Emil Viklický: Ballads And More

Emil Viklický, Ballads And More (ARTA). Writing the other day about František Uhlíř triggered a search through recently arrived CDs for the latest collection by Emil Viklický's trio. Viklický is the pianist in whose group Uhlíř has long been the bassist. He has collaborated with his contemporary George Mraz, another virtuoso Czech bassist, on two albums combining their beloved Moravian folk music with the jazz forms of which they are masters. I have been listening to Ballads And More all day … [Read more...]

Jimmy Giuffre

Jimmy Giuffre could play the tenor saxophone with a rhythm and blues raucousness that reflected his Texas origins. For a time in the 1950s, though, the low-register intimacy of his clarinet was one of the most identifiable sounds in jazz. Giuffre died last Thursday of complications from the Parkinsons disease that for years had limited his activity in music. Featuring Jim Hall's guitar and Ralph Peňa's bass or Bob Brookmeyer's valve trombone, he rooted his trio in blues, folk music … [Read more...]

Review: A Quincy Jones Concert

From time to time Rifftides Washington, DC correspondent John Birchard favors us with reviews of musical events in his bailiwick. Here is his latest. JAZZ AT VOA Willis Conover Memorial Concert with a Tribute to Quincy Jones April 26, 2008 Review by John Birchard Quincy Jones is an icon, a legend. Heavy-laden with honorary doctorates, awards, Grammys (27 of them), Kennedy Center Honors, he is lauded for his work with Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand and Michael Jackson. Almost lost in the mists … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: František Uhlíř

You may have heard but not seen František Uhlíř, the Czech bassist who works in the Emil Viklický Trio. The Rifftides staff is anticipating a copy of a new recording by Uhlíř's own trio, a group he has been touring with for five years. In the meantime, video of the Uhlíř trio has shown up on YouTube. The band includes Jaromir Helesic on drums and Darko Jurkovic, one of the few guitarists who plays the instrument by tapping it with the fingers of both hands. The video was made in the historic … [Read more...]

CD: Hans Glawischnig

Hans Glawischnig, Panorama (Sunnyside). The bassist ranges beyond his usual Latin territory through nine imposing original compositions. Glawischnig's sidemen are his boss, alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, pianists Chick Corea and Luis Perdomo and the noteworthy young drummers Antonio Sanchez, Marcus Gilmore and Jonathan Blake. Saxophonists Rich Perry and David Binney and guitarist Ben Monder also make appearances in this beautifully conceived and executed collection … [Read more...]

New Picks

In the center column under Doug's Picks you will find a new roundup of recommended listening, viewing and reading. … [Read more...]

CD: Carl Saunders/Bill Holman

Carl Saunders, The Lost Bill Holman Charts (MAMA). Holman wrote these jewels of chamber music in the early 1980s, but the commissioner put them in a closet for more than twenty years. When they came to the attention of virtuoso trumpeter Saunders, he assembled a septet to record them. And what a septet: tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb, trombonist Andy Martin, baritone saxophonist Bob Efford, pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Santo Savino, with Sam Most as a guest soloist … [Read more...]

CD/DVD: Eric Alexander

Eric Alexander, Prime Time (High Note). In top form and with a responsive audience, the muscular tenor saxophonist and his quartet are captured in concert on CD and, in different performances, on an accompanying DVD. Like the music, the video and audio are clear and straightforward. Pianist David Hazeltine, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth are solid in support and solo. Alexander's and Hazeltine's heartfelt duo version of Bernstein's "Some Other Time" is a welcome departure from … [Read more...]

DVD/CD: Bud Shank

Bud Shank, Against The Tide (Jazzed Media). The main current of the DVD is superbly photographed and recorded video of a Shank quartet recording date. Interwoven with the studio session are documentary coverage of the alto saxophonist's long career and segments of Shank speaking. Pulling no punches, he discusses music, musicians, critics and why he walked away from the flute. The documentary includes scrapbook photos plus film and kinescopes of Shank performing in several settings from the 1950s … [Read more...]

Book: Bob Blumenthal

Bob Blumenthal, Jazz: An Introduction To The History And Legends Behind America's Music (Collins). The critic and historian's attractive little book is a fine primer that also works as a refresher course for the experienced listener. Ushering the reader through the history and styles of the music, Blumenthal employs photographs, sidebar facts, anecdotes and enough informed opinion to provide perspective. The book includes a short glossary and a list of recommended recordings. It is a helpful … [Read more...]

Streaming Zoot

The National Public Radio Jazz Profiles program about Zoot Sims is now up on NPR's web site in streaming audio.  The show produced by Paul Conley and hosted by Nancy Wilson includes memories of the great saxophonist by Bob Brookmeyer, Dave Frishberg, Bill Holman, Harry Allen, Bucky Pizzarelli, Zoot's wife Louise and me. It also has plenty of music. To hear it, go here and click on "Listen Now." For a recent Rifftides piece on Sims and his tenor sax companion Al Cohn, go here. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: The Spirit of Ben Webster

Rifftides reader Nina Ramos listened to Carol Sloane's newest recording, encountered something that disturbed her, and sent this message:   Just finished reading your liner notes and listening to Carol Sloane's Dearest Duke. I liked it very much - except - (and am I the only one to notice?) the extremely loud breathiness in the sax part of two pieces especially - "In My Solitude" and "I Got It Bad". It just about ruins both of those songs for me. Did I get a defective recording, or is … [Read more...]

Other Places: Jazz Profiles

In his new blog Jazz Profiles, Steve Cerrra is running a multi-part series on the late pianist Michel Petrucciani. In the current installment, Cerra discusses how during his period with Blue Note Records, Petrucciani dealt with his Bill Evans influence: To hear a very specific example of this stylistic transition in the making, compare Michel's scorching treatment of "Night and Day", in which he puts on a dazzling display of "pianism," with the searching and tentative version offered by Evans … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: John Ellis

John Ellis, Dance Like There's No Tomorrow (Hyena). Ellis's quartet makes party music infected with parade beats, gospel, tango ("Three Legged Tango In Jackson Square"), comedy ("Zydeco Clowns On The Lam") sentiment worn up, rather than on, the sleeve ("I Miss You Molly") and assorted other ingredients. Think of gumbo. Ellis plays soprano saxophone and bass clarinet, but his individuality shines most brightly on tenor saxophone. His superb support troops are organist and accordianist Gary … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Fresu, Galliano, Lundgren

Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren, Mare Nostrum (ACT). In the hands of three masters, another unusual combination of instruments produces music that can transport listeners into dreaminess unless they are concentrating on the depth of its inventiveness. The Italian trumpeter Fresu, the French accordianist Galliano and the Swedish pianist Lundgren (l. to r.) blend in a program of their own compositions and one each by Jobim, Trenet and Ravel. The name of Lundgren's title piece … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Silver

Horace Silver, Live At Newport '58 (Blue Note). It is a treat to hear a newly discovered live performance by the pianist, composer and bandleader whose quintets were among the most interesting and stimulating of the so-called hard bop period. Tenor saxophonist Junior Cook and trumpeter Louis Smith had a good day as soloists. It is unlikely that Cook -- consistently excellent, always underrated -- had bad days. Smith was in and out of the band quickly. He is impressive, particularly in the … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Caliman

Hadley Caliman, Gratitude (Origin). I wrote in Jazz Matters about Caliman in a 1979 performance with Freddie Hubbard's band: As the evening progressed, Caliman's playing took on much of the intensity and coloration of John Coltrane's work, but he is a more directly rhythmic player than Coltrane was toward the end of his life and from that standpoint is reminiscent of Dexter Gordon. Whatever his influences, Caliman is an inventive and cheerful soloist. Caliman recently retired as a college … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Mann

Herbie Mann's Californians, (Fresh Sound). This compilation reissue contains all of the Riverside album called Great Ideas Of Western Mann plus tracks from Riverside's Blues For Tomorrow and Verve's The Golden Flute Of Herbie Mann. In all cases, Jimmy Rowles is on piano, with Buddy Clark on bass and Mel Lewis on drums. For the rhythm section alone, this would be a desirable CD, but Mann's bass clarinet and Jack Sheldon's trumpet work on seven of the pieces make it an essential example of all … [Read more...]

Other Places

Jazz (+-) Blogs & Sites All About Jazz JerryJazzMusician Carol Sloane Jazz Beyond Jazz: Howard Mandel The Gig: Nate Chinen Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong Here, There and Everywhere: Don Heckman Brilliant Corners Mule Walk And Jazz Talk Darcy James Argue Jazz Profiles: Steve Cerra Notes On Jazz: Ralph Miriello Patrick Jarrenwattanon: A Blog Supreme Bob Porter: Jazz Etc. be.jazz Marc Myers: Jazz Wax Night Lights Jason Crane:The Jazz Session Jazz.com JazzCorner I … [Read more...]

The IAJE Collapses

It turns out that rumors of the imminent death of the IAJE were accurate. Following its financially disastrous 2008 conference in Toronto, the International Association of Jazz Education has canceled its 2009 conference and is about to file for bankruptcy. The huge meeting of musicians, educators, producers, record company executives and others from every precinct of jazz was to have been held in Seattle next January. The IAJE grew from a music educators' collective into a behemoth whose … [Read more...]

Memories Of Carmen McRae

Carol Sloane's individualism as a singer grows, in part, out of her adoration of Carmen McRae. In the confusion of the past week, I overlooked Sloane's tribute to McRae on what would have been Carmen's eighty-eighth birthday. Here is some of what she wrote: When she laughed, the room vibrated; when she spewed venom, people, animals and birds hastily fled the scene. Carol's assessment nails the yin and yang of the phenomenon that was Carmen McRae. To read all of her tribute to McRae and … [Read more...]


The long computer nightmare and its peripheral bad dreams are over. Well, almost over. In the resurrection and reinstallation of the machine and the replacement of a connected printer/scanner/fax that blew out in the process, one of my two telephone lines crashed. That, however, is a small matter compared with relief that the hard drive lives. Not to have had backup was foolish. I was fortunate to survive what could have been a massive loss of files. Hard drives are fragile, fickle, … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer - Farmers Alamanac, 1978 The only thing God didn't do to Job was give him a computer - I.F. Stone … [Read more...]

Interim Report

The doctor reports that the computer did not have heart failure or, as I feared, a complete loss of memory, just a clogged artery. He hopes that it will be recovered enough to get back to work tomorrow (Tuesday) or the day after. Thanks to all for your concern. … [Read more...]


The Rifftides main computer crashed today. The ECTs (Emergency Computer Technicians) took it to the hospital for extensive tests. Results won't be known for at least three days. It may need a heart transplant and has no health insurance, but suggestions of a benefit concert are premature. This message is coming to you by means of a Big Chief tablet and a number 3 pencil. The Rifftides Staff hopes to be back in full operation no later than Monday. Please be patient. In the meantime, we refer you … [Read more...]