Archives: December 2023

  • Mid-December

    December 15th, 2023, was the 70th anniversary of Kenny Dorham's first recording date as a leader. This "Kenny Dorham Quintet" album includes the first studio recording of An Oscar For Oscar, an intricate bebop blues head in that classic K.D. style. We have a lead sheet that reflects this version, as well as a combined melody and solo transcription with detailed articulations for an in-depth look at his unique phrasing.

    December 16th was Bobby Porcelli's 86th birthday. We're celebrating with K.D., his tribute to Kenny Dorham. It's a medium-tempo Latin song based on the changes of Alone Together, with plenty of allusions to Dorham's harmonic sophistication and melodic depth. Bobby is featured on some of our "K.D. Challenge" tracks of Dorham compositions; this song is a great opportunity to hear K.D.'s influence from Bobby's own point of view. A video is available of Bobby playing this song with a sextet from Columbia University.

    Another of our composers celebrating a birthday in mid-December is Walter Bolden (born December 17th, 1925). Walter wrote Mr. A.T. Revisited for fellow drummer Art Taylor, who recorded it on what would be his last album as a leader. This one is a catchy medium-up swinger with fun changes to blow on.

    Finally, December 19th would have been the 94th birthday of master composer/valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. We have three newly added Brookmeyer songs, two of which are on his 1964 album "Tonight" co-led with Clark Terry. The lyrical, modal Hum is finally available as an instrumental lead sheet - we've had the vocal version You (lyric by Judy Niemack) up before. Also from "Tonight" is Pretty Girl, a deep, tender ballad also recorded a few months earlier on another classic album "Bob Brookmeyer And Friends." Carib, a festive Latin song in an unusual 3/2 meter, comes from Bob's 1978 quintet album "Back Again" featuring Thad Jones.

  • Early December: Rosnes, McPherson, Watson

    December 9th, 10th, and 11th are the anniversaries of important recording sessions by three of our composers; five songs (and one arrangement) from these sessions are new to Bobby Watson recorded "Present Tense" on these dates in 1991; this album was the debut of trumpeter Terell Stafford. From this album we have At The Crossroads, a bright-toned medium swinger in a classic Watson style, and Monk He See, Monk He Do which joins our expanding roster of tributes to Thelonious Monk. Both of these songs have condensed scores and first and second horn parts for quintet arrangements; the arrangement we have of At The Crossroads is an updated version recorded on Bobby's 2013 album "Check Cashing Day." "Present Tense" also includes versions of two Watson compositions previously recorded on his 1986 album "Love Remains": The Mystery Of Ebop and Love Remains. For the first of these, we now have the quintet arrangement available as recorded on "Present Tense." Our notes on Love Remains explain how the two recordings of this song are slightly different.

    Exactly 28 years after Watson's "Present Tense" recording, trumpeter Terell Stafford was in the studio with another master alto saxophonist and composer. Charles McPherson's most recent album "Jazz Dance Suites" was recorded on December 9th and 10th, 2019, at the Van Gelder Recording Studio. Our two newly added songs from these sessions, Delight and Thinking Of You, may seem simple with their lyrical melodies but are full of subtle detail in their full-quintet arrangements. Both have first and second "horn" parts (Thinking Of You was recorded with alto sax and guitar on these parts); piano and bass parts are available for Delight, and a rhythm section part on Thinking Of You.

    On December 11, 1988, Renee Rosnes came to Van Gelder to record a remarkable two-piano track with Herbie Hancock. This song, Fleur-de-lis, was released on her first album as a leader. We now have lead sheets for Fleur-de-lis, a delicate rubato ballad full of impressionistic harmonies. Our C lead sheet shows the piano voicings from Renee's original manuscript.

  • Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Reflections In Blue

    December 4, 2023, is the 45th anniversary of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ recording session for the album “Reflections In Blue.” James Williams’ title track Reflections In Blue, an iconic Blakey shuffle, was already on; four more songs from this session are now available as well. These include another shuffle by Williams: (What Do You Say,) Dr. “J”. This 24-measure song is driven by a rhythmic bass line, which is shown in our C treble and bass clef lead sheets; the treble clef lead sheet also shows piano voicings on the B section. Also from Williams we have Stretching, a minor blues head written in tribute to trumpeter Woody Shaw and influenced by Woody’s distinctive post-bop style. We have a sextet condensed score reflecting the Blakey recording, but this song certainly works in a quartet setting as well.

    Not Far At All, by Valery Ponomarev, was recorded at this session but only released on some reissues of another Jazz Messengers album, “In My Prime, Vol. 1”. It’s an example of another classic Blakey format, a stop-time medium-up swinger. Finally, “Reflections In Blue” includes the first version of one of Bobby Watson’s best-known compositions, E.T.A. This uptempo “burner”, a contrafact of John Coltrane’s Lazy Bird, was recorded many times by both Blakey and Watson. Melody transcriptions are available for two of Watson’s recordings; these are a great inspiration for interpreting the melody in a quartet lineup.

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