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    Marc Myers' JazzWax

    Sonny Rollins: Copenhagen, 1968

    On February 19, 1968, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins was in Copenhagen at the Cafe Montmartre, the city's most historic jazz club. Sonny was in fantatic form and backed by a stunning trio—pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and drummer Albert Heath. The following video went up last month and, to be frank, it is among the finest performances by Sonny that I've seen on tape. [Image of Sonny Rollins from YouTube]

    Bob Lark and Phil Woods

    Today on Marc Myer's JazzWax: By my count, trumpeter and flugelhornist Bob Lark and alto saxophonist Phil Woods recorded six albums together prior to Woods' death in 2015. Their sixth and final collaboration, Thick as Thieves, recorded in 2009 at Chicago's Jazz Showcase, has just been released. It's a solid swinger, despite my initial trepidation over the predictable song choices. What keeps this album from being predictable is the quintet's ability to breathe fresh fire into bop standards you may not feel you needed to hear again. Lark's two originals also are fresh and dynamic. Backing Lark and Woods are pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin—a superb trio that stirs up both artists.

    Videos: Black Women Cross Over

    Black female singers came into their own in the late 1950s and early 1960s as solo pop artists. Long pegged as jazz or R&B recording artists in the 1950s or members of girl groups in the early '60s, black women began to cross over to the pop charts thanks largely to exposure on major record labels, successful runs at supper clubs and appearances on TV variety shows. And let's not forget the importance of Ella Fitzgerald pioneering the American Songbook. Here are a bunch of newly uploaded videos I found of leading black American female vocalists (and a British superstar) between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s:

    The Harry South Songbook

    Harry South is virtually unknown in the States today, but in the U.K. and throughout much of Europe, he was a highly regarded English jazz pianist, composer and arranger. South began his recording career in Britain the early 1950s and remained active until 1990, when he died in March of that year. Interestingly, he never seems to have toured or recorded in the U.S.

    Videos: Jackie and Roy

    One of the hippest female jazz singers of the late 1940s and beyond was Jackie Cain. Jackie had an upbeat wholesomeness and sly sensibility that seemed to come naturally. When Jackie met pianist Roy Kral in Charlie Ventura's bop band of 1948, they married and the pair became a successful duo act in clubs throughout the country. Roy came up with the most beautiful chord voicings and arrangements, not to mention a warm, loving voice, while Jackie always found the smartest hot notes. They rehearsed tirelessly to find just the right swinging sound on each song they embraced. 

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