A Birthday To Crow About

Bill Crow, red shirt

The Rifftides staff unaccountably overlooked a memo designed to alert us yesterday to an important birthday. Bill Crow, bassist, tubist, author and occasional correspondent to this blog, became 84 years old on December 27. He continues to gig on both of his instruments and to write, among other things, his Band Room column in Allegro, the newspaper of New York musicians union local 802. Now that he is 84 and one day, we wish Bill all the best now, in 2012 and for a long time thereafter. Here … [Read more...]

Correspondence: On Hoagy

Hoagy C (young)

Mark Stryker, the music critic of The Detroit Free Press writes about yesterday's Rifftides entry: Your Hoagy post reminded of this piece I wrote when “Star Dust” turned 75 in 2002. Feel free to post if the spirit so moves. It does. Thank you, Mark. 75 years of ‘Star Dust’ By Mark Stryker Detroit Free Press Music Writer Hoagy Carmichael and his pals headed east from Indianapolis after their gig, driving all night to Richmond, Ind., home of the Gennett studio, … [Read more...]

Remembering Hoagy Carmichael

Hoagy headshot

We lost Hoagy Carmichael on this date in 1981. We have not lost “Skylark.” Here’s Carmichael in 1956 singing one of his most beloved songs. The words are by Johnny Mercer, the alto saxophone solo is by Art Pepper, the trumpet by Don Fagerquist. The song is from Hoagy Sings Carmichael With the Pacific Jazzmen, his classic album with arrangements by Johnny Mandel—a basic repertoire item. … [Read more...]

KitchenAid Plays Ellington

Creole Love Call

Our new stove chimes a catchy riff that has been challenging me to recognize it. Finally, it hit me: the stove’s timer chirps the first four bars of Duke Ellington’s “Creole Love Song.” This is a remarkable coincidence or the engineering staff at KitchenAid has the hippest designer in the appliance business. Either way, it’s a bit of serendipity with which I am happy to be greeted every morning when my tea has steeped. I don’t have a recording of the timer, but here is the first—and … [Read more...]

Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Feliz Navidad, Christmas Alegre, Lystig Jul, メリークリスマス, Natale Allegro, 圣诞快乐, Καλά Χριστούγεννα, 즐거운 성탄, И к всему доброй ночи And С Новым Годом

Mt Rainier

The Rifftides staff wishes you a Merry Christmas, a splendid holiday season and happy listening. For good measure, here is a favorite winter scene, Mount Rainier, 90 miles from Rifftides World Headquarters. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening, In Brief

Basile Amplitudes

I'll never catch up, but here are a few 2011 CDs I wanted to report on before the year gets away. John Basile, Amplitudes (StringTime Jazz) Basile has a series of agreeable conversations with two other guitarists, both of whom—through the wonders of digital overdubbing—are also Basile. Multiple tracking by a solitary musician goes back to Bill Evans (tape, 1963) and well beyond, to Sidney Bechet’s “Sheik of Araby” and “Blues of Bechet” (lacquer discs, 1941). What's different here … [Read more...]

Christmas Listening Tip

Chuck Niles

In addition to Christmas jazz around the clock Christmas Eve and Christmas day, the internet radio station known as The Jazz Knob will present several instances of the late radio host Chuck Niles’s reading of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Niles was a Southern California jazz disc jockey from 1957 until his death in 2004. His presentation of the classic Christmas poem became a tradition in the Los Angeles area. For the schedule of readings and to listen to The Jazz Knob any time, go here. … [Read more...]

Sloane On Brookmeyer

Carol Sloane posts infrequently on her blog, Sloanview. When she puts something up, it's worth reading. Sloane and Bob Brookmeyer were close friends for a time. Her recollections of him are fond and frank. The piece is illustrated with a candid photo of the two of them, Jimmy Rowles and Tommy Flanagan. To read it go here. … [Read more...]

Broadbent’s Short Tour


Shortly before Alan Broadbent moved from Southern California to New York, he told the Los Angeles Times: People are making more out of this than they need to. The bulk of my work is as a touring musician, and I can do that from anywhere. One of Broadbent’s shorter tours these days is on the train into Manhattan from his new home in the northern suburbs. It remains to be seen how much time he will be able to devote to playing in clubs there, but it worked out well when he took his … [Read more...]

Brookmeyer Revisited

Brookmeyer by Claxton

Rummaging through Rifftides for posts about Bob Brookmeyer, I found that he is mentioned dozens of times and is the focus of several pieces. You can rummage on your own by entering his name in the “Search this website” box just below the artsjournalblogs logo. This one from 2008 concentrates on a rarity among Brookmeyer recordings. An earlier post is a review of a daring new Brookmeyer album. It begins: Like Brahms and Bartók late in their careers, Bob Brookmeyer has achieved … [Read more...]

Bob Brookmeyer: 1929-2011

Brookmyer @ IAJE 2006

Bob Brookmeyer died in his sleep Thursday night in a hospital near his home in Grantham, New Hampshire. He would have been 82 on December 19. The cause is reported as congestive heart failure. Several weeks ago, Bob sent me a test pressing of the next album by his New Art Orchestra. He attached a note: This CD is very much a pre-production sample. Please hold close to your vest. I have been listening to it repeatedly and holding it close, only to learn today that it has been … [Read more...]

Jan Allan

Jan Allan

Sweden has been on my mind in connection with the deadline project that is slowing my Rifftides output. The project does not involve Jan Allan, but he is Swedish and it occurs to me that not enough of you may know about this splendid trumpeter. Here he is playing in the northern university town of Umeå in 1994. The piece is “The Man I Love.” Jan Allan with Kjell Öhman, piano; Georg Riedel bass; Petur Östlund drums. A sad footnote, evidently added to the YouTube page by … [Read more...]

When Bud Met Marian

Bud Shank

For the next few days—at least—Rifftides will be in semi-suspension while I face down a couple of deadlines. I should be able to tell you sometime next week about the more urgent one. In the meantime, the staff will continue to monitor and post your comments. When possible, I will contribute a tidbit or two, starting now. Early this month, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz rebroadcast her 2006 program with Bud Shank (1926-2009). She kept marveling that the two had never before met, … [Read more...]

The News About Clark Terry


The news of Clark Terry’s latest setback has raced through the jazz community and much of the wider world. The trumpet and flugelhorn hero, whose 91st birthday will be next Wednesday, has been suffering from diabetes. The disease has seriously affected his eyesight. Last week it led to the amputation of a leg. Reports are that he is recuperating well and is in good spirits. On his recently established blog, a message from CT’s wife Gwen includes this: When Clark talked with me about the … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Momotaro, The Jazz Version

Momotaro Illus

Years ago, I saw film of a riotous Japanese jazz opera based on the traditional tale of Momotaro. The video disappeared for a while, but frequent Rifftides correspondent and prodigious blogger Bruno Leicht rediscovered it and sent an alert. To make sense of it, before you watch the video below it will help to know the story. It might also help to have a couple of shots of Ginjo sake. Momotaro the Peach Boy ONCE upon a time there were an old man and his old wife living in the country … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tips: Lundgren & Gravish

Lundgren Together 2

If you haven’t discovered the website called The Jazz Knob, tomorrow at 12:30 pm (PST) would be a good time to give it a try. In an unusual bit of web radio programming, the veteran Los Angeles jazz broadcaster Ken Borgers has announced that he will play the new Jan Lundgren trio album in its entirety. Together Again at the Jazz Bakery reunites the Swedish pianist with bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Joe La Barbera. Their 2008 concert came eleven years after their initial encounter, Cooking! … [Read more...]

Correspondence: The Sporting Life & “Take Five”


Rifftides reader and Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker alerts us to an improbable happening in Chicago—a debate on an ESPN sports radio program over the authorship of “Take Five.” The story on drummer Ted Sirota’s website includes audio of the argument. From Sirota’s preamble: I told him I was a jazz drummer and he put me right through! That’s the first time I’ve ever been treated better by saying I’m a jazz drummer! Usually they tell me to go away or go through the back … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: The Brubeck Birthday Box

Brubeck Q + Teo

The Dave Brubeck Quartet: The Columbia Studio Albums Collection 1955-1967 Dave Brubeck turns 91 tomorrow, December 6, and Columbia Records is releasing a CD box containing all 19 of the Columbia albums that his quartet recorded in the studio. The earliest, Brubeck Time, was released in 1955 but recorded in the fall of 1954, three years after Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond formed the quartet. The last, Anything Goes: Brubeck Plays Cole Porter, was released in 1967 a few months … [Read more...]

Get Hip—Or Was It Hep?—With Christie & Frishberg

Retta C

Every once in a while, Retta Christie asks pianist, singer, songwriter and raconteur Dave Frishberg to be the guest on her radio program. He usually arrives with items from his private stash of rare and unusual records, tapes and cylinders. Tomorrow, Monday, December 5, is one of those days. To hear Frishberg and Christie on the quaintly call-lettered KBOO, go here from 12 to 2 pm (PST) and click on “Listen Now.” … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: A Story About Elvin

Screen shot 2011-12-04 at 12.25.58 PM

In Portland, Oregon, there’s a radio storyteller named Lynn Darroch. He tells about ordinary people and events near home or extraordinary ones abroad or, often, about jazz. When he performs in public, he may hire a musician or two and make a video. Here’s Darroch with guitarist John Stowell and tenor saxophonist Rob Davis, prominent inhabitants of Portland’s rich music scene. The story is about Elvin Jones. To learn more about Darroch, Stowell and Davis, and to hear and see more stories, go … [Read more...]

Lennie Sogoloff Still Presents

Newman, Sogoloff

For a couple of weeks, I’ve been waiting for permission to post photographs from the collection that Lennie Sogoloff donated to Salem State University in Massachusetts. Sogoloff was the proprietor of Lennie’s On the Turnpike, a club north of Boston that presented jazz, comics and cabaret from 1951 to 1972. In that era, it was not unusual for artists to appear in clubs for a week, two weeks or longer, not the one- or two-night gigs customary in the 21st century. The range of performers that … [Read more...]

Motian On Motian

Motian cymbal

National Public Radio’s Fresh Air last night rebroadcast Terry Gross’s 2006 interview with drummer Paul Motian, who died on November 22. Motian’s conversation was like much of his drumming—low-key, definite and often surprising. Here is some of what he said. I'm not a showpiece drummer. ... I feel like I'm an accompanist. It's my sort of thing to make the other people sound good, as good as they can be. I feel like I should accompany them, and I should accompany the sound that I am … [Read more...]

Muted Art

Art Farmer Muted

During the years in which Art Farmer (1928-1999) played trumpet as his main horn, his muted work was a pleasure to hear. After he switched to flugelhorn in the early 1960s, his playing took on greater lyricism and depth, but because there were no flugelhorn mutes, a satisfying aspect of his sound went by the wayside. Then, in the late ‘70s he found a technician who was able to convert a trombone mute so that the flugel could accommodate it. Here’s Farmer on muted flugelhorn in 1982 with a superb … [Read more...]

Odds And Ends


Jason Moran From Washington, DC, comes news that pianist Jason Moran will be the late Billy Taylor’s successor as the Kennedy Center’s artistic adviser for jazz. From the center’s release announcing the appointment: Moran hopes to expand the accessibility that was so important to Taylor, in part by emphasizing that music, and especially jazz, can be fun. “ ‘Fun’ is not a very intellectual term,” he says, “but I think people like good music, people enjoy good drinks and good food, … [Read more...]

Other Places: Blues On The Rocks In Chicago?


“When Will the Blues Leave?” Ornette Coleman asked the question in 1958 by way of the title of a piece in his first album. In Chicago, of all places—the blues stronghold of the Midwest for nearly a century—the question is implied in concerns of musicians and club owners who are trying to keep the form alive economically. In a long weekend piece in The Chicago Tribune, music critic Howard Reich surveys the blues club scene in the Windy City. How long can a music that long … [Read more...]