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...]