New Recommendations


Don't be alarmed by the symbol. The Rifftides staff merely wants to call your attention to the new batch of suggested things to listen to, watch and read. You will find brief items about CDs by a trailblazing harmonicat, a piano/flute couple and a pianist who keeps you guessing—and entertained. We're holding onto a Lee Konitz DVD a while longer, and telling you about a book by an expert who doesn't buy the idea that mental instability must accompany genius. The recommendations are under … [Read more...]

CD: Toots Thielemans


Toots Thielemans, Yesterday & Today (Out Of The Blue) Two CDs with thirty-eight tracks, most previously unreleased, follow Thielemans from 1946, when he was a 23-year-old guitarist with a Belgian swing band, to a 2001 harmonica performance of “What A Wonderful World” with pianist Kenny Werner. In the late 1940s and early ‘50s, when many European musicians were struggling with the style, Thielemans had a firm grasp of bebop. Playing through the decades with George Shearing, Hank Jones, J.J. … [Read more...]

CD: Mike Wofford & Holly Hofmann

Wofford Hofmann

Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann, Turn Signal (Capri) Pianist Wofford’s and flutist Hofmann’s quintet set is notable for variety, rich textures and harmonies, and depth of feeling. In conception and sound, trumpeter Terell Stafford blends beautifully with them. Bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Richard Sellers are strong and flexible in support. Among the highlights are Wofford’s “The Dipper,” a Horace Silver tribute that evokes Silver’s writing and playing; Stafford’s powerful solo on Jimmy … [Read more...]

CD: Matthew Shipp

Shipp Elastic

Mathew Shipp, Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear) The first track of the pianist’s album has no piano, just bassist Michael Bisio bowing and drummer Whit Dickey generating sepulchral sounds with mallets on cymbals. The second track is a few seconds of Shipp unaccompanied in what might be heard as late Debussy. With the third track, the trio is off and running with a kind pointillist post-bop, a suggestion of Bud Powell’s “Un Poco Loco,” lots of interaction and mutual improvisation. This being … [Read more...]

DVD: Lee Konitz

Konitz DVD

Lee Konitz with Dan Tepfer (Jazz Heaven) Designed as a master class, the DVD provides fascinating listening and viewing for anyone curious about the creative process of making jazz. In conversation with his frequent collaborator, pianist Tepfer, Konitz discusses and demonstrates the wisdom he has accumulated in his nearly 85 years. In the hour-and-a-half conversation, he frequently picks up his alto saxophone to demonstrate a concept or a point and brings Tepfer into the spoken and played … [Read more...]

Book: Judith Schlesinger

Insanity Hoax

Judth Schlesinger, The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius (Shrinktunes) With wit and a nice sense of irony, Schlesinger lays siege to the popular notion that to be truly creative, a person must be mentally unbalanced. A PhD psychologist and a jazz critic, Schlesinger discusses myths about Charlie Parker, Chet Baker and other jazz musicians but also about Balzac, Beethoven, William Blake and Gustav Mahler, among other geniuses presumed to have been insane to some degree. She … [Read more...]