All that's jazz... and more

It is one of the biggest selling jazz albums of all time and turned more people on to the genre, and of course the rhythms of Brazil, than any other record. For this 50th anniversary reissue it comes newly remastered  in both mono and stereo, with the mono version making its CD debut and the stereo album in its original left-right configuration for the first time since its vinyl release. Additional bonus tracks include the U.S. single versions of The Girl From Ipanema and Corcovado, its original B-side.

It was in March 1963 at A & R Studios in New York City that Stan Getz along with pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tommy Williams on bass, drummer Milton Banana (he was born Antônio de Souza), guitarist Joao Gilberto accompanied by his wife Astrud Gilberto recorded this seminal album. From the cover painting by Olga Albizu, admittedly from Puerto Rico, to the soft samba sounds, to the subject of the songs – Corcovado and Ipanema are in Rio de Janeiro – Getz/Gilberto oozes Brazil from every groove.

Released a year later it made No.2 on the Billboard charts and went on to spend close to two years on the best seller list. In 1965 it won the Grammy for Best Album of the Year across all musical genres, the first time a jazz album was so rewarded, and has subsequently continued to be one of the half dozen best selling jazz albums of all time. Aside from all that it proves conclusively that jazz can be commercial and artistically satisfying. When Billboard reviewed the LP in April 1964 they simply said, “The sensuous tenor sax of Stan Getz combines with the soft edged voice of Brazil’s famous Joaõ Gilberto in a program of lovely Brazilian music.” So possibly no one expected it to do as well as it did.

Hear it here on Spotify

For iTunes go here


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The 1970s witnessed the earliest stirrings of hip-hop, and with the release of the Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ at the end of the decade*, the movement had become more than just an underground sensation. By the mid-1980s LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and DJ Jazzy Jeff were on the scene. From a Blue Note perspective, the most significant hip-hop act from this period was A Tribe Called Quest whose 1990 debut featured extensive sampling, not least from Blue Note’s catalogue and including the track ‘Think Twice’ by Donald Byrd (from the 1975 album Stepping into Tomorrow). On their second album a year later, ATCQ sampled ‘Buhaina Chant’ from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers 1957 album as well as Grant Green’s ‘Down Here On The Ground.’ Their 1993 album made use of Lou Donaldson’s ‘Ode To Billy Joe’, the most sampled Blue Note song of all time, along with material from tracks by Lee Morgan, Ronnie Foster, and Woody Shaw.

Hear Blue Note’s exclusive ‘Most Sampled’ playlist here

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Organist Shirley Scott recorded her debut album, Great Scott!! as a leader for impulse with George Duvivier (bass) Arthur Edgehill (drums).

Hear it here


In 1961 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, who included  Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons  on piano and bass player Jymie Merritt recorded Freedom Rider

Hear it here


Dexter Gordon recorded Clubhouse in 1965 that featured Freddie Hubbard Barry Harris (piano) Bob Cranshaw & Ben Tucker (bass) Billy Higgins (drums)

Hear it here


Lee Morgan recorded Delightfulee Morgan in 1966 that featured Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone) McCoy Tyner (piano) Bob Cranshaw (bass) and Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Hear it here


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He was man of contradictions, sometimes angry and arrogant, and on other occasions generous and introspective. He was also a genius who discovered and encouraged others. His haunting tone and constantly changing style allowed him to become involved in just about anything and everything that happened in modern jazz. His unique playing style, with its voice like quality and tone that was almost free of vibrato, could sometimes be melancholy, at others times assertive. It helped to make him the model for generations of jazz musicians and for jazz lovers the world over Miles Davis defined cool.

Here was another jazzman that came, not from the poor sided of town, but from relative affluence. His father was a dentist and a year after Miles Dewey Davis III was born in May 1926, in Alton, Illinois the family moved to East St Louis. For his thirteenth birthday Miles was given a trumpet and lessons with a local jazz musician named Elwood Buchanan. By the age of fifteen he had already got his musicians’ union card allowing him to play around St. Louis with Eddie Randall’s Blue Devils.

The rest is history…

Celebrate with our Miles Davis playlist; hear it here

“To be and stay a great musician you’ve got to always be open to what’s new, what’s happening at the moment.”– Miles Davis

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“I always listen to what I can leave out.” – Miles Davis

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“A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it.” – Miles Davis

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“I don’t care if a dude is purple with green breath as long as he can swing” – Miles Davis

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“You know why I quit playing ballads? Cause I love playing ballads.” – Miles Davis

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“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” – Miles Davis


“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” – Miles Davis



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Marcie Allen July 5th at 5:56am

Miles Davis was a sexy chocolate brown truffle - loaded with the darkest of chocolate in the middle - that is just nasty nice - Oh Yay!!!!!

C. S. Brown July 6th at 2:21pm

Thanks. 'We loved him madly'!!! (8-D=

When a photographer gets a great shot of a performer it’s most often because they are lucky or skilled enough catch a moment on stage when something magical happens; to get great shots of performers in private is much more difficult. William Gottlieb managed to, time and again, achieve both. All too often, when photographers take pictures of people, they fail to capture the essence of the person – they merely capture an image. William Gottlieb knew most of the musicians whose pictures he took; maybe it’s this knowledge that helped him find the person behind the performer. His remarkable photos bring to life a unique period in the history of jazz. You can see more of his brilliant work at the Library of Congress site Click HERE

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1917, Gottlieb was of similar age to many of the jazz greats that feature in his photography. Having grown up in New Jersey, where his father owned a box factory, William went to Lehigh University to study economics; both his parents died while he was a teenager. It was in 1936 while at Lehigh that he first became interested in jazz. Having been brought low by a bout of food poisoning, he spent much of the summer in bed listening to jazz records which had been supplied by a high school friend and chatting with him about “America’s contribution to the arts.”

On his return to university, Gottlieb began writing a regular column for The Lehigh Review, later becoming its editor-in-chief. On leaving university he got a job on the Washington Post selling advertising space. After a few months he persuaded them to let him write a weekly column about jazz; the Post agreed to pay him an extra $10 a week. Initially, a photographer went to jazz clubs and concerts with Gottlieb, but soon the Post decided this was an unnecessary expense. Anxious to continue to get pictures for his column, he traded some of his precious jazz records for a 31/4 x 41/4 -inch Speed Graphic camera, film, and flashbulbs.

The camera was just like the ones that we’re all used to seeing in classic Hollywood movies when photographers crowd around their victim. It all looks easy on film, but in reality using a Speed Graphic was a lot more complicated. Getting to grips with the new camera was a challenge. After just one afternoon’s tuition from a Post photographer, William had no alternative but to teach himself. Because the Speed Graphic was limited to two exposures without reloading, it meant that he had to think through precisely what he wanted to take each time he used the camera. In addition, the film and flashbulbs were expensive, so there was none of the flexibility offered by modern digital photography. The result is quality, not quantity in William Gottlieb’s work.

By the time war broke out he also had his own radio show in Washington DC that featured many of the great jazz musicians who passed through the capital. Other guests included his friends, Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun, both keen jazz fans as well as being the sons of the Turkish Ambassador to the United States. Ahmet Ertegun went on to co-found Atlantic Records. In 1941 William left his advertising job at the Post, deciding instead to teach at the University of Maryland. By 1943 he had been drafted into the Army Air Corps where he served as a photo officer.

With the war over, William settled in New York and got a job on Down Beat magazine as a reporter and reviewer, but he continued to take photographs. He also began working for Record Changer magazine, which also published many of his pictures. Many of his photographs were taken in the great jazz clubs that were to be found on 52nd Street or on ‘Swing Street’ the block between 5th and 6th Avenues.

By the end of the 1940s, having married and had children, William thought it time to settle down and get himself a regular job that would allow him to spend evenings at home, not out on the town with his jazz musician friends. He was offered a job at Curriculum Films, an educational filmstrip company. Later he started his own company, and when this was bought out by McGraw Hill he became a president of a division; it’s where he stayed until he retired in 1979. It was at this point that, at a friends suggestion, he pulled out his old jazz negatives and published them in a book.  The recognition he soon received as a photographer far exceeded what he ever achieved as a writer.

William Gottlieb died of a stroke in 2006, shortly after a documentary, entitled ‘Riffs’ about his life was made. His photographs have appeared on hundreds of LP and CD covers, on clothing, postage stamps, in scores of publications, and have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. William Gottlieb will be remembered, not least, because he captured people with a truth that few photographers managed to achieve. His photographs portray the essence of the performers – which words alone cannot convey.


Louis Armstrong at the Aquarium, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1946


Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter (bass), Miles Davis, and Duke Jordan (at the piano) at the Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Aug. 1947


Duke Ellington and Django Reinhardt at the Aquarium, New York, N.Y., ca. Nov. 1946


Coleman Hawkins and Miles Davis at the Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. July 1947


Dizzy Gillespie taken in New York, ca. May 1947


Nesuhi Ertegun, Herb Abramson, Ahmet M. Ertegun, Mezz Mezzrow, Jay Higginbotham(?), Art Hodes, Lou McGarity, Henry Allen, Lester Young, and Sadi Coylin(?), taken at the  Turkish Embassy, Washington, D.C., ca. 1940

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Bob Tilton May 25th at 6:21pm

Coleman Hawkins was my tenor sax idol

L.D. Fierman May 25th at 6:25pm


james m lewis May 26th at 3:43am

very nice and interesting

Joe May 26th at 8:22am

Deep and lively

louis-armstrong-and-the-all-stars-hello-dolly-kapp-250 years ago this week Louis Armstrong was riding high, atop the Billboard charts with his first ever No.1. There’s an unlikely tale behind the song that a year later would win the Grammy as ‘Song of The Year’.

In early December 1963 Louis Armstrong went into a New York recording studio, his first session in two years; he was there as a favour for his manger, who in turn was doing a favour for Dave Kapp, the brother of Jack Kapp, the former head of Decca Records, and a song plugger friend. One of the two songs they recorded was from a new Broadway show that was still in pre-production, the other, ‘A Lot of Livin’ To Do’ was from an Elvis Presley inspired Broadway show that had run for 600 performances thathad closed a year or more ago.

Neither song seemed to have what it takes to become a hit, much in the same way that none of Louis’s recent records had; he had last been on the Billboard singles chart in late 1956 with ‘Blueberry Hill’.

Despite everything on 15 February 1964 his new single entered the Billboard charts at No.76, one place ahead of the Dave Clark Five. Twelve weeks later ‘Hello Dolly’ knocked the Beatles, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love; from the top spot, in doing so it ended fourteen straight weeks of The Beatles records at No.1. In the end ‘Hello Dolly’ only spent a week there, and was knocked from the top by Motown’s Mary Wells’s ‘My Guy’ , but who cares, Satchmo was the man to dethrone the Beatles.

While ‘Hello Dolly’ was climbing the charts, Kapp wasted no time in getting Louis and the All-Stars into a studio in Las Vegas to record ten more songs that became the Holly Dolly album. It too proved to be a winner after Kapp rushed out the album in mid-May; by mid-June the LP had gone to No.1 and stayed there for six-weeks, ironically replacing the Original Cast Recording of Hello Dolly.

Perhaps most ironic of all was when Louis and the All-Stars played the Newport Jazz Festival in July. The jazz fraternity was far from complimentary about ‘Hello Dolly’, but despite this he had to play two encores of the song.

Hear the Hello Dolly Here

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On Sunday evening at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. there was an all star concert to celebrate 75 years of Blue Note Records. Now thanks to National Public Radio in america when can all enjoy the concert because they recorded it and have made it available on their web site.

You can listen to it here

This is really not to be missed, as you can see from the line-up…

Robert Glasper & Jason Moran, “Boogie Woogie Stomp” (Glasper, piano; Moran, piano)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Blues Walk” (Donaldson, alto saxophone; Smith, organ; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman” (same personnel)

Lou Donaldson feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith, “Alligator Boogaloo” (same personnel)

Joe Lovano, “Fort Worth/I’m All For You” (Lovano, tenor saxophone; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “Walk Spirit Talk Spirit” (Hutcherson, vibraphone; Tyner, piano)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “Blues On The Corner” (same personnel)

Bobby Hutcherson & McCoy Tyner, “African Village” (same personnel)

Dianne Reeves, “Dreams” (Reeves, voice; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Robert Glasper, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Dianne Reeves, “Stormy Weather” (Reeves, voice; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Peter Martin, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Terence Blanchard, “Wandering Wonder” (Blanchard, trumpet; Lionel Loueke, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Derrick Hodge, bass; Kendrick Scott, drums)

Norah Jones, “The Nearness Of You” (Jones, voice/piano)

Norah Jones, “I’ve Got To See You Again” (Jones, voice; Wayne Shorter, saxophone; Jason Moran, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums)

Wayne Shorter, Medley (Shorter, saxophone; Danilo Perez, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Brian Blade, drums)



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“Never the world’s most highly animated showman or greatest stage personality, but a tone so beautiful it sometimes brought tears to the eyes—this was Johnny Hodges. This is Johnny Hodges.” – Duke Ellington’s eulogy for Johnny

Johnny Hodges had the sweetest saxophone tone of anyone – his was beautiful jazz. He also possessed technical mastery of his instrument, an individualistic style and the use of vibrato that made him admired by many. His playing of the blues was particularly sensuous and his way with a ballad made him the quintessential Duke Ellington sideman and an in demand player to accompany others.

After learning to play both piano and drums he first played soprano sax before becoming a specialist with the alto saxophone. He went to New York while still in his teens where he played with a few bands; having been inspired by Sidney Bechet he also took guidance from the jazz pioneer.

Johnny joined Duke Ellington’s Orchestra in 1928, playing on his first record in March and from the very first he became pivitol to the Ellington sound as well as co-writing some of Duke’s recordings. He appeared with Elington at The Cotton Club,  toured Europe with him in both 1933 and 1939, and three years later he played on the classic, ‘Things Ain’t What They Used To Be’ helping to make it so distinctive as well as a big hit record.

After playing on so many wonderful Ellington records Hodges left in 1951 to work within a small group environment, something he had already done within the Ellington organization. His first session for Granz’s Norgran label was in January along with two other Ellingtonians, trombonist Lawrence Brown and Duke’s long serving drummer, Sonny Greer. The album was called ‘Castle Rock’, the title track was a hit single and the album was later reissued on Verve. A month later the same players recorded an album entitles, ‘Memories of Ellington’ that was later reissued as ‘In A Mellow Tone’ by Verve

Over the next decade or so Johnny recorded a lot of albums for both Norgran and Verve. Among the highlights were ‘Ellingtonia ’56’, ‘Johnny Hodges with Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra’ and ‘The Big Sound’. He also worked with Ellington himself and recorded ‘Duke Ellington And Johnny Hodges Play The Blues – Back To Back’ and ‘Duke Ellington And Johnny Hodges Side by Side’ that show off the wonderful musicianship of the long time colleagues.

In the early 1960s he rejoined Ellington’s band and was in the studio when Duke and Frank Sinatra recorded the album, ‘Francis A. And Edward K’ in December 1967. Among the songs they recorded was the beautiful ‘Indian Summer’ with a sumptuous Billy May arrangement. It is among the best songs Sinatra recorded for Reprise and Johnny Hodges sax solo certainly adds to the overall effect. So enthralled was Sinatra during its recording that when it ends he’s half a second late in coming in to sing; Hodges at 60 years old still had it.

Hodges last appearance was at the Imperial Room in Toronto, less than a week before his death. He suffered a heart attack during a visit to his dental surgeon in May 1970. Hodges performance on Sinatra’s record was a fitting elegy to a great saxophonist.

Check out our Johnny Hodges playlist here





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Born this day – Johnny Hodges | thejazzword July 25th at 1:08pm

[…] Check out our other story on Johnny Hodges here […]

Recorded between March and July 1993 Cassandra Wilson’s Blue Note debut is nothing short of sensational. It has one of the most seductive openings to any record ever. And what a brave opening. The song, ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, dates all the way back to 1941 and has been covered many times down the years, including versions by Chet Baker and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. But the kind of magic that Cassandra Wilson weaves on this track, and all the way through Blue Light ‘Til Dawn, leaves them far behind.

Of course there are some who will be quick to point out that this is no jazz album. Well, who cares? It is so accomplished, so different, so adventurous, that it deserves all the plaudits that it has received. Anyone who can cover Robert Johnson (and offer something totally new) as well as Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Ann Peebles, and bring the kind of freshness to the songs that Ms Wilson brings is deserving of our attention.

With a voice like satin, one that constantly evokes the vibe of smoke-filled clubs of old, the inventiveness on Mitchell’s ‘Black Crow’ and Van the Man’s ‘Tupelo Honey’ is what draws us in. Sparseness is her trademark, a sparseness that allows no margin of error on the vocals. And there is none. For me this is jazz soul, not the kind that came along in the 1960s but* jazz that is bathed in soulfulness. This is truly a landmark album, and let no one tell you it’s not jazz. Then again, maybe it’s just brilliant.

Now it is reissued in an expanded form with three additional tracks recorded live back in 1994. Later this year Cassandra has a new album of Billie Holiday songs coming out…but in the meantime this will do nicely!

You can hear the original version here.

The new expanded version is here at iTunes


May (Cassandra Wilson ‘Blue Light To A New Dawn’ tour)

5/07-08 – The Triple Door – Seattle, WA

5/10 – The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

5/11 – Musical Instrument Museum – Phoenix, AZ

5/13 – Kuumbwa Jazz Center – Santa Cruz, CA

5/15 – Oakland, CA – Yoshi’s

5/16-17 – San Francisco, CA – Yoshi’s

5/19-20 – Dakota Bar & Grill – Minneapolis, MN


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