Theme In Search Of Development

Woodwinds Way 1

This morning I took a side trip through a subdivision that not long ago was an orchard. The non-architecture is typical of the builder-designed antisepsis or Stepford school—big double and triple garages with houses attached. But wait, there’s a bright spot. This is the name of the main drag. In vain, I rode around looking for Brass Boulevard, Strings Street, Percussion Place, Chorus Court, but all of the other streets in this collection of extruded houses have numbers rather than … [Read more...]

2011 Crop Forecast

2011 apples 2

Here is the unofficial Rifftides apple crop forecast for 2011. My friend Vigorelli Bianchi and I gathered evidence on an early morning cycling expedition. You see Vig resting while I photographed. The forecast is for abundant fruit. This fall, there will be plenty of good red Washington apples to go with your scrapple. "Scrapple From the Apple" by Charlie Parker, alto saxophone; 
Charlie Byrd, guitar; 
Bill Shanahan, piano; 
Merton Oliver, bass; 
Don Lamond, drums; unknown, bongos. … [Read more...]

Other Places: On Paul Motian

Motian 2

As Paul Motian’s latest engagement began at a venerable New York club that holds precious memories for him, Larry Blumenfeld profiled the 80-year-old drummer in The Wall Street Journal. Here’s a quote: What turns me on isn't technique," he said. "It's the sound of the drums, the way they're tuned. I can play one beat on a tom-tom, and that might set me off. One sound leads to another. It just grows." The article includes Motian’s thoughts about the Bill Evans Trio, in which he … [Read more...]

Frank Foster, 1928-2011

F. Foster, old

Frank Foster died today following a long period of ill health. He was 82. Foster was important to the Count Basie band as a tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger for more than a decade beginning in 1953. In the reed section, he and Frank Wess teamed up as one of the best-known tenor sax tandems in jazz. Foster later also distinguished himself as a bandleader in his own right and as an educator. He moved beyond his hard bop essence as a soloist into free territory opened for exploration by … [Read more...]


Evening View

“Evenin',” Jimmy Rushing sang with Basie and Prez in 1936, “every night you come and you find me….” I could hear Rushing in my mind’s ear as we looked out across the deck, the garden shed roof and the neighborhood trees to Ahtanum Ridge reflecting the sun still blazing at 7:30. What could follow that? Thelonious Monk could, with the other great evening song in jazz. Here’s Monk alone playing "Crepuscule With Nellie" in Berlin in 1969. I hope that you had a nice evening, too. … [Read more...]

Evening: Compatible Quotes

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray. ——Lord Byron Each morning sees some task begun, each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done, has earned a night's repose. ——Henry Wadsworth Longfellow When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherized upon a table. ——T.S. Eliot What a nice night for an evening. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Shipp, Crow, Chamorro


Matthew Shipp, The Art of the Improviser (Thirsty Ear). This album will not show up on the soft jazz and easy listening charts. Shipp is strong medicine. The first disc of the two-CD set has the audacious avant garde pianist with his trio, the second playing alone. They capture concert performances in 2010. In each, Shipp blends separate pieces of music in an uninterrupted flow so that the audience doesn’t realize for a moment or two that he has melded the end of his “Circular Temple” with … [Read more...]

Sophia, Dave And Dizzy


You never know who’s listening. Skipping around in Jeffrey Lyons’ entertaining new book about his father Leonard, the prolific New York Post columnist, I came across this item in the Sophia Loren section: In 1961, she was back in Spain filming El Cid, and after finishing the day’s shooting of that medieval epic, Loren would always turn on Dave Brubeck and Dizzy Gillespie records. “It’s the best way to snap back into the twentieth century,” she explained. It’s worth mentioning the … [Read more...]

Summertime In Prague

Klaus, Mraz

To celebrate his 70th birthday on June 19, President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic hosted a jazz concert at the Prague Castle, the counterpart of the US White House. A respected economist, Klaus is a devoted and knowledgeable jazz listener who plays the piano. He has done much to bring attention to the contributions of Czech musicians. To the left, we see him in 2009 presenting the Golden Plaque of the President of the Republic to George Mraz, a Czech native living in the US who is one of … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Kenny Wheeler


Kenny Wheeler, One Of Many (CamJazz). Wheeler, on flugelhorn, penetrates the album’s air of thoughtful melancholy with the pungency of his interval leaps, harmonic adventures and shadings of tone. Seventy-six when this was made (he is now 81), his daring was as undiminished as his rapport with pianist John Taylor. Their collaborations have involved big bands, duets and groups of all sizes in between. Taylor’s touch and chordal sensitivity have much to do with the choices Wheeler makes in his … [Read more...]

Broadbent Heads East

Broadbent playing

It has been known in music circles for some time that pianist, composer and arranger Alan Broadbent is planning a move from Los Angeles to New York. The plan just became public in The Los Angeles Times. Broadbent told writer Kirk Silsbee, “"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." His touring has included work with Diana Krall, Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, Natalie Cole, his own trio and appearances … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Gotta Be Something


Rifftides reader Don Frese sent the following inquiry: I have always assumed that “Gotta Be This or That:” is a vocal version, slightly altered, of “Jersey Bounce” by Bobby Plater and Tiny Bradshaw, but I see that Sonny Skylar is credited with both words and music. Similarly, I also assumed that “Late, Late Show” was a vocal version of Basie's “9:20 Special,” the melodies are almost exactly the same. But again, I see it credited to Alfred and Berlin (Irving, I presume). Can you sort … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Woods And Mays

Phil & Bill

Phil Woods, Bill Mays, Phil & Bill (Palmetto). A couple of years ago, Mays succeeded Bill Charlap as the pianist in Woods’ quintet. He had melded nicely with the alto saxophonist in casual playing encounters over the years. Regular exposure to one another in the working band deepened their empathy, as this collection of nine duets shows. Their understanding goes beyond merely speaking the same musical language—at their level of experience and knowledge, mastery of the idiom is a given. … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Raney And Zoller

Raney And Zoller

The Rifftides reader whose reply to a comment included a link to Prince playing something labeled The Greatest Guitar Solo Ever might consider a meeting between Jimmy Raney (1927-1995) and Attila Zoller (1927-1998). I would not claim ultimate greatness for this performance, only mastery of the instrument, taste, imagination, wit and enormous satisfaction. The piece is Cole Porter’s “I Love You.” I have no information about the location or year. According to Raney’s hint at :03:41, it may have … [Read more...]

Other Places: Coltrane’s House

Coltrane Home sign

Major metropolitan newspapers seldom turn their editorial page spotlights on matters to do with the arts—even more rarely when the issues concern jazz or jazz musicians. Over the weekend, The New York Times made an exception with an editorial about the fate of John Coltrane’s house in suburban New York. Some time ago, the house was officially made an Historic Place, but that designation did nothing to fix the building, which is falling apart. Here is some of the editorial: While it … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: John Coltrane

My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being...When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups...I want to speak to their souls. Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I’ll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that’s too bad. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Those Sibelius Harmonies


I’ve been listening—over and over—to Jean Sibelius’s “Voces Intimae,” his String Quartet in D-minor. The great Finnish composer (1865-1957) wrote it in 1909 when he was 44 years old. He had completed his Third Symphony and was well on his way out of the romanticism that characterized his earlier symphonies. A number of analysts have called the D-minor austere, but it is difficult to accept that conclusion about a piece whose inner harmonies progress with such warmth. Jazz listeners may … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Jean Sibelius

If I could express the same thing with words as with music, I would, of course, use a verbal expression. Music is something autonomous and much richer. Music begins where the possibilities of language end. That is why I write music. Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic. … [Read more...]

Infielder, Trumpeter And—Oh, Yes—Husband


Los Angeles Times sportswriter Jerry Crowe's column makes much of the dual careers of Carmen Fanzone. The former Chicgo Cubs utility infielder is also a trumpet player. Here is a section of the column: The Detroit native played in parts of five major league seasons with the Cubs and Boston Red Sox from 1970 to 1974, batting .224 with 20 home runs and 94 runs batted in. Among his infrequent highlights, he homered in his first National League at-bat after being traded from the Red … [Read more...]

We Musn’t Forget Japan

quake relief

The jazz community has not forgotten the victims of Japan’s disastrous March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Following a flurry of April concerts to benefit the victims, the efforts continue. Vitello’s, the Los Angeles jazz club, hosts its next installment later this month, with Sue Raney, Tom Warrington, Pinky Winters, Diane Hubka and other artists contributing their talents. Thanks to Bill Reed for alerting us to the relief concert. You will find details on his People vs. Dr. Chilledair (love that … [Read more...]

Pre-July 4th Listening Tip: All-American Music

SRJO logo

Tomorrow, as you marinate your hot dogs and chill your beer in preparation for the Fourth of July, you have the opportunity to be entertained by the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra performing classic Americana. Here is the announcement from the SRJO and Jim Wilke: With Bill Ramsay in charge, this medium-sized unit of the SRJO recently came over the mountains and played a concert at The Seasons, three miles from Rifftides world headquarters. It was superb. On the off chance that … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Journalism Today

Barlett, Steele

Journalism is an “other matter” (see the subtitle of the blog) that I think about constantly but write about too seldom. The news business has occupied most of my working life. Seeing it change for the worse is more than a matter of professional interest. The freedom and quality of the flow of information to the public through the news has a profound effect on the state of the democracy. It always has had. Thomas Jefferson was under frequent attack by newspapers, but this is what he said about … [Read more...]

Lena Horne

Lena Horne died a little more than a year ago. Yesterday, she would have been 94. Ms. Horne's varied gifts launched her into a career as a massively successful general entertainer. But her jazz roots went deep, and she never forgot where she came from, as she demonstrated in this performance of her most famous song. The YouTube statistics say that a quarter of a million people have watched this. That's not enough. … [Read more...]