Correspondence: The Be Bop Car

Concerning the "Driving Be Bop" item below, Ted O'Reilly writes from Toronto:  Here's a picture I took in St. Maarten in the Caribbean, in Oct. 2006. It's the nameplate of a car -- can't remember which Asian vehicle it was, but one less-familiar to us in N. America -- perhaps a Daihatsu? Anyway, must be a tenor fan who came up with it... … [Read more...]

Driving Be Bop

Over the years, Honda has called several vehicles, including a motorcycle, Jazz. Now Renault, the French auto maker, has unveiled a new model in its Kangoo line and named it the Be Bop. Could Renault's move kick-start a trend? How about: Mercedes Swing Hyundai Stride BMW Boogie-Woogie Chrysler Blues Mini Cooper Trad Chevrolet Cool GM Groove Porsche Scat Volvo Vouty For Shorty Rogers fans, the Infiniti Promenade The Renault web site indicates that the Be Bop is available in much of the world, … [Read more...]

O Rare Dave Brubeck

In the past few days, three videos have materialized of a 1956 television performance by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. They show the group after Brubeck was elevated to general fame by way of a TIME magazine cover story but before Joe Morello and Eugene Wright replaced Joe Dodge and Norman Bates on drums and bass. As I wrote in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond, It may be difficult for anyone who grew up after the pervasive hype of television and the omnipresence of the … [Read more...]

Monk A Half-Century Later

Tonight and tomorrow night, Town Hall in New York City is observing the fiftieth anniversary of Thelonious Monk's celebrated performance there with a ten-piece band. This evening's concert will present trumpeter Charles Tolliver's big band playing Monk's music. WNYC will broadcast it live at eight o'clock EST. To hear it in the New York area, tune in to 93.9 FM. To hear it on the internet, go here. Tomorrow night, pianist Jason Moran will lead an eight-piece ensemble in what is being described … [Read more...]

CD: Jeff “Tain” Watts

Jeff "Tain" Watts, Watts (Dark Keys). The vigorous drummer is in charge of a quartet with saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Terence Blanchard and bassist Christian McBride. There's a lovely ballad ("Owed"), shuckin' and jivin' ("Dancin' 4 Chicken," take 25), a variation on Monk's "Trinkle, Tinkle" called "Dingle-Dangle" and an audio theater sketch about dealing with the devil. Along with the fun and games, you get exceptional playing by all hands. … [Read more...]

CD: Zoot Sims

Zoot Sims in Copenhagen (Storyville). This catches the great tenor saxophonist in a 1978 club performance with the stellar rhythm section of pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson and drummer Ed Thigpen. No Sims version of "I'll Remember April," a staple in his repertoire, has more heat than the one here. I recommend devoting one hearing to concentrating on N-HOP's bass lines. Storyville reissues this every few years, a good idea; it should be always available. … [Read more...]

CD: Jim Hall & Bill Frisell

Jim Hall & Bill Frisell, Hemispheres (ArtistShare). Hall inspired Frisell. The younger guitarist famously became what Hall would have encouraged him to be, his own man. On Dialogues in 1995, they showed flashes of what they could develop together. On this 2-CD set, they follow through, in duo and with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Joey Baron. Everything works, from Frisell's outré "Throughout" at the beginning to Sonny Rollins' blues "Sonnymoon for Two" at the end. … [Read more...]

CD: Nels Cline

Nels Cline, Coward (Cryptogramophone). Hall and Frisell have impressed Cline. Jimmy Hendrix and John Abercrombie also seem to be in his DNA. Here, Cline is alone with his influences, his guitars, an arsenal of electronics and his startling originality. Despite his searching edginess, the CD is curiously relaxing. The high point is an extended piece called "Rod Poole's Gradual Ascent to Heaven," in which Cline builds a monument to a murdered fellow guitarist. … [Read more...]

DVD: Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong All Stars Live In Australia 1964 (Medici Arts). Armstrong, Trummy Young, Billy Kyle, Arvell Shaw, Danny Barcelona and Joe Darensbourg were wired. No one was phoning it in this day. The Australian television crew did a masterly job of capturing the complete concert. The closeups catch Armstrong's exuberance playing and singing. The repertoire is typical of Armstrong at the time, "High Society," "Blueberry Hill," "Mack the Knife" - his hits. Jewel Brown overdoes a calypso novelty … [Read more...]

Portland Jazz Festival, Part 4

Howard Mandel suffered a transportation glitch, but gamely picked up the reporting on the Portland Jazz Festival that I left dangling. The proprietor of Jazz Beyond Jazz, Howard does a fine job of pulling together the loose Portland ends. He manages to incorporate three video clips, including one of Laurel and Hardy that I could watch all night. To see his omnibus piece, click here. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Freddie Webster On Night Lights

Every few years, there is a Freddie Webster revival, of sorts. In recent weeks, through internet contact jazz musicians, researchers and writers have again been discussing Webster, the trumpeter generally thought to have been an influence on Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Webster died in 1947 at the age of 30. If you have been told or read about Webster but never heard him, David Brent Johnson offers the opportunity to listen to just about everything the trumpeter recorded. In 2005, Johnson … [Read more...]

Other Places: Criss Cross

Viewing Tip The current offering on Bret Primack's web site is a video in which the Blue Note 7 all-stars play a complete performance of Thelonious Monk's "Criss Cross." It is worth your time. To see it, click here. For the Rifftides review of a Blue Note 7 concert as they got underway with their national tour, go here. … [Read more...]

The Kessler Sisters, Scopitone And Desmond

When I was looking for something on You Tube the other night, what to my wondering eyes should appear but the Kessler Sisters. I hadn't seen them in forty years, and they still looked terrific. Paul Desmond introduced me to them in 1965 at the Hilton Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Desmond had just played a concert with the Dave Brubeck Quartet at Willamette University down the road in Salem. I couldn't go because I was working. When I got off the air, I met him for a drink. Here's the story from … [Read more...]

Newman, Crawford and Cooper Remembered

In today's Los Angeles Times, David Ritz writes from a personal standpoint about the nearly simultaneous loss of three important musicians. Ritz is the author or co-author of several books about blues and soul artists including Ray Charles. The headline on his op-ed piece is "Ray Charles' Heavenly Trio." Here's the first paragraph: In summer 1957, I was a teenager who had just moved to Texas from the East Coast. One Sunday afternoon, I happened to walk into a large social hall in South Dallas … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Hyman and Waller

Earlier this week, Dick Hyman played a noontime recital at a church in Manhattan. Fellow artsjournal blogger Jan Herman was there with his camera and posted videos of Hyman playing Fats Waller's "My Fate Is In Your Hands" and "Bach Up To Me." To see Jan's piece and hear Hyman, go here. When you come back, if you want more Waller -- and, of course, you will -- click on these links to hear Fats play: "My Fate Is In Your Hands, " Valentine Stomp" (take one) and "Valentine Stomp" (take two), all … [Read more...]

Portland Jazz Festival, Part 3

Final report on the opening days of the Portland Jazz Festival: In elegant Schnitzer Hall, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Don Byron had Edward Simon on piano and Eric Harland on drums in his Ivey-Divey Trio. It was the same instrumentation as the Gross-Frishberg-Doggett trio that played the night before in quite different circumstances (see Part 2). In makeup, feeling and interaction, both groups reflect the Lester Young-Nat Cole-Buddy Rich trio of the mid-1940s. Their lead voices, … [Read more...]

Portland Jazz Festival, Part 2

Further reflections on highlights of the festival's first weekend: Gonzalo Rubalcaba opened the first major concert of the festival with a band of young sidemen who are in the thick of the latterday New York Latin jazz explosion that is producing some of the most important music of the new century. The virtuoso pianist's quintet is twice or three times removed from the Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie generation but it has a distinct bebop lineage, particularly in the ensembles. The rhythms are … [Read more...]

Louie Bellson

What to add to the hundreds of tributes to Louie Bellson in the wake of his death last weekend? The outpouring of accolades emphasizes what anyone who ever encountered him knows: he was full of warmth, generosity and the largest available portion of human spirit. Dozens of obituaries are quoting Duke Ellington's assessment of Bellson as not only the world's greatest drummer but the world's greatest musician. There are excellent obits by Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune, Nate Chinen in The New … [Read more...]

Portland Jazz Festival, Part 1

The sagging economy has led the Portland Jazz Festival to cancel one of the major concerts of its final weekend. Artistic director Bill Royston announced that for the first time in his 32-year-career as a jazz impresario he was pulling the plug on a primary event. Advance sales to a Friday night concert by singer Cassandra Wilson and pianist Jason Moran amounted to about 400 seats in a 3000-seat hall in downtown Portland. Royston called the cancellation "an arduous decision." Despite difficult … [Read more...]

Rifftides Elsewhere

The Rifftides staff was surprised and pleased to find Rifftides praised in Beckey Bright's "Blog Watch" column in today's Wall Street Journal. Ms. Bright also singles out Ethan Iverson's Do The Math and Jeffrey Siegel's Straight No Chaser. Her other topic today is weddings. To read "Blog Watch" and find links to Iverson and Siegel, go here. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: On Niewood And Mellett

Gap Mangione writes from Rochester, New York, about the deaths of saxophonist Gerry Niewood and guitarist Coleman Mellett in last Thursday's plane crash near Buffalo. The three were to have played a concert that night in Buffalo with Chuck Mangione: We gathered at the hotel Thursday night. Chuck flew in from Florida to conduct and play a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic. Janet and I drove in so that we could have a Valentine's dinner that night and so that I could play and solo in the … [Read more...]

Progress (+ -) Report

Three days of music are echoing in my head. My notebook is full. As I drive through the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge on the way back to Rifftides World Headquarters, I'll be thinking about how to boil down hours and hours of listening into a cogent report or two. For now, suffice it to tell you that the Portland Jazz Festival, saved more or less at the last moment from extinction, rallied, is a success and has matured into one of the finest jazz festivals in the world. As I motor along, I may … [Read more...]

Gerry Niewood

(Portland, Oregon) - At the Portland Jazz Festival between concerts and after hours, much of the talk among musicians is about the death of Gerry Niewood. The saxophonist was one of 50 people who died in a plane crash Thursday night near Buffalo, New York. He and guitarist Coleman Mellett were on their way to Buffalo to perform with Chuck Mangione's band. Mellett was also killed in the crash. Niewood was a childhood friend of Mangione. He and the trumpeter played together in youth bands … [Read more...]

Portland And Blue Note

Early this morning, I'll be off to Portland, Oregon, one of my favorite former home towns. I lived there for three years long ago when my television news career was getting into gear -- the second-gear phase, I suppose. The occasion is the first weekend of the Portland Jazz Festival, rescued from the budget shortfall that canceled it for a time. For details of the bailout go here. It has nothing to do with the Obama stimulus plan. For the festival lineup, go here. It is a joy to be in Portland … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Frishberg On Dearie And Evans

Dave Frishberg writes with important information on a matter raised in the previous entry. I'm reading the Rifftides discussion about Blossom Dearie and Bill Evans, and who influenced who. I'd like to add my comment: During the late sixties I played a couple weeks solo opposite the Bill Evans Trio at the Village Gate on Bleecker St, and had some conversations with Bill. I asked him how he came upon his piled-fourths voicing of chords, and his immediate answer was that he heard Blossom Dearie … [Read more...]