Subconcious-Lee (1955) by Lee Konitz

Categories: 1949, 1950, and 1955.

Because it was released half a decade after it was recorded, this album’s revolutionary status gets overlooked or ignored. Instead it’s Birth of the Cool this and Miles Davis’ Nonet that. And that praise is deserved. Those sides went a long way to establishing cool jazz, but this band was doing remarkably similar things at the same time. The one major difference is speed – Konitz and the other soloists play fast on a number of tracks, and that makes it sound more like bop (though if you listen to the rhythm section they sound significantly “cooler”) and so you Read More

The Just by Albert Camus, live at the Michael Young Theatre, March 9, 2016

Categories: 1949 and 2016.

This is a new translation of Les Justes that appears to have been written in light of what’s currently going on in the Middle East. Though I thought I had read nearly everything Camus published in his lifetime, I don’t remember this play, so I guess I missed it. Like a lot of Camus’ work, it is about the viability of rebellion, the consequences of murder and the problem of living for ideas instead of people. It’s one of those plays that features characters as the mouthpieces for various belief systems, which can be tiring at times, but Camus was Read More

The Definitive Collection (2008) by Billie Holiday

Categories: 1935, 1937, 1939, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1954, 1956, 1958, 2008, and Music.

Full disclosure: I do not like vocal jazz (as you know). This is a compilation of 22 tracks over the course of Holiday’s career. I have no idea how definitive it actually is, as I do not know her at all (beyond her reputation as one of the great singers of the century, and “Strange Fruit”). I also have no plans on listening to her entire oeuvre (and, given when she recorded, curation is necessary anyway, because much of her music was recorded pre-album). Read More

Adam’s Rib (1949, George Cukor)

Categories: 1949 and Movies.

This is one of those “classic” Hollywood comedies that all the old movie critics thought were so much funnier than movies today because they were classy / witty / what have you. And like so many films of its era, it’s based on a ridiculous contrivance and hijinks and bon mots ensue. I like both of these actors in other films and I understand why people like them here (I get it, they were married they have chemistry!) but this film is just typical classic Hollywood silly: the aforementioned contrivance, the rich white people and their first world problems, the Read More

Bird and Diz (1949, 1950, 1952) by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie

Categories: 1952 and Music.

Somebody else said it best: this is like a better produced version of their earlier sides. (That being said, sometimes it’s hard to hear Monk.) These are the people most responsible for post-war mainstream jazz, but this compilation actually compiles some later sessions (’49 and ’50) and though it’s great to hear them together, it’s not as world-changing as their earlier music. Also, it’s short on whole songs. They have added a ton of demos to flesh it out. Still great stuff. 8/10 Read More

The Complete RCA Victor Recordings 1937-1949 (1995) by Dizzy Gillespie

Categories: 1995 and Music.

Gillespie is probably the greatest trumpet player ever, but this is the first time I’ve really gotten into his discography, a major oversight on my part. These sides cover both Gillespie’s band and some session work he did over slightly more than a decade, when he was literally changing the nature of jazz. They don’t include the most revolutionary stuff he made in the early ’40s – that must have been for another label – but they do show off how he helped transition jazz from big band / swing to bop. Gillespie’s solos are like nothing else anyone had Read More

Young Miles (1945-50, 2001) by Miles Davis et al. (1945-50, 2001)

Categories: 2001 and Music.

For die-hard fans of Miles, or for people really interested in how cool came out of bop, this is probably pretty near essential. For other people, I’m guessing it is totally inessential. What we have here are many – though hardly all – of the recordings Miles participated in from 1945 through 1950 – excluding those collected on albums like Birth of the Cool and Conception – with Bird, Diz, Illinois Jacquet, Coleman Hawkins, Tadd Dameron and Sarah Vaughan – among others – and of course with Miles as leader. Nothing here – beyond the Birth of the Cool alternates Read More