Jazz at the Philharmonic: Blues




Jazz at the Philharmonic


Jazz at the Philharmonic: The First Concert (Verve 314 521 646)

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J.J. Johnson (trombone), Illinois Jacquet (tenor sax), Jack McVea (tenor sax), Nat 'King' Cole (piano), Les Paul (guitar), Johnny Miller (bass), Lee Young (drums).

Composed by Etaoin


Recorded: Los Angeles Philharmonic Hall, July 2, 1944


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

"Blues," composed by legendary linotypist Etaoin Shrdlu for the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concert, exposes everything wrong and right about JATP. Wrong: Illinois Jacquet's crowd-pleasing tenor-sax screeching established from JATP's outset its predilection for showmanship over musicianship. Right: Defying segregation, impresario Norman Granz's interracial troupe treated fans to such dream teams as Nat King Cole and Les Paul. Here, following solos by McVea, Johnson and Jacquet, Nat and Les engage in one of the most amazingly antic exchanges ever recorded—an improvisatory epiphany illustrating why we say jazzmen "play" rather than "work" their instruments. Forget histrionics; this is history.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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