Listening Tip: Kansas City Suite

Rifftides reader Jay Thomas, a star of the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, alerts us to a broadcast of the SRJO's concert of Benny Carter's Kansas City Suite. If you missed our Kansas City Suite concerts on March 15-16, the entire 10-movement suite will be re-broadcast over KPLU FM 88.5 on Jim Wilke's Jazz Northwest show this coming Sunday, April 6 at 1:00 PM PDT. You can also hear the broadcast online at from anywhere in the world. This was a very popular concert, so we hope you … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Benny Carter

In all honesty, I think I just played what I felt was right for me. And I think I would have done the same thing, even if I'd been born later, when Charlie Parker was influencing everybody. The truth is, I never gave it much thought. I just played what I had to play. At my age, I realize that my most precious possession is time, and I've got too much unfinished work to do to spend even a minute talking about myself.       --Benny Carter, 1907-2003 … [Read more...]


Four times a year, Mr. JazzWax, Marc Myers, posts ten select items from his blogs of the previous quarter. This time, two of the ten are excerpts from the discussion he and I had about Paul Desmond. To see the winners in the JazzWax sweepstakes, click here. … [Read more...]

Lonnie Johnson Rediscovered–Again

It was a lucky break that The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dan DeLuca did a column about a new CD in tribute to the pioneering guitarist Lonnie Johnson. Here is some of the piece: "I honestly do not think there was anyone else who crossed the line between being an idiomatic blues musician who was able to master the vocabulary of jazz like Lonnie Johnson did," says Aaron Luis Levinson, the Grammy-winning Philadelphia producer who helmed Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson (Range Records). "He was a unique … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Kenya Revisited

Rifftides reader Debra Kinzler writes: I would like to let you know about a concert to take place at New York's Manhattan School of Music. On April 1 Bobby Sanabria, the MSM Afro-Cuban Jazz orchestra and Candido Camero will be giving the first-ever live performance of Machito & The Afro-Cubans Kenya. Bobby has recreated this historic recording that was made fifty years ago in New York City.For an interesting account of the history of Kenya and Sanabria's preparation for the concert, see … [Read more...]

Other Places: Regina Carter On The Radio

Sam McManis, The Sacramento Bee's arts blogger, recently posted an item about an interview with violinist Regina Carter. His piece is a tip of the hat to public radio producer Paul Conley, who frequently does stories about jazz musicians. To read a lovely story about Carter's reaction to winning a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant and for a link to audio of Conley's interview, go here. … [Read more...]

Patti Bown

Patti Bown died last Friday in a Pennsylvania nursing home, little known not only to the general public but also to many jazz listeners. Despite her talent as a pianist, Miss Bown never became celebrated to the degree that she might have. That was for reasons at least partly to do with her uncompromising individualism. Good breaks, good management and good advice--if she had been willing to take it--could have made a difference. There is strong evidence of her talent on recordings she made as a … [Read more...]

Paoli Mejias In Concert

The virtuoso percussionist Paoli Mejias and his quintet erupted Saturday night in the sedate surroundings of The Seasons. No one was hurt in the explosion; quite the opposite, we all left feeling better. Most of the repertoire was from Mejias's CD Transcend, which features Latin stars Miguel Zenón, Luis Perdomo, Hans Glawinschnig and Antonio Sánchez. The sidemen in Mejias' road band are less well known outside the hard-core Latin jazz community, but the authority of their work in the pre-Easter … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: On Rod Levitt

ROD LEVITT, in Solid Ground (RCA Victor), toots his trombone at the head of a lively seven-man band in a parade of his own compositions...The band irreverently slices "Rio Rita" into a jazzy jigsaw puzzle.--TIME, June 3, 1966 I liked his playing and his writing, and always appreciated his sunny disposition.--Bill Crow, 2007 … [Read more...]

Medium But Well Done

Rifftides reader Charles Landy wrote:  Enjoy your blog immensely. Bought 3 Rod Levitt LPs on e-bay recently and found them (especially Insight) just as rewarding as you suggested. Have some Billy Byers and some other perhaps (to many jazz fans of recent vintage) lesser known musicians like Pete Rugolo, Tom Talbert, Ralph Burns, Marty Paich, Frank Capp, Nat Pierce, Carl Fontana, Jimmy Gourley, Don Fagerquist and Bob Florence. But would appreciate it if you could devote a blog day or small … [Read more...]

Rzewski Again

I raved from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival about a performance of a solo piano piece written by Frederic Rzewski.    Darcy James Argue (seen here), on his blog Secret Society, also raves about Rzewski. Here are the first two sentences from his review of a recital of Rzewski's music. In a lot of ways, Frederic Rzewski is a man out of time. Almost everything about him is anachronistic or contradictory or both -- he's a straight-up virtuoso composer-pianist in the Lisztian tradition, … [Read more...]

Correspondence: A Brubeck Web Site

Just wanted you to know that FINALLY we have a website. It's still in formation and we welcome any suggestions. It was created by Brian Chauley, former Fellow at Brubeck Institute and now assistant to the Exec. Director. We hope to do more by the addition of a newsletter and more photographs, and current news re: concerts etc. So visit us at Happy Spring to All! Dave and Iola … [Read more...]

In Your Own Words

Well, English usage fans, you are not alone. Our item the other day on needless, overused or just plain annoying words and phrases encouraged a torrent of them from you. To revisit the original piece and see the responses so far, click here. You'll have to scroll up to get to the beginning. Have a pleasant weekend and, as the sainted John Ciardi used to say, good words to you.   … [Read more...]

Brain Matters

There has been a lot of attention the past few days to a study at Johns Hopkins Medicine on what happens in the brain when jazz musicians improvise. One of the conclusions by Dr. Charles Limb, one of the researchers, who is also a saxophonist: Jazz is often described as being an extremely individualistic art form. You can figure out which jazz musician is playing because one person's improvisation sounds only like him or her," says Limb. "What we think is happening is when you're telling your … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes

If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes. -- Pablo Picasso I never sit down and write. I just sorta let things form in my brain. -- Mose Allison … [Read more...]

Dennis Irwin, Phil Bodner, Gone

Friends who loved Dennis Irwin and listeners who admired him came forward with help when his cancer and lack of health insurance became known in January. But the bassist died in New York City Monday shortly before the biggest of several benefits for him. He was fifty-six. Details of Irwin's life and career are in this story on the JazzTimes website. During the height of the fund-raising effort, jazz video producer Bret Primack put together a mini-documentary about Irwin. To see it, click here. … [Read more...]

New Picks (At Last)

What with remaking Rifftides, traveling, speechifying, spring planting and taking out the garbage (boy, I miss Lennie Bruce), new picks have had to wait. No more. There they are, in the middle column. … [Read more...]

CD: Cuong Vu

Cuong Vu: Vu-Tet (ArtistShare). The trumpeter ranges from placidity to wildness, often within a few bars of the same piece. What may seem near mania on the first hearing resolves into logic and strange beauty as the music becomes familiar. On the outer edge of amplification, Vu, tenor saxophonist Chris Speed, electric bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor are electric in more than one sense. For all of his adventurousness, Vu is a melodist; "Now I Know (For Vina)" and "I Promise" are … [Read more...]

CD: Kendra Shank

Kendra Shank: A Spirit Free, Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge). It would been have natural to assume that Abbey Lincoln's songs are so tied to her personality that no attempt to adapt them could succeed. Ms. Shank, however, manages to pay tribute to Ms. Lincoln and evoke her without imitating or caricaturing her. Given the older singer's individualism, not to say eccentricities, that is an accomplishment. Ms. Shank succeeds entirely. The band accompanying her is first rate, with notable … [Read more...]

CD: Sam Yahel

Sam Yahel Trio: Truth And Beauty (Origin). This trio was called Yaya3 when it debuted in 2002. By whatever name, organist Yahel, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and drummer Brian Blade depart from the standard organ trio blockbuster approach into subtlety and taste, without sacrificing propulsion. Yahel has developed impressively from his starting point, the pianistic organ style of the late Larry Young. Yahel's, Redman's and Blade's degree of anticipation and interaction is stunning on the … [Read more...]

DVD: Michel Petrucciani

2 Films: Nonstop Travels With Michel Petrucciani & Trio Live In Stuttgart (Dreyfus Jazz). The documentary film follows the late pianist in Europe and the United States. Beautifully directed and photographed, it captures his musicality, charm, wit and spunk. Memorable moments: a reunion in Big Sur with Charles Lloyd; a visit to the Steinway factory in Hamburg; playing on top of a New York skyscraper. In concert a year before he died in 1999, Petrucciani is in great form with bassist Anthony … [Read more...]

Book: Howard Mandel

Howard Mandel: Miles, Ornette, Cecil, Jazz Beyond Jazz (Routledge). Our fellow blogger also calls his web log Jazz Beyond Jazz. His book further increases listeners' ability to understand the avant garde music he knows so well. Mandel helps clear the way toward appreciation of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, who departed from standard jazz forms in the 1950s, and of Miles Davis's quite different departure in the '60s. It is a successor to and, in a way, a continuation of A.B. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Language

From the second section of Strunk and White's English usage bible The Elements Of Style:   Omit needless words. Harold Ross, the founding editor of The New Yorker, wrote in a memo to his staff, "The next writer around here who uses 'upcoming' will be outgoing." That's a good word to put at the top of a list of needless, overused and annoying words and phrases. Here is the first dozen. upcoming   absent  (as a preposition)   area (as an adjective)   as it … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes And Two Videos: Sun Ra

And then when I went to Chicago, that's when I had these outer space experiences and went to the other planets. -- Sonny Blount (Sun Ra) ...even if this story is revisionist autobiography ... Sonny was pulling together several strains of his life. He was both prophesying his future and explaining his past with a single act of personal mythology.-- John F. Szwed, Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra (Pantheon, 1997) Sun Ra: Space Is The Place (1974) Sun Ra Arkestra: Face The Music … [Read more...]

Pomeroy Scholarship Concert

Here's a calendar item for those in, or planning to be in Boston on April 1. Joe Lovano (pictured), Hal Galper and Jack Walrath will headline a concert at the Berklee College of Music. Proceeds will benefit the Herb Pomeroy Scholarship Fund. Pomeroy, trumpeter, arranger, and Berklee teacher for four decades, died last August. Among the school's alumni whose compositions and arrangements will be played by the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra are Alan Broadbent, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Michael Gibbs and … [Read more...]