Oregon Ho!


Tomorrow, the Rifftides staff plus one will hit the road to Oregon. The first stop is Portland, where we’ll hear Dave Frishberg and Rebecca Kilgore at the restaurant called Touché. In this album, they concentrated on Frank Loesser. Advance word is that at the Touché, they will tackle some of Irving Berlin’s more obscure songs. Then, we head southwest to Newport, a coastal town of about 10,000 whose main occupations are in tourism, fishing and wood products. It is the home of the other … [Read more...]

Uan Rasey, RIP


There is confirmation that slightly more than a month after he celebrated his 90th birthday, trumpeter Uan Rasey died late last night. Heard on the sound tracks of dozens of motion pictures, Rasey was acclaimed as one of the most gifted trumpet artists of the twentieth century. André Previn, who was Rasey's colleague in the MGM studio orchestra in the 1940s and '50s, offered a birthday accolade typical of those who knew and worked with him: He was not only the best trumpet player working … [Read more...]

Sonny Speaks

Sonny Speaks

On the heels of the announcement that he will be a Kennedy Center honoree later this year, Sonny Rollins appeared on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. He discussed his career, his philosophy and why he feels that the Medal of Arts is not going to him alone. “It’s the people who came before me," he told Smiley. "When I accept this honor, it’s for Count Basie, who got one. It’s for Duke Ellington, who didn’t get one. It’s for Lester Young, who didn’t get one. It’s for Thelonious Monk, who didn’t … [Read more...]

Listening Tip: Jeff Hamilton Trio

Jeff Hamilton Trio

This is short notice—sorry about that—but on his Jazz Northwest at 1:00 pm PDT today, Jim Wilke is presenting the Jeff Hamilton Trio with Tamir Hendelman and Christof Luty. Wilke recorded them this summer at the Port Townsend Centrum Jazz Festival. To hear Hamilton and company, go here and click on "Listen Live." If you are in the Seattle-Tacoma area, you can listen on KPLU-FM at 88.5 If you miss the broadcast, the program will be in Wilke's archive at this address. … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Mulligan In The Soviet Union


Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilyicheva writes from Moscow: Maybe it will interest you (I learned about it about a week ago myself): In summer 1967 there was an international film festival in Russia. An American actress, Sandy Dennis, came to Moscow escorted by her husband bari saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.* Gerry was immediately taken to the Youth Cafe, a" hotbed" of jazz in Moscow. (BTW, Leonard Feather wrote about this cafe in his book). A jam session was arranged where Gerry had to play … [Read more...]

Frank Driggs, 1930-2011

Frank Driggs

Frank Driggs, a tireless jazz researcher and historian who collected photographs familiar to millions, died this week at the age of 81. In the 1950s as a producer for Columbia Records, Driggs oversaw the organizing and reissuing of historically important recordings by Billie Holiday, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa. In 1991, he won a Grammy for Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings, the recorded work of the seminal blues singer and guitarist. He began documenting the history … [Read more...]

It’s Autumn In Prague, Among Other Places

Klaus, White

Tomorrow is the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere. Coincidentally, Emil Viklický, who lives in an eastern precinct of the hemisphere, recently alerted me to new video of a performance last spring at the Prague Castle. Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, hosted a tribute to Miles Davis. It was a concert in the Jazz na Hradě series that the president initiated, with Viklický's help, at the Czech counterpart of the White House. The musicians are Viklický, piano; Jon … [Read more...]

Metheny And Grenadier At The Seasons

Metheny, Grenadier

Pat Metheny and Larry Grenadier and a truckload of equipment are on a 26-city tour. They warmed up the other night with a first stop at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Washington. The tour will end in mid-October with a week at the Blue Note in New York City. The equipment played a major role in Metheny’s and Grenadier’s two-concert evening at The Seasons, but their most satisfying moments came when they dialed down the amplification, ignored the panoply of digitally driven … [Read more...]

Other Places: Jazz Depletion


In his newest column, Mr. P.C., the jazz advice columnist, tackles the controversial issue of jazz as a disappearing resource. In answer to a question, he offers possible solutions, including this one: But conservation alone won’t be enough; we must turn to alternative, renewable sources of jazz. These, of course, are colleges and conservatories, which efficiently convert tuition dollars into vast numbers of jazz performers and composers able to crank out low-grade jazz in tremendous … [Read more...]

Tables Turned

Steve Cerra

Steve Cerra (pictured), the proprietor of Jazz Profiles, found himself desperate for material and put me in an unaccustomed position——on the answering end of an interview. The results are posted on his excellent blog, which you can reach by clicking here. If you make it through that piece, you’ll arrive at Steve’s news posts about Ernestine Anderson and Carmel Jones. … [Read more...]

Bill Evans Remembered

When we posted the Rifftides observance last month of Bill Evans’ birthday, a reader suggested that we follow up on the anniversary of his death, which was September 15, 1980. Here is Evans with his last trio—Marc Johnson, bass; Joe LaBarbera, drums—playing the piece he wrote in memory of his father. … [Read more...]

Announcing The Latest Recommendations


The new batch of Rifftides recommendations covers CDs by one saxophonist inspired by Paul Desmond, another inspired by his native land and a bassist who is simply inspired. We also suggest an intimate DVD performance by Gerry Mulligan and a book about the life of the woman who inspired “Pannonica,” “Nica’s Dream” and “Nica’s Tempo.” Please scroll down the right-hand column to Doug’s Picks. Temporarily, due to digital circumstances I have yet to fathom, they are also immediately below in the main … [Read more...]

CD: Bruce Babad


Bruce Babad, A Tribute to Paul Desmond (Primrose Lane). Alto saxophonist Babad approximates Desmond’s relaxation and lyricism without imitating him. From a pure sound standpoint, in the melody choruses of “Wendy,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Take Five” and other pieces associated with Desmond, he is almost eerily like his predecessor, but in the blowing choruses his harmonic approach and tonal characteristics earmark his individuality. Babad’s quotes may not quite achieve Desmond’s sly … [Read more...]

CD: Miguel Zenón

Zenon Alma Adentro

Miguel Zenón, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook (Marsalis Music). When Zenón won a MacArthur “genius grant” Fellowship in 2008, he said that it would allow him to further his goal of exploring and disseminating the music of his native Puerto Rico. Alma Adentro carries forward that work. If it lacks the raw excitement of much of his 2009 Esta Plena, the new album brings satisfactions through elegance and depth of sophistication in classic songs by major Puertorriqueño composers. The … [Read more...]

CD: Rufus Reid

Reid Hues

Rufus Reid, Hues of a Different Blue (Motéma). Noted for his power and impeccable note choices, the bassist follows up last year’s Out Front. Again his trio mates are pianist Steve Allee and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. Reid gives generous guest solo space to tenor saxophonist JD Allen, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson (misidentified as playing tenor), trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and guitarist Toninho Horta. Standard songs alternate with originals by the participants. Highlights: Everyone’s blowing … [Read more...]

DVD: Gerry Mulligan

Mulligan Jazz America

Gerry Mulligan, Jazz America (MVD Visual). The film’s opening alternates clips of Mulligan smiling, playing his baritone sax and speaking. That brief documentary sequence establishes the good feeling that prevails in this 1981 performance at Eric’s, a New York club. From there on, it’s all music. Mulligan’s rhythm section—pianist Harold Danko, bassist Frank Luther, drummer Billy Hart—are locked into the spirit, one another and their leader. It’s a flawless set of Mulligan tunes of … [Read more...]

Book: David Kastin

NIca's Dream

David Kastin, Nica’s Dream: The Life and Legend of the Jazz Baroness (Norton). US patrons of the arts generally fund institutions. In the tradition of European wealth, Pannonica de Koenigswarter helped individuals. She supported and befriended, among others, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk. She shocked her peers and the public, lost her husband and did inestimable good for jazz. Despite her childrens’ refusal to cooperate, Kastin tells Nica’s story well—her escape from … [Read more...]

Graham Collier, 1937-2011

Collier conducting

Graham Collier died last night at home in Greece. A British composer, author and bandleader on the forward edge of modern music, Collier was 74. Early reports are that he succumbed suddenly to a massive heart attack or stroke. From the announcement by Birmingham Jazz: Graham Collier had a major influence on British jazz, being one of the first contemporary jazz composers to write extended works for a large ensemble, and one of the first jazz people to receive commissions and tours funded by the … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Hallberg Meets Lundgren

Lundgren Hallberg

Dick Bank has produced a dozen albums led by or featuring the pianist Jan Lundgren. He sends a communiqué about a Lundgren performance in tandem with Bengt Hallberg, a fellow Swedish pianist 34 years his senior. In the bebop years, Hallberg was a favorite pianist of visiting players including Stan Getz, with whom he was featured on Getz’s influential recording that introduced “Dear Old Stocklholm” to American listeners. Many commentators consider Lundgren the successor to Hallberg in touch, … [Read more...]

Jimmy Rowles Relocates

Rowles smiling

Jimmy Rowles is an idol of a broad range of musicians and listeners. For more than four decades, he was in demand by premier jazz artists and conductors of studio orchestras. He was a favorite pianist of Ben Webster, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Benny Carter, Barney Kessel, Gary Foster and Harry Edison, to name a few of those who cherished his touch, swing and harmonic genius. Rowles is gone, but his influence lives on in the work of Bill Charlap, Alan Broadbent, Jan Lundgren and Bill Mays, among scores … [Read more...]

Roundup: Rollins, Fredette, Schuman, Voce

Rollins w horn

SONNY, PLEASED Terri Hinte provides this piece of news: Sonny Rollins is one of five individuals who have been selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2011, it was announced today by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. These individuals' "collective artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world," said Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein.

 Along with fellow recipients singer Barbara Cook, singer and … [Read more...]

Llamas And Peruvian New Yorkers


Requests keep coming for photographs from cycling expeditions. Here’s one from the latest. A number of people in the countryside hereabouts raise llamas for fun or profit. High on a hilltop, I came across this herd grazing, which is what llamas do when they’re not sleeping, packing or curiously watching passersby. It seems logical to follow the photo with music by Peruvians, in this case Gabriel Alegria and his Afro-Peruvian Sextet at their club, Tutuma, on New York City’s east side. … [Read more...]

One More Jazz Club Down

Charlie O's

As a followup to the Blue Note story below, here is a brief item from this morning's Los Angeles Times. In this photo, pianist Tom Ranier, bassist Chuck Berghofer, saxophonist Gary Foster and drummer Joe La Barbera perform recently at Charlie O's. The club's wall of jazz stars is on the left. (photo by Gordon Sapsed) … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Sign Of The Times

Blue Note Club

Judith Schlesinger writes about one manifestation of a trend that is not confined to New York. For many years, the Blue Note club in NYC, except for Monday night fill-ins, was pretty much booking people who could call themselves "jazz artists" without anybody snickering or throwing things. Until now. On September 20, which is not a Monday, the Blue Note "jazz" club will feature... Kenny G. OK, it's a Tuesday, not a weekend. And one night only. But still. Dr. Schlesinger is a … [Read more...]