Under-Rated Jazz
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coolvij

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I want to know about what you think is under-rated jazz. Mainstream stuff is super, but I'm finding some of the less well-known albums have some super stuff in em....

Here are some albums I've found that I love yet don't seem to find much info on:


Blues And The Abstract Truth - Oliver Nelson

A Tribute To Jack Johnson - Miles Davis

Unit Structures - Cecil Taylor

Soul Station - Hank Mobley

Stellar Regions - John Coltrane

The Awakening - Ahmad Jamal


That's off the top of my head........if I think about it more, I'll remember some more super albums......


I was also wondering - does anyone have any opinions on Herbie Nichols? I hear him play as basically a more intellectual Monk - there's just as much soul but more intricacy.....and that's saying something, since Monk was a genius amongst geniuses....
 
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prisoner #6

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Hi coolvij,

You've got some outstanding albums here. I'm not sure I'd want to call any of them "under-rated," though. A lot of sources I use (e.g. Cook and Morton in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD) rate all of these at least fairly highly, and in some cases as classics. (With one exception: Cook and Morton don't like Stellar Regions , which I have to disagree with--it's a great album.)

I've only got one Herbie Nichols album (Love, Gloom, Cash, Love ). I like it, although I'd have to say Monk beats it hands down.
 
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prisoner #6

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One more thing, coolvij:

If you like Herbie Nichols, you should definitely check out the Herbie Nichols Project. They've got a couple releases out, the latest being Strange City. I'm going to get that one eventually--the one I've got came out a couple years ago, and it's called Dr. Cyclops' Dream . It's first-rate all the way. Great songs and musicianship throughout.

The group is led by the bassist Ben Allison--I'd recommend anything he's recorded under his own name as well. He's definitely one of the leading talents in today's jazz.
 
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Pat Metheny did a record a few years back with a few other musicians (Roy Hanes and Dave Holland) called 'Question & Answer' that is just amazing straight-ahead guitar-oriented jazz. H&H is my favorite track from the album.

You don't hear much about it and it's a bitch to find (or was a few years ago when I was hunting for it). I would have to say it's definatly underrated and absolutly great.

Another one, and this is Pat metheny again, is one he did with Charlie Haden called "Beyond the Missouri Sky" which is really a hard one to describe. One could argue it's not really jazz but I would put it in the clasificalion of jazz-folk fusion maybe?? Anyway, it's just Pat on Guitars and Charlie on Bass and is a sonic smorgasboard of textures and colors.
 
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BenG

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Andrew Hill - Point of Departure

'Lesser known by the mass public' would be a better description for these albums. Most of the albums mentioned are pretty well respected by those who have heard them.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by prisoner #6
One more thing, coolvij:

If you like Herbie Nichols, you should definitely check out the Herbie Nichols Project. They've got a couple releases out, the latest being Strange City. I'm going to get that one eventually--the one I've got came out a couple years ago, and it's called Dr. Cyclops' Dream . It's first-rate all the way. Great songs and musicianship throughout.

The group is led by the bassist Ben Allison--I'd recommend anything he's recorded under his own name as well. He's definitely one of the leading talents in today's jazz.


Strongly agree that Ben Allison is a major (if underappreciated) talent. Look for his most recent release with his group, Medicine Wheel, called "Riding the Nuclear Tiger." Allison records with (and is the founding member of) the Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run organization that includes tenor player Michael Blake (pick up his latest two, "Drift" and "Elevated," both containing fine composing, playing, and arranging by Blake) and Ted Nash.
 
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SEK

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I guess it depends on who does the rating...

In this forum, sometimes I often get the sense that most "jazz" recordings besides "Kind of Blue" or some Bill Evans are under-rated or unknown.

On the other hand, at the Blue Note Bulletin Boards http://www.bluenote.com , for example, the recordings that you cite are generally highly regarded and/or discussed.

Personally, I enjoy all the recordings you mention, with the exception of the Ahmad Jamal (I've somehow never been able to enjoy Ahmad Jamal's playing as much as many other pianists').

I return to Herbie Nichols' recordings on Blue Note and Savoy often. He was under-rated by almost everyone while he was alive, almost everyone with the exception of Alfred Lion, A. B. Spellman, Roswell Rudd, and Steve Lacy it seems. His piano playing and compositions were quite distinctive and compelling. I think the comparisons to Monk are usually overstated; they were both championed by Blue Note when no other labels were enthusiastic and there are a few superficial stylistic similarities...

Another distinctive pianist and composer who is under-recognized and has some seminal recordings on Blue Note is Elmo Hope. His "Elmo Hope Trio & Quintet" on Blue Note, recorded between 1953-57, is amazing and should be appreciated by those who dig Monk and Nichols. Elmo Hope also plays on and contributed most of the compositions for tenor saxophonist Harold Land's 1959 classic, "The Fox".

The pianist, Sonny Clark, has often been taken for granted over the years, despite the fact that he functioned as one of Blue Note's house pianists and his playing and compositions grace many artists' finest recordings. Over the past decade, most of his work has been reissued, and he seems to have gained more prominence, possibly more than when he was alive. My favorite recordings by him are all on Blue Note: "Leapin' and Lopin'", "Cool Struttin'", and "Sonny's Crib" [John Coltrane is great on this]. He also plays on important recordings by Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Jackie McLean, Grant Green, Stanley Turrentine, Sonny Criss, Tina Brooks, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan, ... Also saxophonist John Zorn has championed the music of Sonny Clark.
 
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prisoner #6

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SEK - Good point about Sonny Clark: definitely under-rated and under-appreciated. You mentioned John Zorn--I assume you're referring to the Sonny Clark Memorial Quartet's Voodoo ? It's a great record--and it's interesting to hear John Zorn playing relatively "inside." In my opinion, this is one of those albums to recommend to people whose jazz tastes are becoming a bit more adventurous, but who aren't yet ready for Charles Gayle.

FCJ: I noticed on another thread you picked up AALY/DKV's Double or Nothing recently. Any thoughts on it? I just got a copy myself, but haven't listened to it yet. I have AALY's Live at Glen Miller Cafe , and was just listening to it again a couple nights ago. Really good stuff.

Also, I'm glad to see you're into Ben Allison. Riding the Nuclear Tiger was my favorite album of last year.
 
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Milestones

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Coolvij:

I would have to agree with those who have said that some of the albums you listed are not really under-rated by jazz fans. They are under-rated by non-jazz fans - but, all jazz albums are under-rated by non-jazz fans with the exception of Kind of Blue and maybe a few others. Most of the albums you listed are in most every serious jazz collection and are typically listed as good starting points for newbies getting into jazz: especially "Blues and the Abstract Truth" and "Soul Station".

I do think "Stellar Regions" is a bit underrated - and most of Tranes work after his classic quartet is similarly under-rated. We are still coming to grips with Trane's avant-garde period more than 35 years after it was made and it tends to be neglected compared to his hardbop/postbop/modal material. I also agree that Ahmad Jamal is an under-appreciated jazz giant. His influence on Miles' first classic quintet is substantial and well documented - but a lot of jazz fans don't know who he is or have never heard one of his albums.


Here are some truely underrated jazz gems from the 50's/60's (the period the albums coolvij listed are from) IMO:

Harold Land - "The Fox" (OJC/Fantasy) (Land was the original tenor saxophonist in the Clifford Brown/Max Roach quintet which started on the west coast. When Brownie and Roach moved to NYC, Land stayed on the west coast and his reputation suffered (unjustifiably) as a result).

Tina Brooks - "True Blue" (Blue Note) (One of the greatest hard bop albums ever made IMO. Tina Brooks (he's a guy) is a vastly under-rated tenor sax. player and this is his best album. Amazing tunes and great playing by Tina, Freddie Hubbard, Duke Jordan, Sam Jones, and Art Taylor).

Chick Corea - "Now He Sing, Now He Sobs" (Capitol/Blue Note) (This album gets a lot of respect from musicians but doesn't get a lot of attention from jazz fans (perhaps because Corea is much better known for his subsequent work with Miles and his own electric/fusion work of the 70s). This is an absolutely amazing piano trio date with Corea at the top of his form as an improvisor and composer and with the telepathic support of Miroslav Vitous on bass and the legendary Roy Haynes on drums).

Booker Ervin - "Freedom Book" and "Space Book" (OJC/Fantasy) (Booker Ervin is another over-looked tenor great from the 50's and 60's. You can hear him at the top of his form on Charles Mingus "Live at Antibes" album or on on these two Prestige sessions reissued in the OJC series. The rhythm section on these two sessions of Jaki Byard(piano)/Richard Davis(bass)/Alan Dawson (drums) was one of the greatest of the 60s IMO - right up there with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones).

Jimmy Giuffre - "1961" (ECM) (This is a reissue of two albums by the Jimmy Giuffre 3 consisting of Giuffre on clarinet, Steve Swallow on bass and Paul Bley on piano. This group was way, way ahead of its time in terms of playing a "soft" (as opposed to high volume "energy") form of free jazz. They didn't make much of a splash at the time - but listening to their recorded works now it is hard to believe that the music was made 40 years ago, because it sounds so fresh and vital).

I could go on and on......There are so many amazing but under-appreciated jazz performances.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by prisoner #6
FCJ: I noticed on another thread you picked up AALY/DKV's Double or Nothing recently. Any thoughts on it? I just got a copy myself, but haven't listened to it yet. I have AALY's Live at Glen Miller Cafe , and was just listening to it again a couple nights ago. Really good stuff.

Also, I'm glad to see you're into Ben Allison. Riding the Nuclear Tiger was my favorite album of last year.


Double or Nothing is excellent, as is (almost) anything that Vandermark puts out. What's really impressed me, though, is the new Spaceways, Inc. CD. I didn't really like the first one, but this one is much more engaging (Hamid Drake is a . Two other recent ones from Vandermark (School Days second Cd and "Acoustic Machine") are excellent. Grab 'em.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by FCJ


(Hamid Drake is a .


That should say "is a great drummer."
 
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Milestones

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Quote:

Originally posted by FCJ


Double or Nothing is excellent, as is (almost) anything that Vandermark puts out. What's really impressed me, though, is the new Spaceways, Inc. CD. I didn't really like the first one, but this one is much more engaging (Hamid Drake is a . Two other recent ones from Vandermark (School Days second Cd and "Acoustic Machine") are excellent. Grab 'em.


I'm very much looking forward to hearing the new Spaceways, Inc. cd. I love the Vandermark 5 and DKV Trio and I will buy almost anything that has Hamid Drake on drums.
 
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Magic77

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You mentioned "Unit Structures" by Cecil Taylor. That is an incredible album, I love Cecil Taylor!! If you like Cecil Taylor then you absolutely must get a CD called "Momentum Space". This is a CD that came out in 1998 with Cecil Taylor on Piano, Dewey Redman on Tenor Sax, and Elvin Jones on Drums. It's on the "Verve" label, a must have.

Also, check out www.cryptogramophone.com This is a small Jazz label for Avant-Garde fans.

Someone else mentioned William Parker, who is one of the best Bass players in the world. He played with Cecil Taylor in the 70's & 80's. Check out his work on a CD called "Painter's Spring", a trio album.

Then there is Sax player Tim Berne at www.screwgunrecords.com His music is along the lines of John Zorn.
 
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FCJ

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Quote:

Originally posted by Magic77
You mentioned "Unit Structures" by Cecil Taylor. That is an incredible album, I love Cecil Taylor!! If you like Cecil Taylor then you absolutely must get a CD called "Momentum Space". This is a CD that came out in 1998 with Cecil Taylor on Piano, Dewey Redman on Tenor Sax, and Elvin Jones on Drums. It's on the "Verve" label, a must have.

Also, check out www.cryptogramophone.com This is a small Jazz label for Avant-Garde fans.

Someone else mentioned William Parker, who is one of the best Bass players in the world. He played with Cecil Taylor in the 70's & 80's. Check out his work on a CD called "Painter's Spring", a trio album.

Then there is Sax player Tim Berne at www.screwgunrecords.com His music is along the lines of John Zorn.


Funny, I was just listening to Cecil Taylor's "Calling the 8th" on HatHut/HatArt. William Parker is the bassist, BTW. The incredible Jimmy Lyons is on alto sax. Lyons was a major force in Taylor's music. If you can find any of Lyons's solo stuff (especially on Black Saint records, an import label from Italy), pick it up.

If you're having trouble finding any of this stuff, a good source is Downtown Music Gallery in NYC. Their web site is . Unfortunately, you can't order from the site, but you can order by phone (BTW, I have no affiliations with DMG other than being a loyal customer).
 
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Milestones

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Another good source for avant-garde jazz recordings (including many out of print discs) is Cadence.

Their web address is as follows:
http://www.cadencebuilding.com

They have excellent service, the best online selection of avant-garde jazz recordings that I know of (check out their online selection to see what I mean) and you can order online. They are a little bit pricey - but, hey - no one's perfect.

Taking a page from FCJ - I have no affiliation with Cadence other than being a happy customer.
 
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