A Sad Note: Jack Tracy Is Gone

Jack Tracy died on Tuesday, December 21. He was 84. Jack was editor of DownBeat magazine in the 1950s and went on to a second career producing fine jazz recordings. He was a frequent Rifftides commenter. We shall miss his knowledge, pointed observations, humor and friendship. … [Read more...]

CD: Alan Broadbent

Alan Broadbent Trio Live At Giannelli Square: Volume 1 (Chilly Bin). No outer space explorer, Broadbent finds in the song form all that he needs for freedom earned through discipline. The technique he has intensified in recent years is evident in the precision and relaxation of his counterpoint in "Lullaby of the Leaves," stunning parallel constructions, speed and independence of hands in "Solar" and in dozens of other demonstrations of his skill. Broadbent's music, however, is not about chops. … [Read more...]

CD: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green

Rudresh Mahanthappa & Bunky Green, Apex (Pi). Mahanthappa, aged 39, is one of the most visible alto saxophonists of the 21st century; Green, aged 75 one of the least. As a result of this album, Green is gaining the prominence he might have achieved in the 1960s had he not left Charles Mingus for academia. Among the saxophonists he influenced through recordings was Mahanthappa. Together, they are formidable kindred spirits. Throughout, but notably on "Summit" and "Playing with Stones," their … [Read more...]

CD: Harold Danko, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry

Harold Danko, Oatts & Perry II (SteepleChase). Pianist Danko was a colleague of alto saxophonist Dick Oatts and tenor saxophonist Rich Perry in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band and never got over them—with good reason. This successor album to Oats & Perry (2006) again teams the three with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. It reemphasizes the reasons that Oatts and Perry are admired among musicians and serious listeners for their inventiveness, passion and tonal qualities. … [Read more...]

DVD: Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck, Brubeck Returns to Moscow (Koch Vision). This 2005 film about Brubeck's 1997 visit to Russia for a performance of his mass To Hope is a beautifully crafted documentary. It incorporates Brubeck's quartet with a symphony orchestra and chorus performing the mass and a rousing "Blue Rondo ala Turk." We see Brubeck's informal encounters with the Russians, including a spirited impromptu duet with a young violinist, and conductor Russell Gloyd amusingly overcoming the language difference … [Read more...]

Book: Laurie Verchomin On Bill Evans

Laurie Verchomin, The Big Love: Life & Death With Bill Evans (Verchomin). The "Laurie" of the pianist's song by that name spares nothing in her account of their romance or of the drug use that hastened Evans' death at 51. Love between the pianist and the young woman flared in the year-and-a-half before Evans died in late 1980. Her book is the story of the life-affirming brilliance of his music in the final months, a man resigned to the inevitability of his early mortality and the devotion of the … [Read more...]