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Author Topic: ALL TIME GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)  (Read 5846 times)

Offline Wolfram

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ALL TIME GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)
« on: June 30, 2008, 01:43:11 PM »
I am sifting through all the threads and pulling all the clips that people havd graciously contributed here as their personal fav's.  I thought we should have a place that we could come to and just listen and be inspired.  If you add something and it ends up in this area, I will probably ask you if I can delete your originating thread after a little while. 

Offline Wolfram

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Re: Sample of GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2008, 01:45:57 PM »
McCOY TYNER
1938 -

Biography by Scott Yanow

It is to McCoy Tyner's great credit that his career after John Coltrane has been far from anti-climatic. Along with Bill Evans, Tyner has been the most influential pianist in jazz of the past 50 years, with his chord voicings being adopted and utilized by virtually every younger pianist. A powerful virtuoso and a true original (compare his playing in the early '60s with anyone else from the time), Tyner (like Thelonious Monk) has not altered his style all that much from his early days but he has continued to grow and become even stronger.

Tyner grew up in Philadelphia, where Bud Powell and Richie Powell were neighbors. As a teenager he gigged locally and met John Coltrane. He made his recording debut with the Art Farmer-Benny Golson Jazztet, but after six months left the group to join Coltrane in what (with bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones) would become the classic quartet. Few other pianists of the period had both the power and the complementary open-minded style to inspire Coltrane, but Tyner was never overshadowed by the innovative saxophonist. During the Coltrane years (1960-1965), the pianist also led his own record dates for Impulse.

After leaving Coltrane, Tyner struggled for a period, working as a sideman (with Ike and Tina Turner, amazingly) and leading his own small groups; his recordings were consistently stimulating even during the lean years. After he signed with Milestone in 1972, Tyner began to finally be recognized as one of the greats, and he has never been short of work since. Although there have been occasional departures (such as a 1978 all-star quartet tour with Sonny Rollins and duo recordings with Stephane Grappelli), Tyner has mostly played with his own groups since the '70s, which have ranged from a quartet with Azar Lawrence and a big band to his trio. In the '80s and '90s, Tyner did the rounds of labels (his old homes Blue Note and Impulse! as well as Verve, Enja, and Milestone) before settling in with Telarc in the late '90s and releasing a fine series of albums including 2000's Jazz Roots: McCoy Tyner Honors Jazz Piano Legends of the 20th Century and 2004's Illuminations. In 2007, Tyner returned with the studio album McCoy Tyner Quartet featuring saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts.


Offline Wolfram

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Re: Sample of GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2008, 01:58:22 PM »
OSCAR PETERSON
1925 - 2007

Biography by Scott Yanow
Oscar Peterson was one of the greatest piano players of all time. A pianist with phenomenal technique on the level of his idol, Art Tatum, Peterson's speed, dexterity, and ability to swing at any tempo were amazing. Very effective in small groups, jam sessions, and in accompanying singers, O.P. was at his absolute best when performing unaccompanied solos. His original style did not fall into any specific idiom. Like Erroll Garner and George Shearing, Peterson's distinctive playing formed during the mid- to late '40s and fell somewhere between swing and bop. Peterson was criticized through the years because he used so many notes, didn't evolve much since the 1950s, and recorded a remarkable number of albums. Perhaps it is because critics ran out of favorable adjectives to use early in his career; certainly it can be said that Peterson played 100 notes when other pianists might have used ten, but all 100 usually fit, and there is nothing wrong with showing off technique when it serves the music. As with Johnny Hodges and Thelonious Monk, to name two, Peterson spent his career growing within his style rather than making any major changes once his approach was set, certainly an acceptable way to handle one's career. Because he was Norman Granz's favorite pianist (along with Tatum) and the producer tended to record some of his artists excessively, Peterson made an incredible number of albums. Not all are essential, and a few are routine, but the great majority are quite excellent, and there are dozens of classics.

Peterson started classical piano lessons when he was six and developed quickly. After winning a talent show at 14, he began starring on a weekly radio show in Montreal. Peterson picked up early experience as a teenager playing with Johnny Holmes' Orchestra. From 1945-1949, he recorded 32 selections for Victor in Montreal. Those trio performances find Peterson displaying a love for boogie-woogie, which he would soon discard, and the swing style of Teddy Wilson and Nat King Cole. His technique was quite brilliant even at that early stage, and although he had not yet been touched by the influence of bop, he was already a very impressive player. Granz discovered Peterson in 1949 and soon presented him as a surprise guest at a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. Peterson was recorded in 1950 on a series of duets with either Ray Brown or Major Holley on bass; his version of "Tenderly" became a hit. Peterson's talents were quite obvious, and he became a household name in 1952 when he formed a trio with guitarist Barney Kessel and Brown. Kessel tired of the road and was replaced by Herb Ellis the following year. The Peterson-Ellis-Brown trio, which often toured with JATP, was one of jazz's great combos from 1953-1958. Their complex yet swinging arrangements were competitive — Ellis and Brown were always trying to outwit and push the pianist — and consistently exciting. In 1958, when Ellis left the band, it was decided that no other guitarist could fill in so well, and he was replaced (after a brief stint by Gene Gammage) by drummer Ed Thigpen. In contrast to the earlier group, the Peterson-Brown-Thigpen trio (which lasted until 1965) found the pianist easily the dominant soloist. Later versions of the group featured drummers Louis Hayes (1965-1966), Bobby Durham (1967-1970), Ray Price (1970), and bassists Sam Jones (1966-1970) and George Mraz (1970).

In 1960, Peterson established the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted for three years. He made his first recorded set of unaccompanied piano solos in 1968 (strange that Granz had not thought of it) during his highly rated series of MPS recordings. With the formation of the Pablo label by Granz in 1972, Peterson was often teamed with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Niels Pedersen. He appeared on dozens of all-star records, made five duet albums with top trumpeters (Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Clark Terry, and Jon Faddis), and teamed up with Count Basie on several two-piano dates. An underrated composer, Peterson wrote and recorded the impressive "Canadiana Suite" in 1964 and has occasionally performed originals in the years since. Although always thought of as a masterful acoustic pianist, Peterson has also recorded on electric piano (particularly some of his own works), organ on rare occasions, and even clavichord for an odd duet date with Joe Pass. One of his rare vocal sessions in 1965, With Respect to Nat, reveals that Peterson's singing voice was nearly identical to Nat King Cole's. A two-day reunion with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown in 1990 (which also included Bobby Durham) resulted in four CDs. Peterson was felled by a serious stroke in 1993 that knocked him out of action for two years. He gradually returned to the scene, however, although with a weakened left hand. Even when he wasn't 100 percent, Peterson was a classic improviser, one of the finest musicians that jazz has ever produced. The pianist appeared on an enormous number of records through the years. As a leader, he has recorded for Victor, Granz's Clef and Verve labels (1950-1964), MPS, Mercury, Limelight, Pablo, and Telarc.
 



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Re: ALL TIME GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2008, 01:43:47 PM »
ERROLL GARNER
1921 - 1977

Erroll Louis Garner was an American jazz pianist and composer whose distinctive and melodic style brought him both popular acclaim and the admiration of peers. It is a well-known fact that Garner was never able to read sheet music.[citation needed]

Life and career
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. in 1921, Erroll began playing piano at the age of 3. He attended George Westinghouse High School (as did Billy Strayhorn and Ahmad Jamal). Garner was self-taught and remained an "ear player" all his life -- he never learned to read music.

At the age of 7, Garner began appearing on radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids. By the age of 11, he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats. At age 14 in 1937 he joined local saxophonist Leroy Brown.

He played locally in the shadow of his older pianist brother Linton Garner and moved to New York in 1944. He briefly worked with the bassist Slam Stewart, and though not a bebop musician per se, in 1947 played with Charlie Parker on the famous Cool Blues session.

Short in stature, Garner was reputed to perform sitting on a Manhattan telephone directory. Films from the early to mid 60's do show him seated on something resembling this. He was also known for his occasional vocalizations while playing, which can be heard on many of his recordings. He is generally credited for having bridged the gap for jazz musicians between night clubs and the concert hall.

Garner's ear and technique owed as much to practice as to a natural gift. His distinctive style could swing like no other, but some of his best recordings are ballads, such as his best-known composition, "Misty"'. Although "Misty" rapidly became a standard with singers -- and was famously featured in Clint Eastwood's Play Misty for Me (1971) -- it was never a favorite with fellow instrumentalists.

Garner may have been inspired by the example of Earl Hines, a fellow Pittsburgh resident but 18 years his senior, and there were resemblances in their elastic approach to timing and the use of the right-hand octaves. Errol's style however, was unique and had neither obvious forerunners nor competent imitators although, at an amateur level, more players attempted to imitate him than any other pianist in jazz history. A key factor in his sound was the independence of his springy but rock-steady left hand from the seemingly wayward melodies of the right. He would often start his playing with a strange mixture of notes bearing no resemblance to any musical composition which gave his audience a sense of excitement not knowing which number he was about to perform. Whether in ultra slow ballads or rampant up-tempo improvisation, this never failed to convey a humorous and titilating attitude to both the material at hand and the audience.

Errol was a jazz musician through and through, his popular appeal arising directly from his playing. It was achieved without the aid of jocular vocals or ingratiating announcements, in the manner of Louis Armstrong or Fats Waller (the only comparable figures in terms of earning universal affection), and it seems equally unlikely that he tailored his music to the demands of success. He merely found the way to people's hearts and never lost it.

Garner had established himself an international reputation, and from that point until his death on January 2, 1977, he made many tours both at home and abroad, and produced a huge volume of recorded work.



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Re: ALL TIME GREAT Jazz Players (Piano and Organ,)
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2008, 01:50:47 PM »
BILL EVANS
1929-1980

William John Evans (better known as Bill Evans) was one of the most famous and influential American jazz pianists of the 20th century. His use of impressionist harmony, his inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, and his syncopated and polyrhythmic melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Denny Zeitlin[1] and Keith Jarrett, as well as as guitarists Lenny Breau and Pat Metheny. The music of Bill Evans continues to inspire younger pianists like Fred Hersch, Ray Reach, Esbjörn Svensson, Bill Charlap, David Thompson, Brad Mehldau,[2] Geoffrey Keezer, Lyle Mays and Eliane Elias[3]. Evans is an inductee of the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Early life
Bill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a mother of Rusyn ancestry and a father of Welsh descent. His father was an alcoholic. Young Bill Evans received his first musical training in his mother's church.

His mother was an amateur pianist with an interest in modern classical composers. This led to Evans's initial musical training in classical piano at age six. He also became proficient at the flute by age 13 and could play the violin. Evans was left-handed, which could explain the rich low end in his sound.

At 12, Bill filled in for his older brother Harry in Buddy Valentino's band.[4] He had already been playing dance music (and jazz) at home for some time ("How My Heart Sings", Peter Pettinger 1999). In the late 1940s, he played boogie woogie in various New York City clubs. He went on to receive a music scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University and in 1950 he performed Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto at his senior recital and graduated with a degree in piano performance and teaching. Also while at Southeastern Louisiana University in 1949, he was among the founding members of the Delta Omega Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He also played quarterback in the College's football team, helping them win the championship that year (Pettinger 1999). After some time in the U. S. Army, he returned to New York and worked at nightclubs with jazz clarinetist Tony Scott and other leading players. Later, he took post-graduate studies in composition at the Mannes College of Music where he also mentored younger music students.


1950s
Working in New York in the 1950s, Evans gained a profile as a sideman in traditional and so-called Third Stream jazz bands. During this period, he had the opportunity to record in many different contexts with some of the best names in jazz of the time. Seminal recordings made with composer/theoretician George Russell are notable for Evans's solo work, including "Concerto for Billy the Kid" and "All About Rosie." He also went on to appear on notable albums by Charles Mingus, Oliver Nelson, Tony Scott and Art Farmer. In 1956, he made his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions, featuring the original version of "Waltz for Debby," for Riverside Records. Producer Orrin Keepnews was convinced that he should record the reluctant Evans because of a demo tape played to him over the phone by guitarist Mundell Lowe.

In 1958, Evans was hired by Miles Davis, becoming the only white member of his famed sextet. Though his time with the band was brief — no more than eight months — it was one of the most fruitful collaborations in the history of jazz, as Evans's introspective scalar approach to improvisation deeply influenced Davis's conception. Davis loved the sound Evans got from the piano. At the time Evans was playing block chords and Davis wrote in his autobiography "Bill had this quiet fire that I loved on piano. The way he approached it, the sound he got was like crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall."

His desire to pursue his own projects as a leader and increasing problems with drug use led him to leave Davis in late 1958. Shortly after, he recorded Everybody Digs Bill Evans, documenting the previously unheard-of meditative sound he was exploring at the time. However, he then came back to the sextet at Davis's request to record the jazz classic Kind of Blue in early 1959. Evans's contribution to the album was overlooked for years; in addition to co-writing the song "Blue in Green"[5], he had also already developed the ostinato figure from the track "Flamenco Sketches" on the 1958 solo recording "Peace Piece" from his album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Evans also penned the heralded liner notes for Kind of Blue, comparing the improvisation of jazz to Zen art.[2] By the fall of 1959, he had started his own trio.


1960s
At the turn of the decade, Evans led a trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. This group has since become one of the most acclaimed piano trios of all time. With this group, Evans's focus settled on traditional jazz standards and original compositions, with an added emphasis on interplay among the band members that often bordered on collective improvisation and blurred the line between soloist and accompanist. The collaboration between Evans and the talented young bassist LaFaro was particularly fruitful, with the two achieving an unprecedented level of musical empathy. The trio recorded four albums: Portrait in Jazz (1959), Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and Waltz for Debby (all recorded in 1961). The latter two albums are live recordings drawn from the same recording date, and they are routinely named among the greatest jazz recordings of all time. In 2005, the full sets were collected on the three-CD set The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. There is also a lesser-known recording of this trio taken from radio broadcasts in early 1960 called Live at Birdland, though the sound quality is unfortunately poor.

In addition to introducing a new freedom of interplay within the piano trio, Evans began (in performances such as "My Foolish Heart" from the Vanguard sessions) to explore extremely slow ballad tempos and quiet volume levels which had previously been virtually unknown in jazz. His chordal voicings became more impressionistic, reminiscent of classical composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Scriabin, and Satie, as well as moving away from the thick block chords he often utilized when playing with Davis. His sparse left-hand voicings supported his lyrical right-hand lines, as much a product of the influence of jazz pianist Bud Powell as any classical composer.

Like his contemporary Miles Davis, Evans had begun to pioneer the style of modal jazz, favoring harmonies that helped avoid some of the idioms of bebop and other earlier jazz. In tunes like Time Remembered the chord changes more or less absorbed the derivative styles of bebop. Instead they relied on unexpected shifts in color. It was still possible, and desirable to make these changes swing, and a certain spontaneity appeared in expert solos that were played over the new sound. Most composers refer to the style of Time Remembered as "plateau modal," because the changes usually cover one to two bars.

LaFaro's untimely death at age twenty-five in a car accident, ten days after the Vanguard performances, devastated Evans. He did not record or perform in public again for several months. His first recording after LaFaro's death was the duet album Undercurrent with guitarist Jim Hall, released on United Artist Jazz records in 1963. Recorded in two sessions on April 24 and May 14, 1962, it is now widely regarded as one of the classic jazz piano-guitar duet recordings. The album is also notable for its striking cover image, "Weeki Wachee spring, Florida" by photographer Toni Frissell. The original LP version (left) and the first CD reissue featured a cropped, blue-tinted version, overlaid with the title and the Blue Note logo, but for the most recent (24-bit remastered) CD reissue the image has been restored to its original black-and-white coloration and size, without lettering.

When he reformed his trio in 1962, he replaced LaFaro with bassist Chuck Israels, initially keeping Motian on the drums. Two albums, Moonbeams and How My Heart Sings!, resulted. In 1963, after having switched from Riverside to the much more widely distributed Verve, he recorded Conversations With Myself, an innovative album on which he employed "over-dubbing," layering up to three individual tracks of piano for each song. The album won him his first Grammy award, for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance - Soloist or Small Group.

Though his time with Verve was prolific in terms of recording, his artistic output was uneven. Despite Israels's fast development and the creativity of new drummer Larry Bunker, they were ill-represented by the rather perfunctory album Trio '65 with the song Pavanne by Gabriel Faure but remarkably reinvented with improvisations by Evans. Some unique contexts were attempted, such as a big-band live album at Town Hall, which was recorded but never issued due to Evans's dissatisfaction (although the jazz trio portion of the Pavanne concert was made into its own somewhat successful release), and an album with a symphony orchestra, which was not warmly received by critics.

During this time, Helen Keane, Evans's manager, began having an important influence. Apart from being one of the first women in her field, she significantly helped maintain the progress, or prevented the deterioration, of Evans's career in spite of his self-damaging lifestyle.

In 1966, Evans discovered the remarkable young Puerto Rican bass player Eddie Gomez. In what turned out to be an eleven-year stay, the sensitive and creative Gomez sparked new developments in both Evans' playing and trio conception. One of the most significant releases during this period is Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival, from 1968. Although it was the only album Evans made with drummer Jack DeJohnette, it has remained a critical and fan favorite, due to the trio's remarkable energy and interplay.

Other highlights from this period include the "Solo--In Memory of His Father" from Bill Evans at Town Hall (1966), which introduced the famous theme "Turn Out the Stars," a second successful pairing with guitarist Jim Hall, Intermodulation (1966), and the subdued, crystalline solo album, Alone (1968), featuring a 14-minute+ version of "Never Let Me Go."


1970s
In 1968, Marty Morell joined the trio on drums and remained until 1975, when he retired to family life. This became Evans's most stable and long-lasting group. In addition, he had kicked his heroin habit and was entering a period of personal stability as well. The group made several excellent albums including From Left to Right (1970), which features Evans's first use of electric piano, The Bill Evans Album (1971), which won two Grammies, The Tokyo Concert (1973), Since We Met (1974) and But Beautiful (1974), featuring the trio plus legendary tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in live performances from Holland and Belgium, released posthumously in 1996. Morell was an energetic, straight-ahead drummer, unlike many of the other percussionists in the trio, and many critics feel that this was a period of little growth for Evans. After Morell left, Evans and Gomez recorded two duo albums, Intuition and Montreux III.

In 1974, Bill Evans recorded a multi-movement jazz concerto specifically written for him by Claus Ogerman entitled "Symbiosis", originally released on the MPS Records label. The 1970s also saw Evans collaborate with the singer Tony Bennett on 1975's The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album and 1977's Together Again.

Morell was replaced by Eliot Zigmund on drums in 1976. Several interesting collaborations followed, and it was not until 1977 that the trio was able to record an album together. Both I Will Say Goodbye (Evans's last for Fantasy Records) and You Must Believe in Spring (for Warner Bros., released posthumously) highlighted changes that would become significant in the last stage of Evans career. A greater emphasis was placed on group improvisation and interaction, Evans was reaching new expressive heights in his soloing, and new experiments with harmony and keys were attempted.

Gomez and Zigmund left Evans in 1978. Evans then asked Philly Joe Jones, the drummer whom Evans considered to be his "all time favorite drummer" and with whom he had recorded his second album in 1957, to fill in. Several bassists were tried, with the remarkable Michael Moore staying the longest. His six months with the trio were frustrating due to Jones's rushing of the tempo and overplaying. Evans finally settled on Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. This trio was to be Evans's last. Although they released only one record prior to Evans's death in 1980 (The Paris Concert, Edition One and Edition Two, 1979), they rivaled and arguably exceeded the first trio in their powerful group interactions. Evans stated that this was possibly his best trio, a claim that has been supported by the many recordings that have since surfaced, each documenting the remarkable musical journey of his final year. The Debussy-like impressionism of the first trio has given way to a dark and urgent yet undeniably compelling, deeply moving if not mesmerizing romantic expressionism.

Evans' own Russian ancestry is often reflected in the late Rachmaninoff pianism of his brooding constructions and the Shostakovich "Dance Macabre" modal explorations of "Nardis," the piece he reworked each time it served as the finale of his performances. But most notably the "anticipatory meter" that Evans deliberately perfected with his last trio reflects late Ravel, especially the controversial second half of the French composer's dark and turbulent La Valse. The recording documenting Evans' playing during the week preceding his death is a valedictory entitled "The Last Waltz." Many albums and compilations have been released in recent years, including three multi-disc boxed sets, Turn Out the Stars (Warner Bros.), The Last Waltz, and Consecration. The Warner Bros. set is a selection of material from Evans' final residency at New York's Village Vanguard club, nearly two decades after his classic performances there with the La Faro/Motian trio; the other two are drawn from his performances at San Francisco's Keystone Korner the week before his death. A particularly revealing comparison of early and late Evans (1966, 1980) is a 2007 DVD of two previously unreleased telecasts, The Oslo Concerts.


Death
Evans's chemical dependency problems most likely began during his stint with Miles Davis in the late 1950s. A heroin addict for much of his career, his health was generally poor and his financial situation worse for most of the 1960s. By the end of that decade he appeared to have succeeded in overcoming heroin but, during the 1970s, cocaine became a serious and eventually fatal issue for Evans. His body finally gave out in September 1980, when, ravaged by psychoactive drugs, a perforated liver, and a lifelong battle with hepatitis, he died in New York City of a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia.


Historical impact
Bill Evans's musicianship has been a model for many pianists in various genres. Although the circumstances of his life were often difficult, Evans' music always displayed his creative mastery of harmony, rhythm, and interpretive jazz conception. His work fused elements from jazz, classical, and ethnic music. Bill Evans developed in his duos and trios a unique conception of ensemble performance and a classical sense of form and conceptual scale in unprecedented ways. His 60s recordings titled "Conversations With Myself" and "Further Conversations With Myself" were innovative solo performances involving multiple layers of music recorded acoustically without computers in studio by Bill Evans himself.

The works of Bill Evans continue to influence pianists, guitarists, composers, and interpreters of jazz music around the world.

During his lifetime, Evans was honored with seven Grammy Awards and nominations. In 1994, he was posthumously honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


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