A Night at the Village Vanguard
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Sonny Rollins’ legendary LP, A Night at the Village Vanguard, marked the second album presenting the saxophonist in a pianoless trio format (following his celebrated initial trio recording Way Out West). Located on 7th Avenue just below West 11th Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village, the Village Vanguard has been the seat of live jazz since the 1940s. Ninety-one live recordings have been made at the Vanguard between 1957 and 2001, chronicling the whole of the history of jazz. Rollins’ A Night at the Village Vanguard was the first live recording ever made at the club. Two sets were taped by the saxophonist at the Vanguard, the first (afternoon set) featured accompaniment by Donald Bailey on bass, and Pete LaRoca on drums, while the second (evening set, comprising most of the tracks), boasted Wilbur Ware on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. A different version of “A Night in Tunisia” showcasing Rollins with the Modern Jazz Quartet has been added as a bonus.
Live at the Village Vanguard, New York, November 3, 1957.
Live at Music Inn, Lenox, Massachusetts, August 31, 1958..
One of the most renowned jazz photographers of all time, Francis Wolff (1907-1971) was also a record company executive and producer, whose skills were essential to the success of the Blue Note record label. Born Jakob Franz Wolff in Berlin, Germany, he soon became a jazz enthusiast, despite the government ban placed on this type of music after 1933. A Jew, in 1939 he left Berlin, where he had worked as a commercial photographer, and established himself in New York. He began working there with his childhood friend Alfred Lion, who had co-founded Blue Note Records with Max Margulis. The latter soon dropped out of any involvement in the company, and Wolff joined Lion in running it. Wolff took thousands of photographs during the label’s recording sessions and rehearsals. His highly personal visual concept would be forever associated with both Blue Note and jazz as a whole.