Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux Presents Count Basie Jam '75 (DVD)... Cover Art

Norman Granz Jazz In Montreux Presents Count Basie Jam '75 (DVD)

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Review

Swing, blues, and improvisation--the central components of jazz--are in full effect on Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux Presents Count Basie Jam '75. No one, but no one, could swing with more ease than pianist-bandleader Basie, who, as part of a rhythm section that also includes the great drummer Louis Bellson and bassist Niels Pedersen, provides rock-solid backing for the front line of trumpeter Roy Eldridge, tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, and vibraphonist Milt Jackson. There are no frills here, and no surprises; we're watching six superb musicians jamming the blues, including two standards ("Billie's Bounce" and "Lester Leaps In") and two "Montreux Blues" improvised for the occasion. Griffin has a full, tough style reminiscent of Coleman Hawkins, while Eldridge is a bit more elliptical and Jackson (one of the instrument's two principal exponents in the 20th century, along with Lionel Hampton) is in typically fine form; all three solo at considerable length while the rhythm section swings tirelessly behind them. The visuals lack a certain crispness, but the remastered sound is excellent, and critic Nat Hentoff offers insight into the nature of jazz and the character and contributions of producer-promoter-label executive Norman Granz, a crusty fellow who was nonetheless an indefatigable champion of the music and the people who played it. Other than the musicians' wardrobes (it's a good thing their playing doesn't clash the way some of their shirts, jackets, and ties do, or the result would be sheer cacophony), there is simply nothing here for jazz fans not to like. --Sam Graham

Release Note

Norman Granz is one of the most important non-musicians in the history of jazz and no one has made a greater contribution to the staging, recording and filming of jazz concerts. This series of performances from the prestigious Montreux Jazz FestivalTM now makes a part of this legacy available on dvd for the first time. The "jam" is one of the great traditions of jazz and when you have a line up like this 1975 concert you can really see why. The great Count Basie is in charge of proceedings from the piano and is aided and abetted by the likes of Niels Pedersen on bass, Louis Bellson on drums, Milt Jackson on vibraphone and Roy Eldridge on trumpet and saxophone. It’s pure jazz magic.Billie’s Bounce Roy Eldridge, Count Basie, Johnny Griffin, Niels Pedersen, Louis Bellson & Milt Jackson Montreux blues I Johnny Griffin & Milt Jackson Lester leaps in Johnny Griffin, Milt Jackson Roy Eldridge, Niels Pedersen & Louis Bellson Montreux blues II Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson & Johnny Griffin



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