Correspondence: On Harvey Pekar

Rifftides reader Allen Mezquida writes: It seems that Pekar had a greater perception about jazz than many musicians I know. He listened with a rich open mind and a big heart. I created this animation for him. It was finished about a week before he died. Allen Mezquida animates films and plays alto saxophone in Los Angeles. … [Read more...]

Harvey Pekar, Jazz Critic

Harvey Pekar died this week at the age of 70. He will, inevitably, be more widely remembered for his seriously adult American Splendor comics and the movie they inspired than for his jazz criticism. As a writer about music he was—no surprise—eccentric and uneven but at his best wrote with precision and frankness about what he heard in his careful listening. Here is the conclusion of his Austin Chronicle review of the reissue of the Miles Davis Cellar Door Sessions. Maybe Miles was … [Read more...]

Brubeck & Company In Belgium, Part 4

More or less from the beginning of their association, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond had an affinity for blues in minor keys. Three that achieved success to the point of indelible identification with them were "Balcony Rock," first recorded in Jazz Goes To College (1954), the same theme recycled as "Audrey" for Brubeck Time (1956), and "Koto Song" from Jazz Impressions Of Japan (1964). "Koto Song" was a new entry in the quartet's repertoire when they played it on television in Belgium in '64. … [Read more...]

Listening Tip: Gene Lees

Bill Kirchner writes: 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). Gene Lees (1928-2010) was one of jazz's foremost essayists and biographers. And he wrote liner notes for a number of classic jazz albums: John Coltrane's Ballads, Bill Evans' Conversations With Myself and At The Montreux Jazz Festival, The Individualism of Gil Evans, and Getz/Gilberto, among … [Read more...]