Last post of the year, and some year it has been, so much discovery in modern jazz 1956-66 (give or take a few years) 2017 has really been a landmark. Not a lot of new acquisitions, the collector world seems increasingly in a hurry to buy up the past, at ever eye-watering prices, and that has never been my thing, more a snout, hunting truffles.
The siren-song of the “new addition” is still strong, but what I have enjoyed most this year is rediscovering the great music I already had, especially as it sounds better than ever with more investment in hi-fi voodoo, RFI-rejecting earthing of component-casing, fresh turntable belts, regular cartridge demagnetising, and ultrasonic vinyl cleaning, if you want to know, bringing “musicians in the room” ever closer. 2018 promises ever more opportunities to listen “old music”: the past has never sounded better.
It has been a pleasure having so many jazz lovers in my virtual listening room, and my mailbox and the comment column is always a surprise and delight each morning. This is stuff people want to share. We are not many in number, to scale, a thousand email subscribers, two thousand visitors a day, three million page views since 2011, about a day’s worth for some “celebrities”. It’s been great fun and there will be more to come, we have hardly scratched the surface. I’m looking forward to it, hope you are too.
I’m rapidly becoming allergic to the word “New!” Everything was new once, so what? I sat with a friend recently and listened through Mingus “Pithycanthropus Erectus” on the original black label Atlantic (1956). What an incredible, powerful piece of music that is, and towards close, that repeated unison “slam” is still electrifying!
To play the year out and the new in, I had in mind a long list of favourite rediscoveries, but against the clock I settled for just one, the tune Park Avenue Petite written by Bennie Golson and recorded for Bethlehem by Howard McGhee in 1960, on one of his brief non-custodial sojourns. It sums up the beauty and sense of time of those most fertile of years, 1959 , Kind of Blue and its musical neighbours. Big city melancholy in the small hours, lovely arrangements and harmonies, and surefooted poignant melody.
From here on music moved onto modal soundscapes, latin and bossa, boogaloo, the exquisite counterpoint of rhythm section entering the front line, soul jazz, and post bop, and everything else. As someone wrote, the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It’s called music, and we speak that here.
Dusty Blue – Park Avenue Petite
Howard McGhee (trumpet) Bennie Green (trombone) Roland Alexander (tenor sax) Pepper Adams (baritone sax) Tommy Flanagan (piano) Ron Carter (bass) Walter Bolden (drums) recorded NYC, June 13, 1960 (This edition, ridiculously desirable PMC1181 UK Parlophone)
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Enjoy, open a single malt or whatever your poison, sink back into the sofa, and dip your toes into a time past. Yes, it had its troubles, all times have, but what I like about that time is the optimism about the future, things becoming better, which they did, don’t let anyone tell you different. The glass is not half empty, it is half full – or if not, top it up some more!
Any rediscoveries you have made this year, happy to hear what they are, the floor is yours, more adventures to come…Happy New Year!