In the middle seventies, which seems a long time ago, I was friends with a dear man and jazz collector, Bill Coverdale, who had moved to Naples, Florida. We never met and I don’t even know if we spoke on the phone. In those ancient days, we exchanged typewritten letters, cassette and reel-to-reel tapes. (We’d met through the mail because of his interest in the trumpeter Joe Thomas, someone I also admired greatly, and I had seen and recorded Joe at that time.)
I miss Bill, because he was funny, kind, and generous — and in those pre-YouTube days, people like Bill were the way one heard new music. Bill also loaned me a few precious booklets by the Norwegian jazz scholar Jan Evensmo, who I believed called his work “solographies.” (I found out later that Jan had been doing this — officially and for love — for a long time, with his earliest writings on jazz dating back to the mid-sixties.)
What’s a “solography”? Well, it’s not a series of recorded jazz solos reproduced as notes on the staff. Jan begins each of his surveys with a brief biography, and it is a listing of the subject’s recorded work, but it’s not a discography, full of labels and numbers. What it feels most like is a beautiful guided tour — on the page — of one recording session or airshot or concert recording after another, chronologically, with notations of how long the solo is, with Jan’s commentary on whether it’s sparkling or flat, and so on. His judgments are strong and I have found myself disagreeing now and again, but his ears are sharp and he is without bias. So his work is always enlightening. And it always offers surprises. So that, in reading his study of Bobby Hackett’s early period, I came across sessions recorded by Bill Savory that I didn’t know existed, and in his work on Teddy Wilson, I now know there are more alternate takes of the 1933 Chocolate Dandies session than I had ever encountered. This is catnip — or something stronger — to those of us who vibrate to such things.
Here’s an example. I knew this record — Maxine Sullivan’s version of SAY IT WITH A KISS, where she is accompanied by Hackett and Bud Freeman, not her usual crew, but until Jan mentioned it I had forgotten just how tender it is, and how lovely four and two bars by Bobby are:
Now, I am not trying to help Jan sell little booklets. The news is better than that. Jan vaulted ever so neatly into this modern age of disseminating important information — for free — online, and he has a beautiful, lavishly generous site, http://www.jazzarcheology.com/bobby-hackett/ (I’ve pointed readers to the Hackett pages). Jan offers PDFs of his solographies for free.
And here is the latest installment of his newsletter, which is free (I know I said that) with no advertising, fascinating, scholarly without being didactic. I think you will find someone and something to spend time on.
Dear jazz friends!
Happy New Year of 2016 to all of you! Jazz Archeology is digging up treasures as ever before, and you and I will definitely be terminated before all worthy vintage jazz musicians have found their place here, but we just have to keep going…
Thank you for additional feedback on future projects! Many good suggestions, and several (but not all, at least not by me, but by yourself?) will appear in due time!
This time focus is on the following five artists:
The Tenor Saxophone of Dexter Gordon
The Trumpet & Cornet of Bobby Hackett
The Baritone Saxophone of Knut Hyrum (Norway)
The Piano of Shotaro Moriazu (Japan)
The Piano of Teddy Wilson (1932-34)
There is updating of the following artists:
The Guitar of Oscar Aleman (lots of additions, including a solid and valuable CD-discography by Andres “Tito” Liber from Argentina!)
The Tenor Saxophone of Allen Eager (p. 14- )
The Tenor Saxophone of Gene Ammons (p. 20, 25)
The Tenor Saxophone of Don Byas Pt 2 (p. 5, 6, 9, 11)
The Alto Saxophone of Joe Eldridge (p. 5)
The Trumpet of Roy Eldridge (p. 29)
The Clarinet of Edmond Hall (p. 13, 15)
The Tenor Saxophone of Coleman Hawkins Pt 3 (p. 27, 29)
The Tenor Saxophone of James Moody (p. 17, 21)
The Tenor Saxophone of Sonny Stitt (p. 15, 17, 23)
The Piano of Richard Twardzik (several)
The Tenor Saxophone of Dick Wilson (p. 9)
I am most grateful for the latest feedback from James Accardi, Nils Gunnar Anderby, Anthony Barnett, Bill Bithell, Alan Booth, Steve Bromley, Tom Buhmann, Christian Dangleterre, Bjørn Englund, Yvan Fournier, Kenneth Gross, Daniel Gugolz, Marcel Gärtner, Bram Janse, Andres “Tito” Liber, Per Lund, Louis Mazetier, Joe Orange, Leif Bo Petersen, Jean-Francois Pitet, Bob Porter, Lewis Porter, K.-B. Rau, Willy Renström, Norman Saks, Mario Schneeberger, Werner Schrøcker, Klaus Schulz, David Tenner, Daniel Vernhettes.
See what I mean? Be prepared to spend some delighted time with Jan’s wonderful offerings.
May your happiness increase!