Lost and Found

 

by Andrew Elias

IN THE PAST YEAR, jazz fans have been treated to the release of several outstanding live recordings by legendary musicians. Some are newly discovered and some are of concerts that have been talked about for decades. All of them are top-shelf performances by some of the very best jazz musicians.

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John Coltrane

A Love Supreme

Live in Seattle

(Impulse)

     

     A never-before-heard recording of Coltrane’s signature masterpiece from a private collection is one of only three performances by Coltrane’s classic quartet (McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones) augmented with the legendary Pharaoh Sanders on second saxophone and Donald Garrett on second bass. 

     Coltrane seldom played the complete four-part suite of ‘A Love Supreme’ live and this performance at The Penthouse, a small nightclub, in October 1965, finds him exploring more spiritual and experimental expression. Twice as long as the original studio recording, featuring wild outbursts and far-ranging improvisation, the concert presaged a major shift in Coltrane’s musical and spiritual growth.

     The band is in top form — Tyner and Jones are always masterful and the interplay between bassists is remarkable — and Coltrane and Sanders fire off some furious solos. Local saxophonist Carlos Ward was asked to sit in with the band this particular evening and contributes some fine solos as well. 

     Although recorded with only two microphones on stage, the sound is surprisingly good and the performance is spectacular. A must-hear for all Coltrane fans and any jazz fans interested in hearing one of the most iconic jazz compositions of all time, performed on what was obviously a very special night.

     The 2-CD/2-LP set comes in an attractive and enlightening package with plenty of beautiful photos and informative essays.

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Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers

First Flight to Tokyo:

The Lost 1961 Recordings

(Blue Note)

     

     A previously unreleased recording of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers in January 1961, at the end of their first and wildly successful tour of Japan, First Flight to Tokyo features the legendary Jazz Messengers line-up of Lee Morgan on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jymie Merritt on bass, supporting the incomparable drummer.

     The album features intense performances of Jazz Messengers hits including Timmons’ ‘Moaning’ and ‘Dat Dere’, Thelonious Monk’s ‘‘Round Midnight’, Dizzy Gillespie’s ‘A Night in Tunisia’, Charlie Parker’s ’Now’s the Time’ and Benny Golsen’s ‘Blues March’. Timmons is tasteful and soulful throughout, Morgan and Shorter are on fire and Blakey’s drumming is relentlessly powerful.

     Recorded to serve as a soundtrack for a documentary film that was never completed, these amazing performances help explain why The Jazz Messengers developed a passionate and loyal following in Japan. Not on par with the classic live Jazz Messengers’ albums A Night at Birdland and At the Cafe Bohemia, fans of hard bop jazz will be glad that these terrific ‘lost’ tapes were found.

     The 2-CD/2-LP album package features rare photographs, an essay and interviews with bandmates Wayne Shorter and several Blue Note cohorts.

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Lee Morgan

The Complete Live at The Lighthouse

(Blue Note)

     

     One of Blue Note Records’ greatest trumpeters, Morgan has often been unfortunately overshadowed by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard. Morgan’s albums are among the best hard bop albums of the 1950s & 1960s. Before his tragic murder at age 33, he, like Miles, was exploring a new and funkier, electric and even psychedelic sound.

     This new release includes all 12 sets performed July 10-12, 1970 at the historic jazz club, The Lighthouse, in Hermosa Beach, California. Originally released in 1971 as a 2-LP set and later expanded to a 3-CD set, this definitive edition of Morgan’s only live album is now available as an 8-CD/12-LP compilation of all 33 tunes performed, including more than 4 hours of previously unreleased music. The sound quality is outstanding.

Morgan is backed by saxophonist Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt and drummer Mikey Roker in an exhilarating showcase of his strength as a trumpeter, composer and bandleader. There are multiple versions of several songs (seven of his hit ’Speedball’), each a revelation. Morgan played his biggest hit, ’Sidewinder’ only once, and at almost 13 minutes long, it is a standout.

     The album is accompanied by a beautiful and informative booklet featuring several unpublished photos and interviews with bandmates Maupin and Merritt, essays and statements from musicians who Morgan influenced and inspired.

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Roy Hargrove & Mulgrew Miller

In Harmony

(Resonance)

     

     A compilation of previously unreleased recordings from live performances in 2006 & 2007 by trumpeter Roy Hargrove and pianist Mulgrew Miller, whose lives were cut short just as they were building their legacies as among the very finest jazz musicians of their time.

     Although having different musical temperaments — Hargrove flashier and Miller more laid-back — the two work together beautifully in these intimate performances, infectious and soulful duets displaying an engaging playfulness and obvious chemistry. Highlights are new and fresh takes on jazz standards, ’Never Let Me Go’, ‘I Remember Clifford’, Cole Porter’s ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’, and Thelonious Monk’s ‘Ruby, My Dear’ and ‘Monk’s Dream’. 

     The 2-CD/2-LP set boasts crisp and clear sound and comes with a 68-page booklet that includes extensive liner notes, photos and touching testimonials from the likes of Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, Chris Botti, Jon Batiste and Common, among others, about the first time they met Hargrove and Miller. 

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Bola Sete

Samba in Seattle:

Live at The Penthouse 1966-1968

(Thompkins Square)

     This 3-CD/3-LP set of previously unreleased recordings captures the legendary and influential Brazilian acoustic guitarist Bola Sete at the height of his talents. His music inhabits a place encompassing jazz, bossa nova and samba, with nods to the blues and even flamenco. Performing solo on most tunes (sometimes accompanied by a bassist and drummer), the sets are dominated by Brazilian favorites, but also features songs as different as Ellington’s ‘Satin Doll’ and the standard ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’, performed with a a touching elegance, and Bach’s ‘Partita in E Minor’, played with incredible athleticism and speed. His improvisations on the classic ‘Girl From Ipanema’ makes it a version like none you have ever heard, and his own ’Soul Samba’ is an undeniable classic.

     Although Sete released many recordings over his career, most American music lovers are unaware of him. Samba in Seattle should end this injustice. It is a sprawling testament to his beautiful music and brilliant musicianship.

The album package features a 40-page booklet filled with rare photos from The Penthouse, an illuminating essay and interviews and statements from rock icon Carlos Santana, legendary composer Lalo Schifrin, folk guitarist John Fahey and new-age pianist George Winston.

Jazz is a music that is often best when it’s performed live. These recent releases of newly discovered performances are among the best live recordings of jazz concerts you will hear. Check them out on your favored streaming services or better yet, purchase them and enjoy the special packaging.                           

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March/April 2022