Neat Trick

Leave it to the piano players to know who the piano players are. Slightly more than a year ago, Alan Broadbent introduced Rifftides readers to Chris Dawson. Now, Alan alerts us to Stephanie Trick of St Louis, Missouri. She studied classical piano from the age of five. When she was 10, her teacher introduced her to ragtime and stride. She fell in love with the genre and mastered it, and now the worldwide network of stride enthusiasts is in love with her. I wouldn't be surprised to see her … [Read more...]

Other Places: Stanko In Sydney

The veteran Polish Trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's late-blooming fame puts him in demand around the world. His reflective musings often inspire reviewers to compare him to Miles Davis. Davis was an inspiration, but Stanko long since absorbed, internalized and personalized the influence. Tonight he is playing in Australia at the Sydney Festival with his band of young Scandinavians. In the Sydney Morning Herald, John Shand traced Stanko's career, including his importance to the film composer Krsystof … [Read more...]

Catching Up With The NEA Jazz Masters

When the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Awards ceremony and associated events happened a couple of weeks ago, I was caught on the horns of a deadline dilemma and had to skip the televised proceedings. I've been catching up with the honors to David Liebman, Hubert Laws, Orrin Keepnews, Johnny Mandel and the Marsalises. Better late than never. The ceremony at Lincoln Center in New York City on January 11 ran long, although not as long as some previous years' events. It included … [Read more...]

John Williams Or John Williams?

An old bit of confusion revived for a time this week when Mosaic Records announced a Stan Getz box set to be issued next spring. The electronic news release about the 1950s Getz quintet recordings for Norman Granz's Norgran label mentioned Getz, Bob Brookmeyer and "pianist Johnny Williams (who later became film composer John Williams)." After several people hopped on the web with corrections, Mosaic commander-in-chief Michael Cuscuna explained, "Earlier version of the write-up got pasted in by … [Read more...]

They Still Call It JazzFest

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival yesterday announced the lineup for the 2011 edition. The festival will run the weekends of April 29-May 1 and May 5-8. In New Orleans, they still refer to the event as JazzFest. Here is a partial list of the hundreds of major attractions. Arcade Fire, Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp, Wilco, Willie Nelson, The Strokes, Robert Plant, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tom Jones, Jeff Beck, Sonny Rollins, John Legend & The Roots, The Avett Brothers, Cyndi … [Read more...]

Correspondence (Illustrated): Bird And Desmond

Rifftides reader John Bolger writes with a suggestion: Somebody has posted the legendary interview between Paul Desmond and Bird on YouTube. I had a seen transcript of this before but never heard the interview. Rare and wonderful! Thought you might like to know - might be worth piece in Rifftides. It might, indeed. In the spring of 1954, Desmond and Charlie Parker were guests on John McLellan's radio program on WHDH, Boston. In two previous shows, McLellan hadn't been able to get much out of … [Read more...]

Attention Acne Sufferers And Musicologists

Not long ago, we told you about stealth comments intended to lure Rifftides readers to websites that sell stuff. This just came in from the United Kingdom: just signed up at and wanna say hi to all the guys/gals of this board! That cheery greeting was disguised as a comment about a Rifftides post from March 2, 2006 and evidently sent in hopes that we would publish it with the link to an advertisement for an acne treatment. The ruse didn't work, but it sent the staff back to … [Read more...]

New Life For The Jazz Bakery

There is good news for jazz listeners in Southern California. The Jazz Bakery can stop roaming. That modern-day rarity, a major jazz club in Los Angeles, the Bakery lost its lease in 2009 and has been presenting concerts in a variety of halls, moving from one spot to another. Now it can reestablish itself in Culver City near where it started nearly two decades ago. A grant from the Annenberg Foundation and an agreement with a Culver City municipal agency will help make the new building a reality … [Read more...]

Correspondence (Illustrated): RIP Margaret Whiting

Rifftides reader Mark Stryker sent this reaction to the previous entry. Mr. Stryker is the music critic of The Detroit Free Press. He has good ears. Just a coda re: "Moonlight in Vermont," whose unusual lyrics were written by John Blackburn. The A section words are actually in the form of a haiku, with 5-7-5 syllable pattern. Nor do the lyrics rhyme. Also, a note on the interpretation: Whiting takes a big (and to my ear unfortunate) breath leading from the bridge into the final A section, … [Read more...]

Margaret Whiting

News of Margaret Whiting's death at 86 on Monday must have sent her fans to the shelves in search of her recording of "Moonlight in Vermont." She recorded the song in 1943 when she was 19. It helped make her a star, and she stayed on the charts well into the 1960s, surviving even as rock and roll displaced scores of her pop music contemporaries. Johnny Mercer did not write the lyric for "Moonlight in Vermont," but when he was the creative power at Capitol Records he chose the song for Whiting. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: The Unicorn In The Garden

Partially blind, totally brilliant, for decades James Thurber (1894-1961) entertained readers with the incisiveness and wit of his stories and drawings. His most famous story is probably "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which was distorted into a film that Thurber detested. Almost everything he did was for print, most of it in The New Yorker. There were exceptions. He wrote the hit play The Male Animal, appeared on stage in an adaptation of his stories called A Thurber Carnival, and … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: James Thurber

It is better to have loafed and lost, than never to have loafed at all. It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers. One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough. Progress was all right. Only it went on too long. There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Partyka-Philipp, Blackwell-Smith, Hackett-Haggart

Flip Philipp & Ed Partyka Dectet, Hair Of The Dog (ATS). In their third album as co-leaders, Philipp and Partyka make a substantial addition to the recorded history of medium-sized jazz groups. From bands led by Fletcher Henderson through Red Norvo, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, James Moody, Shorty Rogers, Dave Brubeck, Teddy Charles, Rod Levitt, Bill Kirchner and Charles Mingus—among many others— arrangers for six to eleven pieces have achieved … [Read more...]

The Viklický-Robinson Concert: A Video Report

At the end of the piece two exhibits below, I wrote that I would depend on Rifftides readers to tell us about the Emil Viklický-Scott Robinson concert the night before last. Even better, journalist and blogger Michael Steinman took his video camera to the Bohemian National Hall of the Czech Center in New York. Viklický played a lovely Petrof grand piano. Robinson used only three of the instruments from his armory—soprano and tenor saxophones and euphonium. No ophicleide or slide soprano … [Read more...]

A Rare “Bernie’s Tune”

Digital video surprises pop up on the web. Here is an ad hoc edition of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. The valve trombonist is Mulligan's frequent collaborator Bob Brookmeyer. Ray Brown, bass, and Art Blakey, drums, may have done this with Mulligan just once. YouTube tells us when, 1981. But who knows where? … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Comments And Noncomments

Comments provide some of the most valuable content in Rifftides. We encourage everyone to submit comments. The staff decides which ones appear and is tolerant, but there are limits. We evaporate comments that would commercialize the blog by offering links to products or services, especially those of a—er—personal nature. Here is a comment allegedly in response to a post about Jelly Roll Morton. It had a link to a Las Vegas escort service. Considering some of the New Orleans parlors … [Read more...]

Robinson Meets Viklický

Rifftidesers who live in or near New York City have the opportunity this week to hear and see together two musicians who have often received favorable mention in Rifftides—and elsewhere. Here is the announcement from one of them, the multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson. Hello everybody. 
Just wanted to let anyone who might be in New York know about the free duo concert I am doing this Wednesday with my dear friend and colleague Emil Viklický, who is making a rare stateside appearance … [Read more...]

Butch Morris—Tonight

Sorry for the late notice, but I just found out about this. The adventurous radio station KBOO-FM in Portland, Oregon, is broadcasting a six-part series about the musician Butch Morris. The second part is this evening—soon. For how to tune in, go to the end of this piece. Morris is not merely a composer, arranger, bandleader or conductor. Or he is all of those things and more. Our colleague Howard Mandel, a specialist on the avant garde, says Morris's music "is not jazz." Or it is. This … [Read more...]

Happy New Year

The Rifftides staff hopes that your 2011 will be as happy as this New Year's Eve performance by Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra. The conductor is Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Feliz Año Nuevo … [Read more...]