Jazz music steeped in American history
Jazz, with its musical origins in the South, has been around since the early 1900s.
Although it has influences from Africa and Europe, jazz is for the most part uniquely American.
My first exposure to jazz came from the Big Band side of the genre with the Benny Goodman, Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey recordings my parents and grandparents owned.
I did not know what it was at the time, but I know I sure liked it.
After that, it was Vince Guaraldi’s background music for all of the Charlie Brown movies and television shows.
I didn’t realize it at that time, but Guaraldi would become one of my very favorite jazz musicians.
Herb Alpert is another jazz musician I spent a lot of time listening to.
They were an extremely popular band in the 1960s and early 1970s and everybody’s parents seemed to have a copy of the three-time Grammy-winning “Whipped Cream and Other Delights.” It was without question Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ most popular album and one of the most popular recordings of 1965, if not of all time.
My parents had several other Tijuana Brass albums I used to listen to.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school. I worked for a painter who really liked jazz music, and I received a good education about the genre from him.
We listened to Weather Report’s “Sweetnighter,” the Crusaders’ “Southern Comfort,” and Grover Washington Jr.‘s “Soul Box” and “Mr. “Magic.” But I also listened to Oscar Peterson’s “Trio Live” and Wes Montgomery’s “Tequila” and “Road Song,” among others.
By the way, jazz is great music to paint by.
In college, I started to look deeper into jazz just as I was doing with other types of music besides rock, genres such as folk and blues.
This led me to Guaraldi’s “Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus.” Side one was made up of cover versions of songs from the film of the same name. Side two featured two covers, “Since I Fell for You” and “Moon River,” and two Guaraldi originals, “Alma-Ville” and the surprise hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.”
That was my first real exposure to Bossa-nova, and I really liked it a lot.
While seeking more of that type of jazz music, I was told about another great album called “Getz / Gilberto” by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. It is an incredible Bossa-nova album by two great artists and it really complements Guaraldi’s record.
About that same time George Benson’s “Breezin,” Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” and Ronnie Laws’ “Pressure Sensitive” became pop stars with crossover jazz albums.
My exposure to George Benson and my fondness for the Beatles led me to purchase Benson’s “The Other Side Of Abbey Road,” which was recorded a mere three weeks after the Beatles released “Abbey Road.”
It is still my favorite Benson record to this day. Because of my fondness for the Benson album, I bought Wes Montgomery’s “A Day In the Life” LP, which was a great album and had two Beatles songs on it to boot.
The best was yet to come as next up for me in the jazz world were Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Lee Morgan, Bill Evans ... well, you can see where I am going, but it will have to go in another column.