In this article we take a look at 10 essential to have in your discography.
American born in Philadelphia in 1923, established himself as ‘ ‘ a nickname given to him by clarinetist and band leader Tony Scott, to distinguish himself from his great predecessor and coincidentally named .
The coincidences between these two greats do not stop at their names; they both grew up performing tap dancing as kids and both served in the military in the second world war.
Both drummers went on to establish the rhythm section standard in their own way – for Count Basie Orchestra from the 1930s to 40s, with carrying the torch and continuing to evolve the role of the drum set throughout the 1950s and 60s. it was with the iconic
In 1947 landed a gig in the house band at Café Society in .
Here he played with some of the leading bebop players of the time, most notably . Him and Miles would travel the US and play in different cities with local musicians.
According to however, this became a drag as the local talent was not close to satisfactory. This led to Miles hiring pianist from Texas and the virtuosic, then only 20-year-old on bass.
also received an invitation to join this group that would become the classic . After their first gig commented, according to the Miles Davis autobiography: ”we’ve got musical telepathy here. We have five people who always know what’s going to happen next.”
Although , he boasts a long and varied career as a sideman with greats such as , , , Freddie Hubbard and to name a few. is most famous for his propulsive playing as part of the legendary
He also went on to produce more than 15 records as a leader later in his career however, most of his musical highlights are to be found in his golden era in the 1950s and 60s.
In this list we’ll take you through some of greatest and most iconic work, as well as uncovering some of the hidden gems of his discography.
Workin’ (Miles Davis)
Recorded in 1956, ‘Workin’ ‘ features the first incarnation of ‘ great Quintet with (trumpet), (tenor saxophone), ( ), (Bass) and on .
Workin’ is an – as a way of fulfilling a contractual obligation to the Prestige record label. conceived from two recording sessions on May 11th and October 26th, 1956, that produced 4 albums: Workin’, Cookin’, Relaxin’ and Steamin’ with the
This resulted in music that is not only spontaneous and raw but captivating and heartfelt across the entire body of work.
For , ‘Workin” is a real highlight that displays both his muscular and propulsive playing as well as some more delicate and melodic moments with brushes.
The first two tracks from ‘Workin’ ‘ exhibit this beautifully with the opener ‘It Never Entered My Mind’, a heartbreaking ballad with ‘s arpeggiated intro of which supports with intricate and elegant brush playing.
To follow this is the livelier track ‘Four’ that features an iconic drum intro. Listen out for how propels this tune throughout and uses press rolls on the final head to sculpt and support this classic syncopated melody.
Milestones (Miles Davis)
‘ mastery of the drum kit is exemplified by his rudimentary lyricism when soloing.
His slick solo vocabulary has been studied and transcribed for years and years, as generations of drummers aspire to match his fluid and propulsive playing.
‘The Solo Book’ by Joerg Eckel is a staple of the drumming community that features over 300 pages of ‘s best work including 2 iconic solos from this : ‘Milestones’.
Recorded for Columbia records in 1958, ‘Milestones‘ is an almost perfect offering of aggressive and red-hot tunes with , (alto saxophone) ( ), and (Bass) on .‘ sextet of heavy-weights, (tenor saxophone),
The tunes ‘Billy Boy’ and ‘Two Bass Hit’ feature 2 of ‘s most iconic solos surprisingly, recorded with only a 3-piece drum set and 1 ride cymbal, they sit right at the apex of ‘s career and the hard-bop genre.
In the early 60s assembled a quintet of his favorite musicians at the time of each instrument, resulting in a hidden gem of an the aptly named ‘Interplay’.
The sound crisp and tight here as commands the rhythm section throughout this feel good and swinging .
A highlight is ‘I’ll Never Smile Again,’ with demonstrating his brilliant precise and idiosyncratic hi-hat playing to open the tune and later around the 3-minute mark as he supports ‘ hard and bluesy soloing.
trio record. Recorded in 1957 this was one of ‘ earlier albums here with on bass and on drum-kit. contributes greatly on this iconic
Listen out for some of ‘s more spacious and abstract playing on the intro of the Cole Porter tune, ‘Night and Day.’ ‘Everybody Digs ‘ highlights ‘ versatility and deep musical understanding on this major historically important record.
Dexter Calling ()
shines on ‘Dexter Calling’ a 1961 record that bright, crisp and feel good.
This features a broad range of tempos that show off ‘s distinctive swing time playing.
For example, ‘Soul Sister’ is extremely slow and spacious but a cool and swinging track, nonetheless. To follow this however, tempos begin to surge as dances above ‘s sizzling swing time bringing his signature warm tone and supple, precise playing.
All round, this is a buoyant and heartwarming piece of work featuring an all-star quartet with drumkit. (tenor saxophone), Kenny Drew ( ) and (bass) and on
Meets the Rhythm Section (Art Pepper)
In 1957 in Los Angeles we see the east meet the west as alto saxophonist . ‘ rhythm section meet
Having never met each other before, the story goes that hadn’t been told about this recording date with the exalted rhythm section of , and until the morning of.
This led to ‘s contribution being loose, honest and understated on this 9 track that has been described as ‘a diamond of recorded history’.
‘s textbook and masterful playing is captured beautifully here as his and clear and present in the mix.
Trailways Express (Philly Joe Jones)
Like many other American musicians such as , Kenny Clarke and Stan Getz, spent moved in Europe in the late 60s, living between London and Paris. It has been said that music was more appreciated overseas, and that black musicians were not subjected to racism in the same way as they were back home.
Recorded in 1968, at the time he was teaching music at a specialist school in Hampstead, London teamed up with mostly British musicians living in London including the great Canadian/British trumpet and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler.
Trailways Express is an offering of furious hardbop with dominant playing at the helm, with Peter King (alto saxophone), Jon Hart (bass), Kenny Wheeler (flugel horn), Harold McNair (flute and tenor saxophone), Mike Pyne ( ), Chris Pyne (trombone) and on .
Blue Train ()
No top 10 list would be complete without this classic Coltrane record – his only as a leader.
Recorded around the time of their residency with famous albums in jazz history. at the Five Spot in , and team up here with , Curtis Fuller, Kenny Drew and to record of the most revered and classic hard-bop albums of the 50s: ‘Blue Train’ – not to mention one of the most
Newk’s Time ()
sits at the heart of this fiery recorded by the great Rudy Van Gelder in his parents’ living room of all places.
On this hard bop record Sonny Rollins who was considered one of the top tenor players of the time takes no prisoners as he spars with
A track that warrants special attention is a composition ‘Blues for .’
Full of charm and humour, and ‘ soloing and trades are exquisite.
This features (saxophone) ( ), Doug Watkins (bass) and on
It’s not often you get two of the greatest on the same bill but here we have drummers in the world and (no relation) ‘Together!’.
Together! Is a session that will blow the cobwebs away as both Elvin and spar in this unusual, drum duo led hard-bop .
Despite the novelty first impression you may get here this is not as drum-centric as it may seem; Elvin and both deliver musical, textural, and intelligent solos as they come together like a well-oiled machine.
Thanks for reading!
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!