Two more days until it’s “See ya, Office Bullshit, I’m outta here!” and the fam-damily and I pack up and split out west to beautiful Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. That means 16 hours (well, 12 now) worth of corporate drama, last minute requests, panicky conference calls and what have you. So I’m rounding out the edges so to speak by exercising my Jazz Boner with the ‘Black California, Vol.2 – Anthology‘ album.
I’ll admit, I knew nothing about this album when I purchased it from The Bop Shop in Rochester, New York, so I’m taking a complete flyer on this one. What I did know about it is that it had airplanes on the cover so, yeah, I had to have it.
I’m not sure how or why I started collecting airplane-related album covers, I just did. I mean, I don’t have a particular affinity for airplanes or aeronautical related stuff in my personal life but, for whatever reason, when it comes to records – I love ’em. And this one (cover) is particularly awesome.
All I can really find out about the album is what I can learn from it on the back cover. All the sessions seem to be recorded somewhere in Los Angeles and – I’m making a huge assumption here of course – the musicians are black (hence “Black California”).
The sessions themselves appear to recorded between 1946 and 1956, yet the album itself was released in 1995 on Arista Records. It’s a double album which provides and excellent collection of the collision of R&B & Bebop which was prevalent during that era (think: Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, et al.). Among the artists represented here are the Kenny Clarke All-Stars, Helen Humes, Slim Gaillard, Wardell Gray, Russell Jacquet and Wild Bill Moore.
And, yes, I Googled them – they’re all black.
Again, ‘Go me!‘
Each of the artists here all hailed from all parts all around the United States (Texas, Louisiana, New York) but, eventually, for one reason or another, ended up in California. Most have had other affiliations with the likes of bigger stars of the time like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman to name a few. So despite the fact you (well, me anyway) may never have heard of them, this is no light pedigree of talent. Far from actually. When set to low volume in the background (but still audible, of course) it is providing a nice, relaxed atmosphere today in my basement office which is good, as anything less today and I might totally lose my shit altogether and end up virtually putting someone’s face through a wall.