Other Matters: Lilacs

Within a half hour of returning from a trip late this afternoon, I got into the appropriate duds, jumped on the mountain bike and took a twelve-mile ride before supper. The route was a favorite, along one of the irrigation canals carrying the water that allows this high desert valley to bloom. For long stretches, the margins of the path are graced with lilacs, clouds of lilacs, in parks, yards, the borders of orchards, vacant lots. The blossoms range from purest white through pink, lavender, … [Read more...]

Off Again

The next few days will find me consorting with friends from educational endeavors long ago; in other words, a college reunion. I leave you with the two items below. The first is brief, a bit of welcome news. The second is long, intended to bring to your attention a musician who deserves it. I'll be traveling without benefit or burden of the old laptop. Hey, we all need breaks now and then from the digital world . Without them, we might need digitalis. Have a good weekend. … [Read more...]


Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond has been named a semi-finalist in the performing arts category for an IPPY, a 2006 Indpendent Book Publishers Award. The competition: Vivian Perlis and Libby Van Cleve, Composers' Voices from Ives to Ellington Calum Waddell, Minds of Fear: A Dialogue With 30 Modern Masters of Horror Jack Lane, A Gallery of Stars: The Story of the Hollywood Brown Derby's Wall of Fame Weathervane Theatre, Nights of Northern Lights:40 Seasons of the … [Read more...]

Randy Sandke: Metatonal, Among Other Things

Here is an excerpt from a much longer piece that will soon appear elsewhere. More about that later. The trumpeter and sometime guitarist Randy Sandke receives neither the critical nor popular attention that goes to fellow trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Dave Douglas—to pick a couple of names out of the air—but everything about his music says that he should. He is a technical and creative virtuoso on the trumpet. Regardless of the style and era of music he chooses for his projects, he seems … [Read more...]

Kenny Dorham Remastered

The new series of Prestige recordings remastered for compact disc by Rudy Van Gelder, the engineer who recorded them, is the occasion for the reappearance of one of Kenny Dorham’s finest albums, Quiet Kenny. The sound was never inadequate on a Van Gelder session, but his rebalancing and adjustment of some of the sonic nuances of the rhythm section etch Dorham’s sound closer to the intimacy the trumpeter achieved in person. Dorham was of the generation of trumpet players who followed and were … [Read more...]

Bill Gottlieb

The great (adjective used advisedly) photographer William P. Gottlieb died on Sunday at the age of 89. He hadn't made a photograph with a jazz theme for decades, but that didn't matter. The ones he shot in the forties and fifties are indelible images. Once you have seen his picture of 52nd Street in the rain, you won't forget it; nor his shots of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Sid Catlett, young Frank Sinatra and valuable, barely-remembered figures like Al Casey and Dave Lambert. For a … [Read more...]

The Jersey Boys Conundrum

I don’t pay much attention to rock and roll revival musicals because I avoid rock and roll, to the limited extent possible in a world saturated with it. Paul Paolicelli is an author, fellow journalist and former jazz trumpeter just enough younger than I to have been a part of the first rock generation. He sent a charming essay concerning the Broadway show called Jersey Boys. I had never heard of it and had to look it up. It is about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I liked Paul’s little story … [Read more...]

Comment: “It Takes One To Know One” Department

Pinky Winters is one of the treasures of the vocal world. I would suggest that any endeavor to locate her recorded work is well worth the effort. I am partial to Rain Sometimes, Cellar Door Records CCLR 101, recorded in 2002, also produced by Bill Reed. She is masterfully accompanied on piano by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and the fondly-remembered Bob Maize on bass. Wonderful songs, inspired renditions ... Look for it and buy it. You will thank me. Carol Sloane New female singers billed as … [Read more...]


The Rifftides piece about pianist John Williams incorrectly identified him as a former mayor of Vero Beach, Florida. Williams sent a postcard with an aerial view of Vero Beach, where he lives now, setting the record straight. Thanks for very generous—if unwarranted— warm words in Rifftides. But thought I should correct “mayor of Vero Beach” bit. I was City Commissioner (& vice-mayor one term) for 20 years in Hollywood, Fla. 1971-1991. Elected to 5 terms, 4 yrs. each. Did a good job. Have a nice … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Journalism Ethics

After my daily journalism days ended, I spent several years educating professional journalists about issues they cover in economics, science, the environment, foreign affairs and other fields. One of our key areas at the nonprofit Foundation For American Communications (FACS) was ethics. That resulted in Journalism Ethics: Why Change? a book edited by me and my assistant Dale Shaps that is still read by reporters, editors, producers and others in journalism who know how difficult it is, day in … [Read more...]

Early Zeitlin On The Air

Bill Kirchner's next Jazz From The Archives on WBGO, the Newark, New Jersey, jazz station, will feature the 1960s Columbia recordings of pianist Denny Zeitlin. The program will be an opportunity to hear some of Zeitlin's important work for Columbia that has never been issued on CD. Bill will include tracks from Cathexis, Carnival, Shining Hour and Zeitgeist. The show airs Sunday night at 11:00 EDT. It may also be heard on WBGO's live web stream at 10 p.m. Central time; 8 p.m. Pacific; 8 a.m. … [Read more...]

Comment: Pinky Winters

Jim Harrod writes concerning the Rifftides item about Pinky Winters: I enjoyed your recent celebration of Pinky’s Mandel CD. If readers inquire where they might acquire this gem for less than $40, I would heartily recommend Early Records in Tokyo. The owner, Hiroshi Tanno, sells it for ¥2,800 and charged me ¥450 for delivery. The total was ¥3,250, translated to $28.33 and was paid via PayPal, making the transaction seamless and fast. Hiroshi can be contacted at hiroshi@earlyrecords.com … [Read more...]

Comments: John Williams

COMMENT 1 Here's a message from Bill Crow following the recent Rifftides piece about pianist John Williams. There is a recent release on Hep Records of a Spike Robinson CD, The C.T.S. Session, on which John is the pianist. I am the bassist, and Peter Cater of London is the drummer.Louis Stewart plays guitar on a few tracks. We made it in 1998 after our appearance at the Cork Jazz Festival, but it sat on the shelf for a few years after Spike died. Johnny Williams was a great pleasure to play … [Read more...]

Comment: John Williams

The veteran vibraharpist Charlie Shoemake writes in response to yesterday's John Williams item: I bought the John Williams 10' inch LP while in high school. (Stephen F. Austin in Houston). I still have it today and it's in excellent condition. I play it every once in awhile. I also bought during the same period the big Stan Getz at The Shrine Auditorium double recording with John Williams and Bob Brookmeyer. Over the ensuing years someone lifted that one from me but I got it back years later on … [Read more...]

THAT John Williams

During long stretches of 1953 and ‘54, John Williams was the pianist in Stan Getz’s quintet and quartet. Wiliams is often described in biographies as a disciple of Bud Powell who was also influenced by Horace Silver. That is true. It is also true that oxygen influences flame, a fact that tells us nothing about the differences among flames. In the population of pianists influenced by Powell and Silver, Williams was identifiable by a keyboard touch that produced a spikey, percussive, rollicking … [Read more...]

Tom and Elis

Pianist and singer Patti Wicks saw yesterday's post about Antonio Carlos Jobim and sent a link to video of Jobim, widely known as "Tom," and his friend the incomparable Elis Regina singing his "Aguas de Marco." I've played it a half-dozen times and can't get enough of seeing the joy they found in performing together. Watch her hands. … [Read more...]


Eleven years after his death, the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim is as universal as that of Gershwin, Berlin and Porter. Yet, until the issue of the new boxed set The Prime of Antonio Carlos Jobim, the three albums in it were out of general circulation except for a brief reappearance shortly after he died. They are The Wonderful World of Antonio Carlos Jobim; Love, Strings and Jobim; and, most important, A Certain Mr. Jobim, all from the 1960s, all originally on the Warner Bros. label but … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Yip, Yip Hooray

Julius La Rosa, naturally, has a considerable interest in lyrics and lyricists. He called my attention to these little verses by Yip Harburg, one of the greatest American lyricists (“Over the Rainbow,” “April in Paris,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” among 600 or so others). No matter how much I probe and prod I cannot quite believe in God, But, oh, I hope to God that He Unswervingly believes in me. O innocent victims of Cupid, Remember this terse little verse: To let a fool kiss you is stupid, To … [Read more...]

Tulip Trip Report

A few Rifftiders—if that’s the term (and it might as well be)—have asked about our mid-week visit to tulip country in the Skagit Valley of western Washington State. Briefly, then: The first day was warm and sunny. We walked around the charming waterfront town of La Conner, population 750, where we stayed two nights at the Wild Iris Inn. The second day was chilly, damp, exhilarating. We went to the fields of Tulip Town, then RoozenGaarde, and toured both extensively, glad that we had our muck … [Read more...]

Petrucciani On Applause, Death, Music

While I was away in the tulip fields, On An Overgrown Path posted a piece on the late Michel Petrucciani. It includes a link to a thirty-eight-minute video about the pianist. In it, Petrucciani talks about his aversion to applause, his fear of death, his love of the piano. It's an important film. Visit On An Overgrown Path, then come back, please. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Trio Voronezh

The most recent concert at The Seasons was by a Russian group I went to hear out of curiosity. I knew that the members of Trio Voronezh were classically trained at the conservatory in Voronezh, a city near the Don river 250 miles south of Moscow. I knew that they played instruments I had never heard; the domra, the bajan and the double-bass balalaika. But what drew me in was their repertoire, which included J.S. Bach, Shostakovich, Mozart, Astor Piazolla, Gershwin, Khachaturian, an assortment of … [Read more...]

Herb Geller And Roland Kirk In Hamburg

The new Doug's Picks in the right column include CDs by Roland Kirk and Herb Geller. Kirk's is a live recording made in Hamburg in 1972. Geller lived in Hamburg then, as he does now. In a coincidence that I don't possess enough imagination to have made up, Geller attended Kirk's concert. He read the Rifftides reviews and sent the following message. I have added links to explain some of his references. Dear Doug, I remember Roland Kirk´s concert at the NDR concert hall (the funkhaus). It was … [Read more...]

I Might Even Tiptoe

No blogging for a couple of days. I'm off the see the tulips. You are invited to browse the Rifftides archive. You'll find the archive gateway in the right-hand column. Just click and you can travel back in time...but only as far as June 15, 2005, our launch date. … [Read more...]

Five New Picks

Observe, please, that in the right column we have brand new Doug's Picks. They are three CDs by saxophonists who could hardly be less alike, a DVD to replicate a great night out, and a book that may make you wish you could drop back into a special time in San Francisco. Of course, it could be argued that in San Francisco, every time is special, but this one, worse luck, is gone forever. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Kenny Drew On Rap

The brilliant pianist Kenny Drew, Jr., has reached the boiling point over the condition of black popular music in the United States. Here are two excerpts from his current essay on the All About Jazz website: ...when I first started studying music I was told that music had to consist of three elements: melody, harmony and rhythm. Rap music (an oxymoron similar to “military intelligence “or “jumbo shrimp”) has basically discarded the first two elements and is left with nothing but rhythm. Since … [Read more...]

Paul Robeson In Action

The great football player, singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson was born on this day in 1898. Like legions of other Americans, he made the mistake in the 1930s of thinking that Communism had the solution to problems of inequality in the United States. He went to the Soviet Union to investigate the system and for the rest of his life paid for the trip by being made the target of relentless surveillance by the government. Dr. Chilledair (Bill Reed) posts a recollection of Robeson’s ingenious, … [Read more...]