1964 was a killer year for jazz (and for metallic green Buick Skylarks), and we’ve prepared a short list of highlights to kick off your work week.
Thelonious Monk’s Stuffy Turkey — a loping, playful number from the Alhambra in Paris — focuses first on a lyrical line from tenor man Charlie Rouse, allowing Ben, Butch and Monk to lightly roll off on little sides. Monk’s following solo is spacious and off-kilter, with cool comping from the bass: absolutely classic Monk. Speaking of classic, All Blues is performed by the first great Miles Davis quintet with George Coleman at a concert to benefit black voters in Mississippi and Louisiana — simply brilliant; Tony Williams was only 19 at the time!
Within months, Wayne Shorter would take the tenor chair in Miles’ group , but before that he issued his first album as a band leader, with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Reggie Workman — all Coltrane men — and Lee Morgan on trumpet. At the time Wayne was under the shadow of Trane, criticized often for the similarity in approach and sound, so his choice of cohorts is interesting.
Despite such criticism though, Oriental Folk Song shows that a man now widely regarded as the greatest living jazz composer was already in full bloom more than 40 years ago. The final track this week is from the recent Mingus Live at Cornell recording, with Eric Dolphy. While Take the A Train might seem a jazz cliché, you’ve never heard it like this. Enjoy!