In the 1960s, San Francisco’s KQED produced an innovative thirty-minute jazz program hosted by local music critic, Ralph J. Gleason. The "Jazz Casual" shows featured a variety of well-known musicians. Koch Jazz has reprised these recordings using two thirty-minute sets, including interviews by Mr. Gleason. This "Jazz Casual" edition initially focuses on a 1962 session featuring blues vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon. The first song, "Times Getting Tough," is a strong whiff of urban pathos that say "Money’s getting’ cheaper, prices are getting’ steeper and times gettin’ tougher than tough, things getting’ rougher than rough."
A powerful vocalist in the Big Joe Turner mold and a pretty solid drummer, too, Jimmy Morello has been singing his brand of vintage West Coast blues for over three decades now, and while his retro style isn't about to take over the modern R&B charts anytime soon, his allegiance to the real deal makes him more than just a nostalgia act. This set collects key tracks from his two JSP albums, 1997's Can't Be Denied and 1998's The Road I Travel, along with tracks Morello produced for the likes of Roy Gaines and Carol Fran, to make what amounts to a quick introduction to this road-tested blues veteran.
Why aren't there more recordings like Fly Away Little Bird? Perhaps it's because there aren't more musicians of this stature. The studio reunion of the legendarily experimental Jimmy Giuffre 3 in 1992 was reissued in 2002 on the French Sunnyside label and is a radical departure from anything the trio had done in the past. These studio apparitions of the band are their most seamlessly accessible while being wildly exploratory. In addition to the consummate improvisations and compositions by Giuffre (title track, a redone "Tumbleweed"), the tender meditations by Steve Swallow ("Fits" and "Starts"), and the bottom-register contrapuntal improves by Paul Bley ("Qualude"), this is a trio recording that uses standards such as "Lover Man," a radically and gorgeously reworked "I Can't Get Started," "Sweet and Lovely," and "All the Things You Are" to state hidden textural possibilities inside chromatic harmony. There is never the notion of restraint in the slow, easy, and proactive way these compositions are approached.
Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example.