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It's A Jazz Family Affair

Summer is a time for family gatherings. Over the years, there have been some very notable families of jazz musicians. Here, then, are five songs by some of those talented families — songs selected to accompany your own family's summer get-togethers. So bring on the relatives, fire up the back-yard grill and hit play. Make it a family affair.

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It's A Jazz Family Affair

The Montgomery Brothers

The Montgomery Brothers, from Indianapolis, Ind., consisted of Monk on bass, Buddy on piano and, of course, the breakout star of the trio, Wes Montgomery, one of the greatest and most influential guitarists in jazz history. This 1961 recording spotlights Wes in the relatively early days of his short career, yet all the hallmarks that would make him a guitar legend can be heard in his playing. And, naturally, his brothers provide solid support...because that's what brothers do.

The Great Jazz Trio, feat. Hank and Elvin Jones

The Jones brothers are perhaps the greatest musical export to come out of the Detroit area. Elvin Jones was one of the progenitors of be-bop drumming. He worked with The John Coltrane Quartet from 1960-66, then continued to follow his own musical path until his passing in 2004. Pianist, Hank Jones, was also involved in the birth of be-bop and made immense contributions to jazz piano throughout his lifetime. Thad Jones was a trumpeter, composer and arranger who made his mark on jazz through his early work with The Count Basie Band and, later, with own big band, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. Here, Hank and Elvin (with bassist, Richard Davis) play one of Thad's most enduring compositions, A Child Is Born.

The Brecker Brothers

Michael and Randy Brecker were raised in the Philadelphia area, but really came into their own in the New York City jazz-fusion scene of the 1970s, where Michael's tenor saxophone and Randy's trumpet quickly became major musical voices. Both together and separately they've played in, and led, a number of groups and explored many styles of jazz. Though Michael died in 2007, he is thought by many to be the most influential saxophonist since John Coltrane, and Randy is still blazing new trails in music. In this 1978 recording, we find the Breckers in a nasty, exuberant funk groove, playing — and experimenting with the technology du jour — like crazy.

3 Cohens

Anat, Avishai and Yuval Cohen were born in Tel-Aviv, but can now be found frequently in New York, where they perform together and, individually, with a variety of groups. Clarinetist/saxophonist Anat was the first of the siblings to gain national attention with her debut CD in 2005. Her brothers, Avishai (trumpet) and Yuval (saxophone), were close behind. "U-Valley," a song that hints at Latin and Eastern influences, was written by Anat and allows all three soloists to shine. The other members of the group include Aaron Goldberg (piano), Omer Avital (bass) and Eric Harland (drums).

The Marsalis Family

No respectable family gathering is complete without some barbecue, so here it is. A classic jazz song, originally recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1937, "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" was updated in 2001 by a group many would agree is the First Family Of Jazz in America, The Marsalis Family. Pianist Ellis Marsalis and his sons, Wynton (trumpet), Branford (saxophone), Delfeayo (trombone) and Jason (drums), along with Roland Guerin on bass, all show off their solo chops and everyone makes great use of the opportunity. Who knows? It might even inspire your accordion-playing uncle to attempt to jam along with the band. (If it happens, don't try to stop him. After all, he's family.)

Nick Morrison
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