The Jazz Institute of Chicago website has the transcription of a valuable 1981 interview with Bill Perkins by the indefatigable British print and broadcast journalist Steve Voce. Perkins was one of the great tenor saxophonists who grew out of Lester Young. In the fifties, Stan Getz said of him, “Perk is playing more than any of us.” I have always assumed that by “any of us,” Getz meant not just himself, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Paul Quinichette, Brew Moore and dozens of others who worshipped Lester, … [Read more...]


Leo Boucher in Houston sent a message about my comments Wednesday on Ben Ratliff's New York Times piece predicting a boring concert at the JVC Festival. I read it differently. I don't think he meant that those players are boring or that the concert would be boring. I think he meant that it is an example of boring, uninspired programming. My guess is that that's why he didn't name the pianists; he wasn't dissing them, but the festival programmers. I look forward to reading your blog. Nate … [Read more...]

Knock, Knock

I have had unbelievable luck lately. Just this morning, I got an e-mail message notifying me that I have won a million Euros in the Royal Spanish Sweepstakes Lottery, another from the son of a murdered bank official in Kenya who will make me rich for helping him invest his inheritance, and one from a merchant in Dubai who led a selfish life, but now that he is dying of a particularly hideous form of cancer, wants to give his fortune to charity and would like me to help him dispose of it. As if … [Read more...]

That Night at Elaine’s

Shortly after Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond came out, we threw a book party at Elaine’s Restaurant. In his last decade, Paul spent a good deal of his time at that way station of culture and good times on Second Avenue in Manhattan, hanging out with writers and thinking about finishing the book he barely started. Malcolm Harris of Parkside Publications, Dave and Iola Brubeck and I co-hosted the party. Elaine Kaufman, her chief of staff Diane Becker and their crew are … [Read more...]

Adoration Of The Melody

Devra Hall yesterday posted a charming memory of Alec Wilder on her blog, DevraDoWrite. I recommend that you take a look at it. Alec and Paul Desmond were friends. Evenings with Alec holding court in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel, his home, were among the highlights of my years in New York. One occasion with Wilder, Desmond, Willis Conover of the Voice of America and the great French horn player Jimmy Buffington may have been the highlight. There was much hilarity and much wisdom. Alec was … [Read more...]

Good To Be Here

Thanks to the veteran AJ bloggers Terry Teachout, Andrew Taylor, Jan Herman and Tobi Tobias for their warm welcomes into the tent. Following the launch, I heard from writers, musicians, broadcasters, old and new acquaintances and a couple of long-lost friends. The prodigious pianist Jessica Williams checked in with this: Congrats on stepping into a new area of literary critique; before you know it, you might be writing copy for or The great thing … [Read more...]

Launching Rifftides

Today is the first day of this new web log about jazz and, as its subtitle proclaims, other matters. At the top of the right-hand column you will find a sort of manifesto, below that information about the proprietor. Farther down the right-hand column under "Doug's Picks" are things I like that I hope you will like. I want this to be not merely a blog, but a diablog, so please respond with reactions. Your participation will be at least half the fun. There is an e-mail address under "Contact" in … [Read more...]

Crystal Ball Criticism

In yesterday’s New York Times, Ben Ratliff performed the amazing critical leap of predicting that a musical event will be uneventful. Ratliff wrote of a JVC Jazz Festival-New York tribute: “Tomorrow (that's this evening, 6/15--DR) there is a concert blurrily called ‘Piano Masters Salute Piano Legends,’ with four different pianists playing Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk. How boring.” The pianists, for those of you who missed them in Ratliff’s piece because he … [Read more...]

Hanging out at the Garage

One of the pleasures of New York as recently as the 1980s was to schlep around Greenwich Village and drop into small clubs for casual listening. An evening of music, even in major clubs, did not require a reservation secured by a credit card, and a second mortgage to fund the occasion. Today, there is a minor renaissance of listening spots that at least hint at the fifties, sixties and seventies when there were places like the Five Spot, Slug's,The Guitar, Bradley's and--somewhat farther afield, … [Read more...]

On The Radio

If you live in Dallas, Fort Worth, northeast Texas or southern Oklahoma, you may want to tune into KETR-FM 88.9 tonight at 8:00. I'll be on with Bruce Tater and Mark Chapman to discuss Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond. Sorry, the station doesn't stream its programs on the web. I'll talk about Desmond with Claudia Russell on KSDS, San Diego, at 6:oo pm PDT on Sunday, June 26. KSDS does stream. You'll find it here. Several radio appearances are coming up when I'm in New York … [Read more...]