Birdshot

The Charlie Parker posting has elicited a number of interesting responses, including this one from Rifftides reader Dave Lull. The late Esther Bubley took photographs of Charlie Parker and others at a jam session. There are a few of them posted at a web site devoted to Ms Bubley, and more posted here. From the Esther Bubley Gallery forward: "Esther Bubley was the photographer at the Norman Granz Jam Session recording in 1952. What is really remarkable about this series of photographs is that … [Read more...]

The Return of Oska T

Good news for radio listeners in Cincinnati, Ohio, or anywhere on the internet: The veteran broadcaster Oscar Treadwell (legendary would not be a hyperbolic term in this case) is back on the air. In his early career, Treadwell was so highly regarded by musicians that Wardell Gray named one of his compositions "Treadin' With Treadwell," Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie recorded "An Oscar for Treadwell" and Thelonious Monk wrote "Oska T." Treadwell retired in 2001, but a survey of listeners … [Read more...]

Comments Updated: Charlie Parker

Several interesting comments came in regarding the Charlie Parker posting. Many of them included information about the DVD that was the source of the footage on the Dailymotion web site. Here are some of the reader responses. The Parker/Hawkins footage is on "The Greatest Jazz Films Ever,” available from various outlets. That 2-DVD set also includes the complete Sound Of Jazz, Jammin' The Blues with alternate takes, The Robert Herridge Theater Miles Davis/Gil Evans program, the "Hot House" … [Read more...]

Comments: Military Bands

One of the pleasures of living in the Washington, D.C. area (there ARE some), is that the three main military jazz bands make their homes here. One of the better concerts I attended this past year was at George Washington University, where the Airmen of Note, the U-S Air Force's jazz group, played host to the great guitarist Pat Martino. The band was inspired by Martino's presence and the guitarist clearly dug being surrounded by such a talented big band, an experience I expect he doesn't get to … [Read more...]

Charlie Parker Seen And Heard

For years, I have thought that the only film showing Charlie Parker at work was a well-known 1952 clip of Parker with Dizzy Gillespie when they appeared on a television program to receive a magazine award and played “Hot House.” It turns out, happily, that I was wrong. A website called Dailymotion has filmclips and videotape sequences of a number of musicians, jazz and otherwise, including two with Bird. In Dailymotion’s Parker video, we see him at first listening with great appreciation to … [Read more...]

Comment: Military Bands

With all the back-and-forth about Maynard Ferguson's band and outreach, music ed and so on, I wonder why the military bands are never mentioned? These ensembles are comprised of some of the best players and composers/arrangers on the planet and probably do more to keep students interested in jazz than most others. Granted, their concerts are free (a competive advantage), but it's nice to see some of our tax dollars going into worthy endeavors. Dennis E. Kahle The armed forces jazz bands are … [Read more...]

Other Matters: One Reason I Miss John Ciardi

From Ciardi’s A Browser’s Dictionary (1980): Hip Mod. Slang (and prob. becoming passé). Aware, knowing, up on, in the know. [Earlier hep with the same senses, perhaps modified from the military usage for counting cadence, itself a modification of “left” as in hep-ri'-hep (because “hep” is easier to say with great expulsive force. MMM* attests hep in this military usage by 1862; with the sense “aware, knowing,” as of 1903; the sense shift being from military alertness to alertness in any … [Read more...]

Another Reason I Miss John Ciardi

"Good Morning," he said, "this is John Ciardi prowling around your breakfast table and peering into your cereal bowl to find a whole cluster of words there." It was his introduction to one of the pieces he did on National Public Radio's Morning Edition in the 1980s. To hear the whole thing, go here and click on "Listen. " If you like that one, go here for five NPR podcasts of Ciardi sending "good words to you." (This page is a slowwwwww loader. Be patient) … [Read more...]

38 More Reasons To Miss Ciardi

He published 38 books, 12 of them for children, one a translation of Dante. He was a fine poet. Measurements I've zeroed an altimeter on the floor then raised it to a table and read three feet. Nothing but music knows what air is more precisely than this. I read on its face Sensitive Altimeter and believe it. Once on a clear day over Arkansas I watched the ridges on the radar screen, then looked down from the blister and hung like prayer: the instrument was perfect: ridge by ridge the electric … [Read more...]

A Great Day In Harlem: Longer And Better

Art Kane’s 1958 photograph of fifty-eight musicians in front of and on the steps of a Harlem brownstone ran in Esquire magazine, which called it A Great Day In Harlem. It became one of the best known snapshots in the world, already famous for decades when Jean Bach made a film about it in 1994. Now, in her late eighties, she has expanded the film and brought the picture and its subjects even more renown. Ms. Bach, the brilliant film editor Susan Peehl and director Matthew Seig added nearly four … [Read more...]

Surprise At The Lotus Leaf

“Jazz is where you find it.” That is the opening sentence in the first paragraph of an essay in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers. Here is the rest of the paragraph. The Polish novelist and essayist Leopold Tyrmand, who spent much of World War Two as a forced laborer in Germany, tells of hearing the music of Benny Goodman from a hand-cranked phonograph in a rowboat in the middle of a river. The phonograph was operated by a Nazi soldier afraid of being thought an … [Read more...]

A Flat, But Sharp, Story

Several versions of a joke usually beginning something like, "A note walks into a bar...." are floating around the internet. Buddy DeFranco forwarded the most elaborate I've seen. The Rifftides management makes no claims about the reliability of the musicology in this tale: A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So, the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished: the G is … [Read more...]

Other Matters: An Indian Defense of VOA

Reaction to the Bush administration's cockeyed attempt to emasculate the Voice of America through budget cuts is getting shocked attention not only among policy analysts at home but also from members of the VOA's audience abroad. Here is part of a letter from a New Delhi man named Vijay Kranti to The Washington Times, a heavily conservative newspaper. Earlier, the Times's editorial page urged the White House to abandon its plan to cut English language news broadcasts by slashing VOA's … [Read more...]

Comments: Stowell. Little Girls

John Stowell's solo on "Blues on the Corner" should be transcribed by every serious guitar player on the planet. On second thought, make that every serious player. Bill Kirchner Jeff Albert's story the other day about his daughter's innocently perceptive question brought this followup. Doug, My favorite father/daughter story comes from my friend, the great drummer Allen Schwartzberg from New York. Quite a few years ago he took his eight-year-old daughter to hear an evening outdoor concert of … [Read more...]

Thomas Wolfe Couldn’t Be Right All The Time

Not that you would, but don't miss Terry Teachout's essay about going home again. This will give you a hint of what it's about, although it's about much more. “Thanks, Carol, I'd love to, but…” But the truth is that I don't play anymore, Carol, I haven't touched a bass in years, it wouldn't be fun for either one of us, maybe some other time. Long pause. Deep breath. “But promise me one thing—don't make me take any solos.” He also writes this: The trouble with good advice is that nobody ever … [Read more...]

We Are Not Alone

You may be interested in where some of your fellow readers are following Rifftides. A recent check of the site meter finds them all over the world, in places including: ▪Mickleover, Derby, United Kingdom ▪Mere, Warrington, United Kingdom ▪Brussels, Belgium ▪Barcelona, Spain ▪Arche, Limousin, Spain ▪Cceres, Extremadura, Spain ▪Mijas, Andalucia, Spain ▪Montreal, Quebec, Canada ▪Hamilton, Bermuda ▪Tokyo, Japan ▪Kuguta, Chiba, Japan ▪Paris, France ▪Nantes, Pays de la Loire, France ▪Zurich, … [Read more...]