Historical Essays

“THE SPIRITS WITHIN”: THE COLLABORATIONS OF RED RODNEY AND IRA SULLIVAN (Part 2)

The Red Rodney/Ira Sullivan Quintet was one of the most exciting bands of the early 1980s. Trumpeter Rodney and multi-instrumentalist Sullivan co-lead the house band at Chicago’s Bee Hive in the mid-1950s. They reunited 25 years later and fronted a quintet with a young rhythm section that explored contemporary jazz from a bebop foundation. In this extended Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the collaborations of Rodney and Sullivan, encompassing nine LPs and six newly-discovered live recordings.

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“THE SPIRITS WITHIN”: THE COLLABORATIONS OF RED RODNEY AND IRA SULLIVAN (Part 1)

The Red Rodney/Ira Sullivan Quintet was one of the most exciting bands of the early 1980s. Trumpeter Rodney and multi-instrumentalist Sullivan co-lead the house band at Chicago’s Bee Hive in the mid-1950s. They reunited 25 years later and fronted a quintet with a young rhythm section that explored contemporary jazz from a bebop foundation. In this extended Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the collaborations of Rodney and Sullivan, encompassing nine LPs and six newly-discovered live recordings.

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DJANGO REINHARDT : DEVELOPING A UNIQUE SOLO STYLE

Django Reinhardt is widely acclaimed as the first non-American jazz musician to develop a unique solo style. Yet, his earliest recordings with the Quintette of the Hot Club of France show that the guitarist was still learning jazz licks and grasping the concept of solo construction. Within five years, Reinhardt was indeed a master soloist, working within the jazz language without sacrificing the sound of his Roma heritage. Thomas Cunniffe traces Reinhardt’s development through a 12-song embedded playlist in this Historical Essay.

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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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Paul Desmond and the Canadians

In the last decade of his life, Paul Desmond only performed occasionally. But when he hired three exceptional Canadian musicians, (Ed Bickert, Don Thompson and Jerry Fuller) to back him for a club date, the music inspired Desmond to some of his finest performances. After years of legal entanglements, Mosaic Records has issued a 7-CD box which includes over 5 hours of unissued recordings by this outstanding ensemble. In this newly revised Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the musical legacy of Desmond’s Canadian Quartet.

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Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Such Sweet Thunder”

Newly revised to include the premiere performance in Stratford! In 1956, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn spent a week at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Inspired by the performances of the Bard’s plays, Ellington promised that he and Strayhorn would write a new Shakespeare-inspired suite for the next year’s festival. The result was Such Sweet Thunder, one of the most highly acclaimed albums in the Ellington discography. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the suite in depth, offering historical and musical background for this important recording. A rare aircheck of the Ellington orchestra performing portions of the suite is also included in this extended article.

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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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