A Favorite Jazz Album, Then and Now

Back when I was a lad in the late 1950s, I was listening to jazz radio station KNOB (“the jazz knob”) which broadcast out of Long Beach, California. The great Chuck Niles worked on that station, and what he didn’t know about jazz wasn’t worth knowing. As a neophyte, I drank in every word and followed his advice when it came to listening to, and buying, jazz records.

When he played the song “The Red Door” one afternoon, I connected with the music and decided I HAD to have that album. In those days it wasn’t always easy to find jazz albums, but after some calling around I finally found a music store (remember those?) that was willing to order the album for me. The title of that album was The Jazz Committee On Latin American Affairs and it featured Kenny Dorham, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Ray Mantilla, Ronnie Ball and Herbie Mann. The group was recorded live at the American Jazz Festival on 16th July 1961 in Rio De Janero in Brazil and the album released by FM Records. The title was a bow to the politics of the day.

I wore that album out, but never tired of it. You can’t say that about many records, then or now. The record wasn’t a giant seller, and before long it was out of pressing and unavailable. When my copy was nearing the end of it’s useful life, I went searching for a replacement, with no luck. It was with some surprise, and much delight when, about 30 years later, I was browsing a catalogue and spotted a listing for Hot Stuff From Brazil by Kenny Dorham. Could it be the same album? Yes. I bought the CD, which itself is now out of print, but can be found by the patient and resourceful. It may even be available through Rhapsody .

Here are the two album covers, then and now, though “now” is a decade ago. Apologies for the quality of the image on the left, I had to crib a low-res one off the ‘net.

2 jazz album cvrs

The Old and the New(er)

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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8 Responses to A Favorite Jazz Album, Then and Now

  1. Frank Denton says:

    Dang, that sounds like a good line-up. Why is it that the jazz from last century (50s,60s) is often what we like better than today’s stuff? Listening to Bill Holman at the moment.

  2. I think it’s because the jazz from the 50s and 60s sounds better to our ears, since we heard it when it was current, and liked what we heard.

  3. Todd Mason says:

    Well, as someone who was proud to be able to ride a bike w/o training wheels by the end of the ’60s, I’d countersuggest that much of the jazz of the ’50s and ’60s still felt like pioneering work…entirely too many folks since then have felt too beholden to what has come before, particularly when working with Wynton Marsalis. Branford has always been a better jazz player, among others of their/my generation, in large part from not choosing to embed himself in amber.

  4. Todd Mason says:

    My favorite jazz albums include:

    MINGUS, MINGUS, MINGUS, MINGUS, MINGUS by someone or another and his band.
    MONEY JUNGLE by Duke Ellington, Max Roach, and Charle Mingus.
    (JAZZ FURTHER OUT:) MIRO REFLECTIONS by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
    THE LAST CONCERT by the Modern Jazz Quartet
    CRISS CROSS by the Thelonious Monk Quartet
    “THE HOTTEST NEW GROUP IN JAZZ” by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
    INSIGHTS by the Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band
    FREEDOM NOW SUITE by Max Roach, Oscar Brown, Jr. and associates
    STRANGE FRUIT, the Billie Holiday Commodore recordings

    …a good start…and not a few from mid-century…

  5. Richard says:

    Todd – I’ll certainly grant the point about that era feeling like pioneering work, to listeners who came later. Frank and I were high school/college age in the late 1950s and early 1960s so for us the music was current. You’re right about later jazz musicians feeling beholden to the “straight ahead” era of jazz, and to be-bob and hard bob.

    As with all forms of performance art, some clung to the old ways, some tried to break every convention and most took a middle road of evolving innovation, small steps.

  6. Richard says:

    Todd – that’s an interesting list, and I have all of it except that LHR album. I have their stuff, but later reissues. You’re a real Monk and Mingus fan, I see.

    If you like that Akiyoshi/Tabackin album, you might be interested in the Mosiac Records set of their stuff.It’s Mosiac Select # 33, 3 CDs covering the first 5 albums.

    My favorites? Eric Alexander, Coltrane, Miles, Dexter Gordon, Jackie McLean, Johnny Hodges (excellent Mosiac set), Milt Jackson, Monk, Sonny Rollins… too many to name.

  7. Todd Mason says:

    I think you misunderstand what I meant by pioneering work…they were still striking out into fresh territory, something the so-called straight-head revivalists were sorely lacking in (with their new suits and contracts, as the mocking cliche goes). Bebop and hard-bop are not all that is legit, something some of those folks are only now beginning to learn.

    I must indeed look into that Mosaic set…most of my early Akiyoshi Orch is on vinyl only.

    The last time I went out of my way for a Moasaic was the Randy Weston.

  8. Richard says:

    You’re right. I admit I don’t listen to much current jazz,
    maybe Joshua Redman, someone like that.

    As for Mosaic Records, I have about 30 of the sets. For complete coverage, they’re excellent (though occasionally a little heavy on the alt. takes) and there is a lot of great music with excellent notes (no pun) in the booklet. I admit I don’t take them out as often as the single album CDs, though.

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