Tucked away in the far corner of WOBC’s music library lies the hallowed WOBC Jazz Vault, a sprawling history of 80s bebop revival, commercial blues, Count Basie’s entire career, explicit photos of Herbie Mann, and a few rare gems. The WOBC Jazz Work Group, a spritely group of young Oberlin jazzheads, dove headfirst into the vault to seek out the dustiest of the dusty, the rarest of the rare. Here’s what we came up with:
Oliver Nelson, Blues and the Abstract Truth
Released in 1961 on Impulse! records, this record is an absolute classic. Nelson’s lush horn arrangements are in a league of their own on this hard-swinging collection of entirely blues compositions. The lineup on this date is unbeatable: Paul Chambers, bass; Eric Dolphy, sax, flute; Bill Evans, piano; Roy Hanes, drums; Freddie Hubbard, Trumpet; George Barrow, sax.
Keith Jarrett, The Koln Concert
It is rare that commercial success aligns itself with the highest artistry, but the recording of Keith Jarrett’s legendary concert of solo improvisations in Koln, Germany is a standout exception. It’s one of the highest-selling jazz records of all time, and for good reason: Jarrett’s uninhibited emotion and limitless outpour of ideas on this record is simply stunning.
Jimmy Heath, Love and Understanding
Tenor sax man and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Heath was at the forefront of the movement towards a new funkified spirituality in early 70s jazz. Love and Understanding is a classic example of Heath’s compositional style during this period, not to mention a killer band backing him up: Curtis Fuller, trombone; Bernard Fennell, cello; Stanley Cowell (Oberlin alum), piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.
Yusef Lateef, The Diverse Yusef Lateef
Brother Yusef Lateef: woodwind virtuoso, master composer, spiritual guru. This album is a great summary of Lateef’s style: it’s got swing, funk, free improv, and some deep spirituality. Yusef plays a menagerie of instruments on this date: tenor sax, flute, bamboo flute, Chinese globular flute, Buddhist flute, tamboura, Chinese cymbals, and other percussion instruments. In the depth of his influences and originality, Lateef is virtually unmatched, especially on this Atlantic recording from 1970.
Roland Kirk, Funk Underneath
This is the beloved, playful, seriously swinging sax man Rahsaan Roland Kirk at his best. This record features the masterful hammond organ playing of Jack McDuff, supported by Art Taylor on drums and Joe Benjamin and bass. Most of the tracks on the record are Kirk originals, showcasing the soulful and bluesy tendencies of both his solos and his compositional style. Recorded in 1961, Funk Underneath is a surprisingly progressive and groove-oriented release from Prestige Records, and a rare pull from the cavernous depths of the vault.
If you’re in the station anytime soon, look in the jazz bin to check out all of the above records and more rare vinyl finds. In this digging session, we only scratched the surface of WOBC’s jazz collection. If you want constant access to all this tasty wax, you should apply for a jazz show in the fall and sign up for the workgroup!