Monday, August 29, 2011

Did you ever see the Prez walking?

Saturday 27 was Lester Young's 102nd anniversary. The President is a cornerstone of jazz, the perfect blend of swing, blues, sound, and quirkiness. Thanks to recordings, anyone can appreciate his musical qualities, but we can only rely on our elders' stories about his quirks. There's much written about his mannerisms, the way he talked, even the kind of shoes he preferred.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leonard Bernstein's "jazz band"


On Thursday 25 conductor-composer-pianist Leonard Bernstein would have been 93 (he died in 1990). For this reason, a clip from his Omnibus series—from the episode devoted to jazz—has been unearthed again by jazz buffs. In this episode, broadcast live on October 16, 1955, Bernstein explained a few technical aspects of jazz and blues (blue notes, syncopation, etc.) and it ended with his own composition: "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs".

Monday, August 8, 2011

Unheard Tal Farlow, Eddie Costa, Marian McPartland...

... at least unheard by me. Via Marian McPartland's Facebook page, I just bumped into this radio broadcast presented by NBC in association with the AFM "as a contribution to the US savings bonds division of the Treasury department"—which could hardly be more relevant at the moment 55 years later—from The Composer, a club where, in the Summer of 1956, the bill was shared by two trios, Tal Farlow's and Marian McPartland's. The relief pianist was John Mehegan.

Personally I'm gobsmacked because Farlow's trio with Eddie Costa and Vinnie Burke, the line-up here, was an extraordinary but very short-lived group, and while I knew about this gig, I didn't know it had been recorded and preserved. McPartland's trio has Bill Britto on bass and the great Joe Morello on drums.

I can't really say nothing else right now, so I'll leave you with the music. You can listen on the player below, or go to the site where I found it, Newstalgia. The details are as follows:

July 23, 1956.* The Composer, New York. 

Tal Farlow Trio: Farlow (g), Eddie Costa (p), Vinnie Burke (b).

 0:00 They can't take that away from me
 5:34 You don't know what love is 
10:02 And she remembers me 

Marian McPartland Trio: McPartland (p), Bill Britto (b), Joe Morello (d).

15:28 Falling in love with love 
19:20 For all we know
23:54 Bohemia After Dark

* It's possible that this was broadcast on this date, but recorded previously. The MC mention that the music was "transcribed" (recorded for later broadcast), and according to the New Yorker magazine, Farlow's last day at the Composer was July 18th.

 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Frank, and all that jazz

Amy Winehouse died a few days ago. A lot has been written about the many extra-musical aspects of her career and death, so I won't add anything on that, although there are quite a few things from her story that I don't understand.

The first time I saw her was on Jools Holland's programme, on BBC2, back in 2003. For those who don't know it, former Squeeze and currently boogie-woogie and big band pianist Holland introduces—briefly—all sorts of bands playing live, one tune at a time, in a circular set, so each band is facing all the rest. By all sorts of bands I mean anything from new artists to old stars: in one ocassion he had "bad boys of jazz" The Bad Plus playing beside masters of 21st century rumba catalana Ojos de Brujo.