Bob Kent was another bluesman who seems to have left little trace behind, and might have left even less, except that his session for Prestige actually did have one musician whose name was recorded on the session notes -- a young tenor sax player from Lionel Hampton's road band who had just just arrived in New York to try and make a living as a session musician. His name was King Curtis. So this one can be found on a compilation album called Wail, Man,Wail -- all of Curtis's recordings from the 1950s, from well-known tunes like those of the Coasters to obscure artists like Bob Kent to surprising choices like Waylon Jennings. Kent's "Korea, Korea" is one of many blues songs about that war, perhaps because it was the first to be fought since the armed services had been integrated. Good blues, good King Curtis.
What else? Rateyourmusic.com, an always interesting site for user-voted lists of this and that, has a number of jazz albums on their list of best albums of 1952. I can't exactly figure out how the ratings on rateyourmusic are calculated, and I can't begin to figure out who does the rating. They're jazz fans -- 21 of their top 50 records are jazz. But who else are they? The others are some classical, some ethnic folklore from Mexico, Africa, Europe and Haiti, Dylan Thomas, some folk blues (no rhythm and blues), and Charity Bailey singing for first graders. Nonetheless, it's an interesting reflection of jazz in the year, so here it is -- the jazz selections from their top 50.
3. Nat "King" Cole Unforgettable Capitol 4. Milt Jackson Wizard of the Vibes Blue Note 5. Billie Holiday Billie Holiday Sings Mercury 8. Stan Kenton City of Glass Capitol 12. Erroll Garner Body & Soul Columbia 14. Gerry Mulligan and Allen Eager The New Sounds Prestige 15. Milt Jackson Quartet Dee Gee 16. Charlie Parker South of the Border Mercury 18. Nat "King" Cole Penthouse Serenade: Nat 'King' Cole at the Piano Capitol
21. Louis Armstrong Satchmo Serenades Decca 23. Miles Davis The New Sounds Prestige 24. The Fabulous Sidney Bechet and His Hot Six The Fabulous Sidney Bechet Blue Note 28. Norman Granz Norman Granz' Jam Session #1 Mercury 20. Stan Getz Jazz at Storyville Roost 30.Lee Wiley Sings Irving Berlin Columbia 31. Anita O'Day The Lady Is a Tramp Verve 39. Peggy Lee Rendezvous With Peggy Lee Capitol 42. Sidney Bechet & Mugsy Spanier Duets Atlantic 44. Jeri Southern You Better Go Now! Decca 45. Howard McGhee's All Stars Howard McGhee Blue Note 47. Sidney Bechet Ambiance Bechet Vogue 48. Anita O'Day Singin' and Swingin' Coral
These, of course, are 1952 releases, and my list is of recording dates. I'm a little surprised that Prestige isn't represented more vigorously, but you can't really complain about what is there. Other artists further down on the list are Art Pepper, Art Hodes, Ralph Burns, George Wallington, Sonny Rollins, Wardell Gray, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Barbara Carroll, Sonny Stitt, Dinah Washington and Johnny Hodges.
Billboard called 1952 the best year for jazz, economically, since the '30s, as evidenced by
the increasing number of jazz platter served up by the established and new diskeries, the great success of the jazz road packages, and the healthy grosses racked up by top jazz artists as night club attractions.
So maybe the story of bebop killing jazz as a viable commercial form were a little exaggerated. Of course, the story of the decline of the big bands seems to carry more weight. From Billboard again:
What is most important here, to the record company on one side and the dealer on the
I miss that old show biz journalism. Where are the diskeries of yesteryear? Billboard notes the success of Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic and other package tours, and the advent of the LP record.
A second article heralds the arrival of the Bandbox as neighbor and rival to Birdland.The Band Box is featuring JATP stars Flip Phillips, Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, Charlie Ventura, Oscar Peterson with Ray Brown and Barney Kessel, Charlie Shavers, Hank Jones and Teddy Napoleon. Or you could walk over to Birdland and catch the Lester Young Quintet, the Stan Getz Quintet and the Dave Brubeck Quartet...on the same bill. Think you could afford it? The Bandbox offered free admission and a $1.25 minimum. Birdland had a $1.25 admission and no minimum.
Bring on 1953.