John Coltrane’s Transtion

Coltrane 2On this podcast I look at John Coltrane’s transition from the epitome of a hard bop tenor saxophonist to a player who embraced modal and free form jazz. The transition took literally less than 2 years. He recorded 2 groundbreaking albums in 1959: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and his own Giant Steps. His work in the 1950’s featured the type of hard bop playing that was strictly tied to improvising over sophisticated and often difficult harmonic progressions. The composition “Giant Steps” is the epitome of harmonic complexity packed into a short form and played at a very fast tempo. The same year Kind of Blue introduced modal jazz into the mainstream and Ornette Coleman released the album, The Shape of Jazz to Come, which introduced a new free approach to jazz. Moving away from compositions with densely packed chord progressions to compositions with few or no chords was an epiphany for John. All these changes in jazz had a profound effect on him. His music post 1960 displayed the influence of Ornette Coleman, modal music, and an increased spiritual awareness.

John Coltrane - The Transition of a Genius

Blue TrainJohn ColtraneBlue Train1957
Moment’s NoticeJohn ColtraneBlue Train1957
Giant StepsJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
NaimaJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
My Favorite ThingsJohn ColtraneMy Favorite Things1960
But Not for MeJohn ColtraneMy Favorite Things1960
Inch WormJohn ColtraneColtrane1962

Paul Chambers

Chambers #1Oscar Pettiford is the bassist generally assumed to have picked up where Jimmy Blanton left off, with Ray Brown, Red Mitchell, Percy Heath and others following in his footsteps. Paul Chambers (1935-1969) was the star of the next generation of bassists who came of age in the mid 1950’s. Among other achievements, Chambers is the first jazz bassist to earn dual renown as an arco and pizzicato soloist. Born in Pittsburgh, he grew up in Detroit and took up the double bass around 1949. While he was studying at Cass Tech (1952 to 1955), he had opportunities to interact with Thad Jones and Barry Harris. His formal bass training started in 1952, when he began taking lessons with a bassist in the Detroit Symphony. By the time he left for New York at the invitation of Paul Quinichette, he was already greatly experienced.

Paul Chambers - Episode 1

From 1954 on through 1955, he gained significance touring with such musicians as Bennie Green, Paul Quinichette, George Wallington, J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding. In 1955 he joined the Miles Davis quintet, staying on with the group until 1963 and appearing on many classic albums, including Kind of Blue. One of Chambers' most noted performances was on that album's first cut, "So What," which opens with a brief duet featuring Chambers and pianist Bill Evans. He free-lanced frequently as a sideman for other important names in jazz throughout his career.
Sepia PanoramaJimmy Blanton1941
The ThemePaul Chambers/Miles DavisThe New Miles Davis Quintet1955
Tail of the FingersPaul ChambersThe Whims of Chambers1956
Dear Old StockholmPaul Chambers/Miles DavisRound About Midnight1956
You’re My EverythingPaul Chambers/Miles DavisRelaxing1956
C Jam BluesPaul Chamber/Red GarlandGroovy1957
I’m Confessin’Paul ChambersBass on Top1957

Paul Chambers - Episode 2

This podcast will continue with recordings of bassist Paul Chamber. Between 1957 and 1960 Chambers was involved in some of the most important recording sessions in jazz, including all of Miles Davis recordings, but also work with John Coltrane, Red Garland, Jackie McLean, Blue Mitchell, Lee Morgan, JJ Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Art Pepper, Cannonball Adderley, and many others. These are some of Paul’s most memorable recordings that feature him in supporting and solo roles. His sound and bass lines are probably his most recognizable qualities. His improvisations feature horn-like lines; how could he not be influenced the great musicians he played with?
YesterdaysPaul ChambersBass on Top1957
Blue TrainPaul Chambers/John ColtraneBlue Train1957
The Very Thought of YouPaul Chambers/Red GarlandRed Garland’s Piano1957
Black OutPaul Chambers/Red GarlandCan’t See for Lookin’1958
I Got RhythmPaul Chambers/Cannonball AdderleyJust Friends1959
So WhatPaul Chambers/Miles DavisKind of Blue1959
Someday My PrincePaul Chambers/Miles DavisSomeday My Prince Will Come1961

Lee Morgan

Morgan 1Lee Morgan was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1938. He was a leading trumpeter and composer recording prolifically from 1956 until 1972. He started playing the trumpet at 13 and his primary stylistic influence was Clifford Brown, with whom he took a few lessons as a teenager. His other major influences included Fats Navarro and Dizzy Gillespie. He joined the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band at age 18 and remained a member for a year and a half until 1958. He began recording for Blue Note Records in 1956, eventually recording 25 albums as a leader for the company. He was also a featured sideman on several early Hank Mobley records. His playing was technically, melodically, and harmonically advanced. The record buying public and audiences were receptive to his powerful style that exuded the essence of hard bop.

Lee Morgan - Episode 1

The SidewinderLee MorganThe Sidewinder1963
NostalgiaFats Navarro1947
The Blues WalkClifford BrownStudy in Brown1955
Things to ComeDizzy Gillespie Big Band1946
Hank’s ShoutLee Morgan/Hank MobleyIntroducing Lee Morgan1956
Latin HangoverLee MorganLee Morgan Vol.21956

Lee Morgon - Episode 2

In 1957 Lee continued his busy recording session appearing on many Blue Note releases including John Coltrane's album Blue Train. Joining Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1958 helped further develop his talent as a soloist and composer. He toured with Art Blakey for a few years, and was featured on numerous albums by the Messengers, including Moanin', which is one of the band's best-known recordings. When Benny Golson left the Jazz Messengers, Morgan persuaded Blakey to hire Wayne Shorter, a young tenor saxophonist and composer, to fill the vacancy.
The Way You Look TonightLee Morgan/Johnny GriffinA Blowing Session1957
Blue TrainLee Morgan/John ColtraneBlue Train1957
Moment’s NoticeLee Morgan/John ColtraneBlue Train1957
Just One of Those ThingsLee MorganThe Cooker1957
Since If Fell For YouLee MorganThe Cooker1957
Moanin’Lee Morgan/Art BlakeyMoanin’1958
Along Came BettyLee Morgan/Art BlakeyMoanin’1958

Lee Morgan - Episode 3

On this podcast I pick up with Lee Morgan’s musical activities in 1959 and 1960. With the addition of Wayne Shorter to Art Blakey’s Messengers the sound of the group began to change with the new compositions Wayne brought to the band. Shorter was using unusual harmonies and forms which affected the way Lee Morgan was approaching improvisation. He also recorded a number of outstanding tracks on the Vee-Jay label with Wayne Shorter. After Morgan left the Messengers in 1961 he did not record as prolifically as he had done the previous 3 years. In 1963 he performed with Grachan Moncur and Jackie McLean on the album Evolution. This signaled a new phase for Morgan’s musical development and career.
Lester Left TownLee Morgan/Art BlakeyAfricaine1959
Paper MoonLee Morgan/Art BlakeyBig Beat1960
ExpoobidentLee MorganExpoobident1960
AfriqueLee Morgan/Art BlakeyWitch Doctor1961
Kozo’s WaltzLee Morgan/Art BlakeyNight in Tunisia1960
Monk in WonderlandLee Morgan/Grachan MoncurEvolution1963

Lee Morgan - Episode 4

On returning to New York in 1963, he recorded The Sidewinder which became his greatest commercial success. Due to the crossover success of "The Sidewinder" in a rapidly changing pop music market, Blue Note Records encouraged its artists to emulate the tune's dance-like back beat. As successful as the Sidewinder was Morgan felt that his playing was much more advanced on the Evolution album, recorded a month earlier. After this commercial success, Morgan continued to record prolifically, releasing close to twenty additional albums as a leader in the 1960’s. In addition Morgan appeared as a sideman on some excellent albums lead by Wayne Shorter, Stanley Turrentine, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Smith, Elvin Jones, Larry Young, and several more albums with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
The SidewinderLee MorganThe Sidewinder1963
Mr. KenyattaLee MorganSearch for the New Land1964
Search New LandLee MorganSearch for the New Land1964
Night DreamerLee Morgan/Wayne ShorterNight Dreamer1964
Go to My HeadLee MorganGigolo1965
Our Man HigginsLee MorganCornbread1965
CeoraLee MorganCornbread1965

The Year Was 1959

Miles Davis1959 was possibly the most important year in the history of jazz. It was the year that Miles Davis released Kind of Blue, Ornette Coleman released the Shape of Jazz of Come, John Coltrane released Giant Steps, and peripherally Dave Brubeck released Time Out, and Charles Mingus released Mingus Ah Um. Without a doubt the releases by Davis, Coleman, and Coltrane would forever change the direction of jazz forever. Davis introduces modal jazz, Coltrane introduces one of the most complex hard bop compositions, Giant Steps, and Ornette Coleman introduces a new way to play with no preset harmony. In hindsight you could say that of the three approaches Ornette had the greatest impact and John Coltrane was its first major recipient.

So WhatMiles DavisKind of Blue1959
Giant StepsJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
Flamenco SketchesMiles DavisKind of Blue1959
CongenialityOrnette ColemanThe Shape of to Come1959
NaimaJohn ColtraneGiant Steps1959
Lonely WomanOrnette ColemanThe Shape of Jazz to Come1959