Jack Bradley’s Satchmo

It was nearly dawn after a round -- several rounds -- of music and conviviality during the 1969 New Orleans Jazz Festival. A few of us were sitting on the balcony of Bobby Hackett's hotel room on Bourbon Street swapping stories and thinking it might be about time to call it a night. Hackett's guests, in alphabetical order, were Count Basie, Jack Bradley, Willis Conover, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Paul Desmond and I. Dropping those names is a bit disturbing because all of their owners but Jack and I … [Read more...]

CD: Alan Broadbent

Alan Broadbent, Moment's Notice (Chilly Bin). In heavy demand as arranger, conductor and accompanist, Broadbent's schedule leaves him too few opportunities to work with his longtime sidemen, bassist Putter Smith and drummer Kendall Kay. In this welcome set, Broadbent plays with his customary blend of power, relaxation and inventiveness on tunes by Charlie Parker, Mal Waldron, John Coltrane and Benny Golson, among others. There is riveting interaction between Broadbent and Smith on Parker's "Chi … [Read more...]

CD: Javon Jackson

Javon Jackson, Once Upon A Melody (Palmetto). Whether as the result of marketing gambits or of press stereotyping, Jackson's name rarely appears without the word "funk" nearby. In truth, from the time of his early beginnings with Art Blakey, his tenor saxophone playing has had fuller stylistic and emotional range that of a funkmeister. This CD is satisfying evidence of Jackson's breadth, from the sensitivity of his respectful treatment of the melody of "My One and Only Love" to the engaging … [Read more...]

CD: Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, Fleischmann's Yeast Show & Louis' Home-Recorded Tapes (Jazz Society). If Armstrong's big band of the late 1930s had been this supercharged on its commercial recordings, critics might not have written all those disparaging things about it. These air checks tell the real story of what Armstrong was capable of in fronting Luis Russell's band. Here is the fountainhead of jazz inspiration in full flight. The companion CD is a generous sampling of Louis reminiscing, singing, … [Read more...]

DVD: Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball Adderley, Live in '63 (Jazz Icons). Riding high on his success as a leader, the alto saxophonist was proud of his early 1960s sextet. These televised concerts capture him and his sidemen expansive and swinging. Yusef Lateef, Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes had integrated with Cannonball into one of the tightest small bands in jazz. Lateef was nearing the end of his tenure with the band, pleasing the audiences --and, clearly, Cannonball, too-- with his solos on … [Read more...]

Book: Benny Green

Benny Green, The Reluctant Art (Da Capo). Dave Frishberg's recent message to Rifftides in which he recommended this book sent me scrambling in haste and embarrassment to obtain a copy. I had never read Green's book, subtitled "Five Studies in the Growth of Jazz" and should have. There are actually six studies. I am being rewarded by Green's insights into Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Art Tatum and Charlie Parker. One provocative thought from Green: "Improvisation … [Read more...]

Zenón’s MacArthur

Alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón is one of twenty-five winners of 2008 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships. The grants were announced today. Each of the awards is for $500,000 over five years, to be used in any way the recipient decides. Although not officially described as "genius grants" by the MacArthur foundation, that is what the fellowships have come to be called. This year's fellows include writers, scientists, an architect, a farmer, and artists in … [Read more...]

Winstone Alert

I know, I know; Doug's Picks is overdue for new entries. They'll be coming along, but the Rifftides staff is engaged in a number of projects, including preparation of a reading from Poodie James, with strings. More about that later. Among other things, I'm writing the notes for a forthcoming CD co-led by Charlie Shoemake and Terry Trotter. It is a delight. I'm not at liberty to tell you about it except to say that its title is Inside and the music, uncompromising but accessible, is a … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Frishberg on Sudhalter

Dave Frishberg's friendship and collaborations with Dick Sudhalter go back more than three decades. He sent this appreciation. I want to say something about Dick Sudhalter and the sadness of his passing . I'm staggered by Sudhalter's contributions to jazz literature and criticism. There are plenty of good writers who write about the music, but for my money Sudhalter and Benny Green stand out as the enduring literary giants of the genre. Both of them were involved with "classic" jazz and swing … [Read more...]

Dick Sudhalter, 1938-2008

Richard M. Sudhalter gave elegance and exactness to speech, writing and music-making. Dick's perfection of expression came in natural flows, whether he was writing,  playing the cornet or chatting over dinner. Gene Lees observed that Dick was the only person he knew who always spoke in perfect sentences and paragraphs. Sudhalter's mastery of language is everywhere in his biographies of Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael and his monumental study Lost Chords. Currents of coherence, … [Read more...]

McNeil And McHenry Redux

John McNeil and Bill McHenry have reemerged with their quartet, cleverly timing their next appearance and new affiliation with the fuss surrounding that other current phenomenon, a massive worldwide financial crisis. Here's the announcement popping up in e-mail in-boxes from Truckee to Tokyo. This Friday, Sept. 19th at Cornelia St. Café The John McNeil/Bill McHenry Quartet Returns! The boys took a brief hiatus to recover from the rigors of their recent New England tour. Dealing with … [Read more...]


Rifftides Washington, DC, correspondent John Birchard watched a DVD of the Modern Jazz Quartet's 1994 35th Anniversary Tour and sent this review.   The 57 minutes were recorded at the Freiburg, Germany, music festival in 1987 and the evening shows the guys in average (that is to say brilliant) form.   The program opens with a vigorous "Rocking in Rhythm" from the Ellington songbook, featuring stop-time passages for each member. It seems that in their later years together, the … [Read more...]

Sonny Rollins: Exit The Dragon

The scourge of heroin addiction among jazz musicians of the 1940s and 1950s is central to dozens of stories, novels, poems, plays and movies, most of them dreadful, overwrought clichés. Bad art aside, the monkey on the backs of musicians was real. It rode many of them to their graves. Unhorseing the habit required triumphing over more than the punishing chemical consequences of withdrawal. It meant also withstanding social pressure to conform in tight little communities of addicts whose lives … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Sonny Rollins

I think as long as people can hear a record and hear people like Lester Young on a recording, there will always be a great inspiration for somebody to try to create jazz. - Sonny Rollins No one is original. Everyone is derivative. -- Sonny Rollins There was a period which I refer to as the 'Golden Age of Jazz,' which sort of encompasses the middle thirties through the sixties, we had a lot of great innovators, all creating things which will last the world for a long, long time. -- Sonny … [Read more...]

Cannonball At 80

Today would have been Cannonball Adderley's eightieth birthday, reason enough to bring you this video of his sextet. The band is Cannonball, his brother Nat, cornet; Yusef Lateef, tenor sax; Joe Zawinul, piano; Sam Jones, bass; and Louis Hayes, drums. The tune is "Jessica's Birthday" by Quincy Jones. The year was 1963. Adderley died on August 8, 1975. … [Read more...]

Bob Brookmeyer, 1978

Following a brief Rifftides review of the CD reissue of two of Bob Brookmeyer's 1954 quartet recordings, Bill Kirchner wrote to recommend Back Again. It is a Brookmeyer quintet album that I didn't know existed. I acquired it quickly and have been listening to it with interest and pleasure over the past two or three weeks. Back Again has the valve trombonist in 1978 with cornetist Thad Jones, pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist George Mraz and drummer Mel Lewis. Jones and Lewis, of course, were … [Read more...]

Book News: Shameless Plug

The publisher of Poodie James has reduced the price of my novel. My slight loss in royalties is your gain. Ordering direct from the publisher benefits everyone on the writing and production end. From a review: I'll cut to the chase: Poodie James is a very good book. Not only is it handsomely and lyrically written, but Ramsey's snapshots of small-town life circa 1948 are altogether convincing, and he has even brought off the immensely difficult trick of worming his way into the consciousness … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Chipping Away At The VOA

With esteem for the United States at a low ebb around the world, the government continues to dismantle the Voice Of America, for more than half a century one of the nation's most effective creators of good will abroad. The Washington Post reports on the latest VOA service to be stilled by the Bush administration: NEW DELHI -- At the height of the Cold War, as India leaned resolutely toward the Soviet Union, one direct line of communication remained open from Washington to India's teeming … [Read more...]

Other Places: Benny Golson At Length

On Jazz Wax, Marc Myers's marathon interview with tenor saxophonist, arranger and composer Benny Golson (pictured) started running on September 8 and winds up today. If you are put off by transcribed verbatim interviews, never fear. Myers edits with care, provides appropriate web links and illustrates his pieces lavishly, sometimes to a fault (Golson says -- tongue in cheek, I hope-- "As the future crouches beneath my window waiting unashamedly to reveal itself..." and Myers shows you a … [Read more...]

Lionel Hampton And Quincy Jones

The September Jazz Times has my rather long review of Mosaic's box of Lionel Hampton's small-band recordings from the late 1930s and early forties. The five CDs contain a sizeable percentage of the best combo music of the period. From the review: RCA Victor's formula was simple: put the exciting young vibraphonist, drummer and two-finger piano player Lionel Hampton in a studio with various combinations of his peers and see what happens. With a few exceptions, these were lightly organized jam … [Read more...]

Other Places: Keepnews And Wall Street

Those unfamiliar with The Wall Street Journal, might be surprised to learn of its cultural component. The newspaper's Personal Journal section has frequent profiles, reviews and backgrounders involving painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, dance--the whole range of cultural interests. The most recent piece of particular interest to jazz listeners is Tom Nolan's update on Orrin Keepnews, the 85-year-old co-founder of Riverside Records and indefatigable producer of reissues of a wide … [Read more...]