Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Second Tier?

More and more I'm convinced that the mid-'50s through the mid-'60s were the true Golden Age of Jazz. Not only were the acknowledged giants roaming the earth and laying down their masterpieces -- Miles, Trane, Mingus, Monk, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins -- but there were a whole host of "second-tier" musicians who released one stellar album after another. God only knows why these folks aren't better known, but they're not. I'd argue that there's at least a couple albums from each of these relative unknowns that can hold their own with the greatest jazz ever released.

And so this morning I've been sampling the wares of a few longtime favorites who frequently get pushed aside (at least by me) in favor of their better-known contemporaries. Specifically, I've been listening to:

Sonny Stitt -- Stitt Plays Bird
Booker Ervin -- Cookin'
Dexter Gordon -- Go
Eric Dolphy -- Out to Lunch
Hank Mobley -- Soul Station
Horace Silver -- Blowin' the Blues Away
Jackie McLean -- Right Now
Jimmy Smith -- The Sermon
Lee Morgan -- The Sidewinder
Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- Domino
Stan Getz and Joao Gilbert -- Getz/Gilberto
Sun Ra -- Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth

Every one's a masterpiece, I'm telling you. There's hundreds more where those came from.


Larry Edwards said...

Andy - I agree, these artists are great, it's just that they had to share the Earth with some giants like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, et al. I've learned that if two or more of these guys show up for the same recording date you can assume it is worth your while listening-wise.

Grant Wentzel said...

Enthusiastic agreement! There's a few on your list that I don't know, but based on my experience with "The Second Tier",I should check out.

I followed a jazz blog for awhile and listened to something every week or so just because the cover looked cool, or the players once shared a hotel with Miles in Paris, etc.

Never once was I let down.

Teddy Dellesky said...

Lee Morgan's Cornbread and Horace Silver's Song for My Father have long been favorites of mine from this era.
I agree with Grant, the album artwork alone (from Blue Note in particular) is enough to get one's attention. It seemed like such a creative time in jazz where everyone was composing great songs, playing on each others' albums, and churning out a huge volume of work.
I'll check out some of the names you've dropped that I have yet to listen to. Thanks, Andy.