New Picks, Ideal for Summer

Please go to the center column and scroll down to Doug's Picks. There, you will find recommendations for two tenor saxophonists, a pianist who sings (or a singer who plays the piano), a pianist and a poet. Yes, a poet. … [Read more...]

CD:Grant Stewart

Grant Stewart Plays The Music of Duke Ellington And Billy Strayhorn (Sharp Nine). If you like the way Sonny Rollins played the tenor saxophone in 1955, you'll like the way Grant Stewart plays it now. Stewart masters the harmony, phrasing and tone that Rollins applied in Work Time and other albums of his classic Prestige period. The similarity is stunning on "Raincheck" and "It Don't Mean a Thing," but the younger man is not a clone. On ballads including "The Star Crossed Lovers," Stewart … [Read more...]

CD: Joe Lovano

Joe Lovano Us Five, Folk Art (Blue Note). As noted in the Rifftides coverage of the Portland Jazz Festival, the saxophonist's Us Five band is a playground of reaction and interaction among diverse but finely attuned musicians. The ages of the other band members, who include two drummers, no doubt average half of Lovano's. If they provide him inspiration and rhythmic fire, it works both ways. In spirit, the music is based in the post-Coltrane ethos of three decades ago. Lovano's energy, … [Read more...]

CD: Daryl Sherman

Daryl Sherman, Johnny Mercer: A Centennial Tribute (Arbors). So, you think you know all of Johnny Mercer? If you can recite the words to "The Bathtub Ran Over Again" and "Here Come the British," you probably do. Ms. Sherman also sings Mercer's lyrics to better-known songs, "Midnight Sun" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" among them. She accompanies herself and plays piano solos, with assistance from Jerry Dodgion, Wycliffe Gordon, Howard Alden, Jay Leonhart and Chuck Redd. Marian McPartland and … [Read more...]

DVD: Fred Hersch

Fred Hersch, Let Yourself Go (Aha!). This skillful documentary delves into what makes Hersch one of the most distinctive pianists of his generation. It includes generous sequences of his playing and his articulate reflections on music. Among other admirers, his teacher, Sophia Rosoff, discusses the "basic emotional rhythm" that sets Hersch apart. The film also explores Hersch's significance as one of the first major jazz artists to go public about his homosexuality and his infection with the HIV … [Read more...]

Book: Miller Williams

Miller Williams, Time and the Tilting Earth (Louisiana). I have been a committed Williams fan since I first encountered his poetry in the 1960s. This little volume of new poems from late in his career is essence of Williams, a concentration of his brevity, warmth, wisdom, humor and absolute command of his craft. Williams' sense of wonder extends from the inner being to the cosmos. Much of his work suggests that they may be the same thing. … [Read more...]