New Recommendations

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In the right-hand column under Doug's Picks, you will find recommendations of new CDs by a daring pianist, a daring duo and a daring singer. For now, last month's DVD and book picks remain on the main page. New ones will follow——sooner or later. … [Read more...]

CD: Denny Zeitlin

Zeitlin Labyrinth

Denny Zeitlin, Labyrinth (Sunnyside) Four of the 10 solo piano pieces are adventurous departures from previous versions of Zeitlin’s compositions, including his kaleidoscopic treatment of the title tune. His reconstructions of Richard Rodgers’ “People Will Say We’re in Love” and Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” would make Rodgers frown at the harmonic liberties and have Shorter smiling. Zeitlin holds Tom Harrell’s “Sail Away” in a respectful embrace and takes John Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird” for a … [Read more...]

CD: Marsalis And Calderazzo

Marsalis Calderazzo

Branford Marsalis & Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music) A dozen years of togetherness in Marsalis’s quartet have bred familiarity that allows the saxophonist and the pianist to flow through one another’s thoughts. In these duets, their interactions and reactions are as profound on the mirthful pieces as on the melancholy. Marsalis wrote three of the songs, Calderazzo four, Wayne Shorter and Johannes Brahms one apiece. The Brahms “Die Trauernde” is an art song, … [Read more...]

CD: Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy Never

Mark Murphy, Never Let Me Go (Jazz Paisan) In his early years, Murphy supported himself as an actor and a singer. His singing soon took precedence. His acting never stopped. The roles he inhabits are the songs he sings. His idiosyncrasies parallel those of Olivier, Brando, Guinness and Depp in character development undergirded by technique in the service of emotional range. In Murphy’s dozens of albums, that virtuosity has never been clearer than in this one. The songs are by Porter, Jobim, … [Read more...]

DVD: Fred Anderson

Anderson Timeless

Fred Anderson, 21st Century Chase (Delmark). We gave this DVD glancing reference in noting the avant-garde Chicago tenor saxophonist‘s passing in 2010. It deserves fuller mention. “Chase” refers to the tenor sax tag-team tradition in jazz. Think Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray in outer space. The other chaser here is Kidd Jordan, New Orleans’ dean of far-out tenor men. Jeff Parker is on guitar, Chad Taylor on drums. Harrison Bankhead, complete with top hat, plays bass and cello. Bassist Henry … [Read more...]

Book: Riccardi On Armstrong


Ricky Riccardi, What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years (Pantheon). In the eulogy at Armstrong’s funeral in 1971, Fred Robbins said, “He was truly the only one of his kind, a titanic figure in his and our time, a veritable Picasso. A Stravinsky. A Casals. A Louis Armstrong.” Many of Armstrong’s critics charged that his artistic stature diminished after 1931, 1940, 1956…(pick a year). Riccardi’s meticulous research and engaging narrative put that notion to rest. … [Read more...]