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JazzWax June Christy: Eight Audio Clips

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JazzWax June Christy: Eight Audio Clips

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No singer better captures the sound of the Los Angeles area than June Christy. Back in the early 1980s, over a summer, I recall driving down to Newport Beach. The air was muggy, the neon signs were blurry in the haze, and a breeze was coming in off the Pacific. I was in a convertible at dusk heading off to meet a friend for sushi. As I drove, I had a mix of Christy on cassette. There was something about that hip orange-juice voice, the air and the neon that was pure magic. I remember thinking I’d never hear her in a better setting, and to this day that thought holds true. [Photo above of June Christy in the late 1940s by William P. Gottlieb]

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Here’s eight Christy songs that yesterday made me want to take that drive again [Photo of Christy sleeping on chest of husband and Stan Kenton tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper by William P. Gottlieb]:

Here’s June Chisty singing I Can’t Give You Anything But Love in July 1946, backed by John Anderson (tp), Kai Winding (tb), Bob Cooper (ts), Arnold Ross (p), Dave Barbour (g), Eddie Safranski (b) and Shelly Manne…

Here’s Christy singing Look at Me Now, c. late 1940s…

Here’s Christy singing My Heart Belongs to Only You in November 1952, backed by Frank Beach, Ray Linn, Shorty Rogers and Joe Triscari (tp); Harry Betts, Tommy Pederson, Herbie Harper and Si Zentner (tb); Gus Bivona and Al Gershoff (as); Bob Cooper and Ted Nash (ts); Bob Gioga (bar); Buddy Cole (p); Vincent Terri (g); Phil Stephens (b); Alvin Stoller (d) and Pete Rugolo (arr,cond)..

Here’s Christy singing Spring Is Here in May 1963, accompanied by Bud Shank (as), Al Viola (g) and Don Bagley (b)…

Here’s Christy live on TV singing Midnight Sun in the late 1950s. Her performance ends at 3:21, but the person who uploaded the clip did so twice…

Here’s Christy in June 1957 singing Lost on a Summer Night backed by the Pete Rugolo Orchestra…

Here’s Christy singing This Is a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening in 1965 backed by the Stan Kenton Orchestra…

And here’s Christy with Bobby Troup in 1972 on Los Angeles TV singing Troup’s Meaning of the Blues, Daddy and Lonely Girl

       

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JazzWax Hot Track: A Fifth for Frank

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Bassist Curtis Counce recorded his first leadership album in October 1956. Counce was a major West Coast jazz talent who had assembled a muscular quintet for his premier Contemporary Records session. The album, The Curtis Counce Group, consisted of Jack Sheldon (tp), Harold Land (ts) Carl Perkins (p) Curtis Counce (b) and Frank Butler (d). All of the tracks are killer, but A Fifth for Frank stands out because of the extended drum solo by Butler.

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A Fifth for Frank
was composed by pianist Gerald Wiggins and vibraphonist Cal Tjader and was first recorded on Tjader’s Cal Tjader Quartet album for Fantasy five months earlier in May 1956. The quartet featured Tjader (vib), Wiggins (p), Eugene Wright (b) and Bill Douglass (d). I couldn’t find any evidence in the liner notes of these albums or others that A Fifth for Frank was written for Frank Butler. Even if it wasn’t, it should have been. Butler delivers a terrific extended solo with sticks and his knuckles that follows solos by Land and Sheldon. 

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Here’s A Fifth for Frank by the Curtis Counce Group in October 1956…

And here’s the original five months earlier, with Cal Tjader and Gerald Wiggins in May 1956…

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JazzWax Hot Track: A Fifth for Frank

JazzWax John Scofield: Combo 66

JazzWax John Scofield: Combo 66

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John Scofield is a gentle, soulful guy. When we talk by email, he’s as kind and as thoughtful as a fence-fixer in the middle of rural Vermont or Wyoming eager to provide driving directions. That’s quite a contrast from the monster guitarist you hear on his recordings. But that’s the beauty of John. When John and I write each other, he reminds me of guitarist Jim Hall, who also played with enormous edge and had a neighborly, relaxed demeanor when off-duty.

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John’s latest album, Combo 66 (Verve), is an exquisite blend of jazz sensibilities, rock emotions and country touches. Joining John on the album are Gerald Clayton on piano and organ, Vicente Archer on bass and Bill Stewart on drums. John turned 66 last December, so the 66 in Combo relates to his age. John works through nine originals on his Ibanez guitars, which produce his signature hard, ringing tone. The way John bends notes, they sound like a singing voice processed through taut electrified wire.

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When I lived in Boston in the 1970s, my first floor apartment faced the street-car line on Huntington Avenue. Late at night, when car traffic disappeared and drunken students let off their last shouts, I’d listen to the stillness outside as the electric wires above the track started to ping, twitch and moan signaling the apporach of a distant streetcar. John’s playing on songs like Can’t Dance and I’m Sleeping In remind me of those late-night live-wire “concerts.”

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Other favorites on the album include King of Belgium, New Waltzo, Willa Jean and Icons at the Fair. Speaking of Boston in the 1970s, there’s a jazz fusion feel on many of these songs, but such a term is too simplistic and broad for John’s music. What you hear on Combo 66 is John’s feverish exploration as he weaves together a wide range of music styles. His attacks range from the poetic to the furious, and they all come together neatly in a metallic narrative. His trio is gorgeous and luxuriantly supportive. [Photo above of Miles Davis and John Scofield courtesy of John Scofield]

Make room on your crowded shelf, John. Looks like batch of Grammys are heading your way.

JazzWax tracks: You’ll find John Scofield’s Combo 66 (Verve) here.

You’ll also find the album at Spotify.

JazzWax clips: Here’s Can’t Dance. The song, like the rest of the album, has a perfect autumnal sound. I’d love to drive through New England listening to this one…

Can’t Dance

       

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JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

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With the arrival of September, summer is unofficially over and autumn is sort of here. It’s just a matter of time now in New York when the temperature will downshift into the low 70s and then the 60s. Apples, suede and boots follow, with Central Park turning color and the distant smell of brownstone fireplaces on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. So today, I figured I’d welcome the ninth month with 10 of my favorite September songs:

Here’s Artie Shaw in 1945 on September Song. Most later versions of this song take it way too slow. Shaw gives the song the fox-trot treatment, which adds spirit and animation…

Here’s James Moody in Paris in July 1951 recording September Serenade for French Vogue backed by strings arranged and conducted by Andre Hodeir. Listen for tags of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Round Midnight and Moody’s own Moody’s Mood for Love...

Here’s the Sauter-Finegan band in February 1954 recording Eddie Sauter’s September’s Sorrow

Here’s Jo Stafford singing a glorious swinging version of September in the Rain in the mid-1950s. Best of all, it comes with a smart arrangement by husband Paul Weston. Stafford sings backed by flutes conversing with fleshy trombones and chrome trumpets, a wandering piano, chiffon strings and winding down with billowy reeds and a muted trumpet tag at the tail end… 

Here’s Helen Shapiro on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1963 singing Carole King’s It Might As Well Rain Until September

Here’s Tony Bennett in 1965 recording Maybe September for his Movie Song Album. The song was written by Jay Livingston, Ray Evans and Percy Faith for a film called The Oscar...

Here are The Happenings in 1966 singing See You in September, with a Four Seasons voicing…

Here’s Johnnie Taylor in 1974 singing Dennis Gilmore’s It’s September

Here’s Earth Wind & Fire in 1978 singing their hit September

And here’s Barry White in 1978 singing September When I First Met You

       

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JazzWax 10 Favorite September Songs

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