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    Alvino Rey: Studio Band, 1946

    JazzWaxIt's tough to get a fix on Alvino Rey. Many people Rey-studio-shot-of-Alvino-Rey-520 who are remotely familiar with the big bands of the 1940s think of the steel-guitar playing Rey as a novelty act. He wasn't. Given the enormous size of his orchestras, many assume Rey led a Mickey Mouse band. He didn't. His name wasn't even Alvino Rey—it was Al McBurney. He had changed it in 1929 to catch the rumba craze. He even disliked Hawaiian music—despite his steel guitar's "Island" sound.

    Hal McKusick in 1956


    ImageSaxophonist Hal McKusick is on some of the finest New York recording sessions of the '50s. His reputation for reading music perfectly the first time, no matter how complex, spread quickly among fellow musicians and those in charge of assembling them for recordings. Hal could always be counted on to swing, lead a big-band reed section and deliver smooth solos. It also helped that Hal was a supremely confident player, a virtuoso on virtually every reed and woodwind instrument, and as easy-going as a June breeze.

    Bill Evans and Joe Puma


    JazzWaxBefore he began recording exclusively as leader of a working trio, pianist Bill Evans was a prolific sideman. Between 1954 and 1958, Evans appeared on more than 20 recordings led by other artists. Except for New Jazz Conceptions, his first one-off trio date for Riverside in 1956, Evans was a top keyboard gun for hire in New York. One of those dates in 1957 was accompanying guitarist Joe Puma on an album called Joe Puma: Jazz. Unfortunately, the quartet with Evans recorded just three tracks for Jubilee, most likely to fill out Puma's original studio obligation that used a trio.

    Buddy Collette Said It

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    JazzWaxIn addition to being a superb reed and woodwind musician, the late Buddy Collette also was a courageous advocate for civil rights in Los Angeles. Up through the late '40s and early '50s, integration was actively discouraged by the city. Even the musicians' union had two locals—one for whites and another for blacks. By 1950, the jazz scene on Central Avenue had all been shuttered by a police force openly hostile to clubs that catered to black and white patrons and mixed couples.

    JazzWax List: 8 Pop Sax Solos

    JazzWaxRock, pop and disco tracks of the '60s, '70s and '80s were 250px-Roger_Ball_of_AWB_in_2005 routinely peppered by horns. The saxophone, in particular, was most often added to give a slick track an earthy authenticity. In many cases, the sax solo would be written into the song's break halfway through to provide a funky feel. Or it would come at the end, to pick up where the vocal left off. [Pictured: Roger Ball of Average White Ban]

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