Saturday, June 14, 2014

Prestige 1 --Bill Coleman/Don Byas

My new project -- listen to at least one track from every album recorded on Prestige Records during the 40s and 50s.

The Prestige catalog has tracks that go back to the early 30s -- early Ellington, and other good stuff. But those are reissues of recordings for other labels. Prestige actually started in 1949. Bob Weinstock -- like Milt Gabler with Commodore Records -- started out as a record store proprietor, his store next to the legendary Metropole Cafe. Musicians took to stopping by there, and jamming, and Weinstock got the idea of paying them to record some sides.

So the story goes, but actually the first Prestige recording appears to have been two expatriates who led a group in Paris. This was 1949, the heyday of bebop, the year oft Miles Davis's Royal Roost sessions that became Birth of the Cool, but Bill Coleman was a traditional trumpet player, contemporary of Louis Armstrong, stylistically close to guys like Roy Eldridge. Don Byas, a perhaps under-appreciated great, was one of those transitional figures like Ben Webster, with one foot in swing, one in bebop.

This is a pretty traditional album, heavy on popular blues and standards. Nothing from it on YouTube, and the only cut from it that I could find on Spotify is St. Louis Blues, taken as an uptempo stomper, and swinging like crazy. Spotify does have a very good selection of Coleman and Byas from this era. Worth checking out.

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