1960 Jazz: Argo Records


“In 1956 Chess Records, famous for its blues, rhythm and blues and early rock and roll albums, established a new label named Argo. Chess was looking to release pop music with this label via a different distribution channel than its parent company, thus avoiding the need to crossover from the black music market Chess was known for into the mainstream charts. With the advent of the long play record Argo started signing jazz artists and the genre soon became its prime focus. While less known than other contemporary jazz labels (Blue note, Prestige, Verve), some of the finest jazz albums of the period were released on Argo. In this review we will look some of these albums, recorded in 1960. One of the finest jazz ensembles in 1960 recorded three albums for Argo that year. The Jazztet was perhaps the best showcase for the material created by Benny Golson, one of my favorite composers and arrangers of jazz. … After a few performances in Chicago and Maryland, the Jazztet made its television debut on The Steve Allen Show on February 15, 1960. They signed with Argo records in March, by then joined by Lex Humphries who replaced Dave Bailey on drums. With this lineup they recorded their first album, ‘Meet the Jazztet’. … The first new original tune that Benny Golson brought to the Jazztet became a standard after its release on this album. Golson talked about what motivated him to write it: ‘I wanted to try writing a tune inspired by what I used to see at Birdland—the pimps coming in with their ladies on each arm, their Cadillac Eldorados parked by the doorman at the curb, their fingernails done with clear polish, their shiny suits with the black shirt and white tie and hat, and hair processed. Coming up as a kid, everybody who was involved in illegal things in Philadelphia—bootlegging, numbers running and so on was named ‘Killer’—like Killer Johnson.The name epitomized everything that was illegal. I saw these guys in Chicago, Los Angeles and in New York at Birdland every night. So I named the song Killer Joe.’ …”
The Music Aficionado (Video)
W – Argo Records

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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