A Prize For Roger Kellaway

The French Jazz Academy has awarded pianist Roger Kellaway its Le Prix Du Jazz Classique for his 2007 CD Heroes.The album is by Kellaway's trio with guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Dan Lutz. Nat Cole had such a drummerless trio and inspired Art Tatum to use the same instrumentation. Oscar Peterson, who adored Cole and Tatum, had a similar group from 1950 to 1958, with Ray Brown on bass, and guitarist Irving Ashby followed by Barney Kessel and then Herb Ellis. Although he is one of the great … [Read more...]

An Oscar Peterson Story

The Canadian broadcaster Len Dobbin sent this Oscar Peterson anecdote to the Jazz West Coast listserve: Oscar, after having visited friends outside of London, was waiting for a train back. The train station platform was on the foggy side when he spotted a man who looked familiar. He approached him and asked would he be Charles Laughton. Laughton replied he was and Oscar told him how much he enjoyed his work. Laughton then asked Oscar his name and what he did and when Oscar said he was a pianist, … [Read more...]

Stan Getz On The Web

A new web site, The Sound, is devoted to Stan Getz and his music. The site is in its early stages but already has much of interest, including three pages of photos, ten videos and several full-length audio performances by Getz. The brief biography needs work. In the mold of the 21st Century show biz puffery that has crept into jazz PR, it has little biographical information and reads more like a tribute or a news release than a serious account of the artist's life. The real bio, a good one, is … [Read more...]

Other Places And Jelly Roll

I am adding to Other Places a link to Night Lights, a fine web log by David Brent Johnson of WFIU at Indiana University. The current offering at JazzWax is a moving account of Jelly Roll Morton's last recording session and his shameful, racist, mistreatment by ASCAP. I don't know if film of Moton performing exists. But if you'd like an explanation and demonstration of Morton's piano style, you can't do better than this visit with Dick Hyman. … [Read more...]

On Oscar Peterson

For those interested in knowing more about Oscar Peterson, the British journalist Steve Voce, in the British newspaper The Independent, provides a 2700 word obituary-as -essay. Among his anecdotes is one that illustrates the regard in which Peterson was held by other pianists. It also captures Duke Ellington's generosity and wryness. Peterson idolized Ellington, who was twenty-six years older. Following Oscar Peterson on stage at a concert in 1967, Duke Ellington remarked: "When I was a small … [Read more...]

Oscar Peterson RIP

The sad news from Canada on this Christmas Eve is that Oscar Peterson died yesterday at home in Toronto. He was 82. One of the great piano figures of his time, Peterson was an inspiration to virtually every jazz pianist who followed him, his influence equaled only by his slightly younger contemporary Bill Evans. Oscar Peterson The Canadian national newspaper The Globe And Mail quotes Peterson's friend Tracy Biddle on his importance as a symbol to Canadians. "He broke out of Canada. He's one of … [Read more...]

Kate McGarry

Kate McGarry, The Target (Palmetto). McGarry's singing evaded me. I don't mean that I didn't get it. I mean that I had never heard it. Then, during a recent engagement at Jazz Alley in Seattle, Luciana Souza mentioned that the guitarist appearing with her, Keith Ganz, was married to "the wonderful singer Kate McGarry." I took that as a recommendation.Back at Rifftides world headquarters, I listened to The Target. I'm glad I did. McGarry incorporates intriguing approaches to vocal color, timbre … [Read more...]

Don Redman And The Czech Boppers

Don Redman was an important big band arranger and leader in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. He was not a bebop musician, but Redman may well have provided a catalyst for the creation of modern jazz in Eastern Europe following World War Two. With the help of pianist Emil Viklický and the venerable Czech jazz expert Dr. Lubomír Doruzka in Prague, I have been researching the emergence of bebop in Czechoslovakia. I have much to discover and verify, but it is clear that music pioneered by Charlie Parker … [Read more...]

Lawrence Lucie At 100

Following a succession of deaths in the top ranks of jazz, it is a pleasure to tell you about an elderly musician who is getting attention because he is alive.The veteran rhythm guitarist and teacher Lawrence Lucie has passed the century mark. Here is an excerpt from today's New York Times story about Lucie. On the eve of his 100th birthday on Monday night, Mr. Lucie, sitting in a wheelchair, could not go 20 seconds without receiving an embrace, a pat on the back or a handshake from one of the … [Read more...]

Joel Dorn

As nearly everyone in the jazz community knows by now, Joel Dorn died of a heart attack on Monday at the age of 65. Joel's work as a producer covered a broad swath of popular music, but many of us admired him for the integrity of his efforts with jazz artists when he was a key figure at Atlantic Records and in his ventures as an independent producer. Among the musicians who respected him for his knowledge, taste, guidance and quiet, wacky humor were Roland Kirk, Charles Mingus, Fathead Newman … [Read more...]

Frank Morgan, 1933-2007

Frank Morgan, an alto saxophonist who lost and then found himself, died yesterday in Minneapolis, his hometown. He was a few days short of his seventy-fourth birthday. In his last two decades he was productive and relatively contented, rid of his bedeviling habits and living with family members who cared about him. Here is some of what I wrote about Morgan for one of his last CDs. At eighteen, fully immersed in the L.A. jazz scene, he recorded with Wardell Gray and in his early twenties made … [Read more...]

Recent Listening, Continued

Tom Harrell, Dado Moroni, Humanity (Abeat). In six duets, the incomparable American trumpeter and the veteran Italian pianist achieve the most elusive of artistic goals, beauty through simplicity. Moroni's title tune is good company for five classic standards. I'm glad that this is a CD, not a vinyl record, or I would surely wear it out listening repeatedly to Harrell's solo on "Darn That Dream." The Harry Allen-Joe Cohn Quartet, Music from Guys and Dolls (Arbors). Not that he's ever gone out of … [Read more...]

Other Places: Dan Morgenstern

Marc Myers' current venture on his blog JazzWax is a conversation with the respected writer Dan Morgenstern, who says: You have to be very careful not to let the bonds between you and musicians cloud what you're saying. If you're a writer, your responsibility always is to the reader or listener. If you shortchange your audience, you'll lose your credibility. I tried to avoid such conflicts by simply not writing about bad performances unless I had to. At that point, I'd always frame my remarks by … [Read more...]

Other Places: Jazz.com

Jazz historian Ted Gioia has launched an ambitious new web site. It is called Jazz.com. It encompasses a blog, a forum and an interview section. Its Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians feature has enormous potential for listeners, musicians and researchers, indeed for the entire jazz community. In its initial appearance, the Encyclopedia is missing a number of notable musicians, but it solicits readers to suggest improvements. As it expands and undergoes refinements, it could become invaluable. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Sheldon, Tjader And Others

Rifftides reader Duncan Reid responds to our recent suggestion that trumpeter Jack Sheldon gets less recognition than his talents warrant. A thought on Jack Sheldon's lack of recognition. Like Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Shorty Rogers, Jim Hall, Conte Candoli, Paul Horn, Jimmy Giuffre and many others, he is white and based on the West Coast. Many critics, mostly on the East Coast and in Europe, have felt and still feel that white musicians do not play authentic jazz. The late French critic … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes

I don't mind being the butt of a joke, if it's a funny joke. --Kenny G I hear that Kenny G is going make a jazz album. It will be called 'Round Noon. --Brad Terry … [Read more...]

Recent Listening

Marcus Printup, Emil Viklický Trio, Jazz na Hradĕ (Jazz at Prague Castle) (Multisonic). Trumpeter Printup spent a substantial part of the year touring Europe with pianist Viklický's impressive group. They reached a peak of intensity in this concert introduced by Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Printup, Viklický, the astonishing bassist František Uhlíř and drummer Laco Tropp shine in extended performances of four Viklický compositions plus "Dolphin Dance" and "Body and Soul." Jon Hamar, Hereafter … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Easier Access To Evans

Rifftides reader Ken Deifik writes: Thanks for pointing out the Bill Evans Newsletter availability. It's not easy to download the entire set of 26 PDFs, so I've uploaded an archive of them to this web site. They will be available for only a few days. It's a large archive, over 300 Megs, so dialup users might want to consider just reading the PDFs online. Thanks to Mr. Deifik for his helpfulness. … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Jack Sheldon

Glenn Mitchell's account of the 90th birthday party for Howard Rumsey a month or so ago at Catalina's in Los Angeles included this about Jack Sheldon's appearance with his sextet: They played a favorite of Rumsey's, a tune that bassist Jimmy Blanton (his all-time favorite) was remembered in, "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me." They continued with "Jumping At The Woodside" (same changes as "I've Got Rhythm") and "I Can't Get Started," which Sheldon sang very well. Sheldon is not only a great … [Read more...]

Letter From Evans

Rifftides reader and Bill Evans specialist Jan Stevens alerts us to a trove of Evans material that until now existed only in print archives. He reports that Win Hinkle, editor of Letter From Evans, has made all issues of his newsletter available free on the internet. Hinkle's subscription newsletter was published from 1989 to 1994. It included interviews with Evans, transcriptions of his solos, reviews, and contributions from or interviews with musicians close to Evans. Among those musicians … [Read more...]

CD: Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette, My Foolish Heart (ECM). In his notes, Jarrett writes that this recording presents his Standards Trio "at its most buoyant, swinging, melodic and dynamic." Sure does. For evidence, follow the link above and sample Jarrett summoning the spirit of Fats Waller in "Honeysuckle Rose." Lately, I've had this disc permanently inserted in my CD changer with "Straight No Chaser" on repeat. I can't seem to accumulate enough hearings of the trio's quirky … [Read more...]

Picksilated

Well, it's about time. Exigencies of the past few weeks have required putting off a number of duties, including the posting of a new batch of Doug's Picks. But there they are, in the right-hand column. … [Read more...]

CD: Linda Ciofalo

Linda Ciofalo, Sun Set (Lucky Jazz). Matt Wilson, the drummer on the CD, suggested that I would like Ciofalo. I do. She is adventurous, but not to the point of disrespecting the material. She sings in tune, uses time play in her phrasing without losing rhythmic consistency and has a light, creamy voice that now and then drops to surprising depth. She is willing to take risks--for instance, singing with only drums or bass--and makes it clear that she enjoys what she does. Ciofalo is as convincing … [Read more...]

CD: Nat Cole

Nat Cole, Penthouse Serenade & The Piano Style of Nat King Cole (Collectors' Choice). Nat Cole's singing made him a king of popular music. His playing influenced pianists from Bud Powell to Bill Evans and beyond. The two albums included in this reissue CD will help those who know him only as a pop star to understand why Cole is revered for his touch, harmonic ingenuity and melodic creativity. The Penthouse tracks are reminiscent of his trio days. In The Piano Style, spurred by Nelson Riddle's … [Read more...]

Brubeck On The BBC

Here is a listening tip for Friday, December 7, gleaned from a Dave Brubeck Quartet listserve: To celebrate pianist Dave Brubeck's 87th birthday, Alyn Shipton introduces part of a conversation with Brubeck recorded during his quartet's 40th anniversary tour of the UK, in which he selects some of his favourite recordings from a catalogue that includes over 100 albums. As well as such perennial favourites as "Take Five" by his historic quartet with Paul Desmond, Brubeck also looks at his … [Read more...]