Monday, September 29, 2014

Paul Desmond on Ornette...

Paul Desmond (1965)
It wouldn't be easy to find two more opposed alto saxophonists in the history of jazz than Paul Desmond and Ornette Coleman. Besides playing the same instrument and having American passports, the rest couldn't be more different. For fans, it seems that today it is more politically correct saying that we like Ornette better than Desmond, but the fact is that Desmond is probably the more popular of the two. Never mind that, anyway, both deserve your listening time for very different reasons, trust me.

In a quite funny collection of Desmond's aphorisms, or "desmondisms", there's a quote of his talking about Ornette's music. No source is mentioned, and it goes like this:

It's like living in a house where everything's painted red.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014)

Kenny Wheeler
After Kenny Wheeler passed away last Thursday, the outpouring of admiration and pure love for his music and himself as a person has been astonishing. I never met the man, although I saw him a few times playing live — the last one with an all-star cast at the London Jazz Festival 2012, another wonderful show of love, admiration and great music.

Wheeler is one of those characters that just don't fit in your typical jazz history. From the same generation as Clifford Brown, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Bob Brookmeyer and all those guys, he was a Canadian who emigrated to the UK in 1952 (the beginning of the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker quartet, for instance). He was a late bloomer, his career moved back and forth from large ensemble compositions to free improvisation, not something you'd expect from such a retiring, quiet, sweet man, who once explained his method as "what I like doing best is writing sad tunes, and then letting wonderful musicians destroy them".