Jazz albums where the guitarist fills the usual role of the pianist
January 21, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for jazz albums with a lineup similar to the one on Sonny Rollins's classic album The Bridge, which has tenor sax + guitar + bass + drums and that's it. (YouTube example.) I love how Jim Hall's guitar takes on the usual role of the piano since it's the only instrument in the ensemble that can play whole chords.

My 3 must-have criteria:

(1) The lineup must include guitar, bass, and drums.

(2) There must be at least one other instrument that typically plays just one note at a time (for instance, any brass/wind instrument -- sax, trumpet, clarinet, etc.).

(3) Guitar must be the only instrument that typically plays multiple notes at a time. No piano, keyboard, vibes, etc.

Other points:

- The guitar playing should be prominent and interesting at least some of the time. (Again, Jim Hall's brilliant playing in The Bridge is a good example.) So if there's a rhythm guitar strumming away in the background but never really taking the spotlight, that wouldn't count.

- Any time period, any sub-genre of jazz. No need to apologize if it's super-famous or super-obscure.

- In case this is useful: my tastes tend to favor jazz that's jagged, dissonant, unsentimental, outside-the-box, but not to the point of free jazz -- good examples are Mingus, Monk, Brad Mehldau, and the above YouTube clip. But please suggest any music you like that fits the 3 criteria.

(Bonus points if you can recommend albums that are on emusic, since that's where I buy most of my music. But of course, it's no problem if they're not.)
posted by Jaltcoh to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Man, John S is the best song ever.

I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Oscar Peterson's trio was piano, guitar, drums. Ornette Coleman's double quartet had two bass players, two drums, no piano, and no guitar. I an think of other groups without bass, like Dave Douglas' Tiny Bell Trio and Motian/Frisell/Lovano but not groups that also have bass.
posted by billtron at 1:45 PM on January 21, 2009

Jazz Samba with Getz/Byrd
posted by rocket88 at 1:58 PM on January 21, 2009

Can't help you with a recommendation directly, but is your question at all inspired by the awesome interview Bill Frisell does with Jim Hall in the latest issue of Fretboard Journal?
If not, you might be interested in reading that interview, as I seem to remember Jim talking about that exact thing.
It's a great interview.
posted by dan g. at 3:08 PM on January 21, 2009

Response by poster: Can't help you with a recommendation directly, but is your question at all inspired by the awesome interview Bill Frisell does with Jim Hall in the latest issue of Fretboard Journal?
If not, you might be interested in reading that interview, as I seem to remember Jim talking about that exact thing.

Wow, no, I hadn't seen that. Thanks for the tip, though I don't know how likely it is that I'll get to read the interview since it's not online.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:31 PM on January 21, 2009

You should check out the Jimmy Giuffre trio from the lat 50's, also with Jim Hall. Giuffre on sax & clarinet, Hall on guitar, and either Bob Brookmeyer on valve trombone or Jim Atlas or Ralph Pena on bass. No drums, but absolutely classic stuff that's relatively forgotten. Here are two different versions of The Train And The River, one by each configuration.



Key albums are Hollywood and Newport, The Jimmy Giuffre 3, and Western Suite.
posted by wps98 at 4:14 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely agree with wps98 on the Jimmy Giuffre stuff.

Regarding the Jim Hall and Bill Frisell Interview:

Its in relation to a double CD they just did together. The album is called Hemispheres (sample track here as well).
One CD is all Jim and Bill duo and the other is full quartet, Jim Hall and Bill Frisell on guitar, Joey Baron on drums and Scott Colley on bass. The duo CD is a little more abstract and the quartet CD is more swingin' so there's something for everyone.

While they both play guitar, Jim takes on more of the straight role playing single note lines, while Bill does more chords, and pads behind, often with electronics.

The really neat thing is, when you buy the cd online you get to see all these videos from the recording sessions, hear interview with Jim and Bill (no magazine article needed!).

Its on the label, ArtistShare (Full Disclosure: I am the project manager, but this album rules and is relevant!)
posted by alhadro at 6:07 PM on January 21, 2009

Great question.

The Paul Desmond Quartet with Jim Hall (there he is again) is one such line-up: Paul Desmond (as) Jim Hall (g) Percy Heath (b) Connie Kay (d)

I think there's some Lucky Thompson sessions with guitar and no piano, but I'm having trouble digging up references.

There are a fair number of Ornette Coleman-led groups with guitar(s) and no piano, but I wouldn't say that the guitar "takes on the usual role of the piano" -- it's something different. For example, the "Song X" album, with Pat Metheny (guitar), Ornette Coleman (alto sax), Charlie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Denardo Coleman (drums). And Ornette's Prime Time lineups were often double quartets of two guitars, two basses, two drums, and his sax.

There have to be a lot more, though!
posted by alb at 6:58 AM on January 22, 2009

Aside from what's already been mentioned..
Paul Desmond has some great albums (without Jim Hall) that satisfy your requirements like 'Take Ten' and 'Pure Desmond'.
The Paul Motian albums 'Motain on Broadway vol. 1/2' and 'Bill Evans' are great (Joe Lovano (TS); Bill Frisell (G); Charlie Haden (B); Paul Motian (D)). You might find pretty much that same band releasing albums under Joe Lovano too.
Check out Kurt Rosenwinkel - 'Next step' and 'Everything will be alright'
John Scofield has plenty out that fits, like 'Plays live', 'What we do', 'Shortcuts', etc
You might like Jim Black, check out 'Alasnoaxis' or 'Splay'
Don Byron - 'Romance With The Unseen'
And Dave Holland 'Extensions' is a must have, imho.
posted by sero_venientibus_ossa at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2009

Another one: Joe Henderson, "So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles)": Henderson (ts), with former Miles Davis sidemen John Scofield (g), Dave Holland (b), and Al Foster (d)
posted by alb at 5:55 AM on January 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions -- I'll definitely be checking these out.

I'm not going to mark best answers since I haven't listened to the music yet (and I don't want to discourage more answers).
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:32 AM on January 23, 2009

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