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Notes on Jazz

By Mike Joyce
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, February 17, 2000


    Jazz (File Photo)
New Releases

Well, it may not be entirely new, but it is long-awaited and much-delayed. We're talking about the "The Complete Miles Davis Featuring John Coltrane," a comprehensive six CD set originally due in stores months ago. Apparently, our patience will be rewarded in April – the new release date from Columbia/Legacy.

The good news is that Davis's former collaborator, Herbie Hancock, is the subject of a new Columbia/Legacy "cyber-pop-funk" reissue program. Just released are newly remastered versions of 1983's "Future Shock," 1984's "Sound System" and 1988's "Perfect Machine," plus "The Hits," a best-of collection spanning 10 years, from "Chameleon," a cross-over hit in 1973, to "Rock It," a hit from the 1983 album, "Future Shock."

Jazz Essentials

Washington-based drummer Lenny Robinson has five recommendations for building a jazz library with the emphasis, natch, on percussion. In addition to playing with Stanley Turrentine, Ahmad Jamal, Lou Donaldson and other jazz greats, Robinson anchors a local trio, Three for All, at the Market Street Bar & Grill, in Reston, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The group, featuring pianist Allyn Johnson and bassist Mykle Lyons, has just released its debut album, "Premonition," on the ALM label. Here are Lenny's choices:

Kenny Clarke-"Bohemia After Dark" (Savoy) 1955.

Kenny Clark changed the way drummers had played up to this point by moving the time-keeping component of the drumset from the bass drum to the cymbal. It has been there ever since. A true innovator.

"Philly" Joe Jones-"Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet" (Prestige) 1956

Philly was, in my opinion as well as many others, the most musical drummer of his time. He had the ability to play the drums in a way that allowed the listener to "hear" the melody. This is a great recording that showcases Philly Joe's musicality.

Art Blakey-"A Night at Birdland" (Blue Note) 1954

Art Blakey's excitement and energy just permeated the bandstand. Listeners and musicians alike had no choice other than to allow him to lead the band from the drumset. It had been done before but "Bu" had a certain something that was different. His showmanship and sense of timing made for a long and influential career as a bandleader and institute of higher jazz learning. This is a must-have recording that showcases Art Blakey's drumming abilities.

Tony Williams-Miles Davis's "Nefertiti" (Columbia) 1967

Tony, like Kenny Clarke before him, changed the way the drums were played. He floated around the time, like a boxer, punching, jabbing and pushing the rhythmic flow forward. He had the ability to play both within the music and over the music as the spirit moved him. This is a great recording from this stage of his development

Elvin Jones-John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" (Atlantic)1960

This is the first full recording of the classic Coltrane quartet and is essential to have in any collection of jazz. Jones displays both his ability to propel a piece of music forward and his ability to finesse with intensity. A must-have jazz recording.


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