English 101 Continued

It was not my intention to open a forum covering the range of abuse of the English language. At some point, we'll have to move on, but this is too much fun to cut off yet. If we had stopped, I wouldn't have been able to mention what happened at dinner tonight in Seattle. I thanked the waitress for her good service. She said, "Hey, no problem." When did we lose "You're welcome?" I like this one from Noel Silverman in New York. High on my list are "any and all," and "each and every," both … [Read more...]

Ah, Seattle

It's Jazz And Other Matters, remember? We'll get back to jazz before long. Rifftides readers have my mind on words, and Seattle has my mind on the splendid weather they're having here and the hike I took around Green Lake. When the weather is good, as it is most Junes, there is no more breathtakingly beautiful city. Next time you're here, don't miss Ravenna Park, an urban treasure even many Seattleites have yet to discover. I pulled into one of the park's few parking spots, lunched on a Clif Bar … [Read more...]

Comment: Clifford Brown

A Rifftides reader named Deborah writes in response to the Clifford Brown item: Ah. The penny just dropped. I am a fairly new listener to jazz, and sometimes I feel like I'll never get up to speed. The first album I ever bought was John Lewis-The Wonderful World of Jazz and it remains an all-time favorite. One of the songs on the album is "I Remember Clifford" by Benny Golson. It is performed by Lewis on piano, Jim Hall on guitar, George Duvivier on bass, and Connie Kay on drums. It is a tender … [Read more...]

Comments: Those Phrases

Reaction has begun coming in to the more or less lighthearted Rifftides posting about annoying, overused phrases. Here's a note from Bill Holman. Doug, Your response to "if you will' is the same as mine. Nancy is still taken aback when, while we're watching TV, I blurt "I won't!". How about "as we speak"? (seems to be fading) Here's one from Gene Lees. "If you will" is used by every reporter and anchor I can think of. And in the case of Wolf Blitzer's show, as much as five or six times in an … [Read more...]

Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown

Fifty years ago today at The Seattle Times, as I ripped copy from the wire machines my eye went to a story in the latest Associated Press national split. A young trumpeter named Clifford Brown had been killed early that morning in a car crash. My heart stopped for a beat or two. My stomach churned. I felt ill. I was attempting to master the trumpet and, like virtually all aspiring trumpet players, idolized Brown. The life of a majestically inventive musician had ended violently on a rainy … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Gregory Curtis

In 1975, Mike Levy, the publisher of Texas Monthly, and Gregory Curtis, a staff writer, visited me in my office at KSAT-TV in San Antonio. They were on a tour to create good will for the fledgling magazine, which was even then attracting national notice for its quality. In the course of the conversation, Curtis asked me if I would write for Texas Monthly. I jumped at the chance, became a regular contributor, then for twenty-five years a contributing editor, sending in articles and reviews long … [Read more...]

Phrases I Wish Never To Hear or Read Again

"That said..." ."..the likes of..." (He has played with the likes of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Andres Segovia.) "...looking to..." (The President is looking to cut taxes.) "...Indeed." Mindlessly intoned by anchors as a way of demonstrating sophisticated understanding. Or something. "At the end of the day..." "...if you will." (I won't.) … [Read more...]

Terri Hinte

Terri Hinte has been fired by Concord Records. Her name will not mean a thing to most of you, but her work has indirectly benefited serious jazz listeners for decades. The news of her dismissal is of intense interest to many writers because Ms. Hinte is the very model of what a record company publicist should be-- deeply knowledgeable about the music and its players, intelligent, responsive, resourceful, helpful in countless substantive ways. She went to work for Fantasy, Inc. in 1973 and was … [Read more...]

Other Places: Poolside Jazz

A Rifftides Reader who identifies himself only as David P. sent a link to his internet radio website, which is called Poolside Jazz: Cooler Than The Cool Side Of The Pillow. The music I heard there in a half-hour visit was cool only in the slang sense. In succession, David P. played Fletcher Henderson's "Queer Notions," Gil Evans' "The Time of the Barracudas," Sonny Rollins' "You Don't Know What Love Is," Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody 'n You," Jelly Roll Morton's "Sweetheart 'O Mine" and Bud Powell … [Read more...]

Other Places: Barbara Nessim

Barbara Nessim, the artist known for her Rolling Stone, TIME and New York Times Magazine covers, among other works, has a fascinating website tracking her output from the beginning of her career in the 1960s to the present. It includes a piece of video showing Nessim's hands as she invents place cards for one of her dinner parties. I haven't seen a more effective on-screen demonstration of improvisatory graphic art since the 1955 Henri-Georges Clouzot film, The Mystery of Picasso. A tour of … [Read more...]

Desmond: First Place Again

The Jazz Journalists Association announced its annual awards last night in New York. Roy Haynes was honored for lifetime achievement in jazz. Sonny Rollins was named musician of the year, Dafnis Prieto up and coming musician of the year, Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, album of the year. And there was this: Best Book About Jazz Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond (Parkside), by Doug Ramsey Many thanks to JJA's members. Recognition by one's … [Read more...]

Harry Allen. The Reptet.

After Fathers Day activity (a present, a card, a few phone calls) subsided, I listened to two CDs, one because the publicist for the band keeps calling and asking if I've heard it, the other because I try never to go longer than a month without a Harry Allen fix. Harry Allen Allen is a thirty-nine-year-old tenor saxophonist from Rhode Island who managed to grow up in the post-Coltrane era without absorbing a detectable trace of John Coltrane's influence. His Encyclopedia of Jazz entry says that … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Alec Wilder

Alec Wilder (1907-1980) wrote sonatas, suites, concertos, operas, film scores, ballets, art songs, woodwind quintets, brass quintets and music for French horn. In his composing, he was as prolific as he was ingenious and eclectic, but his work was politically incorrect in the sense that it did not fit the preconceptions of the classical establishment of his time. The individuality, substance and pronounced American character of Wilder's concert music cannot be denied, but little of it gained … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Unplanned Vacation Day

When I set out on a short bicycle ride yesterday, I had every intention of being at the computer by noon and writing the rest of the day. I ended up cruising along the Yakima River, and it captured me. The stream was swollen with snow melt from the Cascade mountains. This photograph shows the river at normal height. I've never seen the Yakima so full short of a major flood. It was roaring along, bound for the mighty Columbia ninety miles downstream, and I rode along with it miles farther than … [Read more...]

Jeff Johnson And The Contessa

Jim Wilke, who produces and hosts the splendid Jazz After Hours program carried by radio stations across the land, is also an accomplished performance and recording engineer. He frequently combines his specialties in Jazz Northwest, a broadcast he does once a week on KPLU-FM, the Seattle-Tacoma jazz station. Sunday, June 18, Wilke will air a concert by the Jeff Johnson Trio, recorded at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Also in the trio are Mark Taylor, alto & soprano saxes, and Byron Vannoy, drums … [Read more...]

He REALLY Likes It

Following yesterday's posting about Jeremy Steig's Flute Fever (see the item below this one), Bill McBirnie was moved to expand on his enthusiastic evaluation. To wit: Even though I am a self-declared disciple of Hubert Laws, Flute Fever is, without qualification, my favourite jazz flute recording. This album is in my view THE classic jazz flute record for all time. Jeremy was utterly on fire on this session...and he was teamed up for a "blowing session" with what proved to be an outstanding … [Read more...]

Comment: Flute Fever

The fine Canadian flutist Bill McBirnie writes: I am so glad to hear someone acknowledge what is truly a masterpiece...Flute Fever...with Jeremy Steig (flute) and Denny Zeitlin (piano). When will this album ever be re-issued on CD?! That question has been asked frequently over the years (by me, among others). Eventually the A& R people at Sony/Columbia will get the message. But will the the guys who really matter, the Sony/Columbia accountants, get it? When I tell you that McBirnie is a fine … [Read more...]

Dick Sudhalter Needs Help

Richard M. Sudhalter, the gifted cornetist, biographer of Bix Beiderbecke and invaluable jazz historian, needs help. Following a massive stroke nearly three years ago and a recent diagnosis that he has MSA (multiple system atrophy), Dick's medical bills have mounted to proportions that he cannot begin to manage. Sudhalter wrote Lost Chords: White Musicians and Their Contributions to Jazz 1915-1945. Following racist attacks by ignoramuses when it was published in 1999, it is now beginning to get … [Read more...]


Marc Johnson, Shades of Jade (ECM). The cast of musicians--Johnson, Joe Lovano, John Scofield, Eliane Elias, Joey Baron--might lead you to believe that it's an all-star jam session. But it's an hour of salon music, carefully conceived, beautifully executed, relaxed with an outré tinge, in the ECM fashion. Highlights: Johnson's medium-tempo blues "Blue Nefertiti," evoking a Miles Davis-Wayne Shorter mid-sixties mood, and Elias's "Ton Sur Ton." If you haven't heard Elias's piano playing lately, … [Read more...]


Yesterday, Rifftides was one year old. Thanks to all of you for keeping me interested. It has been a rewarding and broadening experience. DR … [Read more...]

Django Seen And Heard

When I wrote about Django Reinhardt on his birthday, I didn't know about a classic piece of film showing him and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Earl Minor sent this from Portland, Oregon: This one literally made me cry tears of joy. I hope you enjoy it. It's amazing how wonderfully he played with two fingers burnt off his left hand. The human spirit knows no bounds when put to good use. Here is the link to the video, thanks to Mr. Minor. … [Read more...]

On Monk

Peter Levin writes from New York: While (unlike, it appears, Jimmy Knepper) I love Monk's music, Knepper was right about the childlike quality of a lot of Monk tunes. When one of our sons was three, Monk was his favorite composer. When we asked him why, he said it was because Monk's music sounded like "our city" (which is New York, where we live a few blocks away from West 63rd Street, Monk's home for many years). He could hear car horns and exhaust as well as playground chants in those … [Read more...]

Swing ‘n Jazz: A Listener’s Journal

The Commission Project's Swing 'n Jazz event in Rochester, New York, raises money to commission compositions, produce workshops and fund composer-in-residence programs in public schools across the United States. The four days of TCP's ninth edition of Swing 'n Jazz overflowed with music, most of which I heard. Here is a compact account. Thursday, June 1: Intermittent rain nearly washed out the Community Drum Circle concert in a small public square across from the Eastman School of Music. Few … [Read more...]

Rochester: The Tourist Angle

While I was in Rochester, New York, I kept busy in The Commission Project's official Swing 'n Jazz schedule of concerts and workshops, and the unofficial one of eating and drinking well and hanging out. Still, I managed to absorb a bit of the atmosphere of a city with remarkable historical and cultural depth. Some of the culture is the kind promoted by arts and historical preservation organizations. Some is simply in the fabric of daily life. Kodak declined as the result of its failure to … [Read more...]