Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Bob Brookmeyer (1929-2011)

Bob Brookmeyer has died three days before his 82nd birthday. He was an absolute favourite of mine, possibly my favourite musician in all jazz. Why? Because I liked the way he swang, and his sound, and his arrangements, and his wit, and his intellect, which he applied to arrangements and to solos full of ideas and melody. The previous post mentioned a couple of tunes worth checking out with Stan Getz, "Rustic Hop", an original that will lift your spirit unless you're dead, and "Varsity Drag", where he begins his solo with a very simple phrase (first he plays a major third, then a minor third) that will swing your socks off.

There are already some voices wondering why he was not given more recognition. I'd say that, beyond jazz, because this music doesn't amount to much. Sad but true. But within jazz, and this is even sadder, possibly because his long career didn't fit any styles, those very rigid boxes critics and fans of this music, allegedly of a progressive and open-minded persuasion, have created and are so comfortable with.

I already wrote about Brookmeyer some time ago, and you'll find some interesting video footage there. Some years ago I spoke briefly to him, and he told me that Gloomy Sunday was his favourite among his own recordings, where he shared the arranging chores with some esteemed colleagues, such as Ralph Burns.

You can also tune in to Indian Public Radio's David Brent Johnson's Night Lights devoted to Brookmeyer for a nice selection of his work by David with a little help of yours truly. Even better is the NPR Jazz Profile on his 70th birthday, produced by Bill Kirchner.

Bye, Mr. Brookmeyer, and thanks for so many good moments.

Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 ends in a box (some gift ideas)

That time of the year is almost upon us, and in the spirit of public service that guides the staff of this blog, we are going to comment on that piece of hardware that is so very dear to jazz fans: the boxed set.

A few days ago Elvis Costello made the news in a salient way (there goes another David Miles album...) In his blog, he criticized very openly the record label releasing a boxed set of his for an asking price he deemed a "misprint or a satire... an elaborate hoax". This boxed set comprises a CD, a DVD, and a 10" vinyl disc, and the truth is that we haven't been able to find it listed for under $200.

Mr. MacManus recommended instead to buy a nice Louis Armstrong set called Ambassador of Jazz. As it happens, this set was already OOP (a most-dreaded acronym for "out of print") in the US, and it was only available from the good people of the Louis Armstrong Museum in Queens, which has made my worthy constituent Ricky Riccardi and his colleagues very happy. And deservedly so. Funny how publicity works: as Ricky explains in his blog, they ran out of sets on Friday 9th.

It should be pointed out that both sets, Costello's and Armstrong's, have been released under Universal's umbrella. The Costello comes from imprint Hip-O Select, a label that has done some good deeds so far, and in jazz too. Their sets are lavishly presented, and the one we were really surprised by and looked forward too was their Stan Getz Quintets: Clef & Norgran Studio Albums.

The reason is simple: this set is first ever edition of the complete recordings of Stan Getz's first quintet with Bob Brookmeyer, and really the first one with a decent sound quality. The music in it has some great early-fifties Getz, plenty of swing, nice surprises like a quartet with Max Roach on drums and Jimmy Rowles on piano and, especially, Brookmeyer's presence as a soloist (the beginning of his solo on "Varsity Drag"), composer ("Rustic Hop"), and general musical mind. The only disappointment, especially at the regular prices these sets go for, was a small mistake: the version of "Flamingo" was the one from At the Shrine the live album by the SG-BB Quintet and, therefore, not the studio take. Hip-O's solution should have been to offer a replacement CD (like Mosaic does in the rare occasions when it's necessary), but they have not gone beyond supplying their customers with an mp3 of said track.

Regarding prices, in our experience, a combination of patience and regular browsing usually yields fruits. But prices being what they are, any solutions for the urge to make a gift — to oneself, to others — of a nice jazz boxed-set are welcome. No need to look further than France for this.

Universal France has just released a series of five boxes devoted to the master takes of recordings by Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker. These boxes include between 13 and 15 CDs, a 70-page booklet with liner notes in French and English, complete discography, and some nice photos. As for their price, look around for yourself and do the math.

So far we have only tried the Ella and the Bechet. The former is interesting because it reunites all her masters prior to her signing with Verve, first with big band leader Chick Webb, then fronting that band, as a singer with assorted musicians, her duets with pianist Ellis Larkins, and other riches. The Bechet is a very complete collection of his American masters (he recorded quite a bit in France, including some of his most popular hits, like "Petite Fleur"), plus a selection of his earliest work (1923-1932), and some live recordings (1939-1940 and 1953).

The other sets are equally or even more interesting. The Louis Armstrong covers the 1925-1945 period, that is, from his Hot Fives and Sevens to his very popular work fronting a big band, plus a selection of his earliest work with King Oliver and others. The Charlie Parker has every master from his first studio recordings with the Jay McShann orchestra up to his work for Norman Granz plus two discs filled with assorted broadcasts and other live recordings. Two CDs out of the staggering volume of live Bird recordings available may not seem much, but who's complaining?

Like the Parker set, the Billie Holiday also covers the whole of her recording career, from 1933 to 1959. Her complete output has already been out on CD in different boxes, but having all her masters together is indeed appealing. At the end of the day, while alternate takes can be fascinating, the masters are the versions that were known at the time and which influenced listeners and musicians. It's a pity in this case that one session — four tracks — seems to be missing, the one from January 9, 1957. Given the volume of music included and asking price, we'd call this a minor flaw.

This series can be seen as part of a long tradition of jazz reissues in France (EPM, Média7, Classics, Frémeaux...). Under the aegis of Universal, most of the team working in this Complete Masters series is the same behind the Saga Jazz label, which means a good presentation, both graphic and sonic. When it comes to historical recordings, given their age and wide availability thanks to European public domain law, sound quality is a major issue. We contacted the team, and they told us that they have used whatever sources were available to them under European copyright law, whatever sounded best, which have been remastered in order to produce the most homogeneous content. This is definitely a series worth keeping an eye on.

Being a music fan today sometimes feels like standing on a beach, watching the industry trying to weather the storm and waiting for the remains of any wrecks to get ashore. If anything good comes out of this, is the occasional resurfacing of hard-to-find music. Second largest major Sony is offering good deals in the boxed format too. They have produced quite an array of sets (Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Wayne Shorter, Mahavishnu, Paul Desmond, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Weather Report, Billie Holiday and others you can see here), but the jewel of the crown may well be the one devoted to trumpet player Woody Shaw, for the quality of the music, its patchy availability in recent times, and the extra disk of unissued music from the Stepping Stone - Live at Village Vanguard sessions.

Finally, like it or not, Brad Mehldau's The Art of the Trio series was one of the most relevant phenomenons in jazz in the late 1990s. Nonesuch has reunited the series in a box, adding a bonus CD with extra materials, and, in a master stroke from whoever thought of it, liner notes by one of the most accomplished of jazz writers, pianist Ethan Iverson, an appealing bait for all those who already have all the music.

If you're thinking of using any of the above for gifts, remember that good music is forever.

Have a good end of year, whatever you celebrate, and good luck.

PS: If you are of the avant-gardist persuasion, or are in the least interested in this kind of music, a good look to the sale at Leo Records is mandatory.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blues for Paul Motian, 1931-2011

Eddie Costa on piano
Wendell Marshall on bass
Paul Motian on drums

- 1959 -


Thursday, November 10, 2011

On your marks, get set...

It's (not at all) funny how time seems to speed up when we change the hour on the last weekend of October. Suddenly it's mid-November and the London Jazz Festival is again upon us. Around 280 events — most of them gigs, but also masterclasses, talks, etc. — in 10 days, with some of the most exciting music in the world available in town, unabated by cuts in public spending or general financial gloom.

Even a cursory look at the programme will reveal an impressive array of names, some of them regulars at this kind of international festivals. To give you twenty random names, Ornette Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Charles Gayle, Ray Gelato, Stefano Bollani (featuring Martial Solal!), Hermeto Pascoal, Richard Galliano (featuring Dave Douglas), Michel Portal, Roy Haynes (with Peter King), McCoy Tyner (featuring Chris Potter), Stan Tracey, Soweto Kinch, the Brubecks, Martin Taylor, Steve Swallow, Joey Calderazzo, David Sanborn, Kenny Wheeler, Archie Shepp & Joachim Kühn...

Going back to the current situation, though, and especially for curious listeners, there are quite a few *** free *** events that are worth noting, like the gigs by the likes of Duck Baker, Gwylim Simcock, Martin Speake (featuring John Hollenbeck), locals F-IRE Collective, or (is this a LJF first?) the one-hour CD exchange. And there's also the HMTTY ("Hear Me Talkin' To Ya") series of live interviews for BBC broadcast.

So, if by any change you're around town, do have a look and let the sound of surprise surprise you. I'll be tweeting on it, and also reviewing a very small part of it, in Spanish, for Cuadernos de Jazz.

Follow the LFJ on their blog, and Twitter.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weekend viewing: Harold Land-Bobby Hutcherson

Harold Land-Bobby Hutcherson Quintet, with Land on tenor, Hutcherson on vibes, Stanley Cowell on piano, Reggie Johnson on bass, and Joe Chambers on drums. This footage is from their 1969 European tour.

First, in Antibes, on July 25th, they play "Herzog", a modal tune by Bobby Hutcherson, from his Blue Note album Total Eclipse. Warning: the video ends abruptly cutting the ending.

Next, from their concert in Molde (Norway) in 1969, possibly July too, they first do "Theme from Blow-Up" (Herbie Hancock's composition for Antonioni's film), and then Sonny Rollins' "Oleo".

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall concert... in Croydon

Tomorrow at 20:00 Fairfield Halls in Croydon will host Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert. Live. A group of musicians, led by Richard Pite and Pete Long taking Gene Krupa's and Benny Goodman's roles on drums and clarinet, will play the legendary concert.

Although I've never seen this show, I've been to an homage to Benny Goodman's Quartet (and its members) also by Pite and Long, and it was excellent. Of the two, Pite is the most compelling, with his vintage drum set and his unique commitment to old-style drumming. This is more important than it may seem: as Pite demonstrated with Guy Barker and Big Band Britannia, at Barbican in 2009, historically accurate drumming is half the flavour of a repertory band.

In these days, there's never a bad chance to see a big band live, especially if, for historical accuracy, they play acoustic.

More info on the event, here.

The most complete source of information about the original concert, and an entertaining read too, is Jon Hancock's book, an astonishing 200, A4-sized, pages devoted to the event.

The whole programme of the night can be listened to in Spotify.

PS: Some footage from the original gig...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday music: Ángel Unzu

Ángel Unzu is an astonishingly original guitarist from my homeland. He's not Flamenco, he's not Jazz, and he's not Folk (although he's been part of jazz and folk groups). If anything, he's a composer-virtuoso of his own music, a long and illustrious tradition that encompasses people like Vivaldi or Bach.

This is "Septiembre", from his latest CD Tiempo de Búsqueda ("Searching time").

You can listen to this whole album on Spotify. It's also available on iTunes.

Ángel's site is

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Random thoughts on Cedar Walton

(After two sets at Ronnie Scott's)

Cedar Walton is a good jazz composer. He plays composer piano, well-structured solos, everything in its place. He's elegant, tasteful, bluesy and ballsy, all at the same time.

He's in the tradition that comes from a certain set of values, a certain self-restraint, a solid musical foundation and plenty of church-going.

Not to be missed, if possible.

PS: David Williams on bass is truly great, but Willie Jones III is so inexplicably hot and cool at the same time that he almost makes me sick.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Musicians' quotes

Basically, I don't care what category music belongs to; I only care whether it is good or bad. As one fellow musician put it: "I like jazz, not because it's jazz, but because it's good music."

Gunther Schuller: Musings
(Da Capo, 1999; p.115)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

50 going on 70

“Volver” (“Coming back”) a very famous tango says that “twenty years is nothing”, but poetry is just a very polarized reflection of reality. Twenty years is actually what the Council of the EU has decided to expand the copyright on phonographic records. In other words, and in principle, this is the end of the countless cheap reissues of music published, as of today, before 1961. All classic rock'n'roll, including early Elvis, will require the permission from the owners of the original masters to be reissued. Same goes for classic Sinatra and a big load of jazz and pop classics recorded after 1941. As an example, Charlie Parker's whole output as a leader, in the public domain for a few years now, will go back in its entirety to its lawful owners.

That's the theory. In actual fact, anyone with a connection to the internet has almost immediate and free access to almost any music they may want. And sound quality doesn't seem to be an issue: we're in an age where arguably, for the first time ever, the widest spread standard of sound quality (mp3) is actually lower than the previous one (CD). If we take together Spotify, MySpace, YouTube, audio file exchange, blogs offering downloads, etc., the problem today is not getting access to the music, but having the time to listen to it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ray Gelato in 2011

Last Saturday, the musical offerings in London were as rich and diverse as usual, in almost any genre you might think of. Nevertheless, Ray Gelato and his Giants were at the 100 Club, an occasion that, at least in principle, it's not to be missed. The club itself was started by the great Victor Feldman's father (the composer of "Seven Steps to Heaven" was present as an 8-year old drummer) in right smack in the middle of WWII, and its history is so rich (see this and this) that it's almost obscene. Nowadays, it lacks the solemnity of other clubs, but still keeps an aura that seems to rub off on whoever takes the stage.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More rare Eddie Costa... with Gigi Gryce

Fred Baker was an underground film director, and a big fan of dance and jazz, so much so, that his first endeavour behind the camera, On the Sound, was a short film combining those two disciplines. Sadly, Baker died on June 5, 2011, aged 78 (obituary).

As Baker told here, he first approached Mingus, whom he knew, for the soundtrack to his project, but Mingus declined and recommended multi-instrumentalist and composer Gigi Gryce. From what Baker says in the Vimeo page and in Cohen's & Fitzgerald's biography of Gryce, it seems that he took some recordings made by Gryce for the film, had the dancers dance to the music, filmed them, and then edited the whole thing down to about eight minutes.

As rare as it may be today, this short film won the USA Golden Eagle for 1963, and was selected to be screened at the 1963 Edinburgh and Berlin International Film Festivals and the Biennale in Venice.

The music on this film is relevant because, together with Reminiscin', the LP for Mercury, and what's been rescued by Uptown in their recent CD, it is one of the very few recordings by the Orch-Tette, Gigi Gryce's last working group before his untimely retirement from music. As Cohen & Fitzgerald explain in their book,"the score contains music that were found in Gryce's recordings, particularly in the two movements based on the blues, but also shows the influence of free music with an extended vibraphone solo over bass and drums with no pulse". I would add that the two vibes solos by Costa are among the highlights of the film.

According to Gigi Gryce's discography, also by Cohen and Fitzgerald, this was probably recorded in the summer of 1960, definitely at Bell Sound Studio, New York City, by Richard Williams (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax, clarinet, flute), Eddie Costa (vibes), Richard Wyands (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), and Mickey Roker (drums).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Musicians' quotes: Milt Buckner on jazz

"It must have a beat and it's got to have soul"
(Milt Buckner on jazz)

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, Past Daily. 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.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jazz, that international music

July is well under way, which means that American jazzmen are working hard... mainly in the European circuit. The three jazz festivals in my old backyard, Getxo, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and Donostia-San Sebastián, Marciac in France, the trade fair that is the North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux... and very many others are a vital part of the workload of many jazz artists from across the pond.

The history of jazz beyond the East and West coasts of America is almost as old as the music itself. By the 1930s, a decade when Buck Clayton had a gig in Shanghai (!), live jazz played by its greatest stars was hardly news any more in Europe.

And what about jazz played by non-Americans? Django was probably the first foreigner to have some sort of impact in America, both via his recordings and his concerts with Duke Ellington which, although they were not a complete success, they were not the complete failure the official history of this music tells us.

But, what if we take the US out of the equation? When did non-Americans get access, look for and enjoy non-American jazz from other countries?

A few weeks ago, I got a 3-CD set from Svensk Jazzhistoria, the mammoth series on Jazz in Sweden. The esteemed Roberto Barahona, director and producer of Chilean radio jazz programme Puro Jazz got wind of it and asked me whether that set included the tune "What's New?" played by a flutist that drove him crazy the first time he heard it when he was a kid, back in Chile, sometime in the mid-1950s.

Since this wasn't in my 3-CD set, he asked his compatriot and Chilean jazz über-collector Pepe Hossiason, while I consulted with Swedish jazz historian Jan Bruer, and both came up with the same answer: Philips P 10950 R.

Jan Bruer:
[T]his 10"LP [was] issued in Europe as Swedish Jazz, Philips P 10950 R, recorded 1955-56. One side of the LP is a ballad medley with five soloists in five different titles. Rolf Blomquist plays "What's New" on flute, he was best known as a tenor saxophonist in Arne Domnérus band and the Harry Arnold Swedish Radio Big Band.

Hossiason produced the actual artifact, as released in Chile:

In short, this music comes from three sessions recorded in Stockholm on December 7, 1955, and April 10 and 20, 1956. The first two as "jam sessions", and the last under "Bengt Hallberg All-Stars". Hallberg, by the way, was the pianist on Stan Getz's original recording of "Dear Old Stockholm" fiver years earlier. Ake Persson (trombone) and Arne Domnerus (alto sax) are also among the musicians involved.

So, this is 1956 or 1957, with no internet, no e-mails, no mp3 file-sharing, very fewer transatlantic flights than today, costly international phone calls, and records with a size of... well, either a 12-inch or, in this case, 10-inch flat square. And yet, made-in-Sweden jazz was deemed apt to be commercialized in Chile or even Singapore. Just take a look at the map:

This, below, is a clipping from the Singapore Free Press of January 23, 1957, p. 13

And Jan Bruer adds that this LP may have been shipped to Australia too.

This is just an example, but it'd seem that jazz was going places earlier than some of us thought.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Musicians' quotes: About the 'avant-garde'

What we understand as 'avant-garde' in jazz is a funny concept: it's a kind of music that's over 50 years old, so it is hardly new (although the devil is in the details, is today's avant-garde the same as 1960's?). Many listeners from the more mainstream persuasion have problems with a paradigm that is too alien for them, whereas their vanguardist counterparts can be as dogmatic in defending the music they like. As a general rule, I would distrust anyone telling you what music must be like, unless it's a musician talking about their own music.

So, what would be a healthy approach to the avant-garde from the more conventional side of things? Guitarist Russell Malone's response to a track by fellow six-stringer Mary Halvorson in a Before and After interview with Bill Milkowski for Jazz Times provides a few good leads.

... Mary Halvorson. I’ve seen her play. I kind of dig her, man. I went to go see her at a place called The Stone [in Manhattan] a couple of years ago, and it was a band with Chris Cheek on sax and a couple of other musicians. I’ll tell you, man, I know a lot of people who may not like this kind of music—free music or avant-garde or whatever you want to call it. But this stuff is hard to play. First of all, they’re not up there just playing a bunch of random stuff. It’s composed and these guys are good musicians who can read well. I know a lot of guys who, if you take them out of their comfort zone and put them in a situation where they have to play this kind of music, it probably wouldn’t come off as well. But I respect the musicianship here and I respect the music. This is good. She’s a good musician and she’s sincere. It’s just another way to hear. I mean, if everybody’s playing the same way and thinking the same way, then nobody’s really thinking.

This is Russell Malone playing "Caravan"...

... and this is Mary Halvorson playing "Dragon's Head"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Zoot Sims, Phil Woods... and Eddie Costa: Jazz Mission to Moscow

In 1962, in the middle of the Cold War, with Kennedy in Washington and Khrushchev in Moscow, and just weeks away from the missile crisis in Cuba, Benny Goodman embarked on a tour of the USSR with a top-notch big band: Joe Newman and Jimmy Maxwell on trumpets, Willie Dennis on trombone, Phil Woods, Jerry Dodgion, and Zoot Sims in the reed section, and a rhythm department comprising by John Bunch, Teddy Wilson, Victor Feldman, Bill Crow and Mel Lewis (Bill and Mel were the beating heart of Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band). Originally the band was going to play a repertory formed of new arrangements commissioned to people like Tadd Dameron, as well as the older stuff that made Goodman the "King of Swing".

This tour has gone down in history as the perfect example of Benny Goodman's quirkiness, to put it mildly. His gradual refusal to play the newer repertoire, his shunning of any soloists who got a round of applause... even the album that was subsequently published by RCA doesn't make justice, apparently, to the music that was played for the Russian audiences.

Producer Jack Lewis had worked — incidentally? — for RCA but he was now with Colpix, a new record label set up by Columbia Pictures. As bassist Bill Crow tells in his own website:

On the day we got back from Russia, Jack Lewis grabbed most of the band for a quick record date for Colpix, an album called Jazz Mission to Moscow. Victor Feldman had flown home to California, and Teddy Wilson and John Bunch had stayed in Paris, so Jack got Eddie Costa to play piano on the date.

Lewis's idea was to get a free ride on the publicity Goodman's tour was getting. According to Billboard, the recording session (July 12, 1962) was rushed, as was the production of vinyl and jackets and the record was expected to be available by the first week of August.

Jazz Mission to Moscow
The liner notes tell the story of a bunch of angry, young musicians eager to get back at Goodman, and Lewis provided the perfect opportunity. The band simply smokes. This is the kind of modern swing music that doesn't really fit in the official history of jazz, played by musicians for whom, after all, swing was the soundtrack of their childhood, while bebop got to them in their teenage years. Al Cohn's arrangements are a little miracle: for starters, he makes this "ten-tette" sound like a true big band; he also manages to make something interesting and surprising from an old classic like "Let's Dance". His work here is just superb, typical of those years (it's interesting to compare this album with the things he did for Bob Brookmeyer's Gloomy Sunday LP, for instance).

This is a session that verges on perfection. Interestingly, the star was not in the Goodman band that made the tour. This is "Mission to Moscow", the opening track of the album:

Eddie Costa was known for this kind of rumbling piano, and his knack for exploring the lower side of the scale. Here, as in other recordings in this part of his career, namely his own House of Blue Lights (Dot, 1959) and Shelly Manne's 2, 3, 4 (Impulse, 1962), he shows an almost orchestral approach to his solos, doing his own calls and responses (here, in "Let's Dance"), with a very conscious use of dynamics along several choruses. For fans of Costa, this is even more interesting because he manages an engaging solo in "The Sochi Boatman", a plaintive mid-tempo ballad, the kind of material that's not so abundant in his recordings.

Around this time Costa, who was extremely busy in the recording studios, seemed to be expanding his approach to jazz piano, which makes this occasion even more poignant. Like Crow explains, this was Eddie Costa's last jazz record date. He died in a car accident two weeks later, in the early hours of July 28th, 1962.

EMI-Japan has just released this on CD as Zoot Sims & Phil Woods: Jazz Mission to Moscow (TOCJ-50064 — a straight copy of the original 30-minute LP, no extra tracks). It's also available on Spotify and (except one track) on YouTube.

Bill Crow and Eddie Costa,
at the Jazz Mission to Moscow session

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An hour with Contracuarteto

(The program I talked about below is now available online:)

Chilean cable TV station Canal 13 Cable is still running Tempo, the documentary devoted to the current jazz scene in Chile. This week it's Contracuarteto's turn, and since they're a favourite of this blog, this is a reminder that you can watch the programme through the internet. Timetable is as follows:

Monday 20 - 20:00
Tuesday 21 - 00:00 and 14:30
Saturday 25 - 16:30
Sunday 26 - 01:00

Those are local times (UTC-4), which are the same for New York. In London these'd be:

Tuesday 21 - 01:00, 05:00, and 19:30
Saturday 25 - 23:30
Sunday 26 - 06:00

The link:

The complete series is available on DVD (with English subtitles) direct from the producers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The faces of Freddie Moore

Drummer Freddie Moore (1900-1992), pictured by William P. Gottlieb
Freddie Moore is the drummer on Sidney Bechet's "Tiger Rag" (Blue Note, 1949), where he can be heard blowing on the snare drum (from 1:08 onwards.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Musicians' quotes: Tristano on the ego, the id, and jazz

In 1964, when asked what he thought of [John] Coltrane, [Sonny] Rollins, and [Miles] Davis, Tristano answered, "All emotion, no feeling." He replied to "How do you distinguish between the two?" with: "Well, say I believe there is no real hysteria or hostility in jazz, their stuff is the expression of the ego. I want jazz to flow out of the id. Putting it another way, real jazz is what you can play before you are all screwed up; the other happens after you're screwed up."

(Ira Gitler, Masters of Bebop,
a re-print of Jazz Masters of the '40s, Da Capo, 2001, p. 243)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tristano's method

Saxophonist Ted Brown, a former student of Lennie Tristano, explains the main points of Tristano's approach to teaching jazz.

For more on Tristano's method and the teaching of jazz in general, the relevant chapter on Eunmi Shim's biography is mandatory.

Around 2007 we suddenly had three volumes about Tristano, each of them with their own approach to Tristano and each of them pretty much mandatory. Eunmi Shim's is a scholarly biography, with excellent chapters about the music and Tristano's teaching methods, Peter Ind's is a passionate and atmospheric first-hand account of his experiences with Tristano, and Fayenz & Brazzale's, in Italian and including a CD with recordings from 1945-55, is a concise and to the point introduction to Tristano as a person and as a musician.

That year I did a long article with reviews and extracts from those three books, which you can now read, in Spanish, on line at Cuadernos de Jazz.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

PS: João Gilberto at 80 - 2011 tour

Thanks to a reader's question, I've checked the news on Gilberto's birthday, and according to he's doing a mini tour of 5 to 8 shows in Brazil between August 29th and November 30th. So far five cities have been confirmed: São Paulo (Sep 3, HSBC Brasil), Rio (Sep 10, Rio Vivo), and dates are to be announced for Salvador, Porto Alegre, and Brasília.

The tour is called 80 anos – Uma vida bossa nova and there are plans for two DVDs to be recorded.

Glad to hear that he's well enough to tour at 80.

Good luck if you're trying to get a ticket, and let us know how it went.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

João Gilberto at 80

Tomorrow João Gilberto celebrates his 80th birthday. It would be hard to overstate his importance in popular music of the 20th century. As a singer and as guitarist he's the owner of a very distinctive touch, one of those rare virtuosos whose abilities pass as simple and efortless, concealing hours of almost obsessive work in his quest for perfection. Even if this is a matter of personal taste, anyone is likely to appreciate the pure magic that his music emanates. I really wish he has a good birthday and that he is in peace, above all the tired press reports about his "reclusive personality" and other frankly strange issues (like the FaceBook profile that may or may not have been really his).

Regarding FaceBook, I still keep buggering on with my little campaign:

The rest of us will have to keep waiting for an official reissue of his first three LPs. As I have explained before, Gilberto and EMI – owners of the masters – have been horn-locked in the Brazilian courts for the best part of 15 years, which has prevented the world from enjoying the artist's first three albums. Right before The Legendary... / O Mito was removed from the market it was printed as two separate CDs by Time Life in Spain, as part of a collection of classic EMI-owned jazz albums. That reissue comes up every once in a while in bargain bins and discount shops in London and even in the US.

For impatient listeners, él!/Cherry Records, a British label, has published two interesting reissues of the first two albums, which is completely legal in the EU, something that some on the other side of the pond fail to grasp. There's still plenty to argue about this, but in the EU the mechanical rights for those two LPs, and soon for the third, are public domain.

Meanwhile, in the courts things don't seem to be moving much. I found a few reports at Terra Magazine, a Brazilian on-line mag. This is the summary:

  • The lawsuit is expected to be solved in 2011, by the High Court in Brazilia, but obviously not in time for Gilberto's 80th birthday.
  • Despite rumours stating otherwise, EMI says the original masters are in Brazil.
  • Gilberto has listened to the masters but he's not recognized them as the originals. He'd be ready to work on a new remaster.
  • According to Ricardo Garcia (technician appointed by EMI) reverb (echo) was added for a false stereo effect on the original mono recordings from the album Chega de Saudade, and high frequencies were forced up by equalization.
  • According to Paulo Jobim, Antonio Carlos's son, who's involved in the case (on Gilberto's side), in the CD master strings and drums were favoured over guitar and vocals, and too much equalization has changed the timbre of the singer.
  • Paulo Jobim was present at the original sessions. Apparently, Gilberto made, and was granted, the unprecendeted request of having two microphones, one for the guitar, one for the voice. He was a stinking perfectionist, even though the recordings were made live, with no overdubbing.
  • Apparently, when they were going to do The Legendary... / O Mito, EMI/Odeon tried to obtain Gilberto's authorization to reissue the LPs on CD through composer Nelson Motta, but never got a reply.
  • Caetano Veloso, and advisor to Gilberto's lawyers, argues that a single CD detracts value from the product and, eventually, the artist.
  • Gilberto also has denounced the use of one of his songs for a commercial without his permission

By the look of it, if money is not an issue – a big "if", given EMI's situation – there shouldn't be much problem to get to a solution. I do think that Veloso's argument for a reissue in 3 separate CDs is not realistic. For starters all the music fits in a single CD, and the original LPs, all under the 30-minute mark hardly justify the format he suggests. In this day an age, a CD really has to be special to merit some attention from the potential buyers. Some heavy marketing will be needed too – and whoever has to do it will long for the missed anniversaries, the 50th of bossa in 2008/9 and now his 80th birthday.

Here's hoping that it happens soon.

And happy birthday!

Monday, June 6, 2011

A couple of anniversaries

Spring's almost flown by, so I didn't realize that in May it was 70 years since Charlie Christian was recorded at Minton's and Monroe's by Jerry Newman.

Seven recordings exist, two of them recorded at the latter venue, five at the former (for more details, go to "May 8, 1941" here). The most famous, and rightly so, is the improvisation on "Topsy", also titled "Swing to Bop" or "Charlie's Choice", depending on the issue. Unless you're particularly interested in vintage memorabilia, you're more likely to hear this music either on CD, mp3 download or streaming, or YouTube (see below). If that's so, there are two versions that you'll come across. One has more background noise, and some overdubbed applause in certain spots. That's probably taken from Vol. 8 of the Complete Edition of Charlie Christian recordings (MJCD75), published by French label Média 7 in 1994. Upside: pitch is corrected so it sounds in Bbm. The other version is the one on Esoteric/Fantasy CD OJCCD-1932-2, with fuller sound, no overdubbed applause, and in a slightly faster tempo (key is closer to Bm).

The hero in this recording is Charlie Christian. At the time there was nothing, nothing at all, remotely close to what he was doing on the guitar. As for the music, he was an obvious follower of Lester Young but he was going his own way, pushing the envelope as regards rhythm and a sort of less melodic approach to improvisation, showing the way to what Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie would expose in full bloom four years later.

Some people get hung up in the historical importance of all this. That's fine, I guess, but it shouldn't stop anyone from appreciating and enjoying it as what it is, high-quality, swinging music. It's interesting to see how Christian seems to save himself for the B sections, the bridges where he plays mainly long runs of eighth notes disregarding any bar lines (something Lester Young was well-known for). In the rest, the A sections, he goes more for improvised, short riffs.

Having the guitar in a more rhythmic role gives Kenny Clarke (who deserves much more credit than he usually gets for making things happen here) the chance to free up his playing. However, it is his playing together with Christian what is really astonishing, they really seem to be making a cooperative effort, especially in the A parts, to play in "rhythmic unison" (don't miss the pianist's punctuation in 3:09). As for the other soloists, besides Joe Guy on trumpet, of course there's the pianist. Even though some experienced listeners and the actual label of the original acetate give Thelonious Monk as the pianist, other experienced listeners are sure the ivory tickler here is Kenny Kersey (if you must know, I'm siding with the Monkians). In any case, it is nice to hear Christian play his straight 4/4 "chug-chug" rhythm guitar on the pianist's second chorus.

In case you get lost, the bridges happen, in the slower, Bbm version, at 0:12, 0:47, 1:22, 1:56, 2:31, 3:06, and then 7:06, 7:40, 8:14... how's that for a steady rhythm section?

Here it is, pitch corrected:

and how it's been known for ages, slightly faster:

You can also hear it on Spotify, in Bbm, or in Bm.

As for the other anniversary, this blog was three years old on May 28.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Teddy Wilson with Jo Jones, in action

When jazz pianists from the 30s are discussed, Art Tatum's and Earl Hines's virtuosity comes up. There may also be a mention to the old masters of stride piano. But for steering the piano towards its future, and for sheer class, class, and yet more class, look no further than Teddy Wilson.

Wilson, of course, kept playing and recording beyond the thirties. This was filmed in Chicago in 1963, as part of Willis Conover's International Hour - American Jazz. Papa Jo is on drums, Jim Atlas on bass, and they play Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose".


Monday, May 30, 2011

On transcribing music...

Part I

Ted Brown (b. 1927) is, to put it simply and unfairly, a second-rate Tristano-ite tenor sax. That is, he's not Warne Marsh, with whom he shared the album Jazz of Two Cities (tracks 1-12 in Spotify, 1-11 in MySpace). He may be less adventurous than Marsh, but with strong leanings towards Lester Young, he's one of those musicians deserving more attention than what they normally get. Both his albums for Criss Cross, Good Company, with Jimmy Raney, and Free Spirit can be listened to through Spotify (Good Company) or MySpace (Free Spirit; Good Company).

As a student with Tristano, Brown was into a strict discipline of studying great jazz solos. However, as he explains in the video below, his curiosity for the mechanics of jazz solos predates his days with Tristano. He also explains why it is important to devote time to transcribe solos, to go through the process of intense listening, lift the solos by ear, and put them on paper.

In general, one difference between current jazz musicians and their predecessors is that the older generations developed their playing in a more intuitive way. It could be say that, starting from a sufficient level of technical competence, the route to jazz excellence depended more on personal research and work. In a way, more of the older jazz musicians were actual cooks, while the younger generations seem to rely more on pre-cooked meals.


Part II

For those interested in transcribing, or just in a deeper study of solos, 25-year old saxophonist Jacob Zimmerman has launched a blog devoted to slowed-down solos.

So far the selection is excellent, and he takes requests.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Music in the air

One of the defining characteristics of jazz music, especially in the first 2/3 of the 20th century, is its mixture of oral and mechanical tradition, so to speak. Oral (aural?) because musicians learnt their craft by sheer listening, and mechanical because that learning was done primarily from records, playing them over and over again till they were worn down. In the case of simple, short phrases, like "Rhythm-A-Ning", records sometimes were not even needed for the music to live on through the years. Some time ago I wrote about Lester Young's pervading influence on subsequent generations of jazzmen. A few months ago, Doug Ramsey talked about the President's closing tenor solo on "Sometimes I'm Happy":

which immediately reminded me of Gerry Mulligan's "Jeru", premiered a few years later by Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool" nonet

Mulligan was one of those staunch followers of Lester Young, and it's likely that Lester Young's solo was the inspiration for his composition. What's interesting is where this melody turns out again, practically untouched

I say practically untouched because both (the three melodies, actually) are in the same key, and the contour of "Jeru" and Bud Powell's "So Sorry, Please" are almost identical. The connection between Lester Young and Gerry Mulligan is quite clear, but the link between Mulligan and Powell is more unexpected, and can actually be narrowed down to quite some specific details: we'll be able to read the very likely explanation in the extraordinary biography of Powell by Peter Pullman.

As part of his comprehensive research, Pullman discovered that Powell had actually played on one gig by Miles Davis's Nonet. Given that their repertoire was rather limited, it is safe to assume that they must have played "Jeru". Days after that gig, Powell went into the studio and did a session where he recorded several standards and only one original, "So Sorry, Please". ¿Residual memory from the gig with the Nonet? Possibly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jimmy Giuffre Trio in Italy, 1959

The cornucopia of the Internet seems to be truly boundless. In this occasion, we've sniffed out a complete set by the Jimmy Giuffre Trio with Jim Hall and Buddy Clark in Italy, as part of their 1959 European tour.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Charlie's weekend: From the nightclub to the trenches

© Jimmy Katz
Charlie Haden (b. 1937) is an exceptional musician. Exceptional as in being an exception, one of those characters that are to be celebrated if only for just not fitting your regular jazz musician profile. His journey from white, country singing boy from Shenandoah, Iowa, to foundation of Ornette Coleman's ground-breaking quartet, to politically outspoken frontman, to leader of the cool and sophisticated Quartet West, could easily encompass the careers of several men.

For a single man, only a solid artistic coherence and honesty can hold together such diverse threads of the same rope. In Haden's case, it seems to boil down to his deeply rooted musicality, his unaffected lyricism and his genuine love for his instrument: unlike some other top players, he's consistently resisted the urge to make the double bass sound like a lighter instrument. On the contrary, he seems to cherish the natural gravitas of the bull fiddle. This probably best appreciated in his numerous duo recordings, the latest of which, his second volume with the greatly missed Hank Jones, should come out in the Autumn.

Long before that, next Saturday and Sunday, it's Charlie's Weekend at the Barbican. Like his career, these will be two nights of contrasts. On the first one, the Quartet West (with Ernie Watts, Alan Broadbent, and Rodney Green), one of the most elegant jazz combos around, will introduce their current release, Sophisticated Ladies (Emarcy), dedicated to the great tradition of American female singers (with Liane Carroll, Melody Gardot, and Ruth Cameron on stage). For many this will sound like a boring premise, but the QW is one of the few bands that can give it substance.

Sunday night will be devoted to almost the extreme opposite of Saturday's urbane sounds. The Liberation Music Orchestra was established as a vehicle for political protest and vindication. Their 1969 debut on Impulse! was a comment on the Spanish Civil War, a 30-year old event in a foreign country. Still with composer and arranger Carla Bley co-leading an Anglo-American ensemble in this occasion, it'll be interesting to see what these two children of the Sixties make today of the current state of affairs in the world and their own country through their music.

Many words have been written about the power and versatility of music to evoke and provoke. These two concerts will be hard-proof of it.

PS: Gretchen Parlato was one of the great surprises at last year's London Jazz Festival. She'll be singing at the Barbican's FreeStage on Saturday 21, at 18:00.

Charlie Haden plays at the Barbican on May 21-22. For more details and other related events, see the Barbican, and Serious.

For more about Haden, this in-depth profile by Francis Davis is recommended. Haden's own website is here.

Music on-line: MySpace, Spotify

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday's pill: Brazilliance

Lazy clichés say of Brazilliance that it was bossa nova, chapter 0. As it happens, bossa nova it ain't. There's Brazilian as well as jazz in it, true, but not so much to do with what Jobim and Gilberto would create in the late 1950s, in Brazil.

For those who don't know these records, Brazilliance, volumes I & II, are two CDs with music recorded in 1953 and 1958 respectively for Californian label Pacific Jazz, originally under Brazilian emigré Laurindo Almeida's leadership, with Bud Shank on alto, and either Harry Babasin (I) or Gary Peacock (II) on bass, and Roy Harte (I) or Chuck Flores (II) on drums.

I guess that the "bossa nova" tag is attached to this music because a) it sounds like a neat guess, and b) it could be a good hook for quite a number of people. Problem is that a) it's not really bossa, and b) you will always have people discouraged by the bossa tag who could have enjoyed the music, as well as the disappointed bossa lovers.

This is more a mixture of baião and other Brazilian rhythms with straight 4/4 jazz, part of the mild experimentation that took place in 1950s Californian jazz, but you will not find any of the "stuttering rhythms" that came out of João Gilberto's guitar and vocals, even though some of this music seems to be asking for it, like the first part of "Inquietação" (listen on YouTube). Rhythmically it's much simpler, and harmonically it keeps firmly within the jazz frame of the moment. In any case, what really matters is that it sounds fresh, it's music for warm summer sunsets, with light, swinging rhythms, and the unamplified sound of Almeida's guitar tempering its whole atmosphere.

This CDs (covers pictured) were issued as World Pacific/Capitol-EMI CDP 7 96339 2 and CDP 7 96102 2, respectively. They can also be heard on Spotify and YouTube.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Quotes from Heroes and Villains

Heroes and Villains is a collection of articles by David Hajdu, best known in the jazz world for his biography of Billy Strayhorn. However, the scope of his writing is much wider than that, with room for people as diverse as Philip Glass, John Zorn, Beyoncé, and The White Stripes, or comic book authors like Will Eisner or Joe Sacco. I got a copy of this 2009 book only yesterday, and just some random browsing is proving promising. So far I'd say his main strength is the way he develops his articles: The endings of the chapter on Richard Rodgers and of the second act of "A Hundred Years of Blues" are as relevant as they are shocking and as real as your own life.

He also has the ability to choose meaty quotes like these:

"A lot of white fans remind me of the idiot who goes to the opera house to listen to the orchestra" (Delmark Records' Bob Koester on the guitar fetichism of white blues fans.)

"Talent is like the battery in the car. It'll get you started, but if the generator is bad, you don't go very far" (Ellis Marsalis);

or to talk at length about this picture

© Life

and describe so vividly the drama behind the innocent fun everyone in it is having, due to its role in the demise of Billy Eckstine's career, that he makes the reader run to the computer to find the image and check for ourselves the power of racial prejudice in America, in 1950.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday's pill: Lewis Porter's blog

©Ed Berger, 2006
Last Monday I recommended some serious reading about jazz. Today I bring you some more. Dr. Lewis Porter (pictured) is one of the most consistent authors about jazz in the last few years. A pianist (here, with Dave Liebman) and one of the prime ideologists on how jazz research should be carried out, as well as founder and director of the Masters in Jazz History and Research Rutgers University (New Jersey) and acclaimed biographer of John Coltrane. Perfect Sound Forever interviewed him thoroughly, mainly about those two subjects, jazz research and Coltrane. Dr. Porter is a staunch empiricist, a giant in jazz knowledge, not so much as an erudite - that's what encyclopedias are for - but for the independence and originality of his work. He's one of the few authors on jazz who can be recommended unreservedly. With the help of MA student Alex "Lubricity" Rodriguez and under the auspices of WBGO, he started a blog a couple of weeks ago. Right after his introduction, where he states that

Experience has shown me that jazz musicians, fans, authors and teachers are reluctant to give up their old stories. This series will challenge you to change how you talk about jazz. Guess what? You can do it! Read, comment and share so that we can all work to spread accurate information about our beloved music, free of distracting myths and rumors.

he introduces, to that end, a proto-blues recorded in Congo in 1906! Nice way to start a blog! Dr. Porter explains

African MELODIES [not only rhythms] have survived in African American music--especially the blues--and this recording proves it! [...] Not only can you hear the flutist(s) playing very familiar blues licks over and over, he constantly goes back and forth between the major third and the “blue” third!

Besides explaining that small technicality, in this entry you can listen to the whole recording on line, here. Next entry is scheduled for today, Thursday 14th. Don't miss it!

PS: Today's entry is about the origins of the word "jazz", and it's here. Not to be missed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

In brief: documentary on current Chilean jazz

Note (June 29, 2012): links have been updated for the actual programmes, when available on line.

From today, Monday 11, at the times stated below, Tempo, a documentary series devoted to the current and very rich jazz scene in Chile. Readers of this blog are aware of the quality of current jazz to the West of the Andes. Tempo is a series up to the standard of the music it presents, combining a very simple formula, a mix of music performances and interviews, with a very sober and cared for production. It's worth watching for the music itself and because it's proof of the possibilities that video offers to expose jazz musicians in an approachable and yet non-compromised way.

Tempo can be watched live online here:

What to read...

The arrival of blogs and the actual possibility of anyone publishing anything to be read anywhere in the world has changed the game of publishing in general, and, in its small turf, jazz criticism. If we step aside the Northern hemisphere axis that goes from the US to Japan through Western Europe, the internet must have meant quite something for the unlikely but very real fans in places like Iran, China, or the southernmost tip of South America, who had very poor access to quality information are now much more likely to read about and even listen - legally or ilegally - to their heroes.

I emphasized the anywhere and its positive effect, but there's a significant problem with the anything being published. Good editors and their quality control and content-filtering are missed in the deluge of blogs and websites passing for serious publications, and it's more difficult to know what's worth our precious time. Anything does mean that anything is published, and the number of visits and other statistics will never reflect the quality of the publication.

Luckily there some very good stuff around (what's in my blogroll, on the right of this window, for instance), but if you're really interested in this music and are ready to put some effort and time, I'd strongly recommend the following three sites:

  • JOURNAL OF JAZZ STUDIES: Formerly known as the Annual Review of Jazz Studies, and even before that, as Journal of Jazz Studies, which was first published in 1973 by the Institute of Jazz Studies. As a (irregular) collector of ARJS, I can tell you that each issue looks more like a small book than a journal, and they are as consistently serious and engaging as they are expensive, even second hand. The good news for the readers, is that from now on the JJS will be published twice a year, on line, and it'll be free to read for everyone. It's a peer-reviewed publication, so expect no nonsense. The managing editor is Evan Spring, and the first issue can be found here.

  • CURRENT RESEARCH IN JAZZ: This on-line, also peer-reviewed, journal has been around for over a couple of years. The brains behind it are those of master discographer, and co-author of Gigi Gryce's biography, Mike Fitzgerald. He's an extremely active promoter of serious jazz research and the use of the internet to improve its quality. He explains the philosophy and goals of CRJ here. The first issue can be read here, the second and most recent is here.

  • JAZZ STUDIES ONLINE: This is a different website from the other two. Edited by saxophonist and politics scholar Tad Shull, and sponsored by Columbia University's Center of Jazz Studies, it compiles different resources for the serious student of jazz. There are audio interviews, performance and a selection of articles, like Scott DeVeaux's seminal "Constructing the Jazz Tradition".

    The crown jewel here, however, especially for all of us interested in vintage magazines and 1950s jazz, it's the whole run of the legendary Jazz Review. This short-lived publication (23 issues, between 1958 and 1961), edited by Martin Williams and Nat Hentoff, marked a turning point for jazz criticism and commentary, and it carried some historical articles. It opened its first issue with Gunther Schuller's study of Sonny Rollins's "Blue 7", "Sonny Rollins and the Challenge of Thematic Improvisation", the article that apparently shocked Rollins so much that he said he wouldn't read anything else about him any more. And there's much more, like interviews with James P. Johnson and Walter Page, criticism done by musicians (Bob Brookmeyer, Art Farmer, George Russell, Bill Crow...), the first jazz writings of Harvey Pekar, and much, much more. All that in .pdf format (text-searchable in some issues).

Enjoy the reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday's pill: Darcy James Argue

Darcy James Argue and the Secret Society play "Transit" (score) at Kennedy Center, on January 5th, 2011.

More videos: here.

The Kennedy Center gig, complete: here.