paulchambers

Wes Montgomery / Wynton Kelly Trio ‘Smokin at the Half Note’

I was saddened to hear that drummer Jimmy Cobb has flown from the world on Sunday at age 91. Many are rightly posting about his legendary contributions to ‘Kind of Blue,’ and he was the last surviving member of the group that brought that game-changing record to life. Mad respect! That rhythm section—Cobb on drums, bassist Paul Chambers, and pianist Wynton Kelly—made contributions to plenty of other top-shelf jazz records, like Art Pepper’s ‘Gettin Together,’ and this bad boy with Wes Montgomery, ‘Smokin at the Half Note.’ There’s incredible chemistry here between Montgomery and this rhythm section, and you can hear his confidence in their ability to change their state of matter effortlessly: solid groove, liquid solos, and high speed interplay that floats like hydrogen. RIP Jimmy Cobb, and thanks for all the music. You’ve left an amazing legacy for so many to enjoy

Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

The Miles Davis Quintet recorded four albums of material over two dates in 1956, one of which was today, 11 May. All four are essential snapshots of one of the most important small combo jazz groups of their era who helped define the hard-bop sound. Workin’, Relaxin’, Cookin’, & Steamin’ With all feature John Coltrane-tenor sax, Red Garland-piano, Paul Chambers-Bass and Philly Joe Jones-drums. Personally, I tend to get obsessed with the @milesdavis Second Great Quintet, but when I go back to these records I’m always reminded of how freakin’ amazing they are. For example, take a good listen to the opening ballad from this LP “It Never Entered My Mind”, a Rogers & Hart tune that Miles had previously done a couple of years earlier with Horace Silver. The performance here is transcendent—if it doesn’t give you all the feels, check yourself for a pulse. Seriously. This track is all about Miles, Red Garland and Paul Chambers. John Coltrane plays only two notes, and both of them are PERFECT. “It Never Entered My Mind” could be my answer to questions like “Why jazz?” Or “Why Miles?” Or “What do you mean by ‘feel’ in music?” and still it’s just the tip of the iceberg. All four of these Miles Prestige albums belong in your library, whether as individual LP titles or through the excellent @craftrecordings collection which presents them in a single boxed collection, chronologically. The 26 tracks recorded over these two dates were all first takes, and represent Miles leaving Prestige on a high note, prepped to join Columbia Records to level up and take things even further

Paul Chambers ‘Bass on Top’

Sophisticated. Elegant. Marvelous. I disagree vehemently with the All Music Guide regarding Paul Chambers ‘Bass on Top’. Not in its numerical judgement (9/10 is about right) but it refers to this record as “straight ahead jazz” and I think that sells this record far short. While there’s no knotty, angular/avant or out-of-the-box structures or compositions here, Chambers’ instinct for creating an atmosphere and savvy choice of material/bandmates puts this session a cut above. The lack of horns and prominent bass in the mix leaves much of the melodic heavy lifting to guitarist Kenny Burrell and pianist Hank Jones, while drummer Art Taylor is brilliantly understated in his playing and presence. “Chamber jazz” was the term someone once used when describing this record to me some years back, and I think that’s just about perfect. You be the judge—it’s an excellent listen and Chambers arco (bowed) playing sounds particularly EXCELLENT. The liner notes also sent me down the rabbit hole and when you absorb all that Chambers accomplished, it’s kinda mind boggling. In 1957 alone at age 21, this was his third LP as a leader, and remarkable to think he even had time for it in between playing on Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’, @milesdavis ‘Miles Ahead’, Curtis Fuller’s ’The Opener’, Red Garland’s ‘Groovy’, Oliver Nelson’s ‘The Blues and the Abstract Truth’, Art Pepper ‘Meets the Rhythm Section’, Johnny Griffin’s ’The Congregation’, Lee Morgan’s ‘Vol. 3’ and other legendary records by Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd and Gil Evans. Don’t even get me started on what he did the years before (Monk’s ‘Brilliant Corners’ for starters) and after (ya know…’Kind of Blue’), only to succumb to tuberculosis in 1969 at age 33. He left quite the recorded legacy, and while I’m not familiar with his other sessions as a leader (recommendations anyone?) this record is a keeper. This is a 2014 Japanese reissue DBLP-060, part of the “From The Original Master Tapes” series which are mono cuts by Kevin Gray, and heavy stock/glossy jackets meant to replicate the original pressings. Beautiful job @bluenoterecords

Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet

Choosing a favorite amongst these four essential Miles albums released by Prestige featuring his classic quintet—Workin’ With, Relaxin’ With, Steamin’ With & Cookin’ With—it’s tough to pick a favorite. Today it’s ‘Workin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet’ as I’m obsessed with the opening ballad “It Never Entered My Mind”, a Rogers & Hart number that Miles had previously done a couple of years earlier with Horace Silver. This performance is on a whole other level though—awe inspiring to the point of transcendent. Give it a listen…if it doesn’t give you all the feels, check yourself for a pulse. Seriously. This track is all about Miles, Red Garland and Paul Chambers…John Coltrane plays only two notes. Both of them just right. “It Never Entered My Mind” answers lots of questions like “Why jazz?” Or “Why Miles?” Or “What do you mean by ‘feel’ in music?” The historical importance and context of the four albums that resulted from these two sessions (11 May and 26 Oct 1956) is better told elsewhere, but the 26 songs recorded over those two days—all first takes—are pure magic. My fascination with this one track from this one LP is just the tip of the iceberg. This is a sweet sounding mono pressing from 1975, a Japanese reissue SMJ-6503M of Prestige PRLP 7166 @milesdavis @johncoltrane @prestigerecords @prestigejazz