All content copyright © Roll Publishing, Inc

Visit us on the web at

Roll Back
< back

Buck Clayton All Stars—Brussels 1961/London 1965 (Impro-Jazz DVD)

Count Basie & His Orchestra—Live in Berlin & Stockholm 1968 (Impro-Jazz DVD)

Sonny Stitt-J.J. Johnson Sextet—Berlin & London 1964 (Impro-Jazz DVD)

Philly Joe Jones Dameronia—Look, Stop and Listen (Uptown Records)

Kenny Dorham—The Flamboyan, Queens, NY 1963 (Uptown Records)

Much like the revered Jazz Icons DVD series we’ve covered in the past, the Impro-Jazz label has been mining the vaults for vintage footage of visiting American artists shot for European TV. Trumpeter Buck Clayton is best known as a soloist with Count Basie and as a sideman with Billie Holiday. But he was also of vital importance as an arranger and the organizer of many key small-band jam sessions, notably for Columbia Records during the 1950s. The first portion of Brussels 1961/London 1965 finds Clayton leading a company of fellow swing-era vets, Basie alumni, and blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. For the London taping, the horn man is backed by Humphrey Littelton’s orchestra with trombonist Vic Dickenson. The appearance of immortal shouter Big Joe Turner ups the essential-viewing factor.

But as nicely as Clayton’s own bands could swing, few outfits swung harder than that of his former boss Count Basie. Although Live in Berlin & Stockholm 1968 stars a big band of mainly next-generation Basie players, still on board are long-time guitarist Freddie Green and Lester Young’s immediate replacement on tenor, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis. The concerts are dominated by electrifying Neal Hefti, Quincy Jones, and Sam Nestico charts, and the Count’s take on the upstart bebop landmark “Night in Tunisia” is a blast.

And if you’re a bebopper you could do worse than the Sonny Stitt-J.J. Johnson Sextet’s Berlin & London 1964. This vital offering features saxophonist and Charlie Parker disciple Stitt and revolutionary trombonist Johnson fronting an absolutely lethal band rounded out by Johnson’s fellow ex-Parker sidemen pianist Walter Bishop, Jr., bassist Tommy Potter, drummer Kenny Clarke, and trumpeter Howard McGhee. Subtitled “We Remember Bird,” Berlin & London 1964 presents the cream of bop’s founders taking flight on two sets of Parker-identified standards.

Drummer Philly Joe Jones also worked with Bird but rose to higher prominence in Miles Davis’s mid-’50s quintet. True to its name, Jones’s Dameronia nonet concentrated on the music of pianist/composer/arranger Tad Dameron. Look, Stop and Listen was recorded in 1983 by famed engineer Rudy Van Gelder, who, long unhappy with the original production, remixed this Uptown CD reissue. The results: sparkling athletic boppers like the title tune (two takes) and sublime ballads showing off pianist Walter Davis, Jr. (“Dial B for Beauty”) and guesting tenor titan Johnny Griffin (“If You Could See Me Now”).

Another tenor sax giant, Joe Henderson, is in the house for The Flamboyan, Queens, NY 1963, a radio broadcast led by ace trumpeter Kenny Dorham (yet another Parker cohort). Framed by the bemusing period commentary of announcer Alan Grant, this late-night time capsule finds the Manhattan-barred Dorham (he’d lost his cabaret card due to drug arrests) and Henderson leading a pickup rhythm section through sumptuous, down-tempo readings of “Summertime” and “Autumn Leaves.” Curiously, the version of Dorham’s own future standard “Una Mas” is called “My Indian from Brazil.” Like the Jones disc, this CD sports a thick, illustrated booklet. —Peter Aaron

Buck Clayton, Count Basie, Sonny Stitt-J.J.Johnson:
Philly Joe Jones Dameronia, Kenny Dorham:

Roll magazine -