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HutchFan

Playing Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s

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On January 1, 2020, I'm launching a new blog dedicated to exploring recorded jazz from the 1970s.  It's called Playing Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s.

During the year-long blogging project, I plan to list one album per day for the entire year. So, at the end of the year, the site will provide details for 366 albums, all recorded between January 1, 1970 and December 31, 1979.  As the title of the blog implies, I'm not focusing on the "most important" or "best" recordings from the decade. Rather, I'm discussing my favorite recordings, music that has personal meaning to me.  One other caveat: I'm limiting myself to one recording as a leader per artist and one recording as a co-leader per artist.  Rather than digging deeply into a handful of musicians, I wanted to show the breadth and diversity of jazz during the decade. This strategy also had the effect of prompting me to listen to lots of new music -- and to carefully re-examining old favorites.

The URL for my blog is https://jazzinthe70s.blogspot.com/.  So far, I've written one post, providing background info about the project (as above).

I've already chosen all 366 recordings.  I have them listed chronologically (by recording date) on a spreadsheet -- with sidemen, labels, reissue details, etc. I've already written several of the entries, but I won't post them until next year on their "assigned" date.  Some blog entries may only provide a sentence or two of commentary.  Other entries will be longer.  I think the main value of the project will be to shine a light (however dim) on some under-valued artists and express some appreciation for all the enjoyment that they have given me.

It goes without saying that I will NOT be sharing files on this blog. That's not my purpose. I may occasionally provide links to music that others have posted on YouTube -- assuming that those YT posts are legal.  But I'll emphasize again that my main purpose is to offer up a sizable, annotated LIST of recordings that others might recognize as jumping off points or gateways for further exploration.

I've been tinkering with this idea for a long time, and I'd intended to write a book on the topic.  But, based on the progress that I've made (nearly none), I decided that it would be better to create something, rather than holding on to a grander idea and as a result produce nothing.

Let's see how this thing goes. 

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3 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

On January 1, 2020, I'm launching a new blog dedicated to exploring recorded jazz from the 1970s.  It's called Playing Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s.

During the year-long blogging project, I plan to list one album per day for the entire year. So, at the end of the year, the site will provide details for 366 albums, all recorded between January 1, 1970 and December 31, 1979.  As the title of the blog implies, I'm not focusing on the "most important" or "best" recordings from the decade. Rather, I'm discussing my favorite recordings, music that has personal meaning to me.  One other caveat: I'm limiting myself to one recording as a leader per artist and one recording as a co-leader per artist.  Rather than digging deeply into a handful of musicians, I wanted to show the breadth and diversity of jazz during the decade. This strategy also had the effect of prompting me to listen to lots of new music -- and to carefully re-examining old favorites.

The URL for my blog is https://jazzinthe70s.blogspot.com/.  So far, I've written one post, providing background info about the project (as above).

I've already chosen all 366 recordings.  I have them listed chronologically (by recording date) on a spreadsheet -- with sidemen, labels, reissue details, etc. I've already written several of the entries, but I won't post them until next year on their "assigned" date.  Some blog entries may only provide a sentence or two of commentary.  Other entries will be longer.  I think the main value of the project will be to shine a light (however dim) on some under-valued artists and express some appreciation for all the enjoyment that they have given me.

It goes without saying that I will NOT be sharing files on this blog. That's not my purpose. I may occasionally provide links to music that others have posted on YouTube -- assuming that those YT posts are legal.  But I'll emphasize again that my main purpose is to offer up a sizable, annotated LIST of recordings that others might recognize as jumping off points or gateways for further exploration.

I've been tinkering with this idea for a long time, and I'd intended to write a book on the topic.  But, based on the progress that I've made (nearly none), I decided that it would be better to create something, rather than holding on to a grander idea and as a result produce nothing.

Let's see how this thing goes. 

Looks definitely like a labour of love :tup ....

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Thanks, Niko. 

I've also developed a site dedicated to the American composer Charles Ives.  The URL is http://www.musicweb-international.com/Ives/

Both sites are long overdue for updates.  Will get around to it some day.

. . . But not in 2020!  ;) 

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Phenomenal concept.  The 1970's in jazz were and are way underrated, and in many ways, it might almost be my favorite decade in jazz (if I can only tamp down my enthusiasm for the late 60's).  I can't wait to see what all you'll be covering.

I suspect there's a treasure-trove of amazing music from the 70's that really is well deserving of being reissued, and there's certainly a lot of incredible and incredibly-obscure jazz from the 1970's that I'd rank right up there with any decade you can name.

Will you be posting the entire list at some point? - prior to the posts come out in their regularly scheduled sequence?

In any case, I can't wait to see what all you cover.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Lookin' good!

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I like it.  The '70's were an interesting time, and I think underexplored from an analytical viewpoint.  There were so many different artists out there, from so many different crosscurrents: Some of the greats from the '30's and '40's were still performing, bop greats becoming elder statesmen, the neo-trads, the loft scene, ECM and other international sources, just to name a few.  Just think of a label like Muse: so many releases, so many artists, but as a label was never explored the way Blue Note or Prestige were.  JSngry has often pointed out releases from Ricky Ford or Dave Schnitter, but there were so many others...tidal waves of releases, because it seemed money could actually be made.  I'll be looking forward to your posts.

I also really like your site's background graphic.

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16 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Will you be posting the entire list at some point? - prior to the posts come out in their regularly scheduled sequence?

In any case, I can't wait to see what all you cover.

Yes. At the end of 2020, I'll list all 366 recordings in a single blog post.  I'll also likely make it available as a downloadable, print-ready .PDF file then.

I've also got other stuff that I plan to share at the end: a list of biographies & other books, 800+ additional recordings, year-by-year stats, label stats, etc.  Appendices, sorta.

 

14 hours ago, mjzee said:

I also really like your site's background graphic.

Thanks! I assembled it during my lunch hour earlier today. :) 

 

Edited by HutchFan

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This post both repelled me and made me go make a list of my recordings from the '70s.

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I'll definitely check it out

 

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Not much of value was recorded in the 70s, as far as I'm concerned. The age of development was pretty much over and several top players (e.g. Hancock, Corea, Williams) went into fusion, which, for me, is just a damned noise. I am glad that they were able to make some money from it, though. Herbie wasn't getting rich from his Blue Note albums.

Of course, a lot of the main players continued recording, but it was largely music of a retrospective type.

Weather Report was an excellent exception, especially my favorite, "Tale Spinnin' ". But jazz, after about 1968, well I'll see you later.

To dispel the impression that this is just some old fogey talking, I like the best of house music, which started in the early 80s. That's where it's at now. One can inject a lot of jazz influences into it.

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12 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

This post both repelled me and made me go make a list of my recordings from the '70s.

Chuck, why on earth would this sort of project "repel" you? :huh:

Just curious.

 

 

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1 minute ago, HutchFan said:

Chuck, why on earth would this sort of project "repel" you? :huh:

Just curious.

 

 

Just a general aversion to lists - I get sucked in and am usually disappointed.

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Just now, Chuck Nessa said:

Just a general aversion to lists - I get sucked in and am usually disappointed.

Oh. I see.

Not sure whether this makes any difference to you or not -- but I think lists that claim to compile the "best" or "most important" things (of any type -- music, movies, motorcycles, novels, whatever!) are usually ridiculous.  They almost always tell us more about the list-maker (and his or her predilections) than they do about the topic at hand.

OTOH, I love lists when the list maker freely admits "this is really important to me."  I guess, on some level, I believe that it doesn't matter what you love -- as long as you really love it.  Then talk about that.  That's where the interesting conversations start to happen.

For me, that sort of attitude changes list-making, making it interesting and fun and (most importantly) personal.

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OTOH, I share the assessment that "70s jazz" gets a horribly bad rap, usually based more on emotion (EVERYTHING'S CHANGING!!!!!) than on objective musical evaluations. Sure, some things were NOT good (particularly in terms of recording...too much indiscriminate "direct" everything...), but all the whining about electronics and keyboards and funks and fusions and avant-gardeness and "commercialism"...yeah, you had a living music and this is what it looks like when shit is alive and engaged in a world that is also alive and engaged. Not every change works, but that is evolution, In retrospect, it seems like everything works or doesn't. In real time, it's not that simple, and certainly not that clean. REAL shit be messy!

Plenty of bad records made, but plenty of GREAT music made. And look what happened when the organic changes were brought to a more or less enforced halt (as much as was possible). It's taken a loooong time to get over/around that.

A humble suggestion (related to Chuck's point) - maybe after the first list is completed within parameters, keep the blog open and look at other things, artists/records that escaped the initial examination. There's a LOT to look at in this decade - it started with the last gasps of Albert Ayler, ended with the first inklings of Wynton Marsailus, and in between...pretty much everything that could happen did happen. Everything.

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4 minutes ago, JSngry said:

OTOH, I share the assessment that "70s jazz" gets a horribly bad rap, usually based more on emotion (EVERYTHING'S CHANGING!!!!!) than on objective musical evaluations. Sure, some things were NOT good (particularly in terms of recording...too much indiscriminate "direct" everything...), but all the whining about electronics and keyboards and funks and fusions and avant-gardeness and "commercialism"...yeah, you had a living music and this is what it looks like when shit is alive and engaged in a world that is also alive and engaged. Not every change works, but that is evolution, In retrospect, it seems like everything works or doesn't. In real time, it's not that simple, and certainly not that clean. REAL shit be messy!

Plenty of bad records made, but plenty of GREAT music made. And look what happened when the organic changes were brought to a more or less enforced halt (as much as was possible). It's taken a loooong time to get over/around that.

Yes!!! Fully agreed.

 

6 minutes ago, JSngry said:

A humble suggestion (related to Chuck's point) - maybe after the first list is completed within parameters, keep the blog open and look at other things, artists/records that escaped the initial examination. There's a LOT to look at in this decade - it started with the last gasps of Albert Ayler, ended with the first inklings of Wynton Marsailus, and in between...pretty much everything that could happen did happen. Everything.

I think that's a great idea.  I'm open to any suggestions, input -- as long as it keeps the dialogue going. :tup 

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A name that for some reason immediately springs to mind is Jimmy Heath. The Gap Sealer was an excellent record form the early 70s, "modern" (if not "cutting edge"). Then he went back to relatively straight-ahead bebop, made a good (enough) record or two, and then got The Heath Brothers thing going, and oh btw - the first Heath Brothers record on Columbia is a GREAT record in terms of compositions, playing, and production. It seems to be dismissed by "the establishment" because of it's "commercial" touches (of which there are more than a few, but jeesuz - that's both beside the point while being exactly the point.

I would invite anybody who's not emotionally bound to "style" to listen to the compositions on that record, and the playing that goes on therein. Those tunes are very nicely involved, details abound, and the playing is fully engaged. No halfassing going on, just a mellow sense of intent. This is a record full of expert music played by experts, yet very radio-friendly. All of that merits consideration, I should think.

So, tow totally different Jimmy Heath records from within the 70s, each one strong within itself, and neither like the other, at least not superficially. But underneath the surface, they're both pure Jimmy Heath. That's hardly a 70's thing, but it seems to have been more present in the 70s for more people than usual, if only because what was considered a "commercially viable jazz record" in, say, 1977 was a helluva lot different than at anytime before, and possibly since. So many options....

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34 minutes ago, JSngry said:

A name that for some reason immediately springs to mind is Jimmy Heath. The Gap Sealer was an excellent record form the early 70s, "modern" (if not "cutting edge"). Then he went back to relatively straight-ahead bebop, made a good (enough) record or two, and then got The Heath Brothers thing going, and oh btw - the first Heath Brothers record on Columbia is a GREAT record in terms of compositions, playing, and production. It seems to be dismissed by "the establishment" because of it's "commercial" touches (of which there are more than a few, but jeesuz - that's both beside the point while being exactly the point.

I would invite anybody who's not emotionally bound to "style" to listen to the compositions on that record, and the playing that goes on therein. Those tunes are very nicely involved, details abound, and the playing is fully engaged. No halfassing going on, just a mellow sense of intent. This is a record full of expert music played by experts, yet very radio-friendly. All of that merits consideration, I should think.

So, tow totally different Jimmy Heath records from within the 70s, each one strong within itself, and neither like the other, at least not superficially. But underneath the surface, they're both pure Jimmy Heath. That's hardly a 70's thing, but it seems to have been more present in the 70s for more people than usual, if only because what was considered a "commercially viable jazz record" in, say, 1977 was a helluva lot different than at anytime before, and possibly since. So many options....

Yes, the stuff that Heath did during those years is strong, and those records are WAY off the radar of most jazz fans (with the possible exception of Strata East aficionados who seek out Marchin' On).  The labels haven't done Heath any favors either, since most of those records are out-of-print now.  I know that Elemental recently reissued Picture of Heath, but that's a relatively retrospective/conservative record compared to Heath's more "70s jazz" LPs like The Gap Sealer, Love and Understanding, and The Time and The Place.

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2 hours ago, HutchFan said:

Yes, the stuff that Heath did during those years is strong, and those records are WAY off the radar of most jazz fans (with the possible exception of Strata East aficionados who seek out Marchin' On).  The labels haven't done Heath any favors either, since most of those records are out-of-print now.  I know that Elemental recently reissued Picture of Heath, but that's a relatively retrospective/conservative record compared to Heath's more "70s jazz" LPs like The Gap Sealer, Love and Understanding, and The Time and The Place.

I'll posit that the compositions (and the soloing, for that matter) on Passin' Thru, underneath the "slick veneer" has more in common with those records than it does anything resembling "bebop". And that's something that happened in a segment of 70s jazz that got dissed out of proportion to the reality (imo) - the "presentation" of the music changed, but the nuts and bolts of the music itself did not. If you go to playsome of this stuff and try to approach it like "commercial music"...good luck on that, because it's not going to work. The changes are too involved, the vamps need to hit a deeper pocket, just all kinds of things. You can take some of those things and reverse them back to "straight ahead" a helluva lot easier than you can forward them into "smooth" or whatever you want to call it. They're just not built like that.

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Sounds like an interesting project. I’ve bookmarked your site. 

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HutchFan: I look forward to your upcoming blog. No matter how long any of us have been collecting, there are bound to be releases of interest that we never got to hear, overlooked or didn't know that they even existed at all. 

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On 16.10.2019 at 9:39 PM, HutchFan said:

On January 1, 2020, I'm launching a new blog dedicated to exploring recorded jazz from the 1970s.  It's called Playing Favorites: Reflections on Jazz in the 1970s.

Are these 366 records already written in stone .... just curious .... ?

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On 10/26/2019 at 6:23 AM, soulpope said:

Are these 366 records already written in stone .... just curious .... ?

Not "in stone" -- but I've got the entire year mapped out now.  So I don't expect it to change. 

 

 

On 10/26/2019 at 5:22 AM, Ken Dryden said:

HutchFan: I look forward to your upcoming blog. No matter how long any of us have been collecting, there are bound to be releases of interest that we never got to hear, overlooked or didn't know that they even existed at all. 

Thanks Ken! I hope to accomplish that goal. :tup

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9 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

Not "in stone" -- but I've got the entire year mapped out now.  So I don't expect it to change. 

Ok thnx ....

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HutchFan, I'm looking forward to seeing your ideas. 

I lived in Pittsburgh from 1975 to 1982, and found very, very little jazz in the record stores.  To this day I'm not familiar with much of what was recorded in that time frame.

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