Sunday, July 19, 2015

Listening to Prestige Part 132: Jon Eardley

These days on Sirius/XM they have five channels in their jazz/standards section, one of which is devoted to the 1940s (defined rather loosely), one to the blues, two to some forms of smooth jazz or new age or something--I can't tell you exactly what because I don't listen to them--and one called "real jazz."

Jon Eardley is real jazz. He didn't make the mark that some of his trumpet contemporaries did, but he's still for real. As Marc Myers says in a JazzWax blog entry on Eardley,
Jazz was so crowded with talent in the 1950s that it's easy for great artists from the decade to slip into obscurity today. This is especially true of trumpet players. We fixate on Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Kenny Dorham and Clifford Brown, not to mention Dizzy Gillespie, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Roy Eldridge. Rightfully so, but there were plenty of others. One who deserves much more recognition than he has received thus far is Jon Eardley.
Eardley did one earlier Prestige session, with Phil Woods, about which I said "if two guys were ever made to play together, it's Phil Woods and Jon Eardley."

Eardley most frequently played in a quintet-or-more setting, but here he's the only horn, which means he has a lot to carry, and he's up to it. I don't really have the language to describe what's unique about his style, so I'll go to Marc Myers again:

What made Eardley special during the '50s was his ability to blow hot but with laid-back  distinction. The faster the tempo, the more harmoniously rich he would become, taking on a rolling, punctuating style.
I can say that his style is distinctive, with a beautiful tone that takes advantage of what a trumpet can do, the same thing I hear in Art Farmer.

Eardley had left the New York jazz scene by the end of the 50s, and by the mid-60s he had moved to Europe, where he lived the rest of his life, raised a family, and put his family first, not every jazz musician's choice. He explained to British interviewer Les Tomkins:
I live in Cologne now, together with my wife and two children. I work with what they call the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, which is the German radio in Cologne. This has been the case for practically nine years, and now it’s come to the point that they’ve decided they want the orchestra I work with to be full–time. In other words, when I can’t play the trumpet any more they’ll still pay me. Because of the fact that I am married and have children, I don’t like to travel too much. You can understand that—I like to be around my children while they’re growing up
These tunes were cut in Los Angeles, where Eardley had gone to play with Gerry Mulligan. One has to guess at a couple of the titles -- has them as "Lute Leader" and "Cross," Spotify as "Late Leader" and "Gloss," Discogs as "Late Leader" and "Cross." Eardley didn't record often in a quartet setting, so here he has the opportunity and the challenge of stretching out, and he delivers.

These tunes were released on New Jazz and Prestige 10-inchers as Jon Eardley In Hollywood.

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