Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Listening to Prestige Records Part 37: Wrapping up 1950

This winds up the second year of Prestige's prestigious history. Only 20 more to go, and I'm already starting to get the feeling they're going too fast -- that's the grandparent syndrome.

 The last two albums of the year are Sonny Stitt (December 17) with Junior Mance, Gene Wright and Art Blakey, and Jimmy McPartland (December 21) with a sextet including Vic Dickenson and Marian McPartland, so they closed out the year with a rising bebop star and a tip of the hat back to an older jazz style. The McPartland sides were issued on 78 as part of Prestige's 300 series, which appears to consist entirely of four 78 RPM records, all of them by Jimmy McPartland, one session in early 1949 and the other at the end of 1950 -- apparently Bob Weinstock's entire foray into trad jazz. Neither the Stitt nor the McPartland sessions can be found on Spotify, but you can get the Stitt session on Grooveshark --"Nevertheless" and "Jeepers Creepers here  and "Cherokee" here. "Nevertheless" is not exactly a bebop staple -- this is the only recording of it by a modern jazz group that I've found -- but listening to Stitt's version, one can't help but think that maybe it should be.

Prestige was certainly starting to make its mark in 1950. The scorecard: recording sessions with Stan Getz (2), Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons (9), Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis,  Al Haig, Chubby Jackson, Lee Konitz,  Zoot Sims (4), Wardell Gray (2, one with Dexter Gordon), Leo Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, James Moody (recorded in France, released later as a 7000-series LP), and Jimmy McPartland. 

The major labels actually had the two most important jazz releases of 1950 -- one looking ahead, the other backward. Capitol put out eight songs from the Miles Davis Birth of the Cool sessions on 78. The LP wouldn't be released until 1957, although some songs from it came out on various Capitol 10 inch LPs. Nobody realized quite how important these sessions were at the time -- Miles wasn't able to make a commercial success of his nonet, and had to disband it. However, pretty much everyone knew how important the other recording was -- the recently rediscovered originals of the Benny Goodman 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, released by Columbia as a 12-inch LP -- in fact, their first double LP set.

Charlie Parker recorded with strings.

Fats Navarro died in 1950. Thelonious Monk was arrested on drug charges, lost his cabaret card, and couldn't play again in New York for six years.

Birdland, which actually opened its doors in late December of 1949, was in its first full year of operation.

On to 1951.

No comments: