Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Listing to Prestige 223: Prestige All Stars

This is one of the more obscure All Stars sessions. I couldn't find it at all on Spotify, and had no luck on YouTube searching under Prestige All Stars. Finally, I decided to search under the names of individual band members and struck gold on the first try: Teddy Charles. YouTube has the tracks under Charles' name. AllMusic credits the session to the leadership of Charles and Mal Waldron, who was certainly a strong organizing force at Prestige in those days. Wikipedia gives producer credit to Charles, rateyourmusic gives it to Bob Weinstock. The Teddy Charles discography website, maintained by Noal Cohen, describes it as a session by the Prestige Jazz Quartet with guests. In any event, you can find the tunes on YouTube under Charles's name.

Waldron contributed two tunes to the session; Charles, Idrees Suleiman and John Jenkins one each. A Charles session could go one of two ways: very avant garde or very mainstream. This is definitely in the latter category, as was only appropriate. Teddy Charles as producer or no, this was still a Prestige All Stars session, which meant a Bob Weinstock session: loose, mostly unrehearsed jamming. Jazz like it should be, with all really good players meshing well.

Charles, Waldron, Addison Farmer and Jerry Segal were playing together for the first time here, and were not yet known as the Prestige Jazz Quartet, but they would work a few more sessions together under that name.

Drummer Jerry Segal had done an earlier Teddy Charles recording for New Jazz, and had recorded with Terry Gibbs, so he knew something about playing behind vibraphonists. He would join Mose Allison for a few albums after Allison's move to Columbia.

This was John Jenkins's recording debut. 1957 would be his busiest year, touching the heart of New York indie jazz, as he recorded with Prestige, Blue Note, Savoy and Riverside. Like Teddy Charles, he would leave jazz a few years later to take up other pursuits, but unlike Charles, he doesn't seem to have found a more secure profession, For most of his non-jazz years, he was a street pedlar, and when he returned to music in the mid-1980s, it was as a street musician. This is no reflection on his ability--the world of street music in New York is highly competitive, and of a very high level. He did record once more, with Clifford Jordan, before his death in 1993.

The album was entitled Coolin'. The 1949 Miles Davis nonet sessions were finally released on LP by Capitol right around the time of this session, and were receiving the acclaim from the jazz public that they had always had among musicians,  so that may have influenced the choice of title. And of course gerunds with dropped g's had been, and would continue to be featured in Prestige's releases of the Miles Davis Contractual Marathon sessions. All this seems to have had more to do with marketing than with the music.But whatever marketing strategy went into the naming of this album, there seems to have been not much followup. It was not released until 1959, and then only on New Jazz, and there were no repackagings of it under Teddy Charles's name. In fact, no repackagings at all, until finally a release on Concord's Original Jazz Classics series.


 Order Listening to Prestige, Vol. 1 here. It makes a great Christmas gift for the jazz lovers on your list. And you can tell them that Volume 2 should be ready for next Christmas!

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