ouis Armstrong's stalwart bass player, Arvell Shaw lead this alumni band for several years after the Master's departure. This performance was recorded live at "Highlights in Jazz" in 1991, as part of New York City's longest running Jazz Concert Series. Jazz critic Joe Clee said of this performance, "Arvell Shaw's Armstrong Legacy came so close to sounding like the Louis Armstrong All Stars that it was almost scary!" Featured here are Arvell himself on bass and vocals, Byron Stripling, trumpet and vocals, Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno on clarinet, of Illinois Jacquet fame, Dennis Wilson of Count Basie fame, as well as pianist Bross Townsend, and drummer Ray Mosca.
This may well be one of the greatest "sleeper" jazz records of all time. Recorded almost thirty years again New York by a truly all-star group, it was never issued in the U.S., and the French and British editions soon became prized collector's items. Even those did not contain the complete session, two tracks having been issued on a 45 EP, only these-Concerto du Blues and If It Weren't For You-were even more obscure. To compound the matter further, the session was issued as by Andre Persiany' s International Jazz Group and is so listed in the discographies and the record company ledgers, though it was in fact organized and led by bassist Arvell Shaw, who intended to take the group an a European four which never did come about. Featured are jazz legends Budd Johnson, Taft Jordan, Vic Dickenson, and Gus Johnson as well as French musicians Andre Persiany and George Berg.
Adolphous "Doc" Cheatham was a legendary trumpet player who lived to be eleven days short of his ninety-second birthday, in 1997. However, in this special live performance he was still "young" at 80 yrs. The year is 1985, and here he is paired, ironically with then 70 year old tenor saxophonist George Kelly, as well as then 18 year old alto saxophonist/clarinetist Joey Cavaseno, who was by then working with Illinois Jacquet. Backed by the great, sensitive pianist Richard Wyands, Ellington alumni bassist Victor Gaskin, and swinging veteran Ronnie Cole on drums, this group burns the house down from top to bottom, leaving the listener with that happy Harlem feeling that warms the soul and makes you stomp your feet.
The year is 1973 and the great Maestro Duke Ellington led his world famous orchestra on its final European tour. To collectors and expert listeners alike this performance is a rare document of his final band which includes a few remaining veterans and a healthy sprinkling of young blood who would keep the Ellington flame lit for some time after Duke's passing, as members of the Ellington Orchestra led by his son Mercer. The remarkable thing about this recording is that Ellington, despite being terminally ill, is still playing like a younger man, full of energy and fresh ideas. The material is standard fare, but the music has a certain urgency and abandon that will convince the listener that Duke had much more left to express before leaving the planet. The concert was produced by George Wein as part of the "Newport to Paris" series, and features special guest pianists Raymond Fol and Claude Bolling, as well as Ellingtonians such as Harry Carney, Russell Procope, Harold Minerve, Johnny Coles, and many more.
It is 1969, and the great pianist/composer Duke Ellington was on one of his many arduous European tours. However for the first time we are afforded a snapshot of one of his most intimate club performances ever recorded. The place is Cabaret L'Alcazar in Paris, France, and Ellington and his "instrument", the Famous Orchestra are in rare form, bringing forth a funky, soulful energy sparked of course by his assistant arranger at the time, Hammond Organ pioneer Wild Bill Davis. The great Johnny Hodges, still within a year of his life's ending, is playing excellently still, showing no signs of slowing down here. The famous celebrity Maurice Chevalier was in the house, even gifting the Duke one of his famous hats. It's a party atmosphere entirely but the music is as consistent and swinging as ever. Luminaries such as Hodges, Cootie Williams, Cat Anderson, Harry Carney, Paul Gonsalves, and Lawrence Brown are all cooking here. This is truly a night to remember, and needs to be heard by Ellington aficionados and music lovers alike.
Back in 1970, Duke Ellington was at the threshold of a new sound. Yet again like so many times before, he was to take in his surroundings, musically and otherwise, and bring forth a new style for his musical instrument, his Famous Orchestra. Billy Strayhorn, his writing and arranging companion was now dead, and the bulk of the writing was once again falling on Ellington's shoulders. Hammond Organ pioneer Wild Bill Davis took up some of the slack, as he became Duke's assistant arranger, but Ellington seems to know at this point, that pushing his own limits was needed. This outing documents the final days of star saxophonist Johnny Hodges. The setting is the Cave Theatre Restaurant in Vancouver, B.C. in Canada, and the feeling is warm and intimate, but there is a decided edge to the feel of the music. Something is about to happen creatively and it can be felt. The near future would hold several extended Suites, a Ballet, an Opera, and various "rock and roll" music Ellington was about to experiment with, all within what would be the last 3 and a half years of his life. The Hammond Organ of Wild Bill Davis is present, the exotic power of drummer Rufus Jones is making a mark, and Ellington is about to bring us on his final journey through "The Jungle" once again.
In 1981 Tenor Sax legend Illinois Jacquet pursued his career-long dream of assembling a truly great big jazz band in the tradition of his mentors, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton, bands with whom he recorded and toured in his youth. He would apply all the wisdom and experience he gleaned as their sideman, as well as from his years of leadership over his many small groups, and would include songs he made famous with his “little big band” of the 1940s. The Illinois Jacquet Big Band was filled with luminaries and young stars, but unfortunately would only record one studio album entitled “Jacquet’s Got It” on Atlantic Records, in 1987. Here, for the first time in history, we have a snapshot of what that band was like on the road, playing live In Berlin at Philharmonic Hall. As listeners will easily hear, this band rocked the house, and swung hard! Illinois himself is in rare form, playing soulfully and strong, ripping through all his classics with fervor and fire. These wonderful arrangements are mostly by the pen of Eddie Barefield, Wild Bill Davis, and Phil Wilson. Featured here within the band are veterans such as Irvin Stokes, Johnny Grimes, Richard Wyands, Eddie Barefield, Rudy Rutherford, and Babe Clarke; as well as young lions such as Frank Lacy, Joey Cavaseno, Jesse Davis, and Henry Scott.
Grooving, hard-swinging Bebop with the last of the great organists, the now late, great Bobby Forester, recorded live in 1994 in Brookhaven Jazz Festival, in Long Island, NY. Alto Saxist Joey "G-Clef" Cavaseno, of Illinois Jacquet and Panama Francis fame, was becoming one of the top straight ahead, hard-swinging alto saxophonists. Also featured, are guitar great William Ash, and legendary drummer of Ruth Brown fame, Tootsie Bean. This set swings ridiculously hard from top to bottom, and the group's enthusiasm is contagious. A Rare Gem!