Hampton Festival: The Wrapup

Moscow, Idaho The program bloat that kept some Friday concertgoers in their seats until early Saturday dissipated by Saturday night. The final Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival concert was trim and full of excitement provided by two big bands. The ad hoc performance hall in a field house the size of a dirigible hangar was outfitted with dance floors on either side. Throughout the evening, the floors were crowded with members of the hip-hop generation grooving to music with roots in the swing era. The … [Read more...]

Snooky Young

Snooky Young, whose one solo at the Lionel Hampton Festival was a highlight of the entire week, has been exciting people with his trumpet playing since he was a teenaged member of the Wilberforce Collegians. During the swing era, when it was not unusual for sidemen to become famous, he was one of the best known members of Jimmie Lunceford's influential band. He went on to work with Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Les Hite, Benny Carter, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band, … [Read more...]

Other Matters:Farewell To Dutton’s

Another independent book store is dying of competition from the internet and chain stores and from the rising cost of big city real estate. This time, the victim is one of the world's great book stores. At the end of April, Dutton's, in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, will be no more. That will be a sad day for dedicated readers and for thousands of authors, including this one, who launched their books with signings at Dutton's. The friendly store on San Vicente Boulevard is where Jazz … [Read more...]

Monk, Strauss And A Brief Pause

Your itinerant correspondent is back from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, catching his breath, attacking stacks of mail and, generally, taking care of business. We'll have a final installment about the festival in the next posting, probably tomorrow. In the meantime, a diversion. A serious listener among you discloses that he was unaware of the uncanny similarity of Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser" to the main theme of Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks. For him, and for … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes

I may not be a first-rate composer, but I am a first-class second-rate composer. -- Richard Strauss I don't conside myself a musician who has achieved perfection and can't develop any further. But I compose my pieces with a formula that I created myself. -- Thelonious Monk … [Read more...]

Hampton Festival, Days 3 and 4

Artistic director John Clayton has packed the main concerts of the Lionel Hampton festival with so much talent that when the evenings end, the posted 10:30 p.m. closing time is a distant memory. Friday's concert theme was "Masters and Mentors." It wrapped up at 12:45 a.m after an energetic, often hilarious, vocal set by Jon Hendricks, his daughter Aria and the impresssive emerging singer Sachal Vasandani. Vasandani was affecting in a slow "How Am I To Know" and joined the Hendrickses to summon … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes

Playing is my way of thinking, talking, communicating. - Lionel Hampton Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind. - Lionel Hampton … [Read more...]

Hamp’s Gala: The First Night

Tuesday evening's opening event of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival was in the University of Idaho Auditorium, a hall intriguing for its neo-Gothic architecture and superb acoustics. Called Hamp's Gala, the concert presented students of the Lionel Hampton School of Music. The first half was classical, the second jazz. Following the university orchestra playing the final two movements of Schubert's Symphony No. 5 came five recital pieces. They included virtuoso trombone playing by … [Read more...]

Hampton Festival, Day Two

There is plenty of snow on the ground, but it's melting, skies are blue and spring is on the way in Moscow, Idaho as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival moves into its second day. Dozens of professionals and more than 10,000 student musicians overflow the town and the University of Idaho campus for this 41st year of the festival, an early celebration of Hampton's 100th birthday, April 20. Hampton's key role over the years as a performer and enthusiastic supporter of the festival's educational … [Read more...]

Message From Moscow

Moscow is full of jazz this week. Moscow, Idaho, that is, host of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. They're not fooling about the international part. This afternoon the little Nuart Theater on Main Street was full of music from this town's namesake. A quartet of Russians mostly in their early twenties included bassist Darya Chernakova; Nikolay Sidoernko, piano; Roman Sokolov, tenor saxophone; and Aleksandr Ivanov, drums. The concert was part of the Moscow-to-Moscow exchange program … [Read more...]

Erroll Garner

Jessica Williams sent a link to a video clip of Garner, one of her piano heroes, with his trio in 1966. The subject line of her message was, "You'll Love This." The message was, "Is this cool or what?" It's cool. Go here to see and hear it. … [Read more...]

Charlap, Fast

In jazz improvisation, speed for the sake of speed is often self-defeating. Beyond a certain velocity, fingers tend to outrun brains. The automatic pilot kicks in and a musician ends up merely--as a standard phrase in the critic's lexicon has it--running the changes. Even Art Tatum and Charlie Parker had episodes of auto-pilotitis when fast tempos produced visceral excitement and little else. Saturday evening at The Seasons, I heard the Bill Charlap Trio play "In The Still Of The Night" at a … [Read more...]

The Week That Is

This week, I'll be reporting from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho and the Portland Jazz Festival in Oregon. It will be the first Hampton festival completely under the direction of its new major domo, John Clayton. Because the events overlap, I'll be getting to Portland for only the last two days of the festival's ten. The good news is that I'll get to hear Nancy King (with Kurt Elling and Steve Chrisopherson), Anat Cohen and Joshua Redman. … [Read more...]

Comments Redivivus

The artsjournal.com technical team has restored the Rifftides comments section. The staff thanks them profusely. You will find a comments link at the end of each post. You are welcome to also comment directly by e-mail. Please do. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Help For Dennis Irwin

To read a Rifftides post about bassist Dennis Irwin's predicament, click here. Mike Quinn of Jazz Times writes: I've built and posted a website for Dennis Irwin, my old high school buddy. Will be adding more material this coming week since I'm heading to NYC for three weeks to attend both benefits. The site contains some bio stuff, some video and a donation page which allows direct PayPal donations. Will post fotos of Vanguard gig on Tuesday. This is the Irwin web site. … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Mulliganidad

There is a baritone saxophonist in Spain who sounds amazingly like Gerry Mulligan. Rifftides reader Tyler Newcomb sent the alert: Man, that Joan Chamorro plays so much like Gerry, if you closed your eyes you'd swear it was him. Plays just behind the beat like Mulligan, improvises the same type of lines and ideas, and his sound is drop-dead the same. All he needs is some red hair to go on tour with a Chet Baker clone and recreate the original Quartet. This is a link to Chamorro's quartet playing, … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Chet Baker Found

You Tube may have removed all of its Chet Baker videos, but it turns out that there is still Baker to be seen and heard on the web. Two days late, we are able to link you, after all, to a Japanese site that has Chet singing and playing "My Funny Valentine" in a superior performance from late in his career. Only the bassist, Heyn Ven De Geyn, is identified. The pianist is likely to be Harold Danko. If you know who the drummer is, please send an e-mail message. Comment Ty Newcomb … [Read more...]

From The Archive: Sort Of Like Harmony

First Published July 8, 2005 A reader of Rifftides or Take Five (both, I hope) has been listening to Jim Hall's 1974 Concierto CD in which Hall's sidemen are Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Roland Hanna, Ron Carter and Steve Gadd. She sent a message asking a question at which musicians tend to guffaw when civilians ask it, one that arises out of genuine interest and does not deserve scorn. Here's the exchange: Q: The track "Concierto de Aranjuez" is hauntingly beautiful. Do the musicians totally … [Read more...]


"My Funny Valentine" was one of Chet Baker's signature songs, and I'd love to give you a link to a clip of him singing or playing it. Sorry, that's not possible. A few days ago You Tube removed all of its Baker videos because of a copyright wrangle, so I looked to see who else they have performing the piece. It turns out there are dozens of versions on You Tube, maybe hundreds; I quit sampling them after the fourteenth page. You may have better things to do than roam through all of the … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Exhibit Alert

If you live in or plan to visit the Washington, DC, area, you may be interested in this communique from a Rifftides reader: There is a fabulous exhibit titled "Jam Session: America's Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World" coming up at the Meridian International Center in Washington, DC. Aside from material covered in Penny Von Eschen's book*, there will be previously-not-publicly-shown photos on display. Here is a link to the exhibit: Katja *Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the … [Read more...]

Brubeck And Company Down Under

Whether sponsored by the State Department or off to see the world on their own, the Dave Brubeck Quartet practiced their share of cultural diplomacy in the 1950s and '60s. You Tube, that never-ending source of surprises and occasional frustrations, has come up with video of the DBQ on a 1962 Australian television program. The story goes that the tape of the show was lost for more than two decades and barely saved from destruction once it was found. It includes contrived conversations that, like … [Read more...]

Other Matters: New York, New York

Dave Frishberg asks in one of his songs, Do You Miss New York? Yes, I do, every day. So it was a pleasure to get a small New York fix from an unexpected source, an e-mail ad from a clothing store. The tour through a favorite part of lower Manhattan made me homesick for one of my many former hometowns. To take it yourself, click here. Rifftides has no stock in or connection with Ralph Lauren Rugby, but for making me feel good Ralph gets a plug. Full disclosure: I once bought a shirt there. On … [Read more...]


Several years ago, I quit the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in frustration over the academy's treatment of jazz. I returned my dues statement with the notation that I needed the $75 more than Celine Dione did. If anything, jazz has been shoved further down the ladder since then. The jazz categories in the awards list start at number 45, and they begin with what the academy members obviously think is the most important, "Best Contemporary Jazz Album," often populated with … [Read more...]

Comments Progress Report

The artsjournal.com shop foreman tells me there is a good chance that the Rifftides comment section will be repaired and back in action by the end of the week. In the meantime, please use e-mail (that's a link) to send your comments. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Chet Baker And You Tube

While the Rifftides comment capability is being repaired, we are relying on e-mail to receive your comments. Jim Brown writes from Santa Cruz, California: From my rather distant perspective as a Baker fan, this very real spat seems to be the result of a big corporate entity (You Tube) being intimidated by the threat of a lawsuit based on copyright of material that they don't care a whit about. While the wonderful jazz on YouTube is a delight to jazz fans, it isn't even a pimple on the back side … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Thad Jones And Mel Lewis

I'm curious about how you determined that Al Porcino was playing lead on the clips in question. He is sitting on the left side of the section (looking at the band) and thus not in the lead chair. I agree with you that Al is formidable -- in fact I think he's probably my all time favorite lead player from the '50's and '60's, but it appears to me that the guy next to Al is playing lead. Jack Greenberg For the answer, we went to a Jones-Lewis expert: At the time, Al was the lead player. Lynn … [Read more...]