In Breve (1): Iyer, Kilgore, Willis, Figarova, Caliman-Christlieb

Jazz is dying? Ha. The stacks of evidence on my office floor say otherwise. Here you see a few of the recent arrivals. As I may have mentioned, it is impossible to keep up with this stuff. No matter how many listening hours the reviewer carves out of the day, they can never be enough. Selectivity is a necessity. In this installment of the never-ending attempt to stay abreast, here are the Rifftides staff's impressions of a few more or less new releases. These are not full-fledged—even … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Danilo Pérez

Danilo Pérez, Providencia (MackAvenue). In what may well have been his most substantial and visionary contribution to world understanding and the progress of his nation, the late Mexican president José López Portillo said in a 1977 interview, "Everything is part of everything else." 1,500 miles to the south in Panama, Danilo Pérez was an 11-year-piano student. He may not then have been paying attention to the international relations pronouncements of foreign politicians, but when it comes to … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Joan Stiles

The pianist, composer and teacher Joan Stiles runs one of the hippest sextets in New York. Her circle of insider admirers encompasses many of the best-known musicians in jazz today and is widening to include a substantial number of listeners in the general audience. Stiles achieves identifiable individuality in her own compositions and in her arrangements of songbook standards and pieces by Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk, Fats Waller, Jimmy Rowles and Duke Ellington, among others. Stiles was … [Read more...]

A Bill Evans Addendum

Thanks to Jan Stevens of The Bill Evans Web Pages for pointing the way to a revealing interview with Evans the year before he died. Ross Porter (pictured), then of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, talked with the pianist at his home and in his car as Evans was driving to a medical appointment. Evans is articulate about his career, his musical goals and his associates, including Miles Davis, Philly Joe Jones and Scott LaFaro. He does not dwell on his fateful habits, nor does he evade the … [Read more...]

Buddy Collette, 1921-2010

Buddy Collette, a master of reeds and woodwinds who played a major part in integrating Los Angeles studios and the musicians union, is gone. He died on Sunday at the age of 89. Like his contemporary Angelenos Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon, Collette was an important part of the southern California jazz community long before the invention of the term West Coast Jazz. He played important roles in bands led by Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson, Chico Hamilton and Conte Candoli, among many others. He … [Read more...]

Sudhalter Plays Beiderbecke

Richard M. Sudhalter died two years ago today. A superb writer and musician, he was the author of the definitive biography of Bix Beiderbecke and played cornet—beautifully—in the Bix tradition. Here he is with the New York Jazz Repertory Company at a Town Hall concert in the early 1970s, playing Beiderbecke's "Davenport Blues." With him are Kenny Davern, bass saxophone; Bob Wilber, clarinet; Ephie Resnick, trombone; Marty Grosz, banjo; Chauncy Morehouse, drums; and Dill Jones, piano. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: On Discovering Bill Evans

Many of the numerous comments about my Bill Evans article in The Wall Street Journal this week have been touching. None has been more moving or more extensive than this one from Rifftides reader Mark Mohr. The staff agreed that Mr. Mohr's account of discovering Evans should be an item of its own because it parallels the experiences of so many other listeners. I first saw Bill Evans in concert at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1974. He and his trio (Eddie Gomez and Marty … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Edwin Newman, 1919-2010

Edwin Newman's death at age 91 is not the end of an era. The broadcast news era that produced Newman ended long ago, as you may have noticed in most of the news programs you watch on television and, particularly, on cable. Newman worked for NBC News. He was of a generation of broadcast news people the best of whom applied the values of the wire services and newspapers where they learned the craft of journalism. He was a splendid reporter who functioned as one of NBC's most productive, versatile … [Read more...]

Listening Tip Corrected: Ingrid Jensen, Benny Green

A dyslexia attack a week ago caused the Rifftides proprietor to alert readers to a radio broadcast last Sunday that, in fact, will take place this coming Sunday, September 19. The only way to make amends is to correct the mistake and post the item again. The entire Rifftides staff is on vacation this week, more or less, but this may give the impression that we're on the job. On his Jazz Northwest program this weekend, Jim Wilke will be playing the Ingrid Jensen-Benny Green concert that he … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Bill Evans

First of all, I never strive for identity. That's something that just has happened automatically as a result, I think, of just putting things together, tearing things apart and putting it together my own way, and somehow I guess the individual comes through eventually. Especially, I want my work - and the trios if possible - to sing. It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It's not. It's feeling. … [Read more...]

Bill Evans In The Wall Street Journal

In today's Wall Street Journal I have an article in observance of the 30th anniversary of Bill Evans' death. Here are a few of the 900-plus words: Among pianists, Evans, who died 30 years ago Wednesday at age 51, is as immediately identifiable as Tatum, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson and Bud Powell. In artistry and influence, he is their inheritor and successor. With the exception of those who specialize in stride or boogie woogie, virtually all jazz pianists who developed from the early 1960s on … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Domnick Farinacci

Dominick Farinacci, Sounds In My Life (Keystone). When I first heard Farinacci five or six years ago, he was one of two trumpet students featured on a Warren Vaché instructional DVD. In his solo on a blues, I was intrigued that he seemed to be reflecting in a personal way a school of trumpet playing notable for the subtlety of its beauty. Some of the trumpeters in the 1950s whose characteristics of tone, fluidity of ideas and lyricism bound them together in a general style were Don Joseph, Tony … [Read more...]

Other Matters: The 2010 Crop, Update

Shots from this morning's ride: There's nothing better for color development than a succession of warm days and chilly nights. For comparison with color less than a month ago, go here. While I was shooting, a flock of geese flew over, headed south. … [Read more...]

Hadley Caliman, RIP

Tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman died Wednesday in Seattle. He was 78 and had liver cancer. Until a few weeks before his death, Caliman thrived in the Pacific Northwest, starring in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and leading his own group. Here, we see him soloing with the SRJO. I wrote in Jazz Matters about Caliman in a 1979 performance with Freddie Hubbard's band: As the evening progressed, Caliman's playing took on much of the intensity and coloration of John Coltrane's work, but he … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Denny Zeitlin

The siege of deadlines has lifted. The assignments were good for the sagging exchequer but put the blogging account in arrears. In the days remaining before the staff goes on vacation, we'll pay attention to a few recent CDs. Denny Zeitlin, Precipice (Sunnyside). Following Mosaic's release last year of a box of his Columbia recordings of the 1960s and a new trio album with Buster Williams and Matt Wilson, the protean pianist goes solo. He played this concert in a Santa Barbara hall with a fine … [Read more...]

Anita Gravine: A Lotta Coffee

In the beginning, Stash Records specialized in songs from the '20s, '30s and '40s that dealt with drugs and sex. The first Stash compilation of old recordings, in 1976, was called Reefer Songs. Another of the label's big sellers was Copulatin' Blues. Eventually, founder Bernie Brightman, began making original recordings by jazz artists, including singer Chris Connor and pianist Hilton Ruiz. To his eternal credit (he died in 2003), Brightman also recorded two albums by Anita Gravine, an artist … [Read more...]

Evans And Burrell Revisited

As the 30th anniversary of Bill Evans' death approaches, he is on many minds. I am preparing a piece that will run the week of the date he died, September 15. As I researched it, among the Evans posts I found buried in the Rifftides past is one from four years ago. In those primitive days, the staff had yet to learn how to embed video. All we could do was provide a link to a rare performance of Evans and Kenny Burrell in duo. Now, we bring it to you direct as part of this encore post. Evans And … [Read more...]

Other Places: Mulgrew Miller In Detroit

The Detroit Jazz Festival runs through the Labor Day weekend, with an impressive array of musicians including Roy Haynes, Maria Schneider, Terence Blanchard and Branford Marsalis. The festival's artist-in-residence, Mulgrew Miller, received advance attention from Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker. ...the brightest spotlight falls on the Mississippi-born Miller, who makes four major appearances. He leads his sextet called Wingspan, plays duets with fellow pianist Kenny Barron, joins … [Read more...]

Jones-Lewis, Inc.—Groove Merchants

Bill Kirchner sent a link to a video. He accompanied it with a succinct message: Play this when you're having a bad day. I wasn't having a bad day, but the Thad-Jones Mel Lewis band made it better. This is from a European tour probably in the fall of 1969—not '68, as YouTube says. The reed section: Joe Henderson, Jerry Dodgion, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Daniels, Pepper Adams. Trumpets: Snooky Young, Danny Moore, Al Porcino, Richard Williams. Trombones: Eddie Bert, Astley Fennell, Jimmy … [Read more...]