New Recommendations


Immediately below and in the right-hand column under Doug's Picks, you will find the Rifftides staff's current recommendations: CDs by a bassist leading his first big band, a saxophonist who melds his American and Indian influences, and a timeless mainstream cornetist. Also, a DVD with Zoot Sims at his most relaxed and eloquent, and a book about a man who changed jazz and challenged society to do the right thing. … [Read more...]

CD: Ron Carter

Carter Big Band

Ron Carter’s Great Big Band (Sunnyside) The venerable bassist’s first recording at the helm of a big band has style, depth and power. The playlist of jazz standards may suggest that Carter and arranger Robert Freedman are plowing old ground, but they produce a crop of fresh ideas. They transform “Opus One,” “Con Alma,” “Sail Away,” “The Golden Striker,” “St. Louis Blues” and eight others. Harmonically and rhythmically, Carter leads. He solos, but does not dominate the album, leaving space … [Read more...]

CD: Rudresh Mahanthappa

Rudresh M Samdhi

Rudresh Mahanthappa, Samdhi (ACT) This is the latest chapter in the alto saxophonist’s accommodation of his Indian cultural heritage to his American jazz ethos. Or is it the other way around? He combines electric guitar, electric bass, drums, the astonishing South Indian percussionist Anantha Krishnan and discreet post-production manipulation. Guitarist Dave Gilmore is a stimulating foil. The demonic “Killer” and the electronically multiplied saxophones of “Parakram #2” may require … [Read more...]

CD: Ray Skjelbred, Jim Goodwin


Ray Skjelbred & Jim Goodwin, Recorded Live in Port Costa (Orangapoid) A couple of years ago I wrote about the night I discovered Jim Goodwin’s cornet playing and became an instant fan: “His solos had echoes and intimations of Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Ruby Braff, Max Kaminsky and Wild Bill Davison. He wrapped all of that into a style of great individuality, intimacy, forthright conviction and humor.” This CD captures Goodwin and pianist Skjelbred in 1977, 32 years before Goodwin’s … [Read more...]

DVD: Zoot Sims

Zoot Sentimental

Zoot Sims, In A Sentimental Mood (MVD) We see the tenor saxophonist sitting on a couch telling bassist Red Mitchell about his treasured old horn. Then the two and guitarist Rune Gustafsson play “In a Sentimental Mood.” Sims tells about Benny Goodman stealing his apple, and they play “Gone With the Wind.” For nearly an hour, we eavesdrop on a superb trio in an intimate setting, sharing stories and music. Like The Sound of Jazz, it is a video rarity—musicians allowed to be themselves, … [Read more...]

Book: Hershorn on Granz

Hershorn Granz 2

Tad Hershorn, Norman Granz, The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice (California) In his biography of the concert, recording and equal rights trailblazer, Hershorn praises Granz’s achievements as thoroughly as he examines the impresario’s notoriously abrasive manner. In the balance, Granz emerges as an admirable figure who bulled his way through or finessed his way around obstacles to gain acceptance for the music he loved while demanding just treatment of its musicians. The book is alive with … [Read more...]