"COUNT BASIE LIVE IN '62"
JAZZ ICONS DVD
The 1962 edition of the Count Basie Orchestra was loaded with star quality musicians who became synonymous with the best in big band swing.
This DVD, recorded at a Swedish concert, is first-class video, even if in black and white — there's no fuzziness, and it is in perfect sync. The director knew his business by having the cameras zeroed in on the soloist or group performing.
"Easin' It" is the first tune, with the rhythm section of Basie on piano; Freddie Green, guitar; Eddie Jones, bass; and drummer Sonny Payne laying down a finger poppin' groove until Basie gives a signal for each horn section to come down front and musically introduce themselves. That serves as building blocks for what ensues — a hard-swinging tune with full band involvement.
Perhaps the gem of the DVD is next, when tenor saxophonist Eric Dixon, who is not as well known as Frank Wess, Frank Foster and Marshall Royal, plays "You are Too Beautiful." Never has that tune ever been played any prettier.
For those who like an old-school blues shouter, Basie brings one of the best to the microphone, Irene Reid. She is solid with her delivery of "I Got Rhythm," "Backwater Blues" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band."
It's vintage Basie on "I Need to Be Bee'd With," as he plays his usual sparse style over the rhythm section at the start. Quentin Jackson's plunger trombone solo is a highlight. Trumpeter Sonny Cohn is featured soloist on the ballad "Stella By Starlight."
The driving force of this nearly one-hour effort is drummer Payne. When you add his drumstick juggling to his heavy rhythmic timekeeping, it becomes a show within a show.
For the Basie fan or jazz novice, this is an excellent examination of what big band jazz is all about.
This Ahmad Jamal Trio has been together for a long enough time to now be considered "the" Ahmad Jamal Trio.
The title tune, "After Fajr" adds a new dimension to the Jamal library — a vocal group, Vox One, with lead singer Donna McElroy. Jamal wrote both the music and lyric. In short, Fajr is an angel who arrives before dawn and blesses a person's new day. "Swahililand," a Jamal composition, is thoroughly captivating with his sparkling right hand runs over bassist James Cammack and drummer Idris Muhammad's African rhythms.
Immediately following is the standard, "My Heart Stood Still," which Jamal energizes by alternating power chords with his gentle right hand. His treatment adds an entirely new interpretation to this Rodgers and Hart chestnut.
"ONE FLIGHT DOWN"
Cedar Walton is one of those pianists — although sporting an impressive resume and whose performances are stellar and consistent — who has not become a household name.
What really grabs one's attention on this release is Walton's three-tune medley of Billy Strayhorn tunes: "Lush Life," "Daydream" and "Raincheck." He firmly imprints "Lush Life" with his own ideas, changing both rhythm and tempo and obscuring the obvious melody line. That's not a negative; rather, it's simply a different approach.