From the same album as last week’s post, the opening track by pianist Cedar Walton.
Last week’s tune reminded me of this one by trombonist Tom MacIntosh; the bass walks down from Bb minor on the A sections, and moves up to Eb minor for the bridge. It comes from one of my favorite jazz records from the early 60’s, Blue Mitchell’s The Cup Bearers.
Once in a while a friend or acquaintance will show me a new album they’ve recorded, proudly stating: “I paid [well-respected musicians x, y and z] to play my music.” Too often, the band sounds like less than the sum of its parts because the musicians don’t have the rapport and verve of a group that has the luxury of working together often.
The names Junior Cook, Gene Taylor and Roy Brooks aren’t household names even among jazz aficionados, but these three and Blue Mitchell were the sleek chassis of Horace Silver’s quintet during his prime, and they consistently appear together on some of the best jazz albums of the 1960s. The countless hours they spent working together add up to a product that still conveys a sense of fun and adventure sixty years later.
This tune comes from Images of Curtis Fuller, an album from 1960 that features fun compositions by the trombonist, as well as excellent soloing by him and bandmates Lee Morgan and Yusef Lateef.
Horace Silver compositions are often as fun to play as they are to listen to, and this is one of my favorites. This song doesn’t get much recognition even among Silver aficionados, so recently I’ve been trying to insert it into the repertoire of some of the bands I play with.
Watermelon is the opening track on Introducing Nat Adderley, the trumpeter’s first album as a leader from 1955. Nat and his brother Julian were in their mid-20s at the time of this recording, and newcomers to the New York jazz scene, but they play with poise and maturity beyond their years on a program of mostly medium tempo swingers. In fact, the band sounds so cool and relaxed that in the hands of a lesser drummer the album might have lacked the vitality I usually associate with the Adderley brothers’ work. Luckily the master Roy Haynes is on hand to fan the flames.
I recently had the good fortune to share a bill with the Italian quartet Accordo dei Contrari. I was really impressed with the band’s rapport, and the way they make improvising over difficult music seem easy. This week, to keep my mind occupied while sitting in traffic, I’ve been enjoying their recent album Violato Intatto. This song in particular has sort of a Mahavishnu Orchestra vibe that I like.
You can hear for yourself on the band’s website.