Gene Cherico/Joe Morello; Chuck Israels/Larry Bunker… But don’t get me wrong: I am fully aware of the power and significance black rhythm sections have had since the time when Basie decided to have Jo Jones, Freddie Green and Walter Page in his band. Ain’t nothing like them. – I don’t even think we really disagree.

            • Yes, but….with all these venerated white Jazz names factored in, they are still a marginal presence in the proverbial sea of black rhythm guys. Let’s not ignore the statistics. Plus, let’s face it: what are the odds that Scott LaFaro will ever be voted #1 bass player of all time?

      • Bob, may I suggest you take a closer listen to Susie Ibarra, Barbara Donald, Monnette Sudler, Marilyn Mazur, Marilyn Crispell, Alice Coltrane, Geri Allen, Irène Schweizer, Joanne Brackeen, Joëlle Léandre or the The Feminist Improvising Group?

        Quod erat demonstrandum.

        • [CAUTION: contains explicit language. NSFW]

          Freddie, I was a little tired when I wrote my previous response and may have sounded inarticulate, so let me try again, this time a little more coherently.

          I regret the length.

          That Jazz – for much of it’s history – was an all-male domain is neither my personal preference, nor a figment of my imagination. If you query Wikipedia database for “Female Jazz Artists” you will end up with 242 “hits”. If you do the same with “Male Jazz Artists”, you don’t even get a physical count — there are THOUSANDS of them. The preponderance of male acts in Jazz is self-evident, overwhelming and almost physically suffocating. And that, my friend, is a historical and statistical FACT that really speaks for itself. Or, as Andy wrote previously: .

          “Women can play instruments and create works of art same as men. That doesn’t address why 98% of the roster of modern jazz musicians (say on Blue Note or any other jazz label) are men. Jutta Hipp, Shirley Scott (Mrs Turrentine) and that is about it apart from the jazz singers. Its the elephant in the room”

          Yes, and it is a rather HUGE elephant. A Wooly Mammoth, really..

          We can only speculate why Jazz, at some point in time, became an all-male domain (or, to be more precise, MOSTLY male domain). This comment – longer than I would want it to be – cannot and will not address the controversy, but will at least try to sum up some of the social forces behind Jazz as a quintessential male (art) form .

          (1) Firstly, we have to bear in mind that the genre was born in the teen decade of the 20th century and grew up in an INTENSELY male-dominated era. Yes, the teens of the 20th century were marked by the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (1920) which essentially gave women the right to participate in politics and public life, but it was also the age of intense anti-feminine backlash and misogyny in all areas of life, music included (just look at the female fashion of the period — practically every element of femininity was severely and aggressively suppressed). Essentially, the suffragettes’ push for gender equality did produce a long-sought breakthrough in 1920, but it also begat a dark and murky undercurrent of vicious misogyny, which continues to be felt to this day. Nowhere was this no-women-allowed sentiment as pronounced as in politics and music.

          (2) In the prudish and parochial days of isolationist America , roughly coinciding with the reigns of Warren Harding (1991-23) and Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), Jazz was seen by the mainstream culture as a barbarity, musical atavism and intensely deviant, if not downright dirty, bastardly affair (an early version of the “degenerate (sic) art” produced by nothing but subhumans, deviants and denizens of the cultural and social underworld (the Nazis would later attempt to underscore this “deviancy” by linking Jazz to the American Jewry — a badge of honor American jazz proudly wears on its sleeve to this day) ; that most underground speakeasys during the days of Prohibition played it loud and enjoyed it with gusto and with wild, wanton abandon, only served to accentuate and reinforce its dubious social reputation; many Dixieland bands (Kid Ory’s numerous bands come to mind) were seen as but collections of vagrants and motley crew of asocial types, sexual predators and semi-criminal characters with problematic law enforcement history); for any self-respecting woman, particularly woman of wealth or social status, to be in any way, manner or form associated with Jazz in anything but the most remote sense, signaled an abrupt end to her prominence, status or reputation. Even many decades later – as late as mid-1950’s – women were allowed to be prominent Jazz figurines ONLY as muses (Nica de Koenigswater) or chanteuses (Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee) or vaudeville acts (Josephine Baker, Sigfried Follies) — female instrumentalists needed not apply (unless you were a Marilyn Monroe and played ukulele). As a matter of fact, off the top of my head, I can think of only six (6) pre-1960 female Jazz instrumentalists: Shirley Scott, Dorothy Ashby. Marian McPartland, Mary Lou Williams and Jutta Hipp, Did I miss someone?

          Mind you, this was an era when not EVEN black males were allowed a full measure of social equality or emancipation. Why would one expect women – carrying an additional burden of sexual liability or gender inequality – to be treated fairly or equitably? In the world of pre-Rosa Parks racial exclusion, and in the world of musical underdogs of race, women were seen as under-under-under-underdogs, or worse. And women of color were seen as being even more lowly pariahs.

          (3) Jazz was a quintessentially American, distinct musical variant of what European visual artists (Picasso, Malevich, Bunuel, Gross, Klimt, Marinetti, Brancusi, Cezanne, others) and Dadaists were creating in Europe at a time, and what “Harlem Renaissance” attempted to recreate in the 1920s and 1930s:: an art of dissent, deconstruction and intense visual, intellectual and social PARADOX, art infused with powerful political belief and undercurrent, art based on complete and radical departure from the old world (the slaughterhouse that was World War I being a major impetus) and, above all, art as a subversive and subverting social force: art as an extension of IDEOLOGY (yes, Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 played a MAJOR ROLE in this process, although you would never – ever – persuade a self-respecting American musician to concede as much). While America was too busy playing Ragtime and Foxtrot 78s and enjoying its splendid post-war isolation and prosperity, a whole new world, and a whole new political force based on music, was being midwifed in her midst. People like Langston Hughes or Duke Ellington (even Irving Berlin) saw themselves not only as pioneers and rebels fighting for the new world, but also a tightly-knit (male, of course) fraternity. Essentially, they perceived themselves as musical warriors, as art guerrilla, and all-male secrecy, camaraderie and solidarity was one of the major tools in their anti-establishment rebellion.. They were all-male apostles in the Second Coming of social justice, their female adherents about as welcome among them as Mary Magdalene was among the original 12 apostles (i.e. entirely unwelcome — except as consorts and comforts)

          (4) At some point in the 1920s, the ruling establishment got wind of what Jazz was up to and started actively persecuting (and prosecuting) Jazz artists, whom they saw as nothing but agents of the world (read: Bolshevik) revolution . The fabricated and cooked-up pretexts for the persecution were many: drug addiction, vagrancy, homosexuality, moral deviancy, prostitution, illicit sale of alcohol, family violence, disorderly conduct, you name it. This proactive persecution of Jazz artists did not stop until the mid-1960s and did not fully and completely end until J. Edgar Hoover departed for the Great Drag Party in Hell (1972). Many an artist ended up behind bars (some, like Billie Holiday, multiple times) during this period, for a variety of (mostly fake and fabricated) reasons. Needless to say, McCarthyism, the Red Witch Hunt and the Cold War hysteria did not exactly bring Jazz artists closer to the hearts of the law enforcement officials. From the 1910s to the early 1970s, there was hardly a black male artist who had not been at least harassed by the law enforcement.

          (5) To protect themselves from this intense and degrading treatment, many Jazz artists sought artistic shelter and legal and political asylum in the arms of the esoteric societies and all-male fraternities (notably Freemasons) which eagerly and wholeheartedly embraced their vitality, vibrancy (and virility) as well as their politics and worldview (one only needs to check album covers by Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Smith, Donald Byrd or JJ Johnson to see a number of Masonic signet rings on prominent display). The Jazz artists’ new fraternal affiliation also came with additional advantages: affordable memberships in labor unions, easier access to distributing and promoting agents and recording labels, personal perks and alike.

          Don’t ask yourself why Dave Brubeck recorded no less than five (5) albums on college campuses. College frats – dominated by Freemasonry – were breeding grounds for Jazz, places where esoteric symbolism converged with Jazz esthetics and the nascent Civil Rights Movement to congeal a unique , and very potent, practically all-male social and artistic force.

          For the same reason, visual male esoteric symbolism is NOT in short supply in Jazz, notably on Jazz cover artworks: from Sonny Rollins holding his tenor sax like a gigantic protruding phallus on the cover of the “Way Out West”,

          http://marcmyers.typepad.com/.a/6a00e008dca1f088340120a5c44fbf970b-800wi

          To Coltrane holding his alto in pretty much the same fashion:

          http://www.jazz.com/assets/2008/1/3/albumcoverJohnColtrane-Ascension.jpg?1199360318

          to Anita O’Day fondling Jimmy Giuffre’s clarinet like a fully erect you-know-what (on the cover of ‘Cool Heat: Anita O’Day sings Jimmy Giuffre arrangements’)

          to Hector Rivera’s self-titled album:

          …and beyond, the visual world of Jazz is full of thinly-veiled masculine puns, virile innuendos and macho optical illusions. Prominent displays of various aspects of masculinity (race cars – just check out any of the early ’60s Jimmy Smith or Donald Byrd covers – sport insignia, Cuban cigars, cowboy swagger, playboy esthetics) are all over the place.

          Alas, this newly-found social shelter from oppression came with a HUGE detriment for the Jazzmen: almost complete exclusion of women — from the rituals, from the social functions, and from any roles in their music (personal life was, of course, exempt). For all practical purposes, women simply COULD NOT become Jazz artists, because fraternal by-laws to which male musicians routinely adhered to essentially barred them from the males-only membership. Only the bravest – and the most fiercely stubborn – among the women dared to even attempt becoming members of the all-male club. As far as yours truly is concerned, Marian McPartland deserves a monument on the Washington Mall every bit as huge as the one given to Abraham Lincoln. She went to the top, a white in the black man’s world, a European in America, a woman in the male world, and a jazz musician in the pop world, without so much as a hint of a physical or legal protection or patronage. Speaking of COURAGE!

          (6) The problem with the all-male frat world that was Jazz around 1940-1950 (like the similar problems with all all-male societies barring women, such as Spartan polis or Catholic church) was that all-male proximity bred some (at the time) rather undesirable desires and socially problematic libidinal urges, and male homosexuality became somewhat of a de rigeur and quite a commonplace in the early days of Cool (for some reason, West Coast appears to have been more susceptible to it than the Boppish East Coast). In 2013, there is nothing wrong with being gay, but in 1950, being gay was the equivalent of being cast to the deepest and lowest circle of burning inferno, an anathema not quite like any other. Miles Davis (and his label, Columbia) successfully suppressed and concealed his multi-sexuality well into the early 1970s, when it was no longer possible – or necessary – to do so.

          The “solution” to the Jazz’s homosexuality “problem” (sic) was found in a two-pronged approach: firstly, Jazz homosexuality was “outsourced” (i.e. exported) from Jazz into the world of written art, notably poetry, Beat Poetry in particular, where such “deviant” tendencies were more tolerated and seen as, oh, more or less “normal”.

          Make no mistake: when Allen Ginsberg wrote:

          “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz (…) who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts, who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy….”

          he did not have ONLY his fellow Beat Poets in mind, almost all of them certifiably gay. He had in mind THE WHOLE GENERATION of post-World War II Jazz hipsters and musicians, aggressively pursuing their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of the same-sex relationships. And make no mistake: he ONLY had Jazz MEN in mind (ostensibly, it would be rather difficult to “wave genitals” from the rooftops if you were a female 🙂

          The second method of concealing homosexuality in Jazz was a little more dubious. Namely, Jazz aesthetics were forced to change and to accentuate its macho, masculine posturing at any cost, and inclusion of women DEFINITELY did not serve this purpose, so the ladies of Jazz had to be excluded and barred at any cost, everywhere. If you look at Art Kane’s legendary “Great Day in Harlem” photo

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Great_Day_in_Harlem

          you will notice that, our of 57 shown musicians, only three (count ’em) were female: Marian McPartland, Maxine Sullivan and Mary Lou Williams. The rest, my friend, is an endless ocean of muscle, facial hair and testosterone. The photo really speaks for itself – and no, the almost complete absence of women from this club is NOT an anomaly or an aberration. This REALLY was the Jazz world of 1958. Ladies needed not apply.

          In fairness to the law enforcement of the time, one must say that repression of homosexuality (as well as women) in Jazz wasn’t only a political or legal necessity: it was also a cultural thing. Namely, to this day, homosexuality is seen in black culture and community as a taboo of greatest magnitude and gravity. Black musicians of the 1950s and 1960s coming out as “gay” would risk not only legal sanction, but also a significant, if not fatal, stigma from the record-buying public and fan base. This is ONE of the reasons why forced and artificially sustained masculinity was a de rigeur in Jazz circles until well into the late 1960s.

          This is also a reason why we owe people like Bill Evans and his deeply introspective, moody improvisations – essentially female (Yin) exercises in the world dominated by Yang workouts by Coltrane and Dolphy – a world of gratitude. Bill Evans not only broke the masculine mold of the East Coast Jazz, but also enabled other “feminine” Jazz forms, such as Bossa Nova, to be heard (though he himself never played Bossa that I am aware of)

          (8) You cite a dozen or so Jazz female leaders in support of your argument (that women are equally capable in all aspects of Jazz art as men, a fact nobody seriously disputes), and I really have no qualms with your argument. However, the very nature of femininity (and this is a long and rather arduous and complex story which does not belong here) makes them uniquely ill-suited for Bop workouts and improvisations; just look at your list: with the exception of Alice Coltrane (and, to a point, Barbara Donald), NONE of these ladies recorded before 1970, when female equality became a norm (and by which time Bop essentially ceased to exist). Oh, yes, the ladies can improvise and interact with the best of them, but the music they are playing is anything but bop: call it modal, fusion, world, post-Bop, acid, avant- or something else, but please don’t call it Bop.

          [I must confess, however, that I am only aware of one half of your female list of artists (Barbara Donald, Marilyn Mazur, Marilyn Crispell, Alice Coltrane, Joanne Brackeen,). The remaining half, I must admit in utter embarrassment, is unknown to me.]

          It is an alluring thought to suggest that women are equal to men in all manners and walks of life, but, sadly, life and empirical evidence suggests otherwise (just check out some male-vs-female earnings stats in your area). Your list, rather meager in length, only accentuates the painful absence of women from Jazz in general, and their almost absolute absence from Bop as a subgenre. Women may have been a mighty spiritus movens throughout human history, but – in Jazz as throughout history – the female presence is opaque, implicit and suggestive — characteristics that Jazz music (with some notable exceptions) typically does not endorse, espouse or encourage. Jazz in general, and Bop in particular, is more often than not a protean eruption of energy, something that males are much more familiar with than females (pun totally intended)

            • Absolutely! I strongly encourage Andy to revisit Alice Coltrane’s ENTIRE oeuvre. I dare say the heretical thought: that, in some ways, Alice Coltrane was EVERY BIT relevant to Jazz as her husband.

          • That was an exhaustive post Bob! I think we agree on many points regarding the difficulties facing the woman artist during the development of this music.

            However, I still find your earlier assessments that “women cannot muster physical stamina to perform more vigorous musical acts”, or that women artists are unable to achieve “meaningful intellectual or musical interaction” between themselves in a performance, intensely problematic. And I think my list refutes that condecending view of the female jazz artist. The “unrestrained vigor” you talk about is not the exclusive domain of male jazz performers.

            As for women boppers, I think Toshiko Akiyoshi and Jutta Hipp can stand comparison with just about any male bop pianist of their time. Or what say you?

            • HI Freddie:

              I am not sure “condescending” is the ideal choice of words here, because – as you may have noticed – I do, in fact, lament the absence of women in Jazz. The entire world – Jazz included – would be a much better place with more women in it (as long as Angela Merkel or Sarah Palin do not suddenly decide to join a Jazz band). I am simply trying to be factual. There is no male chauvinist agenda to what I am trying to convey.

              However, I must reiterate that the reasons for the lack of woman during the critical period of the Bop era may not have been only historical, political, social, cultural or demographic.

              Namely, the most recent studies suggest (and, more importantly, evidence) that female and male neurophysiologies differ SIGNIFICANTLY (perhaps fundamentally) and in more ways than one. There is no doubt in my mind that these differences extend to the brains of the Jazz artists, male and female alike.

              http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/men-women-different-brains1.htm

              At the risk of trivializing and generalizing the results of this study – and similar ones – we could say that the structure of the female brain makes women better networkers, problem-solvers and crisis-managers (qualities rarely – if ever – critical in a Jazz performance), while men’s brains appear to enable a much sharper and more acute perception of time and space (I would say: intuitive grasp of the time-space continuum (obviously, that does not cover writing mile-long comments on Jazz blogs) and, more importantly, social relations and social hierarchy (when you think of Woody Herman’s Herd, don’t think of “Herd” as being merely a metaphor :-)..

              Contrary to popular belief, the study suggests that a typical male tends to be much more of a social- and group- animal than female, a creature of the collective, rather than an inborn individualist (so much for the Nitzschean fairytale of the messianic masculine individualist ubermensch pursuing his manifest destiny and leading the unwashed masses until cows come home).

              I postulate that this, typically male, ability, to perceive things and absorb sensory impulses in a multidimensional continuum makes them significantly more suitable for collective improvisations and intuitive interplay with others, and it is not by accident that “spaced-out” Jazz (Sun Ra-style) was pretty much an all-male domain, at least until the early 1970s. . I am often using Coltrane’s ‘Pursuance’ (from A Love Supreme) as a classic example of near-telepathic interplay and extra-sensory union among the (male) members of the ensemble. I am not saying that women are incapable of such, only that examples of such interplay are SIGNIFICANTLY rarer among women. Women generally tend to dominate their sessions, and their ideas are typically front and center, EVEN when their concepts and creations are extremely delicate, subtle or even frail (Alice Coltrane being a prime example). Female leadership dominance in other genres is even more pronounced: think Janis Joplin, think Big Mama Thornton, think Yoko Ono, think Aretha Franklin, think Martha Argerich, think Diamanda Galas, think (urgh!) Lady Gaga…etc, etc,

              Then there are other physiological differences: from obvious ones (reproductive), to neuromuscular, endocrine, skeletal and even sensory. But this is a subject for another post (I am not sure the readers of this blog would appreciate it or be much interested). Here’s hoping that my musings on this occasion did not overstay my welcome on this thread (insert the sound of self-flagellation here. Ouch!).

              None of this should be interpreted as saying that women are in any manner or form inherently or genetically inferior to men or that they are incapable of creating lasting Jazz masterpieces. This is merely to state the obvious: that Mother Evolution apparently colluded with social oppression and patriarchal society to deny women a more visible and prominent place in Jazz (as well as in Rock and Blues); a place they amply deserve.

              Hopefully, this will change in the years to come.

              The inclusion of Toshiko Akiyoshi (and Lil Armstrong — thanks Rich) is duly noted, and with great appreciation.

              • Geri Allen as well. Carla Bley, if not as an improvisor, a composer and arranger.
                There are many factors which come to play in this discussion of women jazz artists. How many women actually felt the calling? Were there many who did and we never heard of them? How many of those who did feel the calling could handle the road life, working mostly with men. Then there are the sexual innuendos to contend with in a male dominated environment. This discussion of women in jazz seems conflicted to me. The women mentioned on this thread are surely capable. We are dealing mostly with a cultural orientation. If we had as many women musicians drawn to jazz as we have singer songwriters in pop music, the situation would be different. Perhaps another question could be asked. How many women are drawn to jazz in general? In my experience, not many.

            • Correct. Hipp was a German-born and -raised pianist who spent some time during the early 1950s in former Yugoslavia, in Zagreb and Belgrade (where I lived for five years while working on my undergraduate degree). I am not sure if she had any other international exposure before emigrating to the United States. Sadly, there is nothing in either Zagreb (now Croatia) or Belgrade (now Serbia) to commemorate her work there, although there is a lively local Jazz scene in both cities.

    • I don’t think Alfred was prejudice. In fact, I think the low representation of whites was a result of his progressive vision. He and Francis Wolff were German immigrants and therefore did not have the cultural bias or experience in the issues that were plaguing America at the time. They fell in love with jazz and sought to capture what America was neglecting, thus they sought out the under exposed, the hidden, and the raw they wished to avail to the ignorant public. They looked for talent in places ignored by the major labels and common Americans. They looked largely to where jazz was flourishing, this was largely in black America. This was part uncovering an untapped resource and a cultural/sociological adventure for them. They were jazz nerds and didn’t care if they had to go to the source, they were also business men and wanted to sign what their competitors overlooked. They were looking for authentic and didn’t care if regular Americana had issue with minorities.

      • HI Arick:

        It is really hard to tell at this point. There is no substantiated evidence of Lion’s alleged bias anywhere to be found, and yet, the inculpatory fact that 95% of all his signed artists were black pretty much speaks for itself.

        As for Lion and Wolff “falling in love” with Jazz and seeking underdog talent by design, you have to excuse me, I have long ago abandoned any illusions of idealism and starry-eyedness in music business. The artists themselves may have been idealists and dreamers, but the producers, managers, promoters and associated entourage most definitely were not. :Lion’s falling in love with Jazz was more likely a byproduct of his realization that Jazz brings in decent amount of cash and profit and his gradual – perhaps subconscious – warming up to the music he’d helped preserve, but I am not in the least convinced in his instinctive affection and love for the music, or for his artists. In his defense, though, his business instincts and acumen – and his musical premonition – were nothing short of spectacular.

        • Bob
          That doesn’t stack up with the facts, jazz was not something you released to make money.
          No one has started up an independent jazz label to make money. If they did they were very bad at business. Lion had been a fan of jazz for a long time before he decided to start recording. He then stuck with jazz when it would have been infinately more profitable to record R&B or rock n roll, like fellow 30s jazz fans Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler.
          In my experience owners of small independent labels (which is what Blue Note was) are far more likely to be idealists and dreamers than musicians who will almost always go to the largest cheque – hense Silver and Blakey running off to Columbia at the first opportunity.
          Ironically although Lion and Woolf did OK out of Blue Note, it was their corporate successors, most notably EMI in the 1990s who really made money with the likes of Blue Train and Song For My Father selling many thousands of copies and compilations of previously released titles selling hundreds of thousands of copies.
          Dean

  3. The result leaves me with mixed feelings.Proud is not one of them.I realise that I have not always been critical enough.I was and still am buying records in different fields of the jazz area.My main interresest is the bop period,but I also buy Blues,Classic jazz,Mainstream,Cool,Avant Garde,African,Soul,Funk,etc.My goal for the near future is to downsize my collection to 3000 or 4000 records.My first inspiration for this was Rudolf,he only keeps the records he likes musically.As I recently mentioned I found a buyer for my 78’s.That is the first step.The next will be to sell the 10 inches for as far as I have it on 12 inch.My problem is that I am seduced by the format(10″ or 7″),the different cover, the better pressing,the graphic design,the first pressing,etc.The result is that I have sometimes 3 or 4 different copies of the same record(f.i. Pacific,French Vogue,English Vogue,German Vogue)Perhaps this more insane than th Blue Note Hipe!

  4. hardcore for my list, ah ah.
    suggestion: a post on sexy covers?
    example: Chet Baker-Art Pepper Playboys
    and a consideration (no relation): why the great majority, if not the totality of jazz collectors are men?
    what’s wrong in women ’bout jazz?

    • Very strange indeed, Dottore. In hunting-gathering societies, at least the gathering is done by women. Record collectors are both hunters and gatherers (of trophies). But why wouldn’t we gather shoes, or handbags, rather than heaping up vinyl? Any anthropologist here to provide an answer?

      • Coincidentally, I originally qualified in Social Sciences and am familiar with various academic ideas on the role of gender in Society. However it is difficult to step sensibly into this subject without encountering aggrieved Feminists, engaged in what they see as a just war against Patriarchy

        It remains a valid question, why a great majority of musicians are men (and also the majority of record collectors and hifi enthusiasts!) The traditional explanation – men hold the money and power – doesn’t add up, otherwise the main buyers of shoes and handbags would be men.

        Women create life, men create art. As far back as far as the bronze age,cave paintings depict women as objects of fertility and men as hunters and priests. Where does the musician fit?

        • Women create life, men create (and collect) art.
          as I wrote in the past, I’ve been, and I still am, in a never-ending battle between records and shoes with my lovely wife. “u got 2 ears only” vs u got two feet only. ok but: try to sell your shoes on Ebay and see what happens.
          our ART will always sell, your shoes….
          I read in the past that a wind instrument could have been considered as a sexual tool: it was ’bout Bird. My opinion was different: Bird was aggressive, Johnny Hodges was sexy, Stan Gets too, as voice on their saxes.
          and more: which instrument could be compared to a sexual tool?
          trombone, of course, excluding the valve one.
          and: who plays trombone?
          men, with at least one exception: Melba Liston, a lovely woman.
          the small difference between men and women lays here:
          men use their ears for ART.
          women use theirs especially for AdveRTisement (sale, shoes, handbags, dresses….)
          as you see, we are more concise than women, that’s all.

          • I could see how one might think this is saying that women are only good for shopping and only men have the ability to appreciate art…though that’s not necessarily how I read it.

            By the way, if you’re a record collector it does not necessarily mean you are appreciating and experiencing the art contained within. In fact, record collectors probably actually appreciate and experience music *less* than the average music lover because–in my experience as a collector and knowing other collectors–collectors get caught up the details of their material hobby and in the process the focus less on the actual art. In this sense, if what I said is true about women not caring as much about the material aspect of recorded music (record collecting), they have a leg up because they are doing more of what I think is really important at the end of the day then: listening, opposed to staring at ebay and arguing with other collectors and audiophiles in online forums for two to four hours a day =P

            • this is very interesting: “record collectors probably actually appreciate and experience music *less* than the average music lover”.
              this is my experience: I’ve become a first pressing fundamentalist 20 or 25 years ago, I wasn’t before. That means now I buy originals only and I ignore what isn’t. In a way or another, I owe almost everything I’m interestd into, almost, not all. so, if I encounter a record I’m interested into and it’s NOT original, I don’t buy it and it will miss from my collection. right? wrong?, I really can’t buy a reissue now, but I’m always in search for the original and, in this way, I think I’ll never owe that particular record but I have patience and faith.

              • Well, on the other hand, if you can’t bring yourself to owning a reissue, you can often get a digital copy easily, in which case you can still appreciate the music until an original comes around. But I am essentially the same way: I purged my collection of reissues recently (but I have a lot of the stuff on MP3). I don’t need an absolute first-pressing original but I want a vintage copy…my flexibility allows me to save some money 😉

            • Women can play instruments and create works of art same as men. That doesn’t address why 98% of the roster of modern jazz musicians (say on Blue Note or any other jazz label) are men. Jutta Hipp, Shirley Scott (Mrs Turrentine) and that is about it apart from the jazz singers. Its the elephant in the room.

              Gentlemen, I suggest we retire to the smoking room to continue this discussion while the ladies busy themselves with the washing up.

              • Sorry, Mary-Lou Williams is a jazz giant. Under-rated but fabulous, from her early swing days, bebop period to the later gospel stuff. My guess would be that to some extent, the lack of female instrumentalists and band leaders had to do with the sexism and gender stereotypes of the day. A lot of the music discussed on this wonderful blog is 40 – 60 years old. The role of females in society was different in that day and age.

                Also, the life of a jobbing, touring, Jazz musician is very hard. Records don’t sell, and one makes a marginal living from gigs. Virtually incompatible with raising children, which most women aspire to.

                • Thanks Boukman for your enlightened comment. And – speaking of female band leaders, let’s not forget Toshiko Akiyoshi.

                  If anybody wants me, I’ll be in the kitchen attending to the dishes.

        • I can imagine that some feminists would cry outrage if they read what I just wrote. However, even if a causal theory is wrong, the effect remains. So if a feminist wants to shoot down someone’s explanation for why things are the way they are, it would only be fair that they had their own theory, right? I’m bringing this up because I imagine a lot of feminists in this situation get caught up in denying various theories are crying sexism without having any interest in an actual legitimate explanation, which would be kind of lame IMO.

    • This is an interesting topic. I have noticed that most jazz musicians as well as record collectors are male, and I have also noticed that there is a similar trend with hip hop music. It should be noted that most record collectors in general are male–not just jazz. I feel like for some reason women just enjoy the music; they don’t have any desire to get caught up in the “material” aspect of it…? As for the makers of the music, hip hop is clearly an “aggressive”, masculine art form, but jazz is a little trickier to pin down. If it’s true that women are more “intuitive” and less “analytical” than men, it could be because jazz is a “technical” art form by and large…I guess jazz is a bit “combative” as well…? I don’t know…I hope I’m not offending anyone, I’m just a curious person and I think about this often for some reason.

      • Although there are a few notable exceptions, the percentage and role of women in jazz seems to be similar to blues. At least in their heydays, few women took up playing jazz and blues instruments, yet they they tend to dominate the less popular vocal versions (Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, etc.). In fact, their styles seem to be very similar despite their so-called genres (jazz or blues?).

        I can’t help but think that the jazz voalists were influenced directly by the previous generations which were billed as blues in some cases. Perhaps women took up these roles as singing was considered more refined or dainty and the cultural norms discouraged them from playing instruments or being a side men.

        It was nice to see Jutta Hipp on a few lists 😉

  5. LJC
    A wonderful few weeks of posts and great analysis.

    I’ve been away from my computer and my records (jazz about 1600 to 2000), so haven’t had a chance to post.

    A spare half hour on Friday and I might still post my smug list……

    Thanks

    Dean

  6. Great job well done; am wondering how you find the time to ananlyse, as I hardly have time to listen to my vinyls. Guess that is the privilige of being retired and then being too busy.
    Please do continue collecting!

    • There are a few IT tricks in my toolbag to speed things along Tom, like manipulating text strings in Excel. It’s easy enough when you know how (and just about impossible if you don’t).
      Never imagined I would be using those skills again. Fun, really.

  7. Fun fact: The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (which I am a big fan of) mentions that Mobley is “popular with collectors” in its blurb on the artist. I just think it’s funny that the author is talking about us! lol

    BTW: I’m the one that posted that obviously fake top 10 records owned under the name “Daddy W.”…I must be a huge nerd because I was cracking up as I wrote it =P

Leave a Reply to LondonJazzCollector Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s