New Picks

After a prolonged holiday delay, the Rifftides staff has posted new recommendations in three categories. Please see Doug's Picks in the center column. … [Read more...]

CD: Mike Holober

Mike Holober & The Gotham Jazz Orchestra, Quake (Sunnyside). Pianist-composer-arranger Holober chooses not to call his large congregation a big band. His scoring justifies the term orchestra. Balancing lushness with motion in and through the horn and rhythm sections, he evokes nature; the rustling of aspens in "Quake," bird song in "Thrushes." He is equally creative in his own pieces and in reinventions of songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Holober's soloists, including himself, … [Read more...]

CD: Gene Perla, Elvin Jones

Gene Perla, Bill''s Waltz (PM). Drummer Elvin Jones should get equal billing with Perla. The two laid down basic electric piano-and-drums tracks in 1986. Following Jones' death in 2004, Perla wrote orchetrations for the pieces. With Jones digitally present, he recorded them in 2007 with the NDR Big Band in Germany and added his own bass track in 2008. Jones drives the band, and it reacts as if he were in the studio with them. The NDR has a great day. The NDR seem to always have a great day. … [Read more...]

CD: Brooklyn Undergrounders

Various, Brooklyn Jazz Underground, Volume 3 (BJU). If you have heard that Brooklyn is a hotbed of young jazz artists but haven't the foggiest idea what they are about, this compilation will give you a summary. Twenty-eight musicians in combinations from a duo to a sextet stretch your ears and the definition--if there is one--of jazz. The diversity of approaches includes a viola-bass clarinet duet that sounds like French impressionism and a fine "Body and Soul" by tenor saxophonist Jerome … [Read more...]

DVD: Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Roland Kirk Live in '63 & '67 (Jazz Icons). One of eight DVDs in the impressive Jazz Icons third release, this finds Kirk touring Europe with his arsenal of horns. It is fascinating to watch him manage tenor sax, manzello, stritch, clarinet, siren and nose whistle. The forthright music he makes is even more gripping. Pianist George Gruntz, bassist Niels Henning Ørsted-Pederson and drummer Daniel Humair are among his accompanists in Belgium, Holland and Norway. Kirk's fourteen … [Read more...]

Book: Willa Cather

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (Vintage Classics). Cather is in a class with A.B. Guthrie, Jr. and Bernard DeVoto in her feeling for the expanse and expansiveness of early America. This tale of two French priests carving their church territory out of a resistant New Mexico is an unsurpassed collection of word pictures by one of the greatest American painters-with-language. This isn't a book about jazz? Good catch. In the credo at the top of the page, see the part about other … [Read more...]