Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Your Call is Very Important to Us!

So there I was in the bookstore about to pick up the new Downbeat when my eyes were drawn to a "jazz" magazine I was not familiar with called JAZZIZ. It came in a tempting plastic wrapper with the promise of a sampler disc of "cool summer jazz." Who could resist?

Well, the cover should have been the first clue. I mean really, it is just too cool for words isn't it? But I thought--hey, the Playboy jazz festival has had some great players grace its stage right? And alas, I wasn't able to ascertain what tunes were on the sampler, but I had my hopes. And so I plucked it and abandoned the old standby.

I didn't actually get to throw that sampler in until the next morning in the car. This fine morning happened to involve Neats and the boys taking me to the train. So what could be more soothing on a trip through the morning rush than some "cool jazz." I think we made it through about four or five tracks (with skipping ahead involved). Neats kept making jokes about elevators and I kept feeling like I was on hold, waiting to speak to some corporate customer representative who was going to give me no satisfaction and so they were trying to soothe me with this music.

Of course a quick tour through the JAZZIZ site reveals that while they might talk to a variety of artists, the sampler disc is really selling "teh jazz" that you hear on radio stations with handles like "The Breeze" and "The Wave." I could be wrong here, so fans of JAZZIZ should let me know if I am. But what, you might ask, was I hoping for?

Well, when it comes to summer jazz, I hope for one of two things--deep south, hot New Orleans influenced jazz and blues, or, what I would think of as hip, cool jazz. Since it is the latter that got me suckered in here, let me suggest a few discs that exemplify that and you can add your own.

  1. Let's start with Brazilian influenced jazz which is definitely a summer orientation for me. How about some Luciana Souza who is a fabulous vocalist. I might suggest Duos II which has her paired with a variety of different guitarists.
  2. Not into vocals and have heard enough versions of "Girl from Ipanema" to last you forever? Then check out Joe Henderson's Double Rainbow featuring music of Carlos Jobim first with some great Brazilian players and then with a tight quartet on the jazz side including Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride.
  3. More upbeat but still with that dancing beat? How about Charlie Hunter's Ready . . . Set . . . Shango! with some great guitar work along with sax and drums--and, well, killer beats.
  4. And when you get done with that surfin', dance party, you can also cool out with some fine west coast jazz on Chet Baker's and Art Pepper's joint effort, The Route, which benefits form Pete Jolly on piano and Leroy Vinegar on bass among others.
  5. And finally, when you awake and are enjoying that first cup of java while the cool night air still lingers, throw on Frank Morgan's Easy Living with the fabulous Cedar Walton on piano.
Now that would be cool jazz.

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