Jazz Surprise!!!


It was Black Friday yesterday. We did most of our Christmas shopping online because I prefer to not deal with malls, traffic and waiting among sniveling, rude and annoying people. However, I managed to peal myself out of pajamas while stuck to the couch, into a coat & santa hat and drove over to a local record store called DISC REPLAY. Many times I just like to walk up and down the aisles and browse through all of the musical treasures. They do sell movies and video games there too. But I tend to gravitate towards music. While they don’t sell vinyl at the one I go to, I still like looking. Mostly it’s because I tend to get “ideas.” A discovery happened and it wasn’t what I thought I would stumble upon.

First of all, I am a jazz fan. I love the classics. Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and John Coltrane (to name a few). So when a department store, a coffee shop or a used cd/dvd store starts playing jazz; my ears start to perk up and I go into “curious mode.” Essential elements of jazz require three major instruments, in my humble opinion. Bass Guitar, Drums and Piano. Anything else is bonus musical gravy. My ears heard clapping, announcing, drums, bass and the most amazing piano playing I have heard in quite a long time. The inquisitive inner voice inside my head needed to know “who am I listening to?”

I asked an employee, “What record are you playing over the P.A.?” The bearded beatnik looking dude was quick with his response. He told me that he is streaming a live show from The Blue Note Jazz Club in Chicago, IL. The artist was The Oscar Peterson Trio. He said they don’t carry it but he wanted to play it . I am glad he did. I wrote it down immediately and went home to read about him and listen to some more. Now I have a new Jazz musician to obsess about for awhile. Mr. Peterson is a terrific pianist. He’s from Canada. Unfortunately, he passed away about 6 years ago (just before Christmas of 2007). His music lives forever.

Oscar has played thousands of concerts, released hundreds of recordings and he was a rather large black man with a Fats Domino kind of appearance. But he redefined the famous “Jazz Trio,” by taking his members to the highest level. He wanted those drums and stand up bass to just knock people off their socks! Imagine Charlie Parker’s improv sax playing being applied to the keyboard, backed by tight snares tapping away and bass solos that melt you in a trance of ooohs and ahhhs. What a treat. To walk into a store and not come out with anything purchased. Instead, I left with a revived sense of melodic spirituality.

Top Ten of Ten

Top Ten of Ten: #1 Louis Armstrong: Ken Burns JAZZ (The Definitive)

232758539No CD will truly cover a career of Louis Armstrong in just 25 tracks, but this one is probably as good as it gets. This is honestly the essence of Armstrong. Every track  is awesome. If someone is new to collecting Louis Armstrong, I highly suggest picking this one up. This spans most of his life (beginning in the early 1920’s) with all the best cuts. It features some of his finest and creative trumpet playing. There really isn’t a bad song here. Actually, the sound of his horn and his singing makes it impossible for Louis to ever have made a bad track, but this one is a must have for any music enthusiast out there. Armstrong was an American jazz pioneer and an icon. Ken Burns has done a wonderful compilation here. This CD truly deserves to be one of my top 10 favorites of all time! Overall it represents the birth of “cool” from the 1920’s. Louis was a creative genius, and his horn playing was one of the most beautiful and joyous things ever recorded.