Django Reinhardt died.
A late December issue of Billboard reports that as the year drew to a close, Hoagy Carmichael had filed suit to recover the rights to 14 of his songs, including Stardust. I hope he won. And a package tour featuring Stan Kenton, Errol Garner, Dizzy Gillespie and Slim Gaillard, called "Festival of Modern American Jazz," prepared to hit the road.
Highlights of the year in jazz would have to include the Massey Hall concert, later to be reissued as "the greatest jazz concert ever," and you could make a strong case for that: an all-star cast of the progenitors of bebop. Of course, you could also make the same case for any gig by Louis Armstrong's Hot Five.
Can someone talk DownBeat into digitizing their archives and making them available online? I'd still like to be able to put what's happening in the clubs into this year-end wrapup, but that information is not available online anywhere I can find. Billboard archives are mostly available through Google Books (although not easy to search) but their jazz coverage is surprisingly sparse. Variety's archives are online, but they're only available by subscription, and it's pricey.
Downbeat's polls are online, so here they are:
|Readers' Poll||Critics' Poll|
|Hall of Fame: Glen Miller|
|Best Record-Popular: Ray Anthony, Dragnet (Capitol)|
|Best Record-Jazz: Woody Herman, Moten Stomp (Mars)|
|Best Record-Rhythm and Blues: Ruth Brown, Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean (Atlantic)|
|Best Record-Classical: Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony, Respighi:Fountains of Rome/Pines of Rome (Victor)|
|Dance Band: Les Brown|
|Jazz Band: Stan Kenton||Big Band: Duke Ellington|
|Combo-Instrumental: Dave Brubeck||Acoustic Jazz Group: Dave Brubeck|
|Vocal Group: Four Freshmen|
|Alto Saxophone: Charlie Parker||Alto Sax: Charlie Parker|
|Tenor Saxophone: Stan Getz||Tenor Saxophone: Stan Getz|
|Baritone Saxophone: Gerry Mulligan||Baritone Sax: Harry Carney|
|Trumpet: Chet Baker||Trumpet: Louis Armstrong|
|Trombone: Bill Harris||Trombone: Bill Harris|
|Clarinet: Buddy DeFranco||Clarinet: Buddy DeFranco|
|Drums: Gene Krupa||Drums: Buddy Rich|
|Vibes: Terry Gibbs|
|Bass: Ray Brown||Bass: Oscar Pettiford|
|Guitar: Les Paul||Guitar: Barney Kessel|
|Piano: Oscar Peterson||Piano: Oscar Peterson|
|Accordion: Art Van Damme|
|Miscellaneous Instrument: Don Elliot-Mellophone|
|Arranger: Ralph Burns|
|Male Singer (Not Band): Nat Cole||Male Vocalist: Louis Armstrong|
|Girl Singer (Not Band): Ella Fitzgerald||Female Vocalist: Ella Fitzgerald|
|Male Singer (With Band): Tommy Mercer|
|Girl Singer (With Band): Lucy Ann Polk|
The New Yorker covers the NYC club scene, but they still have a kick against modern jazz. They list every club in New York featuring Dixieland or trad jazz, but none of the modern clubs except for Birdland (their New Year's acts are Count Basie and Terry Gibbs).
We do have the quirky and hard-to-figure list of Best Albums of 1953 from rateyourmusic.com. I can't figure out how they compile their lists -- they're member-voted, but how they compile the votes remains a puzzle. Anyway, I like quirky, and their list of the top 400 albums of the year, any genre, gives a pretty complete picture of the jazz that was released that year. I've pulled the jazz albums out of the complete list, which includes classical, pop, folk and spoken word. No easy listening, because that category didn't exist yet. There was, however, mood music, like Jackie Gleason Presents Music for Lovers Only--one of those albums to which Gleason gave his name for the album cover, along with two martinis, two cigarettes in ashtray, a clutch purse and --woo woo!--a room key. And nothing else. Gleason didn't exactly play an instrument, compose or conduct music. No Rhythm and Blues or country, because no one was putting them on albums yet.
Here's the list.
2. Duke Ellington and His Orchestra -- Ellington Uptown (Columbia)
4. Thelonious Monk Trio -- Thelonious (Prestige)
5. Peggy Lee --Black Coffee With Peggy Lee (Decca)
7. Jay Jay Johnson Sextet -- Jay Jay Johnson With Clifford Brown (Blue Note)
8. The Dave Brubeck Quartet --Jazz at Oberlin (Fantasy)
9. Duke Ellington --The Duke Plays Ellington: Piano Reflections (Capitol)
13. Bud Powell --Jazz at Massey Hall: Volume Two (Debut)
14. The Gerry Mulligan Quartet plus Lee Konitz --The Gerry Mulligan Quartet Plus Lee Konitz, Vol. 3 (Swing)
17. Erroll Garner--Erroll Garner (Columbia)
18. Charlie Parker--Charlie Parker (Clef)
20. Miles Davis --Miles Davis, Vol. 2 (Blue Note)
21. Laurindo Almeida & Bud Shank --Brazilliance Vol. 1 (World Pacific)
22. Stan Kenton--New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm (Capitol)
24. The Quintet--Jazz at Massey Hall: Volume One (Debut)
25. Chet Baker--Chet Baker Quartet Featuring Russ Freeman (Pacific Jazz)
26. The Quintet--Jazz at Massey Hall: Volume Three (Debut)
27. Oscar Peterson --Plays Duke Ellington (Mercury)
28. Billie Holiday --An Evening With Billie Holiday (Clef)
29. Oscar Peterson --Plays George Gershwin (Mercury)
30. Buddy DeFranco --Mr Clarinet (Verve)
32. Elmo Hope Trio --New Faces - New Sounds (Blue Note)
34. Dizzy Gillespie --Dizzy in Paris (Contemporary)
36. Gerry Mulligan--Gerry Mulligan Quartet (Fantasy)
37. Miles Davis --Young Man With a Horn (Blue Note)
41. Gerry Mulligan--Gerry Mulligan Quartet (Pacific Jazz)
42. Stan Kenton --This Modern World (Capitol)
44. Gerry Mulligan --Gerry Mulligan Quartet (Pacific Jazz)
47. George Lewis --Jazz Funeral in New Orleans
50. Miles Davis --Blue Period (Prestige)
52. Wynton Kelly --New Faces - New Sounds (Blue Note)
53. Stan Kenton --Sketches on Standards (Capitol)
55. Django Reinhardt --Quintet of the French Hot Club, Vol. 1 (Dial)
60. Kenny Drew Trio --New Faces - New Sounds (Blue Note)
61. Miles Davis --Miles Davis Plays the Compositions of Al Cohn (Prestige)
62. Stan Kenton --Portraits on Standards (Capitol)
63. Oscar Peterson --Plays Cole Porter (Mercury)
67. Horace Silver Trio --New Faces - New Sounds (Blue Note)
70. Louis Armstrong --Louis Armstrong & Earl Hines (Philips)
74. Sidney Bechet --Dixie by the Fabulous Sidney Bechet (Blue Note)
85. Gerry Mulligan --Gerry Mulligan and his Ten-Tette (Capitol)
96. Lee Konitz / Gerry Mulligan Quartet --Lee Konitz Plays With the Gerry Mulligan Quartet
98. Stan Kenton --Popular Favorites (Capitol)
99. Hank Jones --Urbanity (Clef)
Shorty Rogers, Gil Mellé, Harry James, Charles Mingus & Spaulding Givens, Stan Getz, Howard McGhee, Billy Taylor, Benny Carter, Flip Phillips, George Wallington, Johnny Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Jimmy Raney, Art Tatum, Gene Krupa, Wilbur De Paris, Sonny Stitt, Benny Goodman,Shelly Manne, Lionel Hampton, Jelly Roll Morton, Quincy Jones, George Shearing, Howard Rumsey, Count Basie, Jackie and Roy, Teddy Charles, Pete Johnson, Don Byas, Cal Tjader, Charlie Mariano, Mongo Santamaría, Woody Herman, Carmen McRae and Harry Edison also made the list.
I would probably have put Jazz at Massey Hall higher on the list. Probably Peggy Lee lower. I'm not sure why I kept Lee on but dropped singers like Nat "King" Cole and Jo Stafford. I just did. Blue Note introduced a number of young performers, one of whom--Horace Silver--became a linchpin of their label. And how many Stan Kenton albuns could Capitol release?
Getting near the end of the 78 and the 10-inch LP eras, but they're still making the scene a Prestige. On to 1954, where, although I don't really look ahead to see who's coming into the studio, I can tell you that we'll see an important addition to the Prestige family.