Less expected on this type of album is a vibraphone player, although the combination of electric guitar and the tuned percussion instrument played with mallets does have a '50s and '60s vibe to it, a good vibe at that. Warren Chiasson came into the King recording with a background in the groups of pianist George Shearing and trumpeter Chet Baker . Stylistically, the vibraphonist has much more in common with guitarists such as Tal Farlow or Charlie Christian : two of the finest guitarists in history, neither of which could be described as playing with King 's particular sense of brevity, dynamics, and punctuation. Nonetheless the combination works well, underscoring the influences running back and forth between swing and rhythm & blues. King wanted to present just that combination with this set of nine tracks, only one of which runs past the five-minute mark. Jazz is much more than just an influence in a rhythm section featuring veterans Major Holley on bass and Oliver Jackson on drums, the latter a member of many classic jazz combos. Trumpeter Woody Shaw is more of a modernist, to be sure. His features are proud moments for modern jazz, showing that progressive players can just as easily get down with the blues and in fact have a great deal they can add to the genre. Blues 'N' Jazz was tracked during what was King 's final birthday in his fifties -- in this case the age and not the era. His 59th birthday cake adorns the front cover, looking tasty and certainly representing a more tasteful celebration of the great man's birthday than the dirty joke in circulation about King 's wife having his initials tattooed on her buttocks.
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In 1949, King began recording songs under contract with Los Angeles-based RPM Records . Many of King's early recordings were produced by Sam Phillips , who later founded Sun Records . Before his RPM contract, King had debuted on Bullet Records by issuing the single "Miss Martha King" (1949), which did not chart well. "My very first recordings [in 1949] were for a company out of Nashville called Bullet, the Bullet Record Transcription company," King recalled. "I had horns that very first session. I had Phineas Newborn on piano; his father played drums, and his brother, Calvin , played guitar with me. I had Tuff Green on bass, Ben Branch on tenor sax, his brother, Thomas Branch, on trumpet, and a lady trombone player. The Newborn family were the house band at the famous Plantation Inn in West Memphis." 
Blues 'N' Jazz is a terrific documentation of King's big band during the '80s, sexed up just perfectly with choice guest stars. Tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb 's presence was duly noted by hipsters one and all in a decade when soulful saxophonists once taken for granted began to be feted, even lauded with documentary films. Shorted on appreciation as always, although some of the Grammy glory must have rubbed off, the journeymen of the King road band enterprise give off a huge part of this project's glow. Damning with faint praise, critics approaching the album from retrospect admit that it is a different stew entirely then later King hits sarcastically dubbed "blues lite." Sure it is, since King's touring ensemble always plays with a lot more heart than that. 
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