Correspondence: About Freddie Schreiber

Cindy (Schreiber) Scontriano writes from California: I just heard your NPR interview about Vince Guaraldi. I really enjoyed it and then I had a flash from the past and wanted to ask you a few questions. I think I met Vince as a little girl. My uncle played the stand-up bass in Cal Tjader's band in the sixties and seventies. His name was Freddie Schreiber, from Seattle. I have his most famous LP, Saturday/Sunday Night at the Blackhawk. Did you happen to know uncle Freddie and if so, do you have … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Anita O’Day

Rifftides reader Len Gardner writes: I recently purchased and viewed the Anita O'Day DVD in the Jazz Icons series. I am writing to you, Doug, because you wrote the fine liner notes. What I'd really like to do is write to Anita, but that is no longer possible. What a revelation this DVD is! How marvelous her artistry is! Too often, I buy a CD or DVD and am disappointed. Not this time. This DVD exceeded my expectations, which were already high. For those who haven't yet seen it, be prepared to … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: The Subject Is Cool Jazz

In the days when commercial television networks in the United States were still working their way toward the shallowness we know and love today and cable networks did not exist, there was an NBC-TV program called The Subject Is Jazz. Its host was the cultural critic Gilbert Seldes. One 1958 installment of the series explored the proposition that a fairly new tributary of the jazz mainstream ran cooler than the jazz that preceded it. The musicians were Lee Konitz, alto saxophone; Warne Marsh, … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Hal Weary, Bill Frisell, Emil Viklický

Hal Weary, A Rendezvous with Déjà Vu (halwearyjazz). Weary is a pianist from the west on the rise in New York City. The quintet numbers on his debut CD draw on the hard-bop/gospel spirit of Horace Silver and Art Blakey. On "Tenderly," he touches on but soon departs from Erroll Garner. Unaccompanied on "Praise Medley" he seems to refer to the Ellington of "Reflections in D." Weary and his sidemen, saxophonist Shantawn Kendrick, trumpet Kenyatta Beasley, bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Jerome … [Read more...]

On Guaraldi, On The Radio

Tomorrow morning, November 28, I will be with Scott Simon, host of National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday to discuss Vince Guaraldi. I had the privilege of writing the essay accompanying the new two-CD compilation of Guaraldi recordings. Celebrated for his Charlie Brown Christmas music, Guaraldi is the focus of a Weekend Edition feature. Mr. Simon and I will discuss the pianist's career from his early years as a sideman to his fame as the musical alter-ego of cartoonist Charles … [Read more...]

The Eddie Locke Memorial

Among the friends of Eddie Locke who took part in his memorial service in Manhattan on November 22 was bassist and author Bill Crow. Locke, a stalwart drummer based in New York for more than five decades, died last September at the age of 79. Bill prepared this report for Rifftides. At St. Peter's Church, a lot of good music was played by a lot of Eddie's friends, including Warren Vache, Richard Wyands, Jackie Williams, Murray Wall, Mike LeDonne, Paul West, Louis Hayes, Bill Easley, Lodi Carr, … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: W.L. Smith, Tébar, QSF

Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet, Spiritual-Dimensions (Cuneiform). The exploratory trumpeter follows up last year's triumphal Tabligh with a reshuffled quartet and goes himself one better by adding an excursion into electronic territory. The first CD again has Vijay Iyer at the piano and synthesizer and John Lindberg on bass, but in place of drummer Shannon Jackson Smith uses two bulwarks of avant garde percussion, Pheeroan AkLaff and Don Moye. The double drum contingent produces moments of … [Read more...]

Take Eighty-Five

If Paul Desmond had lived, he would be 85 years old today. The last birthday he celebrated fell on Thanksgiving, 1976. For the occasion, Devra Hall cooked a turkey dinner for Desmond and her parents, Jim and Jane. She took the photograph that afternoon. Here's the story of the end of that part of the day, told by Devra in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond. "It was a very quiet dinner. Paul was not feeling well, but he was clearly happy not to be home alone. He didn't have … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Carla Bley And The Beeb

Not that Rifftides intends to become a clearing house for performance announcements, but readers do sometimes send valuable listening information. Jack Kenny writes from London: You might want to alert your readers to this. The London Jazz Festival has just finished. I went to to the Carla concert last week and it is broadcast tomorrow. It will be online all next week on the BBC iPlayer. Sadly for your American readers Carla seems to perform more in Europe than she does in the States. The … [Read more...]

A Further Weekend Note

It comes from Bill Kirchner, frequent Rifftides commenter, stalwart broadcaster and man of many parts, usually on reed instruments in the key of B-flat. Recently, I taped my next one-hour show for the "Jazz From the Archives" series. Presented by the Institute of Jazz Studies, the series runs every Sunday on WBGO-FM (88.3). Tenor saxophonist Jay Corre's (né Lischin) career goes back to the 1940s with the Raymond Scott and Boyd Raeburn orchestras. But his time in the spotlight came in 1966-67, … [Read more...]

Notes Going Into The Weekend

Jazz History Preservation Not all of the reconstruction work to be done in New Orleans is a result of Katrina's damage. One of the city's jazz landmarks has been falling apart for decades. Now, it appears that Crescent City officialdom may be about to ride to the rescue of the Halfway House. It could be a long, slow process. To read Danny Monteverde's story in The Times-Picayune and see photos of the building in its heyday and in deterioriation, go here. l Jazz.Com I have not kept up with the … [Read more...]

Indelible Lines

Before the Rifftides staff gets back to business as usual, whatever that is, we're finding it difficult to let go of thoughts about Johnny Mercer. Lines from his songs won't go away -- ever. There's a dance pavillion in the rain, All shuttered down... I remember, too, a distant bell and stars that fell like rain, out of the blue. Faint as a will-o-the-wisp, crazy as a loon, sad as a gypsy serenading the moon. The days of wine and roses laugh and run away, like a child at play... Go out and try … [Read more...]

Correspondence: That Mercer Show

Alan Broadbent--pianist, composer, arranger, conductor for Diana Krall and Natalie Cole, among others--wrote in response to the Fresh Air program promoted in the previous exhibit. Thanks for posting Dave and Rebecca's Fresh Air show which I have just finished listening to and would have missed but for you. Last week the TCM channel had a marathon of Mercer movies beginning in the late 30's and I had to sit through hours of nonsense just to see him perform. Worth its wait in gold, … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Mercer, Mercer, Mercer

Today is the 100th anniversary of Johnny Mercer's birth. To celebrate it, Dave Frishberg and Rebecca Kilgore will be the guests on National Public Radio's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. See your local listings for station and time, or check here. If you live somewhere other than the United States or if your town doesn't have an NPR station, the network will archive the program here, usually late the day of the broadcast. We may presume that, whatever Ms. Gross has up her sleeve, Becky and Dave will … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Kurt Rosenwinkel

Kurt Rosenwinkel, Reflections (Wommusic). From his first recordings in the 1990s, Rosenwinkel's guitar playing has had an element of pensiveness. Regardless of tempo, complexity or adrenalin-fueled collaborators, he radiates the air of a man who won't hurry through even his most complex improvisations. Rosenwinkel's assurance and thoughtfulness are consistent in this set of standards, jazz classics and one original. Bassist Eric Revis and drummer Eric Harland are capable of speed and intensity, … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: A New List

Every once in a while another 100 Best Jazz Recordings list pops up. A new one is batting about the ethernet. This time the source is the UK newspaper the Telegraph. The compiler is Martin Gayford, an art critic, biographer and sometime jazz critic. It's a good list, but anyone who has the temerity to choose the best of anything, even the hundred best, opens himself up to the ire of fans. Mr. Gayford's list, published on November 10, has already attracted a batch of "how could you leave out … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Dick Katz (RIP)

Dick Katz, The Line Forms Here (Reservoir). The news of Katz's death at 85 last week sent me to the shelf for this 1996 recording. It covers the range of his talents as pianist, composer and arranger. He plays alone in a moving performance of Duke Ellington's "Lotus Blossom," in a trio supported by bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Ben Riley, and blends the tenor saxophone of the veteran Benny Golson and the trumpet of newcomer Ryan Kisor in quintet arrangements. In the CD's three blues pieces, … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: John Hollenbeck

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Eternal Interlude (Sunnyside). The ensemble is Large, all right, in the size of the band -- 20 pieces -- and in the expansiveness of Hollenbeck's vision. He is a composer who moves into, out of and beyond established categories of musical thinking and a drummer who brilliantly meets the challenges he sets himself in his writing. Drawing on his mentor Bob Brookmeyer's example of originality and fearless innovation, Hollenbeck tempers the contemporaneity of his … [Read more...]

Three In One

Yesterday was the Marine Corps' 234th birthday. Today is Veterans Day and Ernestine Anderson's birthday. To celebrate all three, I gave the Rifftides staff the day off and my Italian friend Vigorelli Bianchi took me on a long, looping tour of this big old valley. Back to work tomorrow. The plan is to do a bit of catching up, with brief reviews of additional recent, and maybe a few not-so-recent releases. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Linda Oh

Linda Oh, Entry (Linda Oh Music). Oh is a 25-year-old Chinese from Malaysia who grew up in Australia, plays bass and has a Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Her music, as eclectic as she, eludes classification except as fresh and uncompromising. She achieves remarkable unity using spare instrumentation, nicely crafted compositions and sidemen who listen closely and react to her, as she does to them. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and drummer Obed Calvaire share Oh's instrumental … [Read more...]

An Eddie Higgins Jam Session

Because of the high volume of comments Rifftides received following our piece on the death of pianist Eddie Higgins, the staff thought there might be widespread interest in a memorial concert. We bring you the announcement as it arrived by e-mail from Florida. This will give you time to make plans to fly in from, say, Tokyo or St. Thomas. There will be a Jam Session tribute to Eddie Higgins on Sunday, December 6 from 4pm to 6pm in the ArtServe auditorium at 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd. (Ft. Lauderdale … [Read more...]

Stacy Rowles, 1955-2009

Family members and friends are planning a memorial service for Stacy Rowles. No date has been set. The trumpeter and singer died at home in Burbank, California, on October 27 of injuries from an automobile accident two weeks earlier. She was 54. The daughter of pianist Jimmy Rowles, she studied piano for a time. Despite her father's example, she was not attracted to the instrument. She eventually tried an old trumpet that was in the Rowles house and immediately took to it. The vibraphonist and … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Too Much

Bill Crow's column, The Band Room, has for decades been a feature of Allegro, the monthly publication of New York's Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. He fills it with what he is most famous for after his bass playing, anecdotes about musicians. Sometimes the stories concern well-known performers, sometimes less celebrated journeymen. It took me a couple of minutes to recover from the one that follows.   Richard Chamberlain tells me that, at a New York City Ballet … [Read more...]

Listen To The Bass Player: Part 6, Scott LaFaro

The Rifftides series of posts on improving hearing by listening to bass lines leads inevitably to Scott LaFaro. It was less LaFaro's virtuosity that made a difference in the role of the bass than the uncanny group thinking and interaction he made possible in the Bill Evans Trio. LaFaro was what Evans had been looking for, dreaming of, a bassist who thought about music, and specifically about time, as the pianist did. There is an invaluable pre-LaFaro Evans album with his friend Don Elliott, the … [Read more...]

Listen To The Bass Player: Part 5, Red Mitchell

In the first paragraph of Part 3 of this series, it was not by random choice that I included Red Mitchell's name in the short list of important bassists who emerged in the 1940s. He discovered ways of playing the instrument that made a difference in the bass's role in jazz. Bill Crow, the hero of part 3, has kindly agreed to expand on some of the reasons for Mitchell's importance. In between the Blanton (and Pettiford) soloing styles that were so influential in the 1940s and 50s and the new age … [Read more...]