Weekend Extra: Desmond Speaks

After three years of keeping his alto saxophone in the closet, in 1974 Paul Desmond finally succumbed to the exhortations of the Canterino family and agreed for the first time in a quarter of a century to play a club date as leader. The Canterino's club, the Half Note, had moved from lower Manhattan to Midtown. The new proximity was an important factor. "After all," he told me, "It's only a couple of blocks away. I can fall out of bed and onto the bandstand." He hired Jim Hall on guitar, Ron … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Language, Ya Know?

The Rifftides Department Of Language Reform (DOLR) has been neglecting its duties. Its members claim that their failure to stop the misuse of "absolutely" and "no problem" (see this archives post) discouraged them. At a staff meeting on the subject, the DOLRers moaned that they despair of succeeding where Fowler, Strunk, White, Bernstein, Ciardi and other titans of proper English usage have failed. They pointed out that people still say, "ya know" every few seconds; still say and write, "they" … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Language

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words. -- George Eliot But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. -- George Orwell What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same. -- Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin I wonder what language truck drivers are using, now that everyone is using theirs? -- Beryl Pfizer … [Read more...]

A Make-Good

In April of 2009, a Rifftides review of a Daryl Sherman CD failed to mention the album's lead song, "S'Mardis Gras." It also perpetuated the tray card's mis-naming of the bass player. Correcting those shortcomings is a fine excuse to again call attention to a CD that deserves more of it. Daryl Sherman, New O'leans (Audiophile). Hurricane Katrina's assault on the Crescent City inspired Sherman to record this collection of songs, but it goes beyond the post-disaster blues to touch on many of the … [Read more...]

A Sound Decision For Abbey Road

It seems there's a new development every day in the saga of London's Abbey Road Studios. Today, the building is off the block - if it was ever on - saved by designation as a part of history. The Los Angeles Times has the story with a splendid recent photograph of the building and the crosswalk the Beatles made famous. Why does Rifftides care? Scroll down to "Studios And Sound," February 21. … [Read more...]

The Village Vanguard At 75

The Village Vanguard is observing its 75th anniversary this week. Joe Lovano and the band he calls Us Five are playing there through Sunday. I wish that I could attend. But I shouldn't be greedy; in my New York years, I was fortunate to be in the club often. I heard music there that echoes in my mind to this day. Frequently on Monday nights, I wrapped up the newscast, jumped into a cab and headed for the Vanguard. That's a night off for many musicians, and anyone might have shown up for the Thad … [Read more...]

Abbey Road Safe?

According to Norman Lebrecht, the proprietor of artsjournal.com's Slipped Disc, financial tap dancing led to reports that Abbey Road studios was--or might be--for sale. That does not invalidate the sonic issues raised in this February 21 Rifftides post. It may relieve the anxieties of audiophiles who cherish the great old studios. To read Mr. Lebrecht's followup, go here. … [Read more...]

Montmartre Redivivus

Unexpected and welcome news from a Danish web site: Denmark's once legendary jazz club Montmartre re-opens in May 2010 in its original premises in Copenhagen. During the 1960's and 70's the club served as a European home for American giants like Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Kenny Drew and many others. Pianist Niels Lan Doky and a partner will operate the club as a nonprofit enterprise. For details, go here. For recent Rifftides posts involving the Montmartre, go here and here. … [Read more...]

Ertegun Hall of Fame Winners

Jazz At Lincoln Center has just announced the artists posthumously inducted into its Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame for 2010. They are Bill Evans, Bud Powell, Billy Strayhorn and Sarah Vaughan. Those honored are chosen by vote of a panel of experts from 17 countries. Jazz at Lincoln Center will present concerts dedicated to the inductees. Here is the schedule: Intuition: The Music of Bill Evans (May 14-15, 2010) The Music of Billy Strayhorn (November 5-6, 2010) The Music of Sarah Vaughan … [Read more...]

Art Van Damme, Pete Barbutti & The Cordeen

In the right hands, the accordion can be a wonderfully evocative instrument. To name a few jazz masters of the accordion: George Shearing, Joe Mooney, Eddie Monteiro, Pete Jolly, Ernie Felice, Angelo DiPippo, Tommy Gumina, and Sivuca, whose harmonic and rhythmic use of the accordion enhanced so much fine Brazilian music. Gus DeWert was a splendid accordionist from Kansas City. In his time, Art Van Damme may not have reached the general fame of Dick Contino ("Lady of Spain"), but he was immensely … [Read more...]

Studios And Sound: Followup

For more on the sound quality issues raised in the following exhibit (February 21), see the comments that piece has stimulated (click on the Comments button at the end of the item). Also, go here for a golden oldie updating news about Roy DuNann, a late-20th-century hero of recorded sound. That post, in turn, will link you back to the original DuNann installment from March, 2007. Welcome to the Rifftides time machine. The staff looks forward to your comments on current and past entries. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Studios And Sound

In their list of priorities, most serious listeners put music's content before the quality of its sound. In one of our listening sessions at my house, I apologized to Paul Desmond for the scratchy surface of the old vinyl LP I was playing for him. "I don't care if it's recorded on cellophane strips," he said, "as long as I can hear what everybody's doing." Nonetheless, Desmond's own playback equipment was state of the art. He preferred first-class audio. The Desmond episode came to mind as I … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Post-Katrina Videos

Rifftides reader Lauren Kesner O'Brien writes from New Orleans: I'm the founder of a new video magazine, www.telegraph21.com, and am contacting you because all week we are featuring great videos about jazz and New Orleans. In particular I thought today and tomorrow's video feature, The Sound After the Storm, featuring well known musicians Lillian Boutté and Dr. Michael White would be of particular interest to your blog readers:   … [Read more...]

Speaking Of New Orleans: Astral Project

If it has been a while since you've heard these exemplars of modern New Orleans music, now in their 32nd year, here's your chance. It's Astral Project on the road last fall at the Artists Quarter in St. Paul, Minnesota. The band is Tony Dagradi, tenor (and at the end soprano) saxophone; Steve Masakowski, guitar; James Singleton, bass; Johnny Vidacovich, drums. The name of the post-Katrina piece is "Dike Finger." Think about it. … [Read more...]

Comes The Dawn

(All right, the headline is a cheap play on words. I tried to resist.) Speaking of Dawn Clement (see the next exhibit), Jim Wilke will broadcast her trio in concert next Sunday, February 21, at 1 PM Pacific Standard Time. It will be on Wilke's Jazz Northwest program on KPLU-FM, the Seattle-Tacoma jazz station. He recorded the concert, which was part of the Seattle Art Museum's Art of Jazz series. The trio is Ms. Clement, piano; Geoff Harper, bass; Jazz Sawyer, drums. Seattle-area listeners can … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Bloom, Clayton, Allen

Jane Ira Bloom, Mental Weather (Outline). This 2008 quartet album by the soprano saxophonist deserved Rifftides attention long before now. Bloom is noted for her control, intonation and full-bodied sound on a notoriously thin and cranky instrument, but those qualities merely serve her creativity, which is at a high level here. She teams with drummer Matt Wilson, bassist Mark Helias and pianist Dawn Clement. Electronic effects sparingly employed on a few tracks enhance the precision and clarity … [Read more...]

Book Review (Illustrated): Pops

Terry Teachout, Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (Houghton Mifflin, 474 pages, $30) A good biography of a musician makes the reader want to listen. Alexander Wheelock Thayer triggered that compulsion with his life of Beethoven, Marion Hildesheimer with Mozart, Richard Sudhalter with Bix Beiderbecke. Terry Teachout's Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong can be a workout; all that getting up and down. Reading it, I repeatedly set aside the book to go to the shelves and exhume Armstrong recordings. … [Read more...]

Pops In Full Flight

Critical carping and misguided stylistic arguments aside, in every period of his career Louis Armstrong was formidable in his playing and singing. His appearance with the All-Stars at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival reminded many who had taken Armstrong for granted of the power of his art. Through Bert Stern's and Aram Avakian's film Jazz On A Summer's Day, his performance that night has reached untold thousands of listeners miles and years beyond the concert in Freebody Park. The All-Stars were … [Read more...]

Jake Hanna, 1931-2010

Drummer Jake Hanna died last night in Los Angeles of complications from a blood disease. He was 78. Versatile across all jazz styles, in small groups and large Hanna swung with unremitting flexibility and power. He was the spark plug of big bands led by Woody Herman, Maynard Ferguson and Harry James and worked with a score or more of small groups including Supersax and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Here is Hanna in 1964 driving the Herman band in Bill Holman's arrangement of "After You've Gone." The video … [Read more...]

Other Places: JazzHouse Update

Author Nick Catalano recently had occasion to revisit the JazzHouse in Copenhagen. The club is the successor to the Montmartre, which presented dozens of the world's best jazz artists in the 1950s and '60s. Rifftides pieces about Bud Powell and the Montmartre's masks stimulated considerable comment. The staff thought you'd be interested in Nick's observations about the JazzHouse. The atmosphere at Copenhagen JazzHouse is informal, the decor is charming and the crowd is serious. The room was … [Read more...]

CD: Ron Carter

It is the custom of trumpeter John McNeil to disseminate notices about his band's engagements at Puppet's, a Brooklyn, New York, night club. Late today, he issued a special edition: Tonight's gig at Puppets is cancelled. Don't know why... … [Read more...]

Monk And Mingus In Seattle

Once in a great while, I encounter a photograph so good that it is necessary to dream up a reason to use it. In the case of the one beow, no dreaming was necessary. The lighting, sharpness and definition are so right, the shot looks like 3-D. The tenor saxophonist is Hadley Caliman. The conductor is Michael Brockman of the Seattle Jazz Repertory Orchestra. The SRJO is preparing for two concerts called Big Band Monk and Mingus, in early March. Photo by Bruce C Moore From the SRJO news … [Read more...]

Keep An Ear Out For Gadi Lehavi

With fairness, it could be charged that Rifftides has been too concerned lately with the old and the dead. Well, certain observances and acknowledgements needed to be made. But let's move on. David Liebman wrote with an antidote. Here's his message: ok--it's a cliche now that "they"(meaning the kids) get better earlier-check this out--he's already doing classical stuff since he was a babe--jazz for two years--Ravi (Coltrane) turned me on to him before I went to Israel a few weeks ago 13 yr old … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Youth

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.--Friedrich Nietzsche It is all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up to date.--George Bernard Shaw For God's sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself!--Robert Louis Stevenson The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible -- and achieve it, generation after … [Read more...]

The Willis Conover Facebook Page

What three administrations in the White House have refused to do, the people have done. They have recognized Willis Conover, the Voice of America broadcaster who may have been America's greatest cultural diplomat of the Cold War. He now has his own Facebook page, The Willis Conover Club. Will that lead to his getting a long overdue posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom? Possibly not, but his page, up only a day or two, is rapidly accumulating fans. One of them typifies the many musicians who … [Read more...]

John Dankworth, RIP

Sad news from London that Johnny Dankworth --Sir John Dankworth-- has died at 82. The alto saxophonist, composer and band leader and his wife, the singer Cleo Laine, have been pillars of jazz in England since the early 1950s. To read the BBC's announcement of his death, go here. John Dankworth … [Read more...]