It’s time for another Weekend Music Mashup. I’m feeling like jazz today, plus April 2009 is the 50th anniversary of one of our music’s major milestones.
1. Miles Davis Quintet – “So What”
On April 2, 1959, through the facilities of CBS Television Studio 61 and host Robert Herridge, the world was introduced to the music of Miles Davis’ landmark album “Kind Of Blue“, which is considered by many to be the most influential jazz album ever recorded. Miles brought his group into the Columbia Records studios exactly one month earlier to record three of the album’s five compositions. They returned three weeks after this broadcast to record the other two.
This video is Part One of the broadcast, featuring the Miles Davis Quintet (Miles Davis, trumpet; John Coltrane, tenor sax; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums) performing “So What.” The other regular member of Davis’ group, alto saxophonist Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, was ill and could not make the broadcast. The Quintet is also accompanied by the Gil Evans Orchestra. Parts Two and Three (available as links on the YouTube page for this video) feature Miles Davis performing three selections (“The Duke,” “Blues for Pablo,” and “New Rhumba”) that he recorded with the Gil Evans orchestra on another landmark album, “Miles Ahead”. Even though this video is somewhat haphazardly split, I have chosen it because of its picture and sound quality, and because the performance is complete between the three parts.
I always find vintage television to be somewhat of a surreal experience, especially when watching the program hosts and guests from the days of yore nonchalantly puff away on cigarettes throughout the duration of the broadcast.
2. “All The Cats Join In” (featuring Benny Goodman and his Orchestra)
Here’s a hip little 1946 cartoon from Walt Disney that recalls the innocent days of bobby socks, soda fountains, juke boxes, and jalopies following the end of World War II. “All The Cats Join In” was released as part of Disney’s musical feature Make Mine Music and features the music of Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. Great colorful, stylish animation, too. And notice how quickly the teens dispose of the ukulele-strumming college boy left over from the Roaring 20’s. Classic.
3. Duke Ellington, Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith, and Billy Taylor – “Perdido”
This is an incredible example of the kind of talent showcase that is rarely seen on television today. Dating from the late 1960’s, this clip from the David Frost Show features Duke Ellington, Harlem piano master Willie “The Lion” Smith, and bebop piano star Billy Taylor performing a rollicking version of Ellington’s “Perdido.” If you watch Charles Osgood’s “Sunday Morning” program on CBS, then you will recognize Billy Taylor from the numerous stories about jazz that he has contributed to the program over the years.
4. Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong – “Blue Yodel No. 9”
Finally, here is an extraordinary performance by two true American musical giants, Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong. This is from a 1970 episode of The Johnny Cash Show. Louis was Johnny’s guest, and together they recreate the classic performance of “Blue Yodel No. 9” that Louis recorded with the legendary blues singer Jimmy Rogers in 1930. Armstrong’s health was poor at the time; he would die a mere nine months later. But his playing is absolutely beautiful. It is the definition of “soul.” And his sense of humor is as sharp as ever. The real deal, times two. Enjoy …