Explore These Live Albums, As Gigs Are Slow To Materialize

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A live Alice Coltrane recording from 1972 marks a turning point in her music.

(Photo: DownBeat Archives)

Ella Fitzgerald, Ella In Rome: The Birthday Concert (1988)

Recorded in 1958 on her 41st birthday, Fitzgerald’s performance runs through a batch of standards just as she was entering a particularly verdant period of her career. Funneling “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” through Louis Armstrong was both a playful nod to the past and a profound exhibition of the bandleader’s skills as an entertainer.

Jimmy Smith, Root Down Live! (1972)

There are a lot of Jimmy Smith albums out there. And while he remains one of the most lauded organists of his—or any—generation, some of the studio dates are pretty staid. Root Down Live!, though, finds the bandleader working out what’s ostensibly a funk band, one so instantly groovy, the Beastie Boys co-opted the title track for a 1995 EP of the same name.

Joe Henderson Quintet, At The Lighthouse (1970)

The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California, has hosted more than its share of notable recordings. Henderson’s group here straddles bop and a relatively sedate fusion ideal, with George Cables contributing some definitive electric keys. A front line of Henderson and trumpeter/flugelhornist Woody Shaw, though, is pretty unbeatable.

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