Buster Smith

7-buster-smith copyThis podcast is devoted to a relatively unknown alto saxophonist active in Kansas City in the 1930s. Although not as well-remembered as the more famous alto men like Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter, or Willie Smith from the swing era, Buster left a huge musical legacy for jazz saxophone playing. Together with Lester Young he was a primary influence on the young Charlie Parker when Parker was coming of age in Kansas City in the 1930s. Charlie Parker copied Buster’s sound and vibrato to such a degree that it was difficult to tell the difference between them when they were both playing with the Jay McShann Orchestra in the early 1940s. Buster’s last years were spent in relative obscurity living in Texas while Charlie Parker went on to become one of the greatest performers and innovators in jazz.

Buster Smith

SwingmatismCharlie Parker with Jay McShann Orchestra1941
I Got It BadJohnny Hodges with Duke Ellington1940
Jeep's BluesJohnny Hodges with Duke Ellington1940
Krazy CapersBenny Carter with Chocolate Dandies1933
There's Squabblin'Buster Smith with Walter Page Blue Devils1929
Blue Devil BluesBuster Smith with Walter Page Blue Devils1929
Baby, Look at YouBuster Smith with Pete Johnson1939
Cherry RedBuster Smith with Pete Johnson1939
Moten SwingBuster Smith with the Eddie Durham Orchestra1940
Moten SwingCharlie Parker with Jay McShann Orchestra1940


Parker“Lover Man” is one of the torchiest and bluesy of all ballads. It is not a true blues, but it has many elements of the blues and a set of lyrics that portrays a great deal of sadness and longing. It has been recorded primarily by female vocalists, but there are many great instrumental recordings of this ballad. The alto sax falls in the range of many female vocalists and this is probably why is has been recorded by so many great alto players.

Lover Man - Episode 1

On this podcast I have picked five classic interpretations of the composition as performed by some of the most renowned alto saxophonists starting with Charlie Parker’s infamous 1946 version. Each instrumentalist injects their style of phrasing and nuance into the performance. They have to compensate for the fact that the lyrics are not presented to the listeners.
Lover ManCharlie Parker1946
Lover ManLee Konitz/Gerry MulliganGerry Mulligan Quartet Plus Lee Konitz1953
Lover ManJackie McLeanNew Traditions1955
Lover ManCannonball AdderleyCannonball en Route1957
Lover ManSonny Stitt/Don PattersonSoul Electricity1968

Lover Man - Episode 2

Lover ManDon Byasca. 1953
Lover ManBillie Holiday/Toots Camerata Orchestra1944
Lover ManSarah Vaughan TrioSwingin’ Easy1954
Lover ManBlossom DearieBlossom Dearie1956
Lover ManCarmen McRaeSings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics1961
Lover ManEtta JamesMystery Lady—The Songs of Billie Holiday1994

Jackie McLean

mclean 3Alto saxophonist Jackie McLean (1931-2006) was raised in a musical family and also a New York neighborhood full of well-respected musicians. As a young musician he was mentored by Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. He possessed a distinctive tone, closer to the tenor saxophone and sometimes described as piercing or searing. He was also a great interpreter of the blues. His earliest recordings were made when he was still in his teens.

Jackie McLean - Episode 1

Sentimental JourneyJackie McLean4 5 and 61956
Tempus FugitBud PowellJazz Legacy of Bud Powell1949
Blowing the Blues AwayBilly EckstineOrchestra1944
KokoCharlie ParkerBird in Time (live radio)ca.1947
DigMiles DavisDig1951
UpJackie McLeanLights Out!1956
OutburstJackie McLeanJackie McLean Quartet1957

Jackie McLean - Episode 2

McLean was under contract with Blue Note Records from 1959 to 1967, having previously recorded for Prestige. Blue Note offered better pay and more artistic control than other jazz labels. His work on Blue Note is highly regarded and includes leadership and sideman dates with a wide range of musicians, including Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark, Lee Morgan, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, Grachan Moncur III, Bobby Hutcherson, Mal Waldron, and many others. He later became an exponent of modal jazz without abandoning his foundation in hard bop.
Davis CupJackie McLeanNew Soil1959
Hip StrutJackie McLeanNew Soil1959
Minor ApprehensionJackie McLeanNew Soil1959
QuadrangleJackie McLeanJackie's Bag1959
Appointment In GhanaJackie McLeanJackie's Bag1960
Isle of JavaJackie McLeanJackie's Bag1960

Jackie McLean - Episode 3

In 1962 he recorded Let Freedom Ring for Blue Note. This album was the culmination of attempts he had made over the years to deal with harmonic problems in jazz, incorporating ideas from the free jazz developments of Ornette Coleman. He performed with young avant-garde jazz musicians rather than the veteran hard bop performers he had been playing with previously. His adaptation of modal and free jazz innovations to his vision of hard bop made his recordings distinctive.
VertigoJackie McLeanVertigo1963
OmegaJackie McLeanLet Freedom Ring1962
Khalil the ProphetJackie McLeanDestination Out1963
MarneyJackie McLeanVertigo1963
On The NileJackie McLeanJacknife1965
ClimaxJackie McLeanJacknife1965

Max Roach

max-roachMax Roach (1924-2007) was born in North Carolina and raised in New York City. A pioneer of bebop, Roach went on to work in many other styles of music, and is generally considered one of the most important drummers in jazz history. He worked with many famous jazz musicians, including Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown.

Max Roach - Episode 1

Roach's most significant innovations came in the 1940s, when he and jazz drummer Kenny Clarke devised a new concept of musical time by playing the pulse of time on the ride cymbal instead of on the bass drum. The new approach left space for the drummer to insert dramatic accents on the snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. By matching his rhythms with a tune's melody he created a new way to accompany soloists in the angular and highly rhythmic bebop style. Roach did this with great subtlety and often shifted the dynamic emphasis from one part of his drum kit to another within a single phrase, creating a sense of tonal color and rhythmic surprise. Roach played on many of Parker's most important records, including the November 1945 Savoy session (Ko-Ko) which was a turning point in modern jazz.
Disorder at the BorderMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Woody'n YouMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Buh Dee DahtMax Roach/Coleman Hawkins1944
Ko-KoMax Roach/Charlie Parker1945
CrazeologyMax Roach/Charlie Parker1947
Bird Gets the WormMax Roach/Charlie Parker1947

Max Roach - Episode 2

The large number of important and grounding breaking recordings that Roach played on is a testament to his ability as a drummer. He was one of the most sought after musician in jazz for over 4 decades. In 1952, Roach co-founded Debut Records with bassist Charles Mingus. This label released a record of a May 15, 1953 concert which came to be known as Jazz at Massey Hall, featuring Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Mingus and Roach. Also released on this label was the groundbreaking bass-and-drum free improvisation, “Percussion Discussion.”
MoveMax Roach/Fats Navarro1948
MoveMaz Roach/Miles Davis NonetBirth of the Cool1949
Tempus FugitMax Roach/Bud Powell Trio1949
Salt PeanutsMax Roach/Quintet of the YearJazz at Massey Hall1953
MildamaMax Roach/Clifford BrownBrown & Roach Incorporated1954

Max Roach - Episode 3

As the bop era progressed into the late '50s, Roach was known for "hard bop" and experimentation on albums such as Max Roach Plus Four (1956), Deeds Not Words (1958) and Max (1958). He also continued his collaborations with Sonny Rollins. In June 1956 he played on Sonny Rollins' groundbreaking solo album, Saxophone Colossus. A brilliant showcase of material, Roach's performance on the album Blue 7 "shows," as Gunther Sculler commented in Jazz Panorama, "that exciting drum solos need not be just an un-thinking burst of energy - they can be interesting and meaningful compositions.” In February of 1958, Roach and Oscar Pettiford formed a trio with Rollins for the saxophonist's celebrated Riverside album, Freedom Suite.
Parisian ThoroughfareMax Roach/Clifford BrownMax Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet1954
DelilahMax Roach/Clifford BrownMax Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet1954
Blue SevenMax Roach/Sonny RollinsSaxophone Colossus1956
The Freedom SuiteMax Roach/Sonny RollinsFreedom Suite1958
A Little MaxMax Roach/Duke Ellington/MingusMoney Jungle1962

Max Roach - Episode 4

This podcast will feature some of Max Roach’s most important solo work. Max was a pioneer soloist, playing melodies on entire the drum set. We start with his 1953 Jazz at Massey Hall solo and move through Drums Unlimited featuring his most important solo piece, “For Big Sid” dedicated to legendary drummer Big Sid Catlett.
Drum ConversationBud PowellJazz at Massey Hall V.21953
Drums UnlimitedMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
The Drum Also WaltzesMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
For Big SidMax RoachDrums Unlimited1966
Mop MopMax Roach QuartetMax Roach Again1964

Dexter Gordon

Gordon 2Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon (1923-1990) started his career in Los Angeles in the early 1940’s. He was a product of what was referred to as the Central Avenue jazz scene. His first important job was playing with the Lionel Hampton band in the early 1940s and by 1944 he was performing with the bebop incubator known as the Billy Eckstine Orchestra. His early influences on the saxophone include Lester Young, Don Byas, and Charlie Parker. Dexter was one of the first true bebop tenor players and set the standard for the instrument throughout the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Dexter Gordon - Episode 1

The recordings on this podcast include his important 1947 records made in Los Angeles and New York.
For Regulars OnlyDexter GordonDoin' Allright1961
Every TubLester Young and Count Basie1938
I Got RhythmDon Byas and Slam Stewart1945
KokoCharlie Parker and the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet1945
Chase, Part 1 & 2Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray1947
BikiniDexter Gordon Quartet1947
DextroseDexter Gordon Quintet1947

Dexter Gordon - Episode 2

By the early 1950’s Dexter Gordon’s sound and improvisational style made him one of the most recognizable saxophonists in jazz. His approach to playing has influenced generations of tenor saxophone players including people like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Stan Getz. This podcast will feature many of his most memorable Blue Note classic recordings from the early 1960’s and some from the 1970’s. Pay particular attention to the two versions of “Body and Soul.”
CheesecakeDexter GordonGo! 1962
I Hear MusicDexter GordonDexter Blows Hot and Cold1955
For Regulars OnlyDexter GordonDoin' Allright1961
It's You or No OneDexter Gordon Doin' Allright1961
I Was Doing All RightDexter GordonDoin' Allright1961
Love for SaleDexter GordonGo!1962
Body and SoulDexter Gordon The Panther1970
Body and SoulDexter GordonBallads1978
Wee DotDexter Gordon and Gene AmmonsChase1970