jazzbo

Overlooked Altos

234 posts in this topic

I REALLY love Sonny Red Kyner.

:tup:tup:tup:tup

I certainly agree with you .. he was an "edgy" player, who could really hit the mark, and had great emotion, but there are a few places where he is not quite up to it. I often wonder why he did not record more .... I particularly love "Out Of The Blue" (BN 84032) ...

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I REALLY love Sonny Red Kyner.

:tup:tup:tup:tup

I certainly agree with you .. he was an "edgy" player, who could really hit the mark, and had great emotion, but there are a few places where he is not quite up to it. I often wonder why he did not record more .... I particularly love "Out Of The Blue" (BN 84032) ...

Yes. His reading of "Stay Just As Sweet As You Are" is what a jazz ballad IS.

Anwyay, although some don't dig it, I LOVE his playing on Donald Byrd's "Slow Drag" LP.

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well, Ornette's problems are largely his own doing - he demands too much money, as great as he is. He could record for anyone, if he wanted, but he has, himself, managed to slow his career down -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Richie Cole

John Handy

Sonny Fortune

Gary Bartz

Paquito D'Rivera

Abraham Burton

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all those names have either been said or are definately not overlooked.

People: look at the goddamn topic before posting ok? and look at others' responses for god sakes to see if you're contributing something new to the conversation!

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O.K..... This should apply because he is not known as a improviser but as a master of the instrument....... EARL BOSTIC

I have a couple of King 10"ers that are a blast to play. You should hear him play"O Solo Mio"!

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I'm not sure how "overlooked" these altos need to be to qualify, so I'll just assume that these guys lack of mainstream popularity, and the fact that I love them will do.

In no particular order:

Art Pepper

Julius Hemphill Jr.

Arthur Blythe

John Jenkins

James Spaulding

Oliver Lake

Jackie McLean

Art Pepper and Jackie McLean are a lot more well-known than the rest - and deservedly so. Very different players, who seperately embody different aspects of the "jazz cry" that draws me in time and time again to their music. Pepper wins hands down in the ballad department: I honestly believe, in a completely biased and subjective fashion, that he is the most sensitive, most deeply-felt interpreter of ballads in jazz history, on any instrument, in any historical period. His playing is so profound and gut-wrenching it says as much about the conflicted sadness and fugitive joy of being human as the greatest art, period.

Jackie Mclean I love for his wonderful, unique tone; a sound that is hortatory, exuberant, in love with life. It has anger and anguish in there, as a kind of perpetual undercurrent, but the overall feeling is positive, celebratory. This guy has a much lust for life as Iggy Pop.

John Jenkins: what happened to that guy? Stylistically, he was too in thrall to McLean, but there was an imaginative vehemance there that would eventually, I'm sure, have developed into something quite personal.

Arthur Blythe has a whimsical, Thelonius Monk quality, a peculiar, astringent yet good-natured tone and a big-hearted generosity in his playing and approach.

Julius Hemphill I first heard on a Jah to the Jah Band release, which gets pilloried in the odd review I read. Allegedly a misguided attempt at fusion-inspired popularity, etc et al. Well, I didn't hear it like that then, or like that now. His playing on that record is passionate and intense, utterly unique and in contrast with a young Nels Cline's guitar and HEAVY bottom end, you've got one deathless piece of sonic assault on your hands. Of course, his other stuff is good too!

James Spaulding. Probably most well known for his contributions to '60s Blue Note dates, such as Wayne Shorter and Freddie Hubbard. No one else sounds like him, no one else plays like him. He's got his own conception, his own quirky stories to tell. Cross deep blues with a ping pong table.

Oliver Lake. This guy's an absolute monster. And he keeps getting better. Can play avant-garde squalls or lay down deep in the cut. His own voice, full of love, pain and antic mischief. Got his own sound on tenor, too.

It's really, REALLY hard to get a good sound on alto. The few players that actually prefer alto eventually gravitate towards tenor because it's easier to get a decent, bold tone on. Most people on alto sound thin, wimpy, cutesy - generally nondescript. So those guys that sound GREAT on alto belong to a small, select group.

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@Allen: I'm aware of Ornette's problem. Still it's a drag!

@cannonball-addict: what's your point man? Take it easy! This is not a comprehensive listing of all overlooked alto players, and there is no rule that provides anyone from listing a favourite player that has already been mentioned! So please don't kill me when I say...

Sonny Kyner! I got hooked by the Conn, well, actually by the TOCJ, then replaced by the Conn for the additional material, then got those Byrd albums, later the twofer including the album he co-led with Cliff Jordan. Also there's a Sonny Red twofer on Fantasy that is very nice, with Grant Green among the accompanying musicians. All good stuff!

He's got a vocal quality to his tone that I love a lot. And he's such a joyful player, so powerful!

ubu

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I REALLY love Sonny Red Kyner.

:tup:tup:tup:tup

I certainly agree with you .. he was an "edgy" player, who could really hit the mark, and had great emotion, but there are a few places where he is not quite up to it. I often wonder why he did not record more .... I particularly love "Out Of The Blue" (BN 84032) ...

Yes. His reading of "Stay Just As Sweet As You Are" is what a jazz ballad IS.

Anwyay, although some don't dig it, I LOVE his playing on Donald Byrd's "Slow Drag" LP.

His solo on Blackjack is still one of my favourite moments.

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all those names have either been said or are definately not overlooked.

People: look at the goddamn topic before posting ok? and look at others' responses for god sakes to see if you're contributing something new to the conversation!

Woa, chill man!

And, may I point out that the correct spelling is definitely, not definately.

Fegh, don't you read any of what is being written on this board?

:P:g

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"Overlooked" is actually a vague concept that admits various interpretations. "Not receiving as much attention as deserved" is one common interpretation. Under that interpretation, exactly who is overlooked is a matter of opinion. For example, as much attention as Ornette gets, some might feel that it is still not enough.

So let's nominate Bird! ;)

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as I'm just listening to his 2002 record, has anyone added J.T. Meirelles to list of Alto's to be remembered ?

g58904lpkji.jpg

Cheers, Tjobbe

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How about these two british sax players, both alto players with their own sound whose playing keeps maturing:

Soweto Kinch.

Tony Kofi.

Worth checking out.

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THis is what I get for posting and abandoning (too busy to be a regular these days)...

Yep, Joachim Kuhn is all over the alto on both BYGs as well as his work with Eje Thelin for EMI and Metronome, and his bro' on "Monday Morning" (HorZu-Columbia). All from 1970 onwards. His intonation leaves a lot to be desired, but he's a nutcase on the thing!

Until next month...

CT

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I don't know how the hell I forgot to put him here the first time around, but....Sonny Simmons. The guy is absolutely sui generis. Have you you ever heard an alto slice and dice and puree a melody like this guy? His tone is so ALIVE. Now, given that I'm prone to the regurgitation of superlatives from a limited stock of personal overstatements, I'll have to edit myself right now and shut up - because Sonny Simmons is frighteningly brilliant and I might lose my grip and start speaking in tongues!

Better yet, I'll think I'll put on Burning Spirits, crank it up, and get 3rd degree sonic burns from the man himself. And who said people don't speak shit the way they used to?

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This thread is up to page 10 by now. Unless I am making a mistake his name has not been mentioned yet

Anthony Ortega

Talk of overlooked altos...

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Wow Brownie! I'd never heard of this guy. A few sites had his name, but no audio snippets I could get to listen to. I found an album with some brief audio spots on CDNow, had a listen, and was stunned. Where are his PR people? Yeah, he's dead, but we don't get to hear a tone as new and striking as that every day. It has a kind of lilting sadness combined with a clean, direct breathiness that gives him an almost classical purity. Plays fresh, interesting lines too.

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Wow Brownie! I'd never heard of this guy. A few sites had his name, but no audio snippets I could get to listen to. I found an album with some brief audio spots on CDNow, had a listen, and was stunned. Where are his PR people? Yeah, he's dead, but we don't get to hear a tone as new and striking as that every day. It has a kind of lilting sadness combined with a clean, direct breathiness that gives him an almost classical purity. Plays fresh, interesting lines too.

As far as I know, Ortega is alive.

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Wow Brownie! I'd never heard of this guy. A few sites had his name, but no audio snippets I could get to listen to. I found an album with some brief audio spots on CDNow, had a listen, and was stunned. Where are his PR people? Yeah, he's dead, but we don't get to hear a tone as new and striking as that every day. It has a kind of lilting sadness combined with a clean, direct breathiness that gives him an almost classical purity. Plays fresh, interesting lines too.

As far as I know, Ortega is alive.

I think so, too.

Anyone has heard this disc?

B00005R1C5.08.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

It's a quartet with g-b-d.

ubu

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Wow Brownie! I'd never heard of this guy. A few sites had his name, but no audio snippets I could get to listen to. I found an album with some brief audio spots on CDNow, had a listen, and was stunned. Where are his PR people? Yeah, he's dead, but we don't get to hear a tone as new and striking as that every day. It has a kind of lilting sadness combined with a clean, direct breathiness that gives him an almost classical purity. Plays fresh, interesting lines too.

As far as I know, Ortega is alive.

Yes, Ortega is alive. And still touring. He was playing in France a couple of years ago and is still recdording new albums.

Here is his AMG profile!

http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&t...11:2srv283c05oa

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Maybe instead of "overlooked" we should charcterize certain altos as "underlooked" -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Thanks very much. I read the brief bio, listened to some of the tracks, and - at 73 - yes he's very much alive and kicking! One for further investigation.

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Anthony Ortega's career parallels that of Charlie Mariano to a remarkable extent, although he never quite had the same chops as Mariano. They both started out as consummate boppers, played the big bands (Kenton and Ferguson), and stylistically moving more and more "out" .... ending up in Europe where they felt more more appreciated for the music they were making. Mariano was more successful in the long run, and Ortega remains an enigma, even today. I have been a fan of his biting alto for along time, but he has not made that many albums over the years. The Bethlehem and Revelation (now Hat Art) albums were all we had for many years. He turned up last year at the West Coast Jazz Weekend put on by Ken Poston in Los Angeles (Mariano was also there). Unlike Charlie, who is able to turn on his "Kenton-thing" at will, Ortega seemed tentative and a little at sea. Those in the audience who did not know his history (and there were many) were not too kind.

Here is one of his better recent albums with Mike Wofford on piano and Joe LaBarbera on drums. recorded in July, 2000.

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