Norman Granz Presents: Improvisation
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 21, 2007
Norman Granz Presents: Improvisation(Laser Swing Productions/Eagle Eye Media)
Jazz impresario Norman Granz and Life magazine photographer Gjon Mili collaborated on an extraordinarily artful, Oscar-nominated short film in 1944 called "Jammin' the Blues." Six years later, the pair was at it again, bringing together for the first time in performance saxophone titans Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker. This marvelous studio date also includes wonderful segments with saxophone president Lester Young, trumpeter "Sweets" Edison, and vocal queen Ella Fitzgerald. It took almost 50 years for the project to be released, and now it's been reissued with added Granz-produced sections, featuring a Duke Ellington Trio performance from 1966, Montreux Jazz Festival all-star jams with Count Basie, Oscar Peterson's small groups from 1977, and a 1979 studio set from Joe Pass and Ms. Fitzgerald. All of it is superb. A second disc features "Jammin' the Blues" plus film rushes and stills from the 1950 session. This is nirvana for jazz lovers.