ET and All That Jazz
Before the plus points, let's get the minus ones. First, this anthology by various performers is of very variable sound quality. The blame can't be thrown on the age of the recordings, because some probably from the middle '50s or later (the age of LPs) are worse than many of those from the '40s.
Then there's the tiresome repetition of tracks found on other Times Music anthologies. Thelonious Monk's Just a Gigolo appears on his 1963 in Japan, Glenn Miller's In the Mood, Ella Fitzgerald's A-Tisket A-Tasket and John Coltrane's My Favourite Things are on Coming Home, and Charlie Parker's Be-bop is on his The Best of the Bird, not to mention any number of (other labels') anthologies that have Duke Ellington's Take the A Train - all of these in the same renditions featured here!
All this can be blamed on the original publisher (MRA International Australia) from whom Times has licensed these albums. But, lastly, one must mention the pretentious title for which we can't blame MRA: the blurb inside would have us believe this collection is the outcome of the Economic Times' editorial staff's love of jazz. Since that's a bit tough to swallow, one can only conclude that Times Music has changed the title of an album compiled by MRA to give room for the blurb, never mind the acknowledgment of the original copyright holder!
There remains the music. I've written earlier about the fine counterbalancing between the saxophones stating the theme and the brilliant trumpet solos on Take the A Train, Ellington's theme tune. The highlight of the album, despite poor audio quality, is undoubtedly Coltrane's 19-minute version of his favourite tune, My Favourite Things, with which he also marked the revival of the soprano sax (and always used it for this number). The long solo highlighting his own virtuoso performance is followed by brilliant solos on piano and flute, the former almost certainly from his longtime partner and friend McCoy Tyner.
Charlie Parker on alto sax and an unknown trumpeter (Dizzy Gillespie, one can easily make out) blast their way through Be-bop in an early, and blistering, demonstration of (what else?) what be-bop was all about. Gillespie, credited this time, has a more sedate contribution: Exactly Like You. He's joined by tenor sax (Stan Getz), piano (Oscar Peterson) and bass in a series of mostly relaxed solos, but he can't resist the temptation to rip off a be-bop flurry of notes on one of his solos. Monk's Just a Gigolo is one long improvisation, an entirely solo piano effort during which the other musicians in the concert stood down.
All the music here is good, with the proviso that if Miller is at all to be represented in a jazz collection (for which this popular swing bandleader had very dubious qualifications), In the Mood is the one track that passes muster.
on 10 January 2002
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