La Nouvelle Stuff

Late last night I went to my record shelves and pulled out the third of the Blue Note Decade of Jazz double albums – the one covering 1959 to 1969 – that I got as a review copy way back in the days of the comet Kohoutek. I discovered Blue Note in the mid-1960s, so the record – which includes classic compositions like Horace Silver’s Song For My Father and Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder – is a special favorite of mine,.

Something must be in the air, for not 12 hours later, thanks to madamjujujive at Everlasting Blort, I learned about The 1959 Project, which started on January 1st. It’s a daily look at the way jazz was, 60 years ago, one that’s (in the words of its creator Natalie Weiner) “trying to illuminate the communities and scenes around jazz history’s iconic figures and recordings.” Including, of course, Blue Note artists of the time.

My favorite thing I’ve found so far at the site is a quote from pianist Bobby Timmons, describing the time he was appearing with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia and Thelonius Monk came to the club to tell him, in a way he knew “wasn’t a compliment,” that he played “too perfect.”

Timmons took this to heart. “The next night I came in and played like a man taking leave of his senses,” he says, “trying to get away from the well-worn patterns I’d fashioned for myself…” As Monk had explained further, “You’ve got to make mistakes to discover the new stuff.”

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