The Newest Picks

In the center column, slightly south, you will find the latest Rifftides recommendations in Doug's Picks. We suggest two new CDs, an imperishable 50-year-old recording, a DVD of a blistering big band and a book held over from last time because reading hours have been few and far between around here lately and I'm not going to pretend I've read something I haven't. Enjoy. … [Read more...]

CD: Carla Bley

Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, The Partyka Brass Quintet, Carla's Christmas Carols (Watt). Bley arranges nine classic carols with tenderness, wit, harmonic brilliance, wide dynamic range and a wry sense of nostalgia. She adds two of her own pieces, the gorgeous "Jesus Maria" and "Hell's Bells", a joyous concoction on "I Got Rhythm" changes. Swallow's bass work, as always, is perfection. Prepare to be captivated by the brass ensemble and by the solos of trombonist Adrian Mears, trumpeter Axel … [Read more...]

Here’s Looking At Picture Books, Kid

On the Jazzhouse web site, W. Royal Stokes posts a valuable column recommending recent jazz, blues and pop photography and art books. It is an extensive list, just in time for Christmas. Stokes gives each book a thorough paragraph of review and a link to an online source for purchase. Here is some of what he writes about Hank O'Neal's Ghosts of Harlem, a recent Doug's Pick: That he shot them with an ancient wooden view camera, setting up lights, inserting a plate, and throwing a cloth over his … [Read more...]

CD: Chris Potter, Steve Wilson, Et Al

Chris Potter, Steve Wilson, Terell Stafford, Coming Together (Inarhyme). This was to have been the recording debut in 2005 of the young tenor saxophonist Brendan Romaneck. That year he died at 24 in a traffic accident. In his memory, saxophonists Potter and Wilson, trumpeter Stafford and a fine rhythm section completed the project. Eight of the compositions are Romaneck's. Three are standard songs. Potter is compelling with a pianoless trio on "My Shining Hour." Wilson and Stafford shine on … [Read more...]

CD: Miles Davis

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia). Okay, this is the zillionth reissue, and it's not the first to include alternate takes, false starts or a second CD of performances by the classic Davis sextet. The difference? Columbia got the sound right - no forced reverberation, echo, clipping, compression or other digital-age engineering cuteness. This is how the music should sound. Nice packaging, too, retaining the original cover on a sturdy three-panel fold-out box. If you don't own Kind of Blue, … [Read more...]

DVD: Woody Herman

Woody Herman, Live in '64 (Jazz Icons). This captures Herman on British television long after he stopped naming or numbering his Herds. It was one his most exciting bands, driven by drummer Jake Hanna and bassist Chuck Andrus. Upstate New York terrors Joe Romano and Sal Nistico are fascinating in their contrasting tenor sax styles. Two underrated trumpet soloists, Paul Fontaine and Billy Hunt, stand out, as does trombonist Phil Wilson, a master of high-note eloquence. But it's the tout ensemble … [Read more...]

Book: Scott La Faro

Helene La Faro-Fernández, Jade Visions: The Life and Music of Scott La Faro (North Texas). There will be other books about the most important young bassist of the last half of the twentieth century. Their authors will mine this invaluable first biography. The insight La Faro's sister gives into his character, musicality and determination could come only from someone so close. But the book is not just memories. La Faro-Fernández conducted dozens of interviews and did meticulous research to … [Read more...]