Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Yesterday, as well as popping "up the toon" to get new shoes, I also took advantage of the nice weather to exercise my little pal the "inner jazz fiend" and have a little tour of some of Edinburghs better second hand CD establishments and a few of the more refined "charidee" shops.

Neither he nor I came away disappointed. An excellent afternoons haul that included a few tried and trusted "safe bets", one I've been after for a long time and an excellent "new" discovery (i.e. "new" to me).

The "safe bets"? Well, first of an early piece by Wynton Marsalis "Black Codes (From The Underground)". I've a sh*t load of stuff by Wynton and like damn near all of it ("Blood On The Fields" his "jazz opera" was bloody awful though i.m.h.o). This is just great mainstream jazz by a quintet that includes brother Branford on sax.

Next up Ahmad Jamal live at The Olympia. His 70th birthday concert. Here his trio is joined by fellow "oldie" George Coleman on sax on five extended covers and one original. Crystal clear beautiful piano.

Not a completely "safe" bet but Terence Blanchard's "Wandering Moon" is a great trumpet led ensemble piece that, again includes, the great Branford Marsalis and also Dave Holland on bass (who even gets his own solo track). This predates his album "A Tale Of God's Will" by 7 years or so, but has many of the same qualities - mournful, plaintive, bluesy, ballads.

The one I've been after? Well, anything by Red Rodney to be honest. Bebop trumpet player who played with Charlie Parker for about 18 months starting in 1949. Being a red haired white guy made it a bit difficult when Parker booked the band into venues in the deep south that did not allow mixed race acts. The answer? Parker advertised Rodney as "Albino Red" claiming he was an African American who had lost his natural pigmentation! This episode is portrayed in the film Bird. However, the film, while mentioning Rodneys drug problems, ends with the viewer under the assumption that he spent the rest of his days "clean" and as an ideal citizen. In reality he was in and out of prison on drugs and fraud charges right through the sixties and into the seventies. This album was recorded in 1976 (think he remained free from then).
Unlike a lot of his peers and contemporaries who moved away and beyond bebop he seems to have lived with the belief that "if it ain't broke don't fix it". This is pure bebop from one of the guys who was there, if not at the beginning, then very early on. There is one track Yard's Pad that's a theme based on Parkers Yardbird Suite. Listened to this a few times already. I love it.... So, by the way, does my neighbours cat Fatso who sat stock-still on our back wall this morning for about 40 minutes while it was playing, just looking up towards the window where the music was coming from and only got up and walked away when I changed the CD!

The "new find"? Well. I picked up a CD in Oxfam for £1.99 "Triple Exposure" by pianist Mark Edwards. I noticed from the sleeve, that there were cover versions of tunes by Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. I thought it would be pretty standard piano, bass and drum trio. Far from it. This is exceedingly well executed and edgy.

Edwards is joined by Mick Hutton on bass and Bryan Spring on drums and when you read on the sleeve notes who they've, individualy, played with it reads like a who's who of jazz over 40 years - Tubby Hayes, Humph, Stan Tracey, Frank Ricotti, John Taylor and John Surman!
Can't find any more by this trio on the internet - but I do notice that drummer Spring is joined by Edwards on his own trio offering, so I'll keep an eye out for that (sadly they are not joined by Hutton).

I get the impression that these guys are like Über-session musicians with work on hundreds of albums - but never (or seldom) as leaders in their own right and this particular CD was a sort of foray into the limelight. And it works! More!!!

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