Since the previous exhibit doesn't give you a clear look at Jon Wikan’s cajon, here’s a picture of one. And here is a link to a Wikipedia article about the instrument's nature and history. … [Read more...]

Mulligan’s Birthday


Today is the 84th anniversary of Gerry Mulligan’s birth. He died in 1996 at the age of 68. There are many contexts in which to remember Mulligan—as a precocious teenaged arranger for Tommy Tucker, Elliott Lawrence and Gene Krupa; one of the key figures in the Birth of the Cool recordings; the leader of groups from quartets to big bands; a writer who made the Stan Kenton band swing; and, of course, a splendid baritone saxophonist. Here he is in Rome in 1956 with his sextet: Bob Brookmeyer, … [Read more...]

Jazz Relief For Japan—On Two Coasts


The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra played to a packed Village Vanguard in New York in its Japan earthquake and tsunami benefit performance on Monday Night. The event streamed live on the internet and had hundreds of viewers, many of them in Japan. Guest artists included Barry Harris, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Lew Tabackin, Lou Soloff and, in a memorable flugelhorn solo on Slide Hampton’s Frame for the Blues, Tom Harrell. The evening’s three sets may be viewed again on this page of the VJO’s website. The … [Read more...]

The Vanguard’s Japan Relief Plan

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan, artists and arts organizations around the world are helping with relief for the Japanese jazz community. One of the biggest efforts is taking place in New York City. If you live in or near Manhattan or will find yourself there this Monday evening, April 4, please consider joining the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra at the Village Vanguard. The band and the venerable club are joining forces in the fund-raising and inviting … [Read more...]


Daffodils, Rabbit

There's a fresh dump of snow and avalanches have closed some roads in the Cascades, but in our little orchard, spring has—well, you know. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Smith, Vu, Lynch, Akinmusire

CD stack 002

Hundreds of CDs have piled up around Rifftides world headquarters. At a meeting, the staff voted whether to write, long, exhaustive analytical reviews of three of them or highlight many more in an effort to keep up with a jazz scene that—take our word for it—is not dying, at least not in terms of sheer recording output. Short and pithy won the vote over learned, diagnostic and likely to put you to sleep. This survey will go on intermittently, with other matters popping up, as usual. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Annie Ross

On the blog known as Brew Lite’s Jazz Tales, Bruno Leicht just posted a piece about jazz vocalese. It is centered on the recordings of Annie Ross and includes a rare video clip of her singing “Twisted,” with Count Basie accompanying. It’s a treat. … [Read more...]