Recent Listening: Brad Goode

Brad Goode, Tight Like This (Delmark). During his Chicago days, Goode worked through his influences, notably Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown, into early individuality. He has a Gillespie moment during his muted solo on the exotic 1942 Xavier Cugat song "Nightingale," but it's a rare example of his playing a direct quote. Goode has serious fun exercising his trumpet virtuosity. Creativity and taste balance his technical skill so that his smears, swoops, glissandos, flawless interval leaps and … [Read more...]

Great Solos: Lester Young, “Sometimes I’m Happy”

An Occasional Series The tenor saxophonist recorded this masterpiece in 1943 with pianist Johnny Guarnieri, bassist Slam Stewart and drummer Sid Catlett. He had rejoined Count Basie in high spirits. They were to be dashed the following year when he was drafted into a depressing Army experience, but this is the buoyant pre-war Lester. Prez's final 12 bars made such an impression on Oscar Peterson that he almost never played "Sometimes I'm Happy" without quoting them at the end. Peterson was far … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Lester Young

Well, the way I play, I try not to be a 'repeater pencil', ya dig? Originality's the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things but without originality you ain't really nowhere. Gotta be original.—Lester Young When Lester plays, he almost seems to be singing; one can almost hear the words.—Billie Holiday In some ways Lester Young is the most complex rhythmically of any musician. He does some things which are just phenomenal.—Lee Konitz Anyone who doesn't … [Read more...]

Thank You For Paul Desmond

It has become a Rifftides tradition to remember Paul Desmond's birthday. The 86th anniversary of his birth coincides with the American celebration of Thanksgiving, as did the 52nd, his last. For the occasion in 1976, Devra Hall cooked a turkey dinner for Desmond and her parents, Jim and Jane. She took the photograph that afternoon. Here's the story of the end of that part of the day, told by Devra in Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond. "It was a very quiet dinner. Paul was … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Tarbaby

Orrin Evans, Eric Revis, Nasheet Waits & Guests, Tarbaby: The End of Fear (Posi-tone). Pianist Evans, bassist Revis and drummer Waits comprise a leaderless or cooperative trio who live up to the album's subtitle. They are not afraid to go wacky, nearly unhinged, in two free pieces, "Heads"—featuring trumpeter Nicholas Payton at his most liberated and chancy—and "Tails," with the avant garde alto saxophonist Oliver Lake sitting in. Payton and Lake rein in their wildness for the … [Read more...]

Brubeck Is Back On The Job

Dave Brubeck's new pacemaker seems to be working. Here's a headline from this morning's Worcester (MA) Telegram-Gazette: Brubeck makes up-tempo return Ticker repaired, pianist keeps beat To read a review of Friday night's concert in Worcester, go here. We have found no explanation of why Chris Smith and Cody Cox were substituting for Michael Moore and Randy Jones, Brubeck's regular bassist and drummer. … [Read more...]

Followup: Reilly’s Joyful Thanks

Pianist Jack Reilly's recital at the Johns Hopkins Medicine Center in Baltimore on November 9 paid musical tribute to the memory of the doctor who saved his life. The concert of Reilly's original work was recorded. To see and hear it, click here. Thanks to the folks at Johns Hopkins for providing the printed program. DESCRIPTION: " THE SILENCE of the HEART" 24 MINIATURES FOR PIANO Dedicated to the late Dr. Martin Abeloff BOOK ONE 1) C Major 7) E flat Major 2) … [Read more...]

A Brubeck Birthday Concert

Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday is on December 6. Observances are beginning. This weekend in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under music director William Schrickel will play a celebratory concert with three pieces by Brubeck. They include one of his first extended orchestral works, Elementals, and the U.S. premiere of an adaptation for solo violin and strings of "Sleep, Holy Infant" from La Fiesta de la Posada. Three others pieces on the program are by George Gershwin, … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: Stamm And Kirchner

Correspondence from Bill Kirchner, saxophonist, composer, arranger, teacher, author, broadcaster (does this guy sleep?): 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). After graduating from North Texas State University and playing with the Stan Kenton and Woody Herman orchestras, trumpeter Marvin Stamm (b. 1939) settled in New York City in 1966. For more than two … [Read more...]

Charlie Haden & Company To The Rescue

It happens now and then: I am tied up on deadline for an article that demands extensive research. The Rifftides staff reports that there is no stash of shelf material, a serious breach of preparedness. They will be reprimanded. In a life misspent in journalism I have been conditioned to find dead air and blank space unacceptable. That translates to discomfort when the blog goes unrefreshed. Fortunately, a solution arrived in the form of a fine video to which a friend alerted me. This is a … [Read more...]

Thinking Of Danny Barker

This is neither the anniversary of Danny Barker's birth (January 13, 1909) nor of his death (March 13, 1994). I need no special occasion to write about Danny. He was born in New Orleans, where I served with him on the board of the original New Orleans JazzFest and was lucky enough to become his friend. No one has ever had a warmer, more genuine companion. Danny Barker with drummer Al Harewood at a New York memorial concert for Louis Armstrong in 1972 Largely because he reverted to banjo after he … [Read more...]

Other Matters: A Tech Support Story

A couple of days ago, I called a company for technical support. A well-spoken young woman answered. She did not put me on hold, dump me into voice-mail hell, pass me along to a robot or connect me with someone in Bangladesh. In about three minutes, she analyzed the problem and provided a solution. At the end, she did not try to sign me up for an extended warranty, sell me more stuff or ask me to complete a survey. I know—you've called tech support. You find this hard to believe. It's … [Read more...]

Other Places: Stomp Off

I should have long since added Chris Albertson's Stomp Off blog to the Personal Jazz Sites roll under Other Places at the of the middle column. It is hereby added. For your first Albertson fix, I recommend that you take in his latest entry. It has to do with a jam session he recorded in Copenhagen in 1953 that included Art Farmer, Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, Jimmy Cleveland and others who were touring with Lionel Hampton's band, as well as several Danish musicians. Albertson (pictured) … [Read more...]

Other Places: Learning Through Hearing

Jazz as an academic discipline has made huge strides in colleges and universities, even in high schools and middle schools. Students can major in jazz studies in music departments where 40 years ago they would have been suspended for jamming in practice rooms. The University of North Texas, Indiana University, the University of Illinois, Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory are among dozens of institutions of higher education turning out hundreds of graduates educated in … [Read more...]

Great Solos: Jack Jenney, “Stardust”

An Occasional Series Jenney is famous for eight-bars of trombone improvisation on Artie Shaw's 1940 recording of "Stardust." Several months earlier with his own band, he played a full-length solo on this little-known version of Hoagy Carmichael's classic song. … [Read more...]

CD: Chet Baker

Chet Baker, The Sesjun Radio Shows (T2). The trumpeter and singer soars in two CDs compiled from 1970s and '80s concerts on the Dutch radio program Tros Sesjun. Baker's fleetness, lyricism, hard swing and vocal improvisations put this among the best work of his later years. Of the sidemen, pianists Harold Danko and Phil Markowitz, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer John Engels make outstanding contributions. Sound quality is superb. There are five stunning 1985 tracks by Baker with guitarist … [Read more...]

CD: Mike Barone

Mike Barone, Live 2005! Redux (Rhubarb). Barone is one of the most accomplished big band arrangers never to become famous. For this reissue, he remixed to improve the sound, pruned overlong solos and added a track. Why "Grand Central" hit the editing room floor the first time around is a mystery. Ernie Watts and Vince Trombetta share the tenor sax glory in Barone's pungent treatment of the John Coltrane classic. Alto saxophonist Kim Richmond, trumpeter Steve Huffsteter and Barone the trombonist … [Read more...]

DVD: Steinway

Ben Niles, Note By Note: The Making Of Steinway L1037 (docuramafilms). This gem of the documentarian's art follows a 9-foot concert grand for a year, from its beginning as lumber to its arrival at the Steinway showroom in New York. Director Ben Niles and his crew equal the love, knowledge and skill that went into making the instrument. They incorporate conversation and playing by Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, Marcus Roberts, Harry Connick, Jr. and Bill Charlap. Classical pianists Hélène Grimaud, … [Read more...]

Book: Maynard Ferguson

Ralph Jungheim, Maynard! (Buster Ann). Jungheim's book is a collection of 30 transcribed reminiscences about the trumpeter and bandleader. Most of them are by musicians, but Ferguson's valet, bus driver and instrument maker also contribute. Some of the anecdotes are amusing, some interesting, some appalling. The exclamation point after his name in the title applies to Ferguson's spectacular playing and his ego. Even associates who had problems with his music and his insecurities had affection … [Read more...]

Reilly’s Joyful Thanks

Pianist Jack Reilly will be at the Johns Hopkins Medicine Center in Baltimore today to pay musical tribute to the memory of the doctor who saved his life. For details, go here. … [Read more...]

Other Places: When Laughton Met Scott

Rifftides reader Don Frese recommended this item from Bill Crow's "The Band Room" column in Allegro, the newspaper of New York Local 802 of the American Federation of musicians. The late British tenor man and club owner Ronnie Scott once told me that he was standing one day on the platform of a tube station in London, and he suddenly realized that the man standing next to him was Charles Laughton. Ronnie said excitedly to the great actor, "Excuse me, sir, but I just have to say what a great fan … [Read more...]