Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wrapping up 1958 - part 1

New to Prestige this year, but hardly new to the jazz world: Tiny Grimes, Coleman Hawkins (a French recording by the Hawk had received American distribution through Prestige), and J. C. Higginbotham.

Dorothy Ashby is new. She had recorded one album for the small Regent label, a subsidiary of Savoy, but Prestige was her real breakthrough, if she can be said to have ever had a real breakthrough. Her two 1958 albums were her only ones for Prestige, and although she did record—far too sporadically—into the 1980s, she never got the recognition as a major jazz artist that she deserved.

The big one is Shirley Scott, who made her recording debut with Prestige and would be a star on the label for years to come. She made two sessions with her trio, three more with Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis.

Phineas  Newborn made his only Prestige recording in 1958, as part of a trio with Roy Haynes and Paul Chambers. He and Freddie Hubbard were two young masters who slipped through Bob Weinstock’s fingers.

It was certainly the year of Coltrane. He made six sessions as leader, and two more  as sideman, starting out the new year with Gene Ammons,  and later joining Kenny Burrell. He would pair up with trumpeters Donald Byrd, Wilbur Harden and Freddie Hubbard.

Mose Allison was in the studio three times. Jerome Richardson made five dates, including one as leader. Kenny Burrell did four, also leader on one. And of course Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor were ubiquitous.

Elsewhere in jazz, an historic event--probably no one realized quite how historic--took place on August 12, when a surprisingly large group of jazz musicians answered a morning call for a photograph on the steps of a Harlem brownstone: the day that became known as "A Great Day in Harlem."

W. C. Handy died in 1958. Tiny Bradshaw's train stopped a-rollin'. And Shifty Henry, a fine composer-arranger whose many credits were somewhat eclipsed by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who added his name to the list of jailbirds in "Jailhouse Rock."

It was the fifth annual Newport Jazz Festival, and perhaps the one with the strongest claim on immortality, because it was the occasion for Bert Stern's documentary, Jazz on a Summer's Day.

Away from Prestige, certainly the most important debut album of the year was Ornette Coleman's Something Else! on Contemporary, the highly regarded West Coast label. And as jazz began its latest bifurcation into esoteric and accessible, it's somehow fitting that Cannonball Adderley's very popular Blue Note recording was entitled Somethin' Else.

And this is just too weird, so I have to include it. Jazz recordings from 1958 that were later sampled by hip-hoppers include Blossom Dearie, Nina Simone, Tommy Dorsey, Peggy Lee and Ahmad Jamal.

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