CD: Tamir Hendelman

Hendelman Destinations

Tamir Hendelman, Destinations (Resonance). The pianist’s second album as a leader is a gem. With drummer Lewis Nash and the Italian-born bassist Marco Panascia, he fashions exquisite versions of a dozen pieces. He is exhilarating in his lightning exploration of Makoto Ozone’s “BQE,” tender in his own “Babushka,” full of wit in his fleet exchanges with Nash and Panascia in Charlie Parker’s and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Anthropology.” In the contrast between his intricate introduction to “Wrap Your … [Read more...]

A New Look


Don’t go away. You’ve come to the right place. This is Rifftides, but with a new design. The publishing platform called WordPress is a significant advance over the old Moveable Type platform. founder and editor Doug McLennan has been beta testing WordPress on his own blog. Now he’s helping us switch to the new system. It makes management of the blog easier for the Rifftides staff and—more important—makes the site more enjoyable and efficient for you to navigate. We’re still … [Read more...]

CD: Jeremy Pelt


Jeremy Pelt, The Talented Mr. Pelt (High Note). There is more here than meets the ear accustomed to quintets that knock off Blue Note bands of the 1960s. From his record debut in 2002—and notably since he established this group in 2007—the trumpeter has manifested originality as soloist and composer. Five of the eight tunes are his, with writing as free of clichés as is his playing. Pelt’s sidemen are seasoned pros: saxophonist J.D. Allen, bassist Dwayne Burno pianist Danny Grissett … [Read more...]

CD: Rick Trolsen

Neslort Mystical Scam

Neslort, Mystical Scam (Lort/Threadhead). Most reviews and articles about the leader of Neslort (spell it backward) begin, “Eccentric New Orleans trombonist Rick Trolsen…” The reasons for that are apparent in this CD. Equally evident is Trolsen’s and the sextet’s musicianship, which merges street funk, bebop, electronica, rhythm and blues, New Orleans parade pzazz and—as in all good gumbos—a mystery ingredient or two. Tim Robertson’s pliant guitar licks, Kyle Cripps’ saxophones, Matt Perrine’s … [Read more...]

DVD: Stan Kenton


Stan Kenton, Artistry in Rhythm (Jazzed Media). This is the story of Kenton’s development of a big band unlike any of its contemporaries. Photographs, film, video tape, audio recordings and interviews trace the band from its early days through its many incarnations—Artistry in Rhythm, Innovations, Progressive, Contemporary Concepts, Neophonic. Rather than a script and narration, the production depends for continuity on an extended interview with L.A. Jazz Institute head Ken Poston. Poston tends … [Read more...]

New Recommendations

Laurel Thumbs Up

Under Doug's Picks in the right column you will find recommendations of a DVD about a trailblazing band leader, CDs by a trumpeter and a pianist leading the way in their generation of young jazz artists, and the autobiography of a leading light in an older generation. … [Read more...]

Book: Jimmy Heath

Jimmy Heath

Jimmy Heath and Joseph McLaren, I Walked With Giants (Temple). Younger brother of bassist Percy, older brother of drummer Albert (Tootie), saxophonist, composer and arranger Jimmy Heath tells his life story with forthrightness, humor and no trace of self-delusion. A brilliant youngster who succumbed to the heroin disease that plagued beboppers, Heath paid his debt, cleaned up his act and became one of the most productive and respected musicians of his generation. Co-author McLaren intersperses … [Read more...]