Whatever Happened To Cultural Diplomacy?

In his eighty-eighth year, Dave Brubeck is going to have to add another shelf to his trophy room--or another trophy room. His most recent honor came yesterday from the US State Department. Here's a paragraph from the Reuters report in The New York Times. "As a little girl I grew up on the sounds of Dave Brubeck because my dad was your biggest fan," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the ceremony where Brubeck received the department's Ben Franklin Award for public diplomacy. To … [Read more...]

Frishberg: A Net Gain

Have I mentioned that Dave Frishberg has a web site? He has. I am putting a link to it high on the Other Places list in the center column. The site has a discography, lots of photographs and a catalog of the songs he's written, from "Wallflower Lonely, Cornflower Blue" (1963) to "Who Do You Think You Are, Jack Dempsey?" (2004). It also has a Written Word section that includes a page called Colleagues And Characters, who include the unlikely--George Maharis, Scatman Crouthers, Malcolm X, Ava … [Read more...]

Cohn With Stewart: Lovely, Lovely

After he saw the Al and Zoot post (two exhibits down the page), the fine singer Bob Stewart suggested that we watch another video of Al Cohn performing with him. It captures a moment of spontaneity that creates a surprise and a big smile from Cohn. The rhythm section is Hank Jones, George Mraz and Ronnie Bedford. To see the clip, click here. From the same engagement, Stewart sings "Caravan," which contains a typical Al Cohn solo: perfect. … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Billie Holiday

You can't copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling. I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That's all I know.--Billie Holiday, born on this date in 1915, died July 17, 1959 … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Zoot ‘n Al

Paul Desmond was fond of saying that an evening listening to Zoot Sims and Al Cohn at the old Half Note in downtown Manhattan was "like going to get your back scratched." There is a piece of video that helps explain what he meant. It's not from the Half Note, but from a 1968 British television program called In The Cool Of The Evening. They play Burt Bacharach's "What The World Needs Now," then a short version of Cohn's "Doodleoodle." The rhythm section is Stan Tracey, piano; Dave Green, bass; … [Read more...]

The Other Zoot

If you are too young or too old to be a part of the Muppets generation, you may have missed Zoot's alter-ego. Here's your chance to catch up. Have a good weekend. … [Read more...]

Allan Ganley

Allen Ganley, who died last week at the age of seventy-seven, was the preferred drummer not only of many of his fellow British musicians, but also of visiting Americans. He backed Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, Mary Lou Williams, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Blossom Dearie, Roland Kirk and Freddie Hubbard, among many others. For years, Ganley was in the quintet and big band led by the volatile tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes. There is in this video clip from 1965 a prime instance of Ganley driving a band and … [Read more...]

Gene Puerling

Gene Puerling, the leader and primary arranger for the Hi-Los, died March 25 in the San Francisco Bay area, where he had lived for decades. In his writing for the group, Puerling crafted complex arrangement that took them beyond anything previously heard from vocal quartets in American popular music. He formed the Hi-Lo's in 1953. Their source material came from the classic era of great American song writing, their harmonic inspiration from the riches of bebop, the perfection of their … [Read more...]

Medium But Well Done, Part 2

The charms and opportunities in bands of six to eleven pieces attracted jazz composers and arrangers eight decades ago, as they do to this day. For an overview and links to recordings of early mid-sized groups, go to the first installment of Medium But Well Done. Separated by the width of the United States, in the second half of the 1940s two medium-sized bands working with different inspirations and source materials arrived at strikingly similar results. In New York, Miles Davis became the … [Read more...]

Not Just Fooling

Among the hundreds, possibly thousands, of spoofs appearing on the internet today is one in a column by Jack Bowers on the All About Jazz site. Using words such as "unprecedented," "mind-boggling," "preposterous" and "what the s--t is going on here," the editors of BummedOut magazine, the country's leading Jazz periodical since the Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded "Livery Stable Blues," expressed their utter shock and disbelief this week when ballots submitted in the magazine's umpteenth … [Read more...]