Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Every musician absolutely smashes their part here and Billie will forever be my favorite female voice in all of recorded music. Not a lot of people know that but my closest friends surely do. This session is arguably one of the finest ever gatherings of Jazz musicians in one room playing together. Billie Holiday (vocals), Lester Young (tenor sax), Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Doc Cheatham (trumpet), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax), Ben Webster (tenor sax), Gerry Mulligan (baritone sax), Mal Waldron (piano), Osie Johnson (drums), Milt Hinton (bass), Danny Barker (guitar).
“Trading fours” (where players alternate taking four-measure solos) is a common practice in jazz improvisation, and frequently the occasion for musical competition between the players who are trading off. When such one-upmanship is foregrounded, whether they are trading fours or not, the players are said to be “cutting heads.” As Ella and Booty try to meet each other’s musical challenges, they are definitely having a party, and the audience loves it. You can’t separate the party from the music; it’s all one experience! Make sure you check out them trading/her scatting from the 6:45 mark where she is up against a wicked trombonist.
Steve Turre was Rasaan Roland Kirk's trombonist for many years and is featured prominently in the RRK documentary called "The case of the 3 sided dream" which I highly recommend. I decided to look up some of his work after seeing the documentary and found this absolute gem of him playing conch shells. You can see the RRK influence, especially the minute or so from the 3:40 mark where he plays multiple conch shells at once.
More: Turré learned to play the conch shell when he was playing with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, whom he credits as one of his major influences. He loves the sound of the conch because he finds it haunting and because his Mexican ancestors played it. To get a deeper feel for what Turré hears when he plays conchs, listen to this clip from hisSanctified Shells album on his website: