I’ve most likely been to each main jazz membership within the States, and fairly a couple of in different international locations, however I can’t rely the variety of instances I’ve been to the Vanguard. I lived proper across the nook for a time period, making it even simpler to only pop in.
To be able to perceive what makes the Vanguard so particular, it’s essential to debate its possession. Lorraine Gordon, who took over the Vanguard after the 1989 demise of her husband Max, is the one jazz membership proprietor to have been honored as a Nationwide Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Fellow. Lorraine, who handed in 2018, lived to the age of 95; after her demise, her daughter Deborah took over working the membership.
Lorraine’s NEA honors got here in 2013; this quick clip of an interview together with her on the time particulars how she bought concerned within the New York jazz scene, and the way the Vanguard’s historical past as an iconic jazz venue (and her relationship with Max) started.
As famous above, there isn’t any solution to squeeze even one-tenth of the music recorded on the Vanguard into only one story. However I’ll begin in the beginning, with tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who recorded the primary full-length reside album within the membership. Rollins’ web site affords his bio:
Walter Theodore Rollins was born on September 7, 1930 in New York Metropolis. He grew up in Harlem not removed from the Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theatre, and the doorstep of his idol, Coleman Hawkins. After early discovery of Fat Waller and Louis Armstrong, he began out on alto saxophone, impressed by Louis Jordan. On the age of sixteen, he switched to tenor, making an attempt to emulate Hawkins. He additionally fell below the spell of the musical revolution that surrounded him, bebop.
He started to observe Charlie Parker, and shortly got here below the wing of Thelonious Monk, who grew to become his musical mentor and guru. When he was residing in Sugar Hill, his neighborhood musical friends included Jackie McLean, Kenny Drew, and Artwork Taylor, however it was younger Sonny who was first out of the pack, working and recording with Babs Gonzales, J.J. Johnson, Bud Powell, and Miles Davis earlier than he turned twenty. “After all, these individuals are there to be referred to as on as a result of I feel I characterize them in a method,” Rollins has mentioned of his friends and mentors. “They’re not right here now so I really feel like I’m kind of representing all of them, the entire guys. Keep in mind, I’m one of many final guys left, as I’m continually being advised, so I really feel a holy obligation generally to evoke these individuals.”
Within the early fifties, he established a popularity first amongst musicians, then the general public, as probably the most brash and artistic younger tenor on the scene, by his work with Miles, Monk, and the MJQ.
For the sixtieth anniversary of the recording of Rollins’ Vanguard album, A Evening on the Village Vanguard, jazz critic and creator Nate Chinen dove into the historical past and interviewed the legend—then 87—for NPR in 2017.
“The Vanguard was kind of the premier room at the moment,” [Rollins] remembers, talking by cellphone from his dwelling in Woodstock, N.Y. “A whole lot of guys performed there, they usually all appeared to specific the music with none kind of obstacle. I felt significantly snug.”
Within the authentic liner notes to the LP, launched on Blue Be aware Information in 1958, Leonard Feather notes that it “constitutes a double premiere.” He is referring to A Evening on the Village Vanguard being each the primary reside documentation of Rollins as a bandleader and the primary album recorded the Village Vanguard, a wedge-shaped basement room regarded, then and now, as “certainly one of New York’s foremost havens of up to date jazz.”
Feather would not make a lot of it, however A Evening on the Village Vanguard is a barely deceptive title, as a result of the album additionally contains materials recorded at a day matinee. The night trio options bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Elvin Jones, an assertive rhythm group that mixed high-end volatility with the sensation of agency traction underfoot. Within the afternoon, Rollins used Donald Bailey on bass and Pete La Roca on drums — a pairing with loads of firepower however much less thriller and nuance.
Joseph Neff, senior editor at The Vinyl District, wrote his personal paean to Rollins’ album in 2014.
What these musicians achieved is amongst the very biggest jazz ever laid to tape. Certainly no launch in Rollins’ discography ranks increased, with the horn solos in “Previous Satan Moon” alone greater than justifying the complete value of this LP. And as he performs, Jones and Ware are in fixed communication with the saxophonist and one another. Rollins remains to be clearly the chief; he referred to as the tunes and was the one who chiseled the marble of this splendid audio sculpture right down to a three-piece within the first place.
However all it takes is a hearken to the colourful elasticity, the assured stability of the rhythmic crucial in tandem with the will for melodiousness, in Ware’s opening bass-line on “Softly, as in a Morning Dawn” to grasp that within the creation of this music, hierarchy was on no one’s thoughts. So logically Ware’s solos are ceaselessly attention-grabbing and by no means in service to system, with this characteristic simply extending to Jones’ responsive work on the equipment.
Over half a century later it’s Rollins that impresses most although, primarily as a result of few have sounded this nervy whereas unfurling so naturally, his improvising free-flowing however reliant on important swing. However whereas he was at all times linked to a savvy classicism, he additionally wasn’t chained to it. For instance, by imbuing the concise “Striver’s Row,” the primary of Rollins’ tunes, with elevated freedom, the group concurrently references bebop and transcends it.
Right here’s the entire album—simply 43 minutes lengthy.
Subsequent up: John Coltrane. I want I may say I used to be on the Village Vanguard for this session, however alas, when it was recorded in 1961, I used to be solely 14. I’ve featured ‘Trane right here earlier than and shared the influence he and his spouse Naima had on me, however I’ve by no means written about his first reside album. I used to be stunned, when exploring the album’s preliminary crucial reception, to study that most of the individuals paid to weigh in have been upset by it, and felt compelled to preach and go judgment on their bailiwick of “jazz.” The critiques on the time have been so harsh that Downbeat Journal gave Coltrane and Eric Dolphy an opportunity to “reply the jazz critics” in April 1962.
A lot of the vituperation thrown at Coltrane was fueled by his affiliation with Dolphy.
Dolphy’s enjoying has been praised and damned since his nationwide jazz-scene arrival about two years in the past. Final summer season Dolphy joined Coltrane’s group for a tour. It was on this tour that Coltrane and Dolphy got here below the withering fireplace of DownBeat affiliate editor John Tynan, the primary critic to take a powerful—and public—stand in opposition to what Coltrane and Dolphy have been enjoying.
Within the Nov. 23, 1961, DownBeat, Tynan wrote, “At Hollywood’s Renaissance Membership just lately, I listened to a horrifying demonstration of what seems to be a rising anti-jazz development exemplified by these foremost proponents [Coltrane and Dolphy] of what’s termed avant-garde music. “I heard a great rhythm part… go to waste behind the nihilistic workout routines of the 2 horns.… Coltrane and Dolphy appear intent on intentionally destroying [swing].… They appear bent on pursuing an anarchistic course of their music that may however be termed anti-jazz.”
The anti-jazz time period was picked up by Leonard Feather and used as a foundation for crucial essays of Coltrane, Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and the “new factor” generally in DownBeat and Present. The response from readers to each Tynan’s and Feather’s remarks was instant, heated and about evenly divided.
Journalist and music critic Ben Ratliff wrote a really lengthy piece for The Washington Put up final yr about “Coltrane and the essence of 1961.” Sadly, Ratliff spends a lot of the story discussing what was happening on the earth in 1961, and never a lot time discussing the music.
A culling from these nights was launched as a single LP in February 1962, with solely three tracks. They have been the intense and easeful “Non secular,” which later helped outline a kind of music recently referred to as “non secular jazz”; his model of the usual “Softly, as in a Morning Dawn,” which (by way of this recording) helped outline the straight-ahead jazz mainstream; and, for all of facet B, the risky 12-bar blues in F referred to as “Chasin’ the Trane,” which begins abruptly, as if from a tape splice, and flies ahead in lunges, defining nothing and beholden to nothing. It ends when it ends and it may conceivably go on for much longer. It doesn’t know the that means of “adequate.” Typically it will get unbearably thrilling. It may possibly make the listener assume: What precisely is happening right here?
Somewhat than submit extra snippets of different individuals’s opinions, how about you are taking a hearken to the 36-minute efficiency and be your personal choose?
One key characteristic of the Vanguard’s historical past is that it’s going to endlessly be the birthplace of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Resonance Information produced this quick documentary in regards to the Feb. 7, 1966 debut of the band. I most loved the interviews with the recording engineers and musicians.
In 2016 NPR’s Jazz Evening In America highlighted the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra’s fiftieth yr on the Vanguard.
In 1965, the trumpeter and composer/arranger Thad Jones and the drummer Mel Lewis discovered themselves with a e-book of huge band music initially supposed for the Depend Basie Orchestra — and no one to carry out it. So that they made their very own. They handpicked a few of New York’s prime expertise and referred to as rehearsals on Monday nights, when the studio musicians may truly make it. And by the point they debuted on a Monday in February 1966 on the famed Village Vanguard, they have been already a drive to be reckoned with — quickly to turn into probably the most influential huge band of the final 50 years. The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, nonetheless performs each Monday evening.
You possibly can watch the complete episode under.
The Thad Jones Archive affords this biography.
Thad Jones, trumpeter, cornetist, bandleader, arranger and composer, was born close to Detroit in Pontiac, Michigan on March 28, 1923. He’s certainly one of three brothers who’ve had distinguished jazz careers: Hank Jones, the oldest of the three, has had an extended profession as a grasp pianist; the youngest, drummer Elvin Jones one of the crucial influential drummers within the fashionable period.
After Military service together with an affiliation with the U.S. Navy Faculty of Music and dealing with space bands in Des Moines and Oklahoma Metropolis, Thad grew to become a member of the Depend Basie Orchestra in Might 1954. He was featured as a soloist on such well-known tunes as “April in Paris,” “Shiny Stockings” and “Nook Pocket.” Nonetheless, his principal contribution was his almost two dozen preparations and compositions for the Basie Orchestra, together with “The Deacon,” “H.R.H.” (Her Royal Highness, in honor of the band’s command efficiency in London), “Counter Block,” and lesser identified gems resembling “Talking of Sounds.” His hymn-like ballad “To You” was carried out by the Basie band mixed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra of their solely recording collectively, and the recording “Dance Alongside With Basie” accommodates almost a whole album of Jones’ uncredited preparations of ordinary tunes.
Jones left the Basie Orchestra in 1963 to turn into a contract arranger and studio participant in New York. With former Stan Kenton drummer Mel Lewis, he began a once-a-week rehearsal band of main studio musicians who wanted a artistic outlet after the lengthy hours of the then-thriving New York studio recording scene. Armed with solely a handful of preparations, they approached Village Vanguard membership proprietor Max Gordon and have been booked for 3 Mondays in February 1966. This primary engagement on the legendary jazz membership carried on constantly, gained a world popularity for Jones and the ensemble, and made a number of international excursions together with a historic 1972 Soviet Union journey. Throughout this time, he additionally collaborated as an arranger in tasks with trumpeter Harry James, and a Bessie Smith tribute with vocalist Teresa Brewer.
Rick Mattingly, of the Percussive Arts Society, and former Senior Editor of Fashionable Drummer journal, wrote this detailed bio of Mel Lewis for the Percussive Arts Society Corridor of Fame web site.
Mel Lewis, whose actual identify was Melvin Sokoloff, was born in Buffalo, New York. He started enjoying professionally at age fifteen and labored with the bands of Lenny Lewis, Boyd Raeburn, Alvino Rey, Tex Beneke, and Ray Anthony. When Lewis joined Stan Kenton’s band in 1954, many jazz critics credited him with being the primary drummer to make the Kenton band swing […]
Lewis moved to Los Angeles in 1957 and labored with the large bands of Terry Gibbs and Gerald Wilson, and with pianist Hampton Hawes and trombonist Frank Rosolino. He additionally co-led a combo with Invoice Holman. In 1962 he made a visit to Russia with Benny Goodman. As well as, Lewis did quite a lot of studio periods whereas in L.A. (My favourite trivia reality about Mel is that he was the drummer on the early ’60s rock music “Alley Oop.”)
After returning to New York in 1963, Lewis labored with Ben Webster and Gerry Mulligan. In 1965, Mel and trumpeter Thad Jones (Elvin’s brother) fashioned the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, which started a gentle Monday-night gig on the Village Vanguard membership in February 1966. The band additionally recorded regularly, and the group toured the Soviet Union in 1972.
Benefit from the band’s Vanguard album, recorded reside in 1967.
Whereas scrolling by the record of all of the jazz artists who recorded reside albums on the Vanguard, there was an apparent dearth of ladies. It’s not that girls by no means performed or sang on the membership; reasonably, the reside album pickings are fairly rattling skinny. Fortunately, two of my all-time favourite feminine jazz artists—Betty Carter and Shirley Horn—in addition to Mary Stallings, a vocalist you is probably not aware of, are on that record.
Pianist and music editor Kyle Kevorkian wrote Carter’s bio for Musician Information.
Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones on Might 16, 1930, in Flint, Michigan. She grew up in Detroit and as a highschool scholar studied piano on the Detroit Conservatory of Music. It was a time when a superb and daring new music was sweeping the country–bebop, the postwar jazz type that was being pioneered by the nice saxophonist Charlie “Fowl” Parker, and horn participant Dizzy Gillespie. Lillie Mae was instantly turned on to it. She usually “performed hookey on the soda joint throughout the road from my highschool and listened to the jukebox, which was full of bebop singles,” she advised Pulse! “We’d sit round and study the solos, and go to see them every time they got here to town–we met Fowl and Dizzy once they got here to our college.” Quickly she was singing Sunday afternoon cabaret gigs; by the age of 18 she had sat in with Fowl, Dizzy, trumpeter Miles Davis, and different greats. Her first employer, although, was not a bebopper however a veteran of swing music–the vibraphonist and bandleader Lionel Hampton. In a 1988 interview with AP author Campbell, Carter recounted their first assembly: “I went with some classmates to listen to Lionel’s band. We have been standing in entrance of the bandstand. A man mentioned, ‘Why do not you let Lillie Mae sing?’ That was my identify then. He mentioned, ‘Are you able to sing, Gates?’ I mentioned sure. He mentioned, ‘Then come on up, Gates.'”
The impromptu audition landed her a job. From 1948 to 1951 she toured with Hampton, standing in entrance of his huge band and scatting (improvising with nonsense syllables) segments of the tunes they performed. “I did not get an opportunity to sing too many songs as a result of Hamp had a whole lot of different singers on the similar time; however I took care of the bebop division, you may say,” she advised Pulse! with a chuckle. “He’d stick me into songs they have been already doing, so I used to be singing a refrain right here, a refrain there; I did not understand on the time what good coaching that was. And I had the late Bobby Plater train me to orchestrate and transpose, which I actually wanted afterward.” Whereas she was studying from Hampton she was additionally studying from his spouse. “I had this position mannequin of Gladys Hampton to emulate. She took care of the band, noticed to it that every little thing ran easily, that everyone bought paid and such. That was the primary time I would ever skilled coping with a girl who was the boss–and she was a black lady. It was very uncommon at the moment, and nonetheless is.”[…]
In 1952, after two and a half years of “doing what Hamp needed me to,” as she advised AP author Campbell, “I struck out to search out out what extra I may do with myself. I got here to New York and bought work straight away on the Apollo Bar, a few doorways from the Apollo Theater.” Thus started a grueling interval of dues-paying. “I did the same old, enjoying dives and joints, wherever I may,” she advised Pulse! “There have been a whole lot of locations round to do the hustling then…. Apart from all of the golf equipment that have been in New York, we had Philadelphia to work with, and Boston, and Washington, D.C.; all up and down the East Coast there have been a lot of locations to work. And Detroit was nonetheless good then, and Chicago.” It was a golden time of alternative. “There was a giant, stunning music world for us within the ’50s,” she advised the Each day Information Journal. “We performed and realized collectively, as a result of all of us beloved music and musicianship. It wasn’t about money–we weren’t making any of that–it was about an entire group. Nobody needed to dominate. We favored one another. I would dangle round golf equipment with Sarah Vaughan or Ruth Brown. I performed on payments with Sonny Til and the Orioles, the Temptations, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Miles Davis. It did not matter what you probably did; you simply needed to be good at it. On the Apollo, you would play classical music when you did it effectively…. Somebody ought to write a e-book about these days. There was such pleasure. We thought that world would by no means finish.”
I had the nice fortune to interview Carter for my radio present in Washington, D.C., and later, spend time together with her in her dwelling in New York Metropolis. I additionally noticed her carry out reside quite a few instances. Although the YouTube add of this wonderful reside album by Betty Carter on the Vanguard has some pops and crackles from the vinyl (discover pristine clips right here), I selected this video as a result of it’s the whole 21-minute album.
Whenever you pay attention you possibly can really feel the rapport Carter had together with her viewers.
Pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn, who I featured right here in April 2021, performed the Vanguard in 1991; a movie of her efficiency was launched in 2006. Horn’s stylings are each understated and beautiful.
Lastly, Mary Stallings. Her web site affords this biography.
Born and raised in San Francisco, the center baby of 11 siblings, Stallings began performing professionally earlier than the age of 10 together with her mom and two older sisters in a household gospel group. She bought her first actual style of jazz at dwelling, sitting in at rehearsals together with her uncle, tenor saxophonist and bandleader Orlando Stallings. Stallings’ profession bought off to an early begin within the late ’50s and her supple voice landed her in rarified air: performing with such luminaries as Ben Webster, Cal Tjader, Earl Hines, Crimson Mitchell, Teddy Edwards, and the Montgomery brothers (Wes, Monk, and Buddy) in Bay Space evening golf equipment resembling Hungry i, The Purple Onion and El Matador.
Maybe Stallings’ best-known recording was the 1961 Cal Tjader Performs, Mary Stallings Sings on Fantasy Information, which introduced engagements in Tokyo, Manila and Bangkok together with work up and down the West Coast. She spent a yr within the late Nineteen Sixties performing in Nevada with Billy Eckstine, and toured South America with Gillespie’s band in 1965 and 1966. She has shared the invoice with such luminaries as Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. From 1969-1972, she loved a profitable three-year residency within the Depend Basie Orchestra. After touring with the Basie orchestra, she devoted her time to elevating her solely baby, R&B singer Adriana Evans.
And because it’s a Sunday, right here’s “A Sunday Form of Love,” from Stallings’ album, recorded reside on the Vanguard, in 2001.
No exploration of the musical legacy of the Vanguard could be full with out pianist and composer Invoice Evans, who was nearly a fixture on the membership.
Robert Dupuis at Musician Information describes Evans’ early musical beginnings.
Evans studied piano at age six, quickly including violin and flute to his arsenal,however he later claimed “it was at all times the piano.” Disdaining formal apply as a toddler, he labored his method by stacks of used sheet music marches, songs, and classical music that his mom had purchased. Thus did he purchase a talent at sight studying that served him all his life. He earned a scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana Faculty and in 1950 was awarded levels each in music (as a piano main) and in music schooling. Although he usually prevented the precise workout routines prescribed in faculty programs, he often demonstrated his potential to play the ideas these workout routines have been purported to show by encompassing them in his enjoying of compositions. With uncharacteristic bravado, he advised author/lyricist Gene Lees, “They could not flunk me as a result of I performed the instrument so effectively.”
All through his years in school Evans performed not solely within the college teams, however on his personal as effectively. After commencement, he labored with the band of Herbie Fields earlier than being drafted into the U.S. Military. Whereas enjoying flute within the Fifth Military Band all through his 1951-54 project at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, close to Chicago, by evening Evans grew to become part of the town’s jazz scene. Throughout this era he performed with the bands of Tony Scott and Jerry Wald, amongst others. Evans collaborated with avant-garde composer George Russell for a number of years starting in about 1956, integrating modal music (stressing construction and type) into jazz enjoying and producing such recordings as “All About Rosie” and “Concerto for Billy the Child.” In 1957 Evans was featured on the “East Coasting” album with bassist Charles Mingus.
Although Evans etched his first Riverside album as a frontrunner and drew rising consideration from music insiders, it was his eight-month stint with trumpeter Miles Davis’s sextet in 1958 that propelled the pianist towards stardom and instilled some measure of self-confidence. This all-star group included such luminaries as alto saxist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, tenorman John Coltrane, and bassist Paul Chambers.
An internet site devoted to Evans continues his story and describes his artistry.
After his collaboration with Miles Davis, leading to a number of albums in a single yr, Evans labored along with his personal trio, till 1961 when Scott LaFaro was tragically killed in a automotive crash. Invoice Evans was a quiet revolutionary whose Bud Powell, Ravel and Chopin primarily based pianisms launched a extra florid method of enjoying ballads. Evans was an extremely lyrical pianist, however he had the power to be forceful and bold as effectively. Evans’ expressive piano work impressed an entire technology of gamers who appreciated his distinctive harmonic method, his introspective lyricism, and his unhurried improvisation together with an analytical perfection.His chords have its personal intrinsic color, which creates a specific local weather. Evans’ essence was outlined by his tasteful financial system of expression. The notes he selected to not play have been totally as essential as those he did, “the breath in between the phrase”. The next assertion by the well-known classical pianist Arthur Schnabel actually applies to Invoice Evans: “The notes I deal with aren’t any higher than many pianists, however the pauses between the notes, that’s the place the artwork resides!” No pianist performs “deeper” within the keys, extracting a richer, extra advanced piano sound than Invoice Evans. Most jazz pianists are inclined to assume“vertically” when it comes to chords and are involved with the rhythmical placement of those chords than with melody and voice main. His sparse left-hand voicings help his lyrical right-hand traces, with a refined use of the sustaining pedal. The lengthy melodic line, which, says Invoice Evans, is “the fundamental factor I would like in my enjoying as a result of music have to be at all times singing”.
Music author S. Victor Aaron shares his views on the album that has now turn into a traditional: the Invoice Evans Trio’s 1961 Sunday At The Village Vanguard.
The album opens with “Gloria’s Step,” with its descending chord patterns that begin considerably vibrant and work its method right down to a somber temper. Evans interprets the melody in brief however wealthy phrases, and Lafaro is enjoying traces of his personal that exhibit limitless vary and but by no means ignores what Motian and Evans are doing. After a solo brimming with full chords, Evans offers solution to LaFaro who makes his bass sing and finds himself making a house within the higher register. Because the second take of this music, it’s the perfect general efficiency of the complete day.
LaFaro’s different tune, “Jade Visions,” was carried out for the primary time that evening and performed a second time on the finish of the night set. Because the final music this trio ever performed collectively, “Jade Visions” is a slow-paced meditative piece centered round a bass riff. Evans performs with a lot thoughtfulness, including nomore notes than wanted, understanding that to take action would obscure that keyriff. Motian, ever the grasp colorist, put that talent to nice use for this music.
The remainder of the songs chosen for the day are covers, most of which have been acquainted film and present tunes. All through his profession, Evans had a penchant for choosing simply recognizable, usually overworked numbers and recasting them as harmonically strong songs that grew to become distinctively his personal. A notable exception to this Broadway sample is the selection of Miles Davis’ “Photo voltaic,” however even then, it’s adorned with chunks of minor scale motifs in Evans’ exceptional palms. All of those tracks in fact characteristic LaFaro contributing expressive solos from an instrument not beforehand identified to be so impressionistic.
Sit again, calm down, and chill with Invoice.
That, pricey reader-listeners, concludes this version of Black Music Sunday, however belief that I’ve tons extra music from the Vanguard in retailer for you within the feedback. I look ahead to listening to your favorites as effectively.