Here at Paste Music, we spend each day sorting through new albums to review, interviewing musicians, making compelling lists, and telling our readers about the songs they need to hear on any given day. But our first love has always been live music—the magic that happens when great artists create something spontaneous out of thin air and move people with it. That’s why, together with our sister sites Concert Vault, Wolfgangs and Daytrotter, we’ve spent so much time and effort acquiring and digitizing the world’s largest archive of live recordings—hundreds of thousands of concerts going back more than 50 years, including the archives of legendary promoter Bill Graham, the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk festivals, the old King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show, and our ongoing daily recording projects at Paste Studio in New York and Daytrotter Studios in Davenport, Iowa.
The entire vault, with exclusive audio and video recordings stretching from 1959 all the way to 2017, is available for free streaming here at Paste.com, and our mission is to make sure our music-loving readers explore every corner of it. We do it every day with peeks at exclusive live recordings by, say, The Who in in 1970, or R.E.M. in 1984, or Shabazz Palaces in 2011. But there’s so much more to watch and hear! So this week, we’re taking a genre-by-genre deep dive into the archive and pulling out some of our most precious gems for your enjoyment.
Yesterday, we explored some of our blues recordings, with vintage performances by Son House, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr. and Taj Mahal. Today we’re looking at the the blues’ spiritual cousin, jazz. With thousands of archived recordings from the Newport Jazz Festival, the old Ash Grove club in Los Angeles, the King Biscuit Flower Hour, our own Paste Studio and countless other sources, no one has more exclusive jazz recordings than Paste—all streaming for free 24/7. Let’s start at the beginning of our collection and work our way up to 2017.
On Feb. 7, 1953, Ella Fitzgerald, aka the First Lady of Song, made a stop in Boston at the Storyville club, which had been opened by a jazz-loving entrepreneur named George Wein in the Copley Square Hotel. Wein, of course, would go on to launch both the Newport Jazz and Newport Folk festivals in Rhode Island, and continues to oversee them today. On this night, Fitzgerald opened with “Why Don’t You Do Right?,” a blues tune from the 1930s that was popularized in 1942 by Peggy Lee. You can find the entire concert at Paste.com.
Seventeen years later, Miles Davis was in full fusion mode after the release of his revolutionary double album, Bitches Brew. On Aug. 18, 1970, he visited Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass., to play eight songs for a huge crowd. The incendiary performance captures Miles embracing a rock dynamic in his music that was more electric, more funky, more rhythmic, and simply more “out there” than anything that had proceeded it. Watch him play “Bitches Brew”:
The history of bass-playing in jazz can more or less be divided into two eras: BJP and AJP—Before Jaco Pastorius and After Jaco Pastorius. In the 1970s, the virtuosic Floridian reinvented electric bass both as a prolific sideman and member of ground-breaking groups like Weather Report. On June 27, 1982, Pastorius was touring with his big band when he made a stop at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. Listen to “Invitation,” which would be the title track on his 1983 album.
Jumping into the 21st century, Kamasi Washington has quickly become the premiere young jazz saxophonist in America with explorative concept albums like The Epic and last month’s Harmony of Difference EP, which incorporated electric guitar and vibraphone into Washington’s beautiful large-scale jazz orchestrations and soloing. (Review our review here.) On Jan 19, 2016, he visited Daytrotter Studios in Davenport, Iowa, to play three songs from The Epic: “Miss Understanding,” “Next Step” and “ReRun.” Here’s “Next Step”:
Finally, the Paste Studio in New York brings you a steady stream of some of the most exciting voices in jazz today, including recent sessions by guitarists Bill Frisell, Mike Stern and John Pizzarelli, drummer Mark Guiliana, pianist John Beasley and vocalist Audrey Logan. One of our favorite recent visitors was trumpeter Christian Scott, whose latest release, Rebel Ruler, kicks off his Centennial Trilogy, an ambitious series of records meant to commemorate the centennial of the first jazz recordings in 1917 while tackling themes of social and political peril. Here’s Scott and his quintet playing “The Last Chieftan.”
Stay tuned on Monday for another dive into the Vault with a tour through our voluminous collection of hip-hop recordings. Enjoy!