Other Places: Doing Monk

In his blog I Witness, Ed Leimbacher muses about the pervasiveness of Thelonious Monk as a model for or influence on other pianists. In an essay packed with album citations, he acknowledges 18 pianists from Jelly Roll Morton to Keith Jarrett who have made an impact, then writes: ... but I still think that over the last half century Monk has outlasted and out-"performed" the competition. Why? Relatively straightforward numbers like "'Round (about) Midnight" and "Monk's Mood" have entered the … [Read more...]

The Art Of Art Farmer

Reviewing the Art Farmer Jazz Icons DVD the other day stimulated thoughts of his unique place in the pantheon of major jazz soloists. I started to write them, then realized that I already had. Here is an excerpt from the Farmer chapter of my book Jazz Matters. Even on some of Farmer's first recordings in the early 1950s it was clear that he was a first-rank soloist in the making. By 1956 Farmer's work showed a combination of incisiveness and lyricism that added elegance and style to the bands of … [Read more...]

A Tribute To Cannonball

Washington, DC, correspondent John Birchard ventures into the jazz wilds of the US capital in search of live music and reports to Rifftides readers on what he hears. This time, the event was a tribute concert. CANNONBALL REVISITED By John Birchard It could have been 1962. On Saturday evening at Baird Auditorium at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, a quintet of musicians from the Smithsonian Jazz Master Works Orchestra presented Portrait of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: CD Prices, Spelling

A few times you've linked to Amazon listings for Venus releases, such as the Charlap/NY Trio disc in your new set of picks. Just a caveat about this, of which you may be aware. These are CD-Rs with reprinted liner booklets and info. Obviously the price reflects this and Amazon and Venus are to be applauded for offering this important music at a more reasonable price stateside. However, I picked up a Kenny Barron CD recently and the inserts listed nothing but the musicians' names and song … [Read more...]

Hear Ye! New Recommendations

This time around, CDs by Bill Charlap's "other" trio, Miguel Zenón exploring his PR roots and the uncanny Mitchell/Marsh duo. Also: a DVD of Art Farmer in his prime and a book about Scott La Faro. Kindly direct your attention to Doug's Picks in the center column. The Rifftides staff wishes you good listening, viewing and reading. … [Read more...]

CD: Bill Charlap

New York Trio, Always (Venus). This is pianist Charlap's other trio, with bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Bill Stewart rather than his Blue Note companions Peter Washington and Kenny Washington. In his eighth CD for the Japanese label he honors Irving Berlin by lovingly playing the melodies of ten Berlin songs, then improvising on the pieces with inventiveness, harmonic ingenuity and interaction with Leonhart and Stewart. Charlap's keyboard touch and subtle use of dynamics, notable throughout, … [Read more...]

CD: Miguel Zenón

Miguel Zenón, Esta Plena (Marsalis Music). The alto saxophonist and composer illuminates and elevates la plena, the peoples' music of his native Puerto Rico. Zenón augments his quartet with percussionists playing pandero, seguidor and requinto drums to provide the music's rhythmic heart. Zenón's playing further establishes him as one of the most important young soloists in jazz. Pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole are impressive throughout. Zenón aids … [Read more...]

CD: Red Mitchell, Warne Marsh

Red Mitchell, Warne Marsh, Big Two (Storyville). Bassist Mitchell (1927-1992) and tenor saxophonist Marsh (1927-1987) played as a duo for two nights in 1980 at the Fasching Club in Stockholm. In this intimate recording, Storyville engineer Nils Edström captured the brilliance and inventiveness of their work. Long unavailable, the 2-CD set captures them at the peak of their powers. Among the highlights: Marsh channeling Lester Young's famous "Lady Be Good" solo, then creating a memorable one of … [Read more...]

DVD: Art Farmer

Art Farmer, Live in '64 (Jazz Icons). Farmer's quartet with guitarist Jim Hall was one of the greatest small groups in jazz history. For this television appearance, he featured pieces never released in the quartet's recordings. Among them are an exhilarating "Bilbao Song," Sonny Rollins's "Valse Hot" and Cole Porter's "So in Love." Steve Swallow is the bassist, Pete LaRoca the drummer. Deeply experienced together by this time, the four were breathtaking in their individual and collective … [Read more...]

Dizzy’s Birthday

This is the 92nd anniversary of Dizzy Gillespie's birth. There are many ways to celebrate it. The Rifftides staff offers two. The first video is from the Bern Jazz Festival in 1985. The band is Dizzy, James Moody, Gene Harris, Ray Brown and Grady Tate. The tune is "Ow." It was made famous by the great Gillespie big band of the 1940s. So were Moody and Brown. The second clip is from the 1979 Newport Jazz Festival in Nice, France. With Gillespie are Arnie Lawrence, alto sax; Stan Getz, tenor sax; … [Read more...]

The Seasons Festival’s Final Four

Let's wrap up the Fall Festival at The Seasons. Here are brief reports about the final four events. • Africa: The Power of Drum and Dance: Michael Wimberly, a percussionist and composer from New York, performed with scores of sidemen and sidewomen. They were professional drummers, dancers and singers from his troupe; students from several middle schools and high schools; a contingent from the Yakima Valley Community College jazz ensemble; and a band of marimbists, if that's the term, who played … [Read more...]

Come To The Cabaret–And Stay

A small but important part of The Seasons Fall Festival brought a select group of arts supporters to the Greystone Restaurant in Yakima's historic district for an evening of food, wine and entertainment. Daron Hagen served as impresario, pianist and raconteur as soprano Gilda Lyons and tenor Robert Frankenberry performed songs by a who's-who of composers and lyricists. The Seasons Performance Hall is a nonprofit operation that has managed with difficulty to weather the storm and stress of the … [Read more...]

It’s All Music At The Seasons

There was a sneak peak of the--for lack of a more accomodating word--classical aspects of The Seasons Fall Festival when tenor Robert Frankenberry and soprano Gilda Lyons previewed a bit of Daron Hagen's opera Amelia. The Seattle Opera will premiere the work next spring. At an intimate session in The Seasons back room, the New York composer talked about the opera, which is in gestation, then took to the piano to accompany Frankenberry and Lyons in an aria. The Amelia of the title is not the lost … [Read more...]

More On The Seasons Festival

The next night (see the following exhibit) in their own concert, the Imani Winds drew upon music from their CD The Classical Underground. They began with the late Astor Piazzolla's Libertango, a brief example of the heterodoxy with which Piazzolla shocked and outraged the Argentine tango establishment and ultimately endeared himself to music lovers everywhere. The Imani French horn player, Jeff Scott, arranged the piece to feature his instrument's dramatic, even explosive, qualities. From a … [Read more...]

The Seasons Festival So Far

This festival has so many elements that it fits in only one category, Music. Its jazz, classical, cabaret, and percussion aspects have flowed in an outpouring of music that blends in a steam of consciousness experience for the listener. All of the events have been public except for one intimate gathering designed to entice deep-pockets supporters to assure this unusual festival's future. The performance that has so far most dramatically expressed the eclectic vision of the festival's founders … [Read more...]

Portland Jazz Festival, 2010

The Portland Jazz Festival today announced its 2010 headliners and beefed up its front office strength by adding a veteran jazz publicist as managing director. The headliners for the February 22-28 festival will be Pharoah Sanders (pictured), Luciana Souza, Dave Douglas, Dave Holland and the Mingus Big Band. There will also be concerts by three Norwegian groups. They are the saxophone-accordian duo of Trygvie Seim and Frode Haltli, the Christian Wallumrod Ensemble and In The Country, a trio of … [Read more...]

Dena DeRose, Accompanist

Speaking of Dena DeRose (see the October 9 item below), she just showed up in YouTube clips accompanying and soloing with Bill Henderson at this summer's Litchfield Jazz Festival. Listen to the head of steam the quartet generates on "You Are My Sunshine." Avery Sharpe is the bassist, Winard Harper the drummer. To hear three more songs from that occasion, go here and scroll down to the middle of the screen. … [Read more...]

Help Jim Wilke

Sorry for the short notice, but this just came in from Jovino Santos Neto. The program he tells us about will go on the air ten minutes from now as I write this at 12:50 pm PDT. Jim Wilke, who has become a Northwest musical icon for his relentless support of our music scene for decades. His show Jazz Northwest is a sampling of the music that happens around here, and "Jazz After Hours" keeps good company to all those who love music throughout the weekend nights. Jim is having a fund drive for his … [Read more...]

The Seasons Fall Festival

For the next several days, blogging will be irregular. ("So, what's new?" a cynic might say.) The Rifftides staff is knee deep in the fourth year of The Seasons Fall Festival. The nine days of music include The Brubeck Brothers Quartet (pictured, left), Matt Wilson, Dena DeRose, The Imani Winds (pictured below), an African drum ensemble and an assortment of piano trios, string quartets and a chamber orchestra. The festival will present the world premiere of a new work by composer Daron Hagen, … [Read more...]

Missed Opportunity

A friend asked me to bicycle through the Yakima River canyon with him this morning. I said I had too much work to do, so he rode the 40 miles north to Ellensburg alone. When he got back, he sent a message, "The canyon is nice today," with evidence. Photo by Michael Grim … [Read more...]

Other Places: Stryker & Primack on Marcus Belgrave

Trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, admired within jazz circles but little known outside them, has received tangible recognition for his work as a player and a teacher. Belgrave left Ray Charles in the early 1960s ago to settle in Detroit. In today's Detroit Free Press, Mark Stryker reports on the award and on Belgrave's contribution to the city's cultural life. Stryker writes: For 46 years, Belgrave's world-class musicianship, charisma, swing and commitment to mentoring young musicians -- many of whom … [Read more...]

Other Places: Rollins On “Way Out West”

Marc Myers, the resourceful and indefatigable king of the verbatim interview, posts a JazzWax conversation with Sonny Rollins about one of Rollins's most unusual and successful albums. An excerpt: JW: How did you pick the songs?
 SR: All the songs I knew. By going to the movies so much as a child in the 30s, I was tuned in to Western popular music themes. Even today, people credit me for having an encyclopedic knowledge of what's called the American Songbook. Included in there are Western songs, … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Martin, Strickland, Felten

Brand New: In Brief Joe Martin, Not By Chance (Anzic). Martin is a versatile and rounded bassist who has collaborated with a wide range of musicians at the heart of the 30-something generation of jazz players in New York. Here, he enlists two fellow members of that generation's elite, pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist and clarinetist Chris Potter. The drummer, several years younger, is Marcus Gilmore, an accompanist who listens, reacts and adjusts. All of the tunes but Jaco Pastorius's "The … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Graham Collier, Efrat Alony

Graham Collier, directing 14 Jackson Pollocks (GCM). Long before he wrote his recent book, Graham Collier's music made it plain that Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Gil Evans were profound influences on his work. Collier followed Ellington's and Mingus's lead in fashioning pieces with his soloists in mind rather than the common concept of arrangements into which a leader could plug whatever soloist was at hand. As for Evans, I must say that I heard in Collier's earlier recordings more of the … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: The Art Of The Held Note

From the Wikipedia entry about the saxophonist known as Kenny G: In 1997, Kenny G earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for playing the longest note ever recorded on a saxophone. Kenny G held an E-flat for forty five minutes and 47 seconds in the Hopkins-Bright Auditorium (named after his two friends) at J&R Music World in New York City. What a treat that must have been. We'll have to settle for a minute and twenty seconds of A-flat from Harry Carney. The interested onlooker was … [Read more...]