Breaking from the strict boundaries of the “Piano Moods” series, Mosaic has seen fit to also include Ahmad Jamal’s The Piano Scene of Ahmad Jamal, recordings from 1951 and 1952 originally done for Epic and featuring the first tastes of this Nat Cole-inspired trio of piano, bass, and guitar. There are also two sets that cover the music of Fats Waller, one from Joe Sullivan and the other by Ralph Sutton. As an added bonus, don’t miss the1949 recordings of Art Tatum captured in performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
This seven-CD collection exhaustively documents Columbia Records' first attempt at niche marketing with the Piano Moods series. Born out an impromptu marketing plan by a small Columbia Records staff in 1950, the Piano Moods series was hatched from the marketing discovery that there were more pianos than phonographs (that's record players for all you kids who don't remember vinyl LPs) in the homes of postwar America. The 12" LP had been launched a scant two years before and few titles were available. The Piano Moods series linked 20 albums of the same general type, all of them produced and sequenced by George Avakian, who had created the jazz and pop catalog on LP for Columbia beginning in 1948 -- though they were originally released 33 rpm 10" discs to keep the folks with all those 10" 78 rpm discs happy when it came to storage. The sides were cut -- usually -- with no spirals (spaces) between tunes, giving the side a longer feel than its 17 minutes because the music was continuous. Most pianists preset their sequences and prepared introductions of the key of the preceding tune that modulated into the key of the next one. Some would cut the modes later and have Avakian splice them or, in the case of , he would play it straight through, and if he felt he flubbed anything, would re-record a tune and have Avakian work the tape magic. The series was wildly successful as a whole, and most homes had at least a few of these sides and some had many or all. The interesting comment here is that many of these pianists had little or nothing in common with one another. They ranged from the jazzers like Wilson, , Errol Garner, and (whose album was released as a 12" LP) to stride cats like and -- who plays here -- to swingers like Earl "Fatha" Hines, (of Tommy Dorsey fame), and . There are more than a few unknown jazzers as well, like , , , and . Also included is the man who could -- and did -- play everything, concert virtuoso .
Piano Moods - thoughtful, serene, intense, magical, emotive, romantic, subtle. The Piano is the ideal instrument to convey moments of reflection, captured here beautifully on Piano Moods.
MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Hi, I'm Murray Horwitz. Jazz pianists are generally in love with harmony — and so good at inventing it. Why are we inducting this particular piano trio into the NPR Basic Jazz Record Library? Well, partly because it's one of the best piano trios ever assembled, but mostly because it's just such a pleasure. This is pianist Hazel Scott's album, Relaxed Piano Moods, recorded in 1955 for Debut Records. And on it, she's joined by the two men who owned the record company, drummer Max Roach and bassist Charles Mingus.