Monday, June 6, 2011

Kai Winding & J. J. Johnson

Sure there are jazz singers, but we all know that jazz is primarily an instrumental medium. Thing is, though, that if all instruments are equal, then clearly some are more equal than others.

Ok so you have your jazz piano (Art Tatum, Keith Jarrett), and guitar (Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery). It’s not too hard to think of superstar jazz drummers (Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Art Blakey). Getting into winds we have the clarinet (Benny Goodman) and flute (Moe Koffman).

But we all know that the real heart of jazz is brass. Let’s face it, a rock band becomes “jazz rock” when they add a horn section. It’s the sax players that own jazz (Charlie Parker, John Coltrane), sax players and trumpeters (Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis).

It’s the trombone, though, that seems to be the bastard child. Sure it’s part of the horn section, (unlike, say, a tuba, which doesn’t make an appearance all that often), but how many soloists do you know? Everyone knows Bix Beiderbecke, I agree. And then?

So here we have not one, but two, trombonists, both of whom had accomplished solo careers, and who decided, as a substantial side project for each of them, to record a number of LPs together. J. J. Johnson was an African American musician interested in bop, and Kai Winding was a white Danish born American who was more mainstream. It is said that an expert jazz fan can tell whose horn is whose; maybe, I sure can't.

I remember that this collection sat in the rack at Pyramid Records forever before it found its way to the top of my priority pile. It didn’t have much background information. But here it is in all its glory.

Kai Winding & J. J. Johnson:

Out Of This World
Thou Swell
Life City
Stolen Bass
It’s All Right With Me
Mad About The Boy
Yes Sir, That’s My Baby
That’s How I Feel About You
Gone Rock

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