Lenny Breau

cropped-Lenny-Breau-06Leonard Harold Breau (1941-1984) was born in Maine to musician parents and spent his early life surrounded by the country/western music that they performed. As a teenager, Lenny’s natural musical ability allowed him to figure out the licks of his favorite guitarists including Chet Atkins and Django Reinhardt, as well as jazz greats of the day like Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, and pianist Bill Evans.

Lenny Breau - Episode 1

Lenny's ability to mix country, jazz, and flamenco styles along with his ability to play the guitar like a piano made him one of the great innovators, yet sadly forgotten today by those outside the music community. On this show we will examine some of his influences as well as his first recordings.
I've Been Working on the GuitarChet Atkins1950
Mountain MelodyChet Atkins1951
Les Yeux NoirsDjango Reinhardt1947
Mean to MeBarney KesselWith the Poll Winners1957
LoverTal Farlow Quartet1954
Out of NowhereLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957
Blues in ExtensionLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957
Speedy JazzLenny BreauBoy Wonder1957

Lenny Breau - Episode 2

On the podcast we will listen to his first important recording session, sometimes referred to as the Hallmark Sessions (Hallmark Studios, Toronto). This is where Lenny introduced “spanjazz” which is a combination of the flashy and highly technical flamenco style mixed with jazz. Here he displays the assimilation of his many influences into a recognizable and original approach to playing the guitar.
I'll Remember AprilLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
Oscar's BluesLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
UndecidedLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
SoleaLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961
Arabian FantasyLenny BreauHallmark Sessions1961

Lenny Breau - Episode 3

In 1968 Lenny made his first commercially successful recording on the RCA record label in Nashville produced by Chet Atkins. The selections reflect a good cross-section of popular music from the mid to late 1960’s mixed with some jazz standards. He spent quite a bit of time in Los Angeles in mid-1969 recording with his trio and performed in a number of famous jazz clubs. These live recordings provide an accurate representation of his guitar playing at this time.
King of the RoadLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
TarantaLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
GeorgiaLenny BreauGuitar Sounds of Lenny Breau1968
There is No Greater LoveLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969
The ClawLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969
Mercy, Mercy, MercyLenny BreauThe Velvet Touch: Live at Shelly's Manhole1969

Scott LaFaro

LaFaro 4Scott LaFaro (1936-1961) was a groundbreaking and innovative bassist. He performed and recorded with some of the most influential jazz musicians from 1957 until his untimely death in 1961 in an automobile accident. Originally a clarinetist, his story is unusual in that he did not begin playing the bass until he was almost 18 years old. He left college after his 1st year and quickly gained notoriety as a bassist on the west coast. The success and attention garnered by these early recordings attracted much attention in the jazz community. His playing shows the influence of the master bassists of the 1940s and 1950s, but he quickly separated himself from the pack. His playing is characterized by near perfect intonation, good harmonic understanding, full round sound, and a different approach to technique that utilized all four fingers on his right hand. This allowed him to literally dance across the strings and play in a much more acrobatic manner that his predecessors and many of his peers.

Scott LaFaro - Episode 1

On this podcast we will listen to some of his influences and check out his first recordings.
Sepia PanoramaJimmy Blanton/Duke Ellington1941
The HoneydripperRay Brown/Oscar PetersonNight Train1962
Softly As In A Morning SunrisePaul ChambersThe Paul Chambers Quintet1957
Serpent's ToothVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
BebopVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
For RealHampton HawesFor Real!1958
Chasing ShadowsVictor FeldmanThe Arrival of Victor Feldman1958
Ginza SambaStan Getz and Cal Tjader Sextet1958

Scott LaFaro - Episode 2

Before his tenure with the famous Bill Evans Trio, Scott performed with a number of well-known big bands in California. He was a featured soloist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra for a short period in 1959, also making memorable recordings with arranger Marty Paich and saxophonists Stan Getz and Herb Geller. Moving back to New York in late 1959, LaFaro began his association with a number of influential musicians and recorded on a number of groundbreaking recordings. Work with Booker Little, Ornette Coleman, and John Lewis helped solidify him as one of the most important young bassists on the jazz scene. His performance, together with bassist Charlie Haden, on the groundbreaking recording Free Jazz in 1960 was a revelation for bassists. This free approach to jazz would revolutionize jazz in the 1960s. His association with pianist Bill Evans began in the late 1950s. Scott brought a new, more interactive approach to his work with the Evans trio starting in 1959.
It’s Alright with MeMarty PaichBroadway Bit1959
Bernie's TuneStan KentonStan Kenton in Concert1959
Cow SongHerb GellerGypsy1959
Bee Tee's Minor PleaBooker LittleBooker Little1960
Variant IJohn LewisJazz Abstractions1960
Variants on Criss CrossJohn LewisJazz Abstractions1960

Scott LaFaro - Episode 3

The recordings from this podcast chronicle his early work with pianist Bill Evans and some one-off recordings with clarinetist Toney Scott and a short live trio with pianist Steve Kuhn. What sets the Evans trio apart from other similar groups was the interactive approach they took. The Evans Trio was unique and groundbreaking in that all 3 instruments were liberated from the traditional roles set for them by the previous generation of jazz musicians.
Blues for an African FriendTony ScottSung Heroes1959
What Is This Thing Called LoveBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
Autumn LeavesBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
So WhatSteve Kuhn1960
Free JazzOrnette ColemanFree Jazz1960
Sweet and LovelyBill EvansExplorations1961

Scott LaFaro - Episode 4

I call this podcast “A Day in the Life of Scott Lafaro.” The recordings on this podcast are from the Live at the Village Vanguard sessions from late June 1961. These recordings are some of the most celebrated live jazz recordings ever made. One can listen with bittersweet amazement at the level of performance while knowing that LaFaro’s life would end a week later.
Alice in WonderlandBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Detour AheadBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Gloria's StepBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
SolarBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961
Waltz for DebbieBill EvansLive at the Village Vanguard1961

Bill Evans Trio

Evans 1Bill Evans’ influences include Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, and European keyboard music. Bill’s first important work was with band leader George Russell. Russell was one of the most forward thinking musicians of the 1940’s and 1950’s who was always looking for new modes of expression in jazz. Russell started thinking about improvising on modes 10 years before Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue. Evans was also thinking about modal music before he joined Miles Davis in 1958—it’s probable that he and George Russell (Gil Evans, too) had discussed it. In hindsight the track “Peace Piece” from the 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans is a major turning point in modern jazz. It does not really fit the mood the album even though he includes some other reflective unaccompanied ballads; “Peace Piece” bears little or no similarity to the other tracks— you be the judge. Bill Evans is probably best known for the albums recorded with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian between late 1959 and 1961. The playing on those trio albums helped re-define modern jazz rhythm section playing.

DisplacementBill EvansNew Conceptions in Jazz1956
MinorityBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958
Peace PieceBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958
Flamenco SketchesMiles Davis Kind of Blue1959
Autumn LeavesBill EvansPortrait in Jazz1959
Waltz for DebbyBill EvansVanguard Sessions1961
Some Other TimeBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958

Kind of Blue

KOB 4Kind of Blue is the biggest selling jazz recording ever released and Miles Davis’s most famous recording. It has influenced generations of not only jazz musicians, but performers in many of other musical genres including rock and soul music of the 1960’s.

Kind of Blue - Episode 1

The genesis of the concept for the album comes from Miles, but there were many important contributors (directly and indirectly) to the album including Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Ahmad Jamal, and George Russell. Bill Evans was probably the musician most important to soft pastel character of the recording. Many musicians in the 1950’s were interested in a modal approach to jazz improvisation; bebop, cool and hard bop were largely constructed from traditional harmony. Miles recording of composition of Milestones in 1958 was his first attempt to break away from compositions using traditional harmony.
So WhatMiles DavisKind of Blues1959
MilestonesMiles DavisMilestones1958

Kind of Blue - Episode 2

As I mentioned in the previous podcast all of the compositions on the Kind of Blue are unusual in that their architecture in unconventional, except for “Freddie Freeloader.” “Freddie” is the most conventional composition on the record--a 12-bar blues with a little unexpected twist in the last measure. “Flamenco Sketches” is the most interesting composition on the album; it consists 5 different tonal centers. It is interesting to hear how each musician utilizes the notes from the different scales.
Freddie FreeloaderMiles DavisKind of Blue1959
Peace PieceBill EvansEverybody Digs Bill Evans1958
Flamenco SketchesMiles DavisKind of Blues1959

Kind of Blue - Episode 3

Bill Evans’ contribution to the album, “Blue in Green,” is a short composition with manner twists and turns, but unlike the other pieces on the record is not modal. It does have that floating pastel-like character that reflects the ideal of the album. Miles’ harmon-muted trumpet is the perfect vehicle for interpreting this dreamy ballad.
Blue in GreenMiles DavisKind of Blue1959
Alone TogetherBill Evans/Chet BakerLyrical Trumpet of CB1958

Kind of Blue - Episode 4

“All Blues” and “Freddie Freeloader” bear the stamp of modality in that there are no bebop chord substitutions or any other characteristics that came to define 1950s jazz harmony. Their improvisational sound is not solely based on dominant chords as was common during that era, but by the sound of dorian scales. It is interesting to compare the improvisations of all the soloists to see how they each addressed these musical issues and challenges placed before them by Miles Davis. “All Blues” was originally conceived in 4/4 time, it was later changes to ¾ or 6/8 for the recording for that famous floating feeling. The last part of the blues utilizes altered dominant chords that give it a distinctive dissonance and then resolves in the last measure. I also play two live versions of “So What” from 1960 to see how a later interpretation differs from the original.
All BluesMiles DavisKind of Blue1959
So WhatMiles DavisLive in Stockholm1960
So WhatMiles DavisLive at Olympia Theatre1960
Cold Sweat Pt. 1James Brown1967

Cannonball Adderley

Adderley 1Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975) was one of the most distinctive alto saxophonists post Charlie Parker. Originally from Florida, he was a high school band director in Ft. Lauderdale before moving to New York in 1955 with his brother Nat. After sitting in with Oscar Pettiford’s band at the Cafe Bohemia in New York in the summer of 1955, the alto saxophonist became an instant sensation.

Cannonball Adderley - Episode 1

Adderley clearly had his own approach to the horn, which drew inspiration from Benny Carter as well as Charlie Parker. He quickly formed his first quintet, which featured his younger brother Nat Adderley on cornet. Within a year, Cannonball caught the attention of Miles Davis, who hired the alto saxophonist to play in his sextet from 1957 to 1959. He recorded a number of important albums with Davis, including Kind of Blue. The recordings from this podcast feature Adderley’s first important recordings as a bandleader.
Arriving SoonCannonball AdderlyQuintet Plus One1961
New Swing StreetBenny Carter1938
Blood CountJimmy Hodges/Duke EllingtonHis Mother Called Him Bill1967
Still Talking to YouCannonball AdderleySummer of '551955
Tribute to BrownieCannonball AdderleySophisticated Swing1957
Lover ManCannonball AdderleyCannonball Enroute1957
The Way You Look TonightCannonball AdderleySophisticated Swing1957
Wee DotCannonball AdderleyAt Newport1957

Cannonball Adderley - Episode 2

By 1958 Adderley was one of the most ubiquitous alto saxophonists on the jazz scene. He was performing with his own group and also a member of the Miles Davis Sextet. His recognizable sound and affinity for soul jazz made him very popular. All the recordings from this podcast draw attention to his full sound, ebullient musical personality, and blazing technique.
MinorityCannonball AdderleyPortrait of Cannonball1958
Autumn LeavesCannonball AdderleySomething Else1958
Limehouse BluesCannonball AdderleyCannonball in Chicago1959
JeannineCannonball AdderleyJazz in Paris - 19601960
What is this Thing Called SoulCannonball AddlerleyWhat is this Thing Called Soul1960
Waltz for DebbieCannonball AdderleyKnow What I Mean?1961

Cannonball Adderley - Episode 3

Cannonball had a strong affinity for the blues and his soul jazz crossover hits were immensely popular. Not only was his music of the highest caliber, but it was also accessible to a very wide audience. He was an articulate and engaging musician who educated his listeners with witty commentary that illuminated the music. He was also a talent scout who introduced several prominent musicians to record producers including Wes Montgomery and Chuck Mangione, and collaborated with the young singer, Nancy Wilson. The open, affirmative personality he displayed on stage was reflected in his music. The recordings on this podcast are from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s and represent the best of his soul jazz recordings.
Bohemia After DarkCannonball AdderleyThe Quintet in San Francisco1959
This HereCannonball AdderleyThe Quintet in San Francisco1959
The Work SongCannonball AdderleyParis 19601960
The Jive SambaCannonball AdderleyThe Jazz Workshop Revisited1962
Mercy, Mercy, MercyCannonball AddlerleyMercy, Mercy, Mercy1966
Fiddler on the RoofCannonball AdderleyFiddler on the Roof1964