Historical Essays

The Sound of Jazz: An Interactive Essay

Long considered the greatest presentation of jazz on television, Robert Herridge’s “The Sound of Jazz” succeeded by just letting the musicians be themselves, and allowing them to develop their music on their own terms. This newly revised interactive essay includes the complete show and a running commentary by Thomas Cunniffe.

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Jazz Adaptations of “Porgy and Bess”

George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” lives in two disparate worlds: opera and popular music. With an award-winning, but controversial production running on Broadway, the show has never been more popular. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe discusses several jazz adaptations of this American masterwork.

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Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts

Duke Ellington considered his three Sacred Concerts to be his most important works. Many critics disagreed, but as Thomas Cunniffe argues in this Historical Essay, Ellington was trying to spread his personal view of religion to a wide swath of listeners, and as a result, his music moved from the lofty to the commonplace with stunning frequency.

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The 1968 Bill Evans Trio with Eddie Gomez & Jack DeJohnette

For about 6 months in the middle of 1968, pianist Bill Evans led a remarkable trio featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Up until now, the only recordings that existed of this group were the Grammy-winning LP Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival and a handful of bootleg recordings. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe discusses the group’s recordings (including a newly released–and previously unknown studio session) as well as a rare TV broadcast.

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Frankie Newton: The Forgotten Trumpeter (part I)

Despite appearing on some of the greatest jazz records of the 1930s, and possessing one of the most personal sounds in jazz history, trumpeter Frankie Newton is barely remembered today. His biography is filled with contradictory information, and his discography has several mysterious gaps. Thomas Cunniffe sorts out the conflicting details and discusses all of Newton’s recordings in this special 2-part Historical Essay.

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The Earliest Recordings of “Body and Soul”

Before it was interpolated into the Broadway revue, Three’s A Crowd, Johnny Green’s Body and Soul had been a hit in England. As the show went through tryouts, the lyrics of the song underwent a complete rewrite before its Broadway premiere. In this interactive Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe examines 17 recordings of B&S recorded between February and October 1930.

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JATP at The Opera House

In 1957, Norman Granz launched the 18th tour of Jazz at the Philharmonic. The concerts yielded 5 separate albums featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge and the JATP All-Stars. All of the albums were titled At the Opera House but on four of the five albums, the mono editions were recorded at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles! In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe sorts out the discographical maze and discusses all five of the albums in both their mono and stereo editions.

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