Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Milestones

artists with masterpieces in at least five different group sizes

16 posts in this topic

We live in an era where many jazz artists regularly vary group size and format from album to album. I'm thinking of artists like Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, David Murray, and Anthony Braxton. This is a good thing. Much as I love Miles Davis, he pretty much worked in either quintets/sextets or backed by Gil Evans (though you had rarities like the Birth of the Cool nonet).

But I am thinking of artists who created genuine masterpieces in a large variety of formats. Bear in mind, I see even the greatest jazz artists as producing only 5-8 masterpieces of any sort in a long career.

One artist instantly springs to my mind: McCoy Tyner. He has gone quiet again, but his output over his lengthy career is both prodigious and impressive in quality. I would point to these records (actually six) as indicative of creating masterpiece recording in virtually every format.

  • Solo: Echoes of a Friend or Soliloquy
  • Trio: Remembering John
  • Quartet: The Real McCoy
  • Quintet: 44th Street Suite
  • Mid-size group: Expansions
  • Big band: The Turning Point

Of course, no one has to agree with my choices. What I'm really looking for are your own nominations: artist and specific recordings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it has a lot to do with the producer or the label. How much they are working on an artist. McCoy Tyner is a good example.

It´s also the times that changed. See, the late 60´s and the 70´s were a period of transition. Producers were tired of doing quartet/quintet albums only.

Look at the BlueNote catalog, they started make larger groups, augmented by studio musicians.

Mingus: When he got that heavy contract with Atlantic, after doing "Changes One/Two", they got tired of recording his working group and started with larger settings, adding electric guitars etc. .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the Ming:

Mingus Plays Piano

Money Jungle

Mingus Presents Mingus

Mingus Ah Um

Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

the Monk:

Solo Piano (Vogue 1954)

The Thelonious Monk Trio (Prestige)

Monk's Dream or Monk in Action or Live at Carnegie Hall 1957 or ...

Brilliant Corners

The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 Rollins albums plucked at random from my collection:

From The Sound of Sonny (1957): "It Could Happen To You" (solo); "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (trio): remaining tracks (quartet)

Sonny Rollins (Blue Note, 1956) (quintet)

Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass (1958) (mostly 13-piece big band)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 Rollins albums plucked at random from my collection:

From The Sound of Sonny (1957): "It Could Happen To You" (solo); "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (trio): remaining tracks (quartet)

Sonny Rollins (Blue Note, 1956) (quintet)

Sonny Rollins and the Big Brass (1958) (mostly 13-piece big band)

Don't know id other would say it is a master piece, but you could add Rollins' solo album he did in the 70s to the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some good choices on Monk and Mingus--great artists indeed. Not sure I'd go with the Mingus on piano as a masterpiece, though I know there are some real fans--including virtuoso pianist Jessica Williams.

BillF,

Is that Sonny Rollins #1 or #2? I really love #2 with Monk, Silver, J.J., Chambers, and Blakey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some good choices on Monk and Mingus--great artists indeed. Not sure I'd go with the Mingus on piano as a masterpiece, though I know there are some real fans--including virtuoso pianist Jessica Williams.

BillF,

Is that Sonny Rollins #1 or #2? I really love #2 with Monk, Silver, J.J., Chambers, and Blakey.

It was #1 with Donald Byrd, though I too love #2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My choices for Rollins would be, I think:

A Night at the Village Vanguard (trio)

Saxophone Colossus (quartet)

Sonny Rollins Plus Four (quintet)

Not sure "Big Brass" is a masterpiece - honestly I don't quite think so. Neither is "Alfie", so no mid- or large-size for the list.

The solo album is fascinating, but ultimately not that good either.

So Rollins is to me, rather a case not fitting this thread, as he made all his best albums in trio and quartet settings. I'm not even totally sure I'd really nominate "Plus Four" as a masterpiece. It's mighty good, but Rollins was on better quintet albums as a sideman - with Monk and Roach - than he made any as a leader.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure "Big Brass" is a masterpiece - honestly I don't quite think so. Neither is "Alfie", so no mid- or large-size for the list.

Not sure what constitutes a "masterpiece" but 'Alfie' has always been my favourite Rollins album......and I have A LOT of Rollins!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Lacy

1 Clinkers/Only Monk

2 Live at Dreher, Paris

3 Capers/The Flame/The Rent

4 School Days/Morning Joy

5 The Way

6 We See

7 The Cry

8 Vespers/The Owl

9 Futurities

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you specify the group sizes on those Steve Lacy records?

I'd say Sonny Rollins Vol. 2 (Blue Note) is the best of his quintet records. Of course, he did work with some great trumpeters, such as Brownie (Basin Street is the best, IMO) and Miles (I really like the four short tunes from 1954, three of them Rollins compositions).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am pretty sure the numbers represent the size of the groups - though I may remember one or two incorrectly - plus the owl has Butch Morris on only one side (the great one). I think the number of percussionists varies from track to track on prospectus. I can check at home later today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say Sonny Rollins Vol. 2 (Blue Note) is the best of his quintet records.

I agree - but still not quite a masterpiece, I think.

Edited by king ubu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the Ming:

Mingus Plays Piano

Money Jungle

Mingus Presents Mingus

Mingus Ah Um

Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

the Monk:

Solo Piano (Vogue 1954)

The Thelonious Monk Trio (Prestige)

Monk's Dream or Monk in Action or Live at Carnegie Hall 1957 or ...

Brilliant Corners

The Thelonious Monk Orchestra at Town Hall

+1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Lacy

1 Clinkers/Only Monk

2 Live at Dreher, Paris

3 Capers/The Flame/The Rent

4 School Days/Morning Joy

5 The Way

6 We See

7 The Cry

8 Vespers/The Owl

9 Futurities

Can you specify the group sizes on those Steve Lacy records?

I'm over a thousand miles away from my Lacy records and CDs, but it looks like russ has arranged the albums cleverly - look to the left of the title for the size of the ensemble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd say Sonny Rollins Vol. 2 (Blue Note) is the best of his quintet records.

I agree - but still not quite a masterpiece, I think.

With Rollins, J J, Monk or Silver, Blakey and Chambers present, it seems more like a giants of jazz session than a Rollins-led quintet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.