Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jazz Flashes Videocast # 2 - Herbie Nichols

Born in New York in 1919, pianist and composer Herbie Nichols was one of those jazz musicians who were so ahead of their time that their art was never fully recognized for what it was worth during their lifetime. Though Nichols became a cult figure of sorts after his death from leukemia in 1963, throughout his life he didn't get to lead his own groups too often and was mostly limited to playing alongside musicians who were far less talented than he was. There were exceptions to this, of course—Nichols worked with some fine jazzmen such as Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Illinois Jacquet, and Lucky Thompson, but these collaborations went mostly unrecorded, and the 1940s and '50s saw him performing in traditional dixieland contexts instead of the forward-looking kind of bebop that he preferred. In my new Jazz Flashes Videocast I briefly discuss the life, career, and musical legacy of Herbie Nichols. You may watch the video here:

Describing Nichols as a misunderstood, underrated jazzman actually sounds like an understatement. Not very many musicians recorded his compositions during his life (pianist Mary Lou Williams was an exception to the rule) and his recorded output is rather meager. In the video I mention two releases that are absolutely essential: The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols is a three-CD set that contains all the sides Nichols cut for Blue Note in 1956, all of them in a trio setting, accompanied by Teddy Kotick or Al McKibbon on bass and Max Roach or Art Blakey on drums. In 1957 he led a session for Bethlehem Records, also fronting a trio, that was issued as Love, Gloom, Cash, Love. He was accompanied by George Duvivier on bass and Dannie Richmond on drums. The former, including 18 alternate takes, is the perfect introduction to Nichols's music, while the latter is also worth purchasing.

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