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November 18, 1987 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-18

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of Bird" (Warner Bros.) and
"Bird / The Savoy Recordings
(Master Takes)" (Savoy /Aris
ta). "Bird on Verve, Vol. 2: Bird
and Diz" (Verve or French Poly-
gram) draws from a magnifi-
cent pairing of Parker with an-
other founder of bop, Dizzy
Thelonius Monk. Although he
played with many of the
boppers and showed a few of
the same stylistic intentions,
Thelonius Monk soon became
a musical style unto himself. A
supreme iconoclast, Monk com-
posed beautiful, often brood-
ing, melodies, such as "'Round
About Midnight,"' and per-
formed in his own small
groups. "Genius of Modern Mu-
sic, Volume One" (Blue Note)
highlights his spare, angular
piano style. "Thelonius Monk

with John Coltrane" (Original
Jazz Classics / Fantasy)gets its
strength, on numbers like
"Trinkle, Tinkle," from the
confluence of Monk's restraint
and Coltrane's ebullience. Be-
cause it was a large-group
date with 10 musicians, "The
Thelonius Monk Orchestra at
Town Hall" (Original Jazz
Classics / Fantasy) provided
Monk's compositions with full-
er arrangements and a truly
lush treatment.
Charles Mingus. In the wake of
bop, jazz groups began to place
more melodic and rhythmic
emphasis on the bass. And no
bassist could match Charles
Mingus for rhythmic power.
Starting in the late 1950s, he
showed an Ellingtonian flair
for evocative, highly dramatic
compositions. Some of his most

Rhythmic power and a compositional flair: Charles Mi ngus

ply turn loose his versatile
stable of soloists on a rave-up'
like "Harlem Air Shaft." There
is an abundance of great Elling-
ton from various decades avail-
able, but one cannot start with
a better period than the early
1940s. A four-record set, "Duke
Ellington: The Blanton-Web-
ster Band" (Bluebird /RCA)
surveys 1940-42-and the digi-
tally remastered sound is im-
peccable. Smithsonian Record-
ings (mail order only, from
Smithsonian Recordings, P.O.
Box 10230, Des Moines, Iowa
50336) offers much of the same
material divided into four two-
record sets, each covering a sin-

gle year. While more afford-
able, these sets are all analog,
with some surface noise. For
the energy of the Ellington
band live, listen to "The Duke
Ellington Carnegie Hall Con-
certs: 1943" (Prestige).
Count Basis. Maybe the Basie
band couldn't match the im-
ages and textures created by
the Ellington arrangements,
but no one could flat-out swing
like the Count. A two-record
set, "The Best of Count Basie"
(MCA), offers several examples
of this joyous art. "Jumpin' at
the Woodside" is typical of the
form: Basie, tinkling away on
piano, kicks off a tune with just
the bass of Walter Page and the
drums of Jo Jones; then the
band comes soaring in to trade
off solos at a bracing rate. A
good single-disc introduction is
"The Essential Count Basie:
Volume One" (CBS), which in-
cludes several of the band's ear-
ly triumphs.
Charlie Parker. During the
1940s, a group of musicians
started a revolution against the
relatively staid harmonies and
rhythms of the big bands. Their
style became known as bebop,
or bop, and chief among the reb-
els was alto saxophonist Char-
lie Parker, nicknamed Bird. He
had the uncommon ability to
pack each phrase with an amaz-
ing string of notes, not just at
blazing tempos ("Ko Ko") but
on ballads ("Don't Blame Me")
as well. And he wasn't afraid to
play off the beat or outside con-
ventional harmony. Two two-
record sets capture Bird's ex-
quisite blend of technique and
emotionalism: "The Very Best

Miles ahead: From
cool jazz to hot
fusion, Miles
Davis was leading
the way


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