Recent Listening: Dániel Szabó, Chris Potter

Dániel Szabó Trio Meets Chris Potter, Contribution (BMC). Szabó is a 34-year-old pianist and composer with impressive academic and performance credentials and awards in Hungary and the US. One of his professors at the New England Conservatory was Bob Brookmeyer, who sent a copy of Szabó's CD with a note strongly suggesting that his former student deserves close attention. This album commands close attention. Szabó's compositions have lines with binding energy that urges forward motion, and chord … [Read more...]

Herb Ellis, 1921-2010

Herb Ellis died last night at home in Los Angeles. He was 88 years old and had Alzheimer's disease. Ellis was most celebrated for his guitar playing with the Oscar Peterson Trio that also included bassist Ray Brown. For more than half a century, he was one of a handful of guitarists recognized as masters of the instrument. Musicians of several generations cherished him as a colleague. A few of them were fellow guitarists Barney Kessel, Joe Pass, Charlie Byrd and Laurindo Almeida; trumpeters … [Read more...]

Aren’t You Triply Glad You’re You?

Skipping along through 65 years of the history of a superior popular song gives us an idea of its evolution as a subject for jazz improvisation. Indeed, our examples provide an idea how jazz improvisation itself has evolved. The song is Johnny Burke's (words) and Jimmy Van Heusen's (music) "Aren't You Glad You're You?" As Father O'Malley, Bing Crosby introduced it in the 1945 film The Bells of St. Mary's. He had a substantial hit record of it the same year. Among the singers who did covers (did … [Read more...]

Onward With Ruth Price

Even before the recession, the business side of jazz was struggling. During the worst of the downturn, singer and nonprofit entrepreneur Ruth Price took a double hit when her Jazz Bakery lost its lease. The club is still looking for a home. Reporter Greg Burk tells the story in today's Los Angeles Times. The Jazz Bakery is a nonprofit organization. To followers of the scene, that statement is a redundancy, of course. In Los Angeles, saying a jazz club doesn't make money is like saying a … [Read more...]

Bernstein And Schuller In The Third Stream

"Third Stream" seems a quaint term nearly half a century after it kicked up a bit of a fuss in jazz and classical circles. Still, it never quite goes away, as the recent Eric Dolphy posting reminded me. Two of the names that remain associated with the movement are Gunther Schuller and Leonard Bernstein. Several years ago, I wrote about Schuller's central role in creation of the term and implementation of the concept. It was in a review of a CD reissue of two daring and indelible Columbia albums … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Party For John Norris

From Toronto, guitarist and author Andrew Scott sends news of a memorial event in honor of the influential Canadian jazz publisher and record company owner John Norris, who died in late January. Sandi Norris, Ted O'Reilly, Jim Galloway, Don Thompson and I are organizing a Jazz Party in celebration of the wonderful life of John Welman Norris on Sunday April 18th from 3:00 until 8:00 at the Hart House Music Room (at the University of Toronto). A light lunch will be provided. In addition to the … [Read more...]

Bill Is Back

An alert Rifftides reader, Andy Rothman, sent an alert that YouTube has reinstated the Finland videos that disappeared from our Bill Evans, Relaxed And Articulate posting of May 2008. To read the reconstituted piece and view the clips, go here. Many thanks from the staff to Mr. Rothman. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Jamil Nasser’s Memorial

There was a memorial service Sunday night in New York for the bassist Jamil Nasser, who died last month. Among those in attendance was pianist, composer and writer Jill McManus, who sent Rifftides a report. There was a sizeable crowd at Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan on the evening of March 21st to honor and remember bassist Jamil Nasser, who died on February 13th. His strong, resounding bass playing was held in high regard. Nasser cut a wide swath through jazz from the 50s through the 70s, … [Read more...]

Jamil Nasser With Eric Dolphy

In a rare instance of Jamil Nasser on video, the clip below shows him performing with alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy in Berlin in 196l. Benny Bailey is the trumpeter, Pepsy Auer the pianist and Buster Smith the drummer. The piece is Dolphy's "245" from his 1960 Prestige album Outward Bound. … [Read more...]

Rebecca Kilgore And PDXV In Concert

Rebecca Kilgore is a singer specializing, although not exclusively, in classic songs of the middle decades of the twentieth century. She loves Irving Berlin, Frank Loesser, Burke & Van Heusen, Dorothy Fields, Cole Porter, Dennis & Adair, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller. Dick Titterington, Kilgore's husband, is a trumpeter who leads a post-bop quintet. Much of his repertoire comes from Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Tom Harrell, Joe Henderson, Harold Land, Thelonious Monk and from the … [Read more...]

Other Places: A Brubeck Jazz Profile

On his excellent blog, Jazz Profiles, Steve Cerra's new subject is Dave Brubeck. He is taking for his text the extensive booklet notes I wrote for the four-CD Brubeck box called Time Signatures: A Career Retrospective. When it popped up today, I read the essay for the first time in years. To adapt what Paul Desmond used to say about recording, I didn't have to cough too often during the playback. To read the first of three parts and see the photographs Mr. Cerra integrated into the text, go … [Read more...]

Out Of The Rifftides Past: David Newman

Now and then the Rifftides staff rummages through the archives, wondering what was on the blog early in its history. Yesterday we found a review from four years ago, to the day. It discusses an album by a musician whose death in January, 2009 gives the last line poignancy we could not have anticipated when the piece first appeared. Fathead One minute and twenty-six seconds into a blues called "Bu Bop Bass" on his new CD, Cityscape, the tenor saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman begins his solo … [Read more...]

Other Places: Pat And Deval Patrick

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts grew up apart from his father, Pat. His dad was a saxophonist who devoted most of his adult life to the music and spacebound teachings of Sun Ra, the band leader who for many devotees of the avant garde epitomizes freedom and adventure in late 20th century jazz. Patrick's wild baritone saxophone solos, often played far above the horn's normal range, were for more than 30 years rousing components of Sun Ra's concerts and recordings. Governor Patrick has … [Read more...]

Catching Up With Jovino Santos Neto

For 15 years before he moved to the US from his native Brazil in 1993, Jovino Santos Neto was the pianist and arranger for Hermeto Pascoal, whom Miles Davis is said to have called, "the most impressive musician in the world." Santos Neto lives and teaches in Seattle and travels to Brazil frequently, keeping up with developments in music there and maintaining his tie to Pascoal. His most recent trip was to join his mentor at a music camp in Ubatuba, on the coast between São Paolo and Rio de … [Read more...]

Weekend Special: PDXV

PDXV, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Heavywood). Five years ago, Trumpeter Dick Titterington brought together for one engagement saxophonist Rob Davis, pianist Greg Goebel, bassist Dave Captein and drummer Todd Strait. They discovered that their combination worked and decided to keep it going. For their name, the quintet added the Roman numeral V to the FAA acronym for the airport in Portland, Oregon, their home base. PDXV quickly developed cohesiveness, stylistic range and an identifiable sound that make … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Broadbent And Monk

Following the Ornette Coleman birthday posting three items down, Alan Broadbent sent the following: Now, this one's absolutely true, I was there and it's never made the books. Monk's quartet came to NZ on his "64 world tour and I and my friend Frank Gibson had good seats at Auckland's beloved Town Hall to see him. After the concert I was elected to drive Larry Gales in my '53 Ford Prefect to the Musician's Union where we held a little party for the band. Well, would you believe it, there was … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Ornette Coleman

It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something. - Ornette Coleman Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time. - Ornette Coleman … [Read more...]

Ornette Coleman Is 80

Today is Ornette Coleman's 80th birthday. In my admiration for Coleman's independence, faithfulness to his vision and inspiration, I yield to no one--except my artsjournal colleague Howard Mandel, whose lengthy Jazz Beyond Jazz tribute today is replete with Coleman history and analysis and links to recordings and books. As addenda to Howard's account of Coleman's initial breakthrough with Contemporary Records, I offer this archive item and this followup entry. Over the years, there is wide … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Return Of The One-Man Band

No, not the Sidney Bechet "Sheik of Araby" kind of one man band, but the television news kind. Today, Howard Kurtz devotes his column in The Washington Post to a phenomenon brought about in broadcast news by the convergence of technology and economic hard times. Scott Broom turns his tripod toward the wall of gray mailboxes, adjusts the camera, walks into the shot and delivers his spiel. "Here's how bad it is for the U.S. Postal Service," the WUSA reporter says as a handful of customers at the … [Read more...]

Kansas City Suite: Still Rare, Still Wonderful

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about a Benny Carter masterpiece that received raves from musicians and critics after Count Basie recorded it for Roulette in 1960. Kansas City Suite went out of print as an LP, had a brief revival as a Capitol CD in 1990, sold poorly and has all but disappeared. Basie's so-called "new testament" band included Thad Jones, Joe Newman, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Marshall Royal, Benny Powell, Al Grey and the great latterday Basie rhythm section. They gave Carter's work … [Read more...]

Your New Recommendations Are Here

The latest selection of Doug's Picks is posted in the center column, featuring a treasured vocal-piano collaboration, a new young trumpeter, an old free jazz band, a bassist at the helm of an exciting quartet, and a book that recaptures a special place at the end of New York's last golden age of jazz. … [Read more...]

CD: Helen Merrill-Dick Katz

The Helen Merrill-Dick Katz Sessions (Mosaic). The bewitching singer and the late master of piano harmony and touch collaborated in 1965 and 1969 on two classic Milestone LPs. Mosaic's reissue of both on one CD is a genuine event. In addition to Merrill's incomparable singing and Katz's playing, we get Thad Jones, Jim Hall, Hubert Laws, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Pete LaRoca and Elvin Jones. Katz's lapidary arrangements are an exquisite bonus. After hearing them for 35 years, I still … [Read more...]

CD: Ian Carey

Ian Carey Quntet, Contextualizin' (Kabocha). Carey's self-deprecation in his liner notes would have you believe that he's not much of a trumpet player. It depends on what you mean by playing. True, there's not a double high C anywhere on the album and no jet-speed series of gee-whiz chord inversions. Let's settle for good tone, lyricism and contiguous ideas that lead somewhere. Carey and his young sidemen are in tune with one another, in every sense. In Adam Shulman he has a pianist who … [Read more...]

CD: New York Art Quartet

New York Art Quartet, Old Stuff (Cuneiform). As brash, iconoclastic and good-natured as the day it was born, the NYAQ comes roaring out of 1965. Trombonist Roswell Rudd, alto saxophonist John Tchicai, bassist Finn von Eyben and drummer Louis Moholo affirm that if free jazz is going to jettison formal guidelines, its players had better have musicianship, personality and the gift of listening. During its brief existence, the New York Art Quartet met all requirements. Just to prove that they were … [Read more...]