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Dr. Bob w/Kelly Flint of Dave's True Story, photo by Albert BrooksROBERT (DR. BOB ) MORRISSEY
Lifetime Jazz Aficionado 


IF I WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLE without “top five” limits on favorite jazz recordings, my collection would include many great albums ranging from classic oldies to today’s most exciting discs to future promises. But, as I am restricted to my “top five” isle picks, then  (like a condemned person carefully choosing a last meal) my quest of jazz soul food for thought and sustenance necessitated a soul-searching review of what I love best in the wonderful wide realms of hot and cool jazz.  And, with an enforced limit of only my top picks, I mused that probably all of the final selections would  be from The Golden Age(s) of Jazz.  For example (in no special rank order): Satchmo Louie/ Louis Armstrong, Duke Edward Kennedy Ellington, Count William Basie, King of  Swing   Benny/Benjamin Goodman, and Lady Day –  Eleanora Fagan Gough –  aka: Billie Holiday. 

As well, I should have mentioned etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, and I do mean etcetera — because, therein, is the “top five” pick dilemma:  It is almost impossible to delimit jazz stars!  Who, but a non-jazz fan, could ever argue that Jazz does not have a Galaxy of Stars ranging from The Conventional Great to The Preeminent Great to the The Ultimate Great 
Supernova Stars?  With such stellar musicians and their heavenly music, it is no wonder that most jazz fans/players know personally the inner joy and serenity from Our Universe(s) of Astral Jazz. 

MY starlit selection of “Final Five Jazzmen” are all down-to-earth.  But, they still come out of ethereal jazz traditions —  representing the absolute best of their genre.  In essence, every choice is a part of the greater jazz whole.  Each worthy pick is a prime ingredient of the magical brew of epicurean jazz delights.  As such, they collectively become my prized recipe for jazz happiness if stranded on a desert isle.  Hence, my strict jazz diet would be noteworthy lite with key groups for tonal and overall harmonious, long, island subsistence.  My creme de la creme jazz selections do include time tested jazzy yum-yums by old Master Chef Jazzmen from the past.  But, in addition, there are also present and future new Master Jazz Chefs cookin’ yummy notes - and, OH, so toothsome (or “succulent” as nondesert islanders properly say).  Precisely, from an austere Spartan isle view, the prophetic words of American writer, John Updike, offer prosaic introduction for my painfully short, but proudly presented listing of “top five” favorite jazz recordings: “......that wind, and the waves, and all that jazz”- 

ON THE DOWNBEAT -  MY “TOP FIVE” FAVORITE JAZZ RECORDINGS - This  Quintet of Albums morphed Sextet when Stardust sprinkled on my insatiable needs for Great Jazz!

1. Erroll Garner - Concert By The Sea [Live, 9/19/1955, Carmel, CA - Columbia] 
Of all the truly great Garner records, this is my favorite and, possibly, his best – but certainly the music most appropriate to play  first and often if stranded on a desert isle.  In fact, one song by this “Happy Entertainer”     (who never learned to read music as he  played his “happy jazz piano” as well or better than almost all others before or after him) would serve as a plaintive cry if castaway on the proverbial desert island: “How Could You Do A Thing Like That To Me.”  Then, after railing at the ubiquitous Jazz Gods Ragtime & Blues, nostalgic solace and even OBE could be had with all that jazz:  For example, Garner’s jazz masterpieces of “Autumn Leaves” or “April In Paris” or “Where Or When” and, even stranded island resignation from the song, “It’s All Right With Me.” Regardless, if jazz therapy failed, consolation could be taken from wisely keeping this digitally remastered recording which became the all-time best selling jazz piano album ever. This CD’s sound quality surpasses the original 1955 vinyl record which I still have, in good condition, after 50 years of happy listening; a later tape version is also good.

2. Coleman Hawkins - Verve Jazz Masters 34 [1944-1957, NYC, Chicago, LA - Verve]

Since I can’t take all of this universally acknowledged SAX MASTER’s  great jazz if stranded on a desert isle, this superb introduction to some of Coleman’s all- time classics would help with hit “Body and Soul”. Plus, I  would have “Time On My Hands” and “Rifftide”, ( double pun), and sound  tips on isle survival like “Just One Of  Those Things”and “Ill Wind (You’re  Blowin’ Me No Good)”.  It has been said that Hawkins was the‘Mother’ of   all tenor sax players.  In fact, since the 1920s, there have been myriad tenor sax players around the world who have tried to imitate the jazz sax blowin’ of  Hawkins.  But, few modern tenor saxophonists have been able to match the creative genius of “Hawk” or “Bean” or “Grand Old Man of Sax” as he was known.  His sax jazz had a full-bodied sound with enormous tones and improvisation.  After his death in 1969, his sax influence lived on; e.g., the jazz phrases of Branford Marsalis and numerous others from yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Hawk played classical piano (at home) and loved opera.  From such idioms, his sax style remains with varied instrumentalists for ageless jazz fusion!

3. Charlie Watts - Warm & Tender [1993, London - Continuum] {Serafina, CW’s daughter is “cover girl”}

Charlie Watts, as the renowned drummer for The Rolling 
Stones, may well be an even better player of another musical passion in his life - JAZZ! Thus, his jazz quintet (formed in 1991) is one of the very best!  For this incredible recording, Watts (as jazz drummer and recording catalyst) spared no expense, time, and energy for this extraordinary, diamondiferous CD with stellar jazz performances so good that they affirm my deep love of jazz over and over again!  Understandably, jazz buffs have given raves for this close to perfect recording.  Examples  range from simple to romantic metaphors of “A Gem” to “The Sound of Love” or descriptions like “Mellow’s Epitome” and “Jazz At Its Best!” The Charlie Watts Quintet warm and tender jazz musicians were – Peter King: alto saxophone, Gerald Presencer: trumpet & flugel horn, Brian Lemon: piano, David Green: acoustic bass, Charlie Watts: drums, and featuring - Bernard Fowler: vocals, with The Metropolitan Orchestra.  These especially noteworthy musicians play 16 unforgettable songs – many particularly helpful if stranded on a desert isle.  For instance: “My Ship”or “Bewitched” or “Someone To Watch Over Me” or “I’ll Be Around” or “Time After Time” and others like, “Ill Wind”, again (cited above with Hawk’s sax blowin’ of “Ill Wind”). For sure, its one “Isle”Take!

4. Dave's True Story - Dave's True Story [1994, NYC - BEPOP]

I became an instant fan of Dave’s True Story thanks to BET Jazz.  In the brief time of a TV program featuring DTS, I just flipped at David Cantor’s original music –  and the sensational (seductive and/or comedic) vocals of jazzy chanteuse Kelly Flint.  DTS music is eclectic.  Reviewers use hybrid terms and mixed descriptors for DTS.  For example: “smoldering grooves; clever; cheeky beatnik lyrics; hip; jazz noir; refined music; fused jazz vibe of the 40s’ and 50s’;  lyrical modernity; urbane; anxiety ridden; witty; cool; jazzy dark take on the world; and defies  categorization.” DTS describes itself as “..a jazzy folk combo featuring... intelligent, quirky lyrics...smooth-as-silk vocals...and...upright bass laying a solid rhythm track beneath it all.”  My  take is that DTS is old/new folk jazz for new and old generations.  For me, then, this CD was “just what the doctor ordered” for my stranded desert island existence.  DTS’s therapeutic songs supplement my jazz wholistic diet with Dave Cantor’s guitar/music, Kelly Flint’s vocals, and Jeff Eyrich’s bass. –  Like: “Flexible Man”, “Crazy Eyes”,  “Last Go ‘Round”, “Sommes Bleues”, “Like A Rock”, “Mad About You”, and even bonus tracks of “Fever”, and “Blue Moon”.  Plus, for the 2002 CD reissue, a remix of what I would probably look like soon on the desert isle: “CRAZY EYES”! — Of course, I thought about  selecting DTS’s 1998 CD called: Sex Without Bodies – but I decided that would be misconstrued as a “top five” choice when stranded on a proverbial desert isle.  Consequently, of the six major CDs by DTS to date, I selected their “dts” as best representative.  It is a collection of 15  quirky songs featuring, aforesaid, “Crazy Eyes”: “You’ve got a blue eye/ That’s deeper than any blue/ As for the green one/ I think that it’s charming too...”– Dave Cantor;  and, “Sequined Mermaid Dress” from the hit film, Kissing Jessica Stein.

5. Duke Ellington - At Newport [Live, 7/7-8/1956, Newport, RI - Columbia] COMPLETE PERFORMANCE

My “number five” could easily have been “number one” since it fit all of the criteria which I required: It was a highly acclaimed LIVE virtuoso performance by an Ultimate Great Supernova Jazz Star; and the premier jazz music has become universally known as a classic – THE One of a Kind!  Then, why did I list Ellington At Newport “last” rather than “first” among (figuratively and relatively speaking) jazz equals?  There were three basic reasons.  Firstly, of the “top five”, it seemed appropriate to begin with Superduper Erroll Garner and end with another truly equal Supergiant, Duke Ellington – with three other galactic Jazz Supers in between , namely, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Watts Quintet, and Dave’s True Story as penultimate representatives of JAZZ.  Secondly, my “top five” begin, end, and reprise from two mighty oceans - Garner at the Pacific and Ellington at the Atlantic.  This seemed to be a fitting, symbolic tribute and proper recognition of the broad expanse and infinite variety of Jazz In America.  (Also, all of that water reminded me of what life really would be like stranded on that desert island).  Thirdly, if the very last things that I ever heard in my lifetime were the rich recorded sounds of Duke Ellington’s Orchestra at the American Jazz Festival in Newport, RI, on July 7 and 8, 1956......I would “jazz-on” as an extremely happy-go-lucky fellow!  For in the herald annals of jazz, Ellington at Newport is considered one of the most  extraordinary moments in the long history of the Newport Jazz Festival ( started in July, 1954 - later renamed in 1986,  JVC Jazz Festival – but longtime jazz fans still remember it as “Newport Jazz”).  It is my good fortune to still have the original vinyl recording, in mint condition, of this historic jazz event.  During the interim, I wore out a later tape recording.  I then acquired the latest original remastered recording.  It is highly recommended! This is a two-CD truly complete recording of the live 1956 gig of Ellington at Newport. The “new”recording was made from a discovered tape by Voice of America..  This extant VOA recording included all of the Ellington Newport set in full jazz glory plus “Newport Jazz Festival Suite: Festival Junction, Blues To Be There, and Newport Up”; “Jeep’s Blues” (the Johnny Hodges showpiece); and the famous piece de resistence: “Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue”. This last number featured the great Paul Gonsalves, on tenor sax, who played “one of the longest and most unusual tenor sax solos ever captured on record” according to the original 1956 LP liner notes by George Avakian This live rendition of “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue” blew the crowd into jazz frenzy.  Five decades later, with the digitally remastered CDs, it was even clearer why “D & C” relaunched Ellingtonia. In retrospect, Ellington at Newport was a jazz rocket propelled agelessly to now....and the future! 

6. Brian Patneaude Quartet - Distance [2005, Delmar, NY - WEPA] 

Recently, I wrote a review of this great jazz for CD Baby: 
 “After a lifetime as a jazz aficionado, I am pleased to rediscover outstanding new jazz music and musicians of stellar quality comparable and, arguably, sometimes even better than many of the old timers.  Brian Patneaude, as a remarkable world-class saxophone player and composer, and his Quartet are supra prime examples of the very best jazz for our present era and the future. For if you have not CD experienced the Brian Patneaude Quartet -Distance, then your jazz musical education, like mine was, needs a refresher course on great hot jazz which is hugely real cool!  Such apt description may be trite or corny in today’s jargon, but it is true.  If you like uniquely original jazz music and improvisation as well as a range of compositions played so expertly that you inwardly feel the musical moods (e.g. title song Distance or Alone), this should be your next new  jazz CD. And, while you are at it, I also recommend strongly that you buy the earlier CD of the Brian Patneaude Quartet - Variations. For me, it  was my introductory refresher course (Hot/Cool New Jazz Music 101) – and led on to my continuing jazz reeducation – and wow, what a wonderful musical jazz trip it has been -- with both tremendous Variations and Distance!!!"  This CD ranks with my top new jazz picks anywhere/anytime.  However, if stranded on a desert isle, the range of songs would also be apropos – “Alone” to “Red” to Distance to “Unending” to “Change” to “Release” to “Inspiration.”  In sum, the CD is exceptional and refreshing jazz which captures our special spaces and places in time.  It has quickly become my jazz fix or transfusion  for body, mind, and spirit.  The highly accomplished jazz musicians for the Brian Patneaude Quartet’s CD Distance were: Brian Patneaude - tenor sax and all 7 superlative compositions, George Muscatello - guitar, Ryan Lukas - acoustic bass, Danny Whelchel - drums; and featuring Dave Payette - fender rhodes (2,3,6)

6. Glenn Kostur - Trifling [2005, Albuquerque, NM - Glenn Kostur] 

This CD is OVER THE TOP in outstanding jazz – and 
segues brilliantly into MY “TOP FIVE” FAVORITE JAZZ RECORDINGS with starlit musicianship, and a jazzy mix of cool stardust plus        hot starburst songs.  From the start of this recording – “Ramblin” – to the  finish – “I Want To Be Happy” –  my inner jazzman is released by –  “Trifling” – music ironically fit for the quixotic life of a desert isle or 21st Century modernity.  But alas!  Since my musical fate is the island, I would still indulge myself aptly with a mix of old standard songs like “On the Trail” or “Fifth House” or my album favorite of ‘‘Over the Rainbow”  — where Glenn Kostur’s GREAT SAX is the pot of gold!  But, isle treasure  “Beatrice” would cause homesick heart flutters; then a quick “Check Up” followed by“Chega de Sudade (No More Blues)”.  And in my most symbiotic moments of desert isle reverie, I would build imaginary sand castles of jazz once found but desert isle lost – while loving three exquisite songs expertly written/played by Kostur: title song, “trifling”, “...But They’re Not” and “Poem”. In the 11 tracks of this tremendously exciting and tranquil jazz recording the professional musicianship is, indeed, star-spangled with rich performances by David Parlato, bass;  John Bartlit, drums, percussion; and Glenn Kostur, saxophones. The plural of saxophone was intended as Kostur is one of the very best sax players of all four modern saxophones: soprano, alto, tenor,  and baritone.  He is Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a remarkable jazz background.  A few of his most noteworthy credits include featured soloist, composer/arranger and musical director for Maynard Ferguson with whom he appeared on three recordings: Big Bop Nouveau;  Footpath Café (Kostur also wrote the lead song: “Get It To Go”); and Live From London (he was soloist on baritone sax for the last track: “Glenn’s Den”).  His special mentor was Frank Mantooth; and Glenn was in the  Jazz Orchestra.  His gig credits range from Dizzy Gillespie to Slide Hampton to Woody Herman. 

SO –  5 Stars Plus 2 Stars Equals My “Top Five” Favorite Jazz Recordings ( On Or Off A Desert Isle)!  Now, What’s Yours?  In YOUR Telling, YOU Define Jazz!!  Really?? Then....  What’s Jazz?  Louis Armstrong Sagely Replied:“Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”