Volume 2 of the East Coast series begins with the opening clip of The Sound of Jazz episode, with the title "The Sound of Miles Davis" intercut between the performance, as in the original broadcast. In this extract, John Coltrane accompanies Miles and conductor Gil Evans for the numbers "So What." Trane delivers a familiar powerful performance, and the long piece gives other band members space for meaty solos. During the early half of the piano solo, Miles is amusingly caught dragging on a cigarette, and a few beats later he's back on the horn, gently working his back to a prominent solo. (The complete show is available on the 2-disc Region 0 PAL/NTSC flipper set, The Greatest Jazz Films Ever.)
From a live session during the eighties is Wynton Marsalis with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, here performing "Mx'B.C." Unlike the extract on Vol. 3, this a hard-driving work, with soloists delivering a flutter of notes. Blakey's work in the sixties consisted of hard Bop, and by the eighties, with Marsalis in his band, the structure of even old standards was upgraded to a style that seemed to exist to purely support soloists; giving them room to duel, spar, and compete with pretty heavy workouts.
A rare kinescope (likely from the late forties/early fifties) has Charlie Parker, Max Roach, and Dizzy Gillespie performing "Hot House" for a live audience. Roach's drums and the bass are barely audible, but as the camera moves closer to spotlight Diz and Bird, the mike picks up more sound in what's an intriguing snapshot of several jazz legends.
Louis Armstrong and his band perform "Someday" and "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" from what's possibly two extracts from The Jackie Gleason Show, Gleason's hour-long variety show that ran from 1966-70. Filmed in colour, the performances have Satchmo on a set with giant wire globes and a bright pink background, and the songs show Armstrong near the end of his career, playing old standards with brief solos and vocal work.
From the Jazz Casual [JC] series, the Modern Jazz Quartet perform "If I Were Eve" and Winter Tale." It's a rare peek at the band playing their recognizable mix of piano, vibes, percussion and bass, which still has a playful, soothing quality. For the second tune, Lewis (in his shaky voice) introduces the lengthy piece as a sample of his latest film score, Una Storia Milanese / Milano Story.
Also from the JC archives is the inimitable Ben Webster Quartet. After performing a brisk rendition of the up-tempo "Cottontail," the camera stays on Webster, and we watch the veteran tenor saxophonist immediately switch to the gentle mood of " Chelsea Bridge." Webster's performance is first-rate, but it's rather startling to watch how the artists so quickly knocks down the energy level and establishes such a calm mood for "Chelsea Bridge."
Webster and his prior Sextet are extracted from the familiar Sound of Jazz show, this time performing "C Jam Blues/Duke's Place." In spite of the small studio space, the cameras weave between the musicians, capturing their solos, and the music flows with plenty of bouncy bass and heavy drums.
Art Farmer appears with the Jim Hall Quartet on another episode of JC from 1965, and performs "My Kinda Love." The audio is a bit rusty and poorly miked, but Farmer's trumpet solo and Hall's gentle guitar work are the highlights of this archival clip.
Count Basie's unstoppable version of "Dickie's Dream" from the Sound of Jazz formally closes the disc, and the tune has almost every major musician giving a fast and lean solo (including Gerry Mulligan), while Billie Holiday head-bobs and walks around the group, clearly blown away by the energy and camaraderie of so many top musicians crammed into a dinky studio space.
Two bonus clips finish the disc, with Art Tatum's blink-and-he's-gone performance in "Art's Blues," taken from the 1947 film, The Fabulous Dorseys, and a colour clip of Bobby Hackett introducing and performing with his band, "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home," likely from the aforementioned Jackie Gleason Show. (The only oddity is the audio of the segment, which has a major quality shift from the verbal coarse intro to the crisp and clean musical performance, making one wonder if the music session was truly live, or had musicians playing to tape.)
Available separately, this great title is part of a six-part wave that includes Jazz Shots from the East Coast Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3, and Jazz Shots from the West Coast Volume 1, Volume 2, & Volume 3.
© 2006 Mark R. Hasan