Paul Desmond: 35 Years

Des head

Every May 30 of the nearly seven-year history of this web log I have posted an observance of the passing of Paul Desmond. As the staff and I were puzzling over a new approach on this 35th anniversary of his death, Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilicheva wrote from Moscow with her translation of part of a Russian jazz musician and columnist’s appreciation of Desmond. Paul Desmond is well-remembered and highly valued here in Russia by genuine jazz lovers. On the Russian portal Джаз.ру … [Read more...]

Other Places: The CD And Download Glut

CD Glut

The photograph is of CDs that have accumulated on my office floor because shelf space is a distant memory. The little yellow things are an effort to create a sense of order, tagging sections of boxes by arrival date. It doesn’t work very well. With notable exceptions for which I am grateful, the publicity releases inserted in the packages with CDs don’t work very well, either. The surplus of both is a problem that did not exist for reviewers in the days when there was a handful of record … [Read more...]

Peg And The Panoram


It’s been too long around here since we’ve heard and seen Peggy Lee. Here she is with her husband Dave Barbour and his quartet in a 1950 Soundie. Soundies used to run on machines called Panorams, coin-operated juke boxes in bars, restaurants, factory break rooms, even some corner service stations. They played short films. In went your quarter and out came Count Basie, Claude Thornhill, The Sons of the Pioneers, maybe the Hoosier Hot Shots or, if you were lucky, Peggy Lee. By the time … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tips (Bi-Coastal)


Two stalwart jazz broadcasters sent previews of their next appearances. This week on Jazz Northwest, Jim Wilke previews new releases by several Northwest resident jazz artists including Scott Cossu, Pearl Django,and Kareem Kandi as well as sampling some of the musicians featured at next weekend’s Bellevue Jazz Festival. Included are The Clayton Brothers, Hubert Laws, Thomas Marriott and Jovino Santos Neto. There’s also info about other upcoming jazz events. Jazz Northwest airs Sundays … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925-2012)


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, a musician whose artistry erased categorical boundaries, died last week at 86. In his appreciation of Fischer-Dieskau, New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wrote of the great baritone’s “seemingly effortless mix of vocal beauty and verbal directness.” Here is a gem-like example of what Tommasini described—Fischer-Dieskau and Sviatoslav Richter in 1978, having a great time with Franz Schubert’s “Fischerweise.” Fischer-Dieskau was perhaps the definitive … [Read more...]

Congratulations, Bill Holman


The great (term used advisedly) arranger and bandleader Bill Holman celebrated his 85th birthday this week. Steve Cerra posted on his Jazz Profiles blog a repeat of the Holman profile he put together on another occasion. It includes a brilliant assessment of Holman’s work by André Previn, photographs, and a selection of liner notes I have contributed to Holman albums over the years. To see Steve’s post, go here and scroll down the left column until you come to the classic John Reeves photograph … [Read more...]

A Miles Davis Casting Call

Miles Stamp

Miles Davis’s birthplace, Alton, Illinois, has announced that it will honor its famous son by erecting a statue. Here are excerpts from the story by Kathie Bassett in Alton’s newspaper, The Telegraph. Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst unveiled the plan to put a life-sized statue in the heart of Downtown's entertainment district on Third Street. This is awesome," said Brett Stawar, president of Alton's CVB. "We believe in Miles Davis' legacy, and I'm excited to see the plan evolve to include a … [Read more...]

Other Places: On Vibrato


Steve Provizer (pictured, left) posted on his Brilliant Corners blog a treatise on vibrato. He was inspired to do so by Sidney Bechet (1897-1959), the cantankerous genius who made the soprano saxophone a jazz instrument and was the king of vibrato. Steve includes links to performances by celebrated vibratoists, including Bechet, and one by Wild Bill Davison that borders on parody. He also sends us to antivibratoists like Miles Davis, Bix Beiderbecke and Lester Young. You could easily spend an … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Judi Silvano, Kenny Dorham

Silvano Indigo

Judi Silvano, Indigo Moods (Jazzed Media) As anyone knows who has heard her in duet with her saxophonist husband Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano is capable of dramatic, even eccentric, uses of pitch, harmonic intervals and time. She calls upon those abilities in this collection of cherished standard songs, but her main point in the album is—to borrow Ruby Braff’s phrase—adoration of the melody. In “If You Could See Me Now,” she honors Tadd Dameron’s tune by altering it only with little … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Conte Candoli

Candoli On The Trail

While the real photographer was setting up for the atmospheric shots used in Bud Shank's 2001 sextet album On The Trail, I snagged this one of Conte Candoli as he entertained the band and bystanders with the theme from The Godfather. In addition to Shank and Candoli, On The Trail features Jay Thomas on tenor saxophone and a favorite Shank rhythm section: Bill Mays, piano; Bob Magnusson, bass; and Joe LaBarbera, drums. I was enlisted to write liner notes. When the recording at Raw Records in … [Read more...]

Lagniappe*: Stan Getz

Getz Head Shot

Stan Getz with Eddy Louis, organ; Renè Thomas, guitar; Bernard Lubat, drums, from a 1971 French television program. The piece is “Dum Dum.” Getz’s tone led John Coltrane to say of him, “We’d all sound like that if we could." “Dum Dum” is included on Getz’s Dynasty, which Verve Records has dropped from its catalog. The album is on its way to becoming a collectors item. *la·gniappe (lan-yap), noun
 Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas . 1.a small gift to a customer by … [Read more...]

A Rifftides Extra: Wagon Wheels

Rollins, 10-gallon hat

I met a grown man the other day who came right out and admitted that he had never heard Sonny Rollins play “Wagon Wheels.” We were in public and I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I took the only civilized option that sprang to mind. I promised him that if I could find it on the web, I would post the track for him and anyone else similarly deprived. Here it is, with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums, from Way Out West (1957), a basic repertoire item if ever there was one. “Wagon … [Read more...]

Gil Evans At 100

Gil Evans

Gil Evans, who enriched the art and craft of jazz arranging, was born 100 years ago today. National Public Radio this morning ended one of its hours on Weekend Edition Sunday with a remembrance of Evans and his work. To listen to it, go here and click on “Listen Now.” Here are three pieces arranged by Evans for an all star orchestra featuring Miles Davis on a 1959 Robert Herridge CBS-TV special. They are from the 1957 Davis album Miles Ahead. Herridge introduces them. To see a one-hour … [Read more...]

New Recommendations


Under Doug's Picks in the right column, and for a time in the main column, you will find the Rifftides staff's newest recommendations for listening, viewing and reading. This time around: a big box of mainstream classics, two fine and rather different pianists, Monk alone, and the charm and humor of a great Dane who chronicled an unparalleled time of jazz abundance in New York. … [Read more...]

CD: Felsted Mainstream


The Complete Stanley Dance Felsted “Mainstream Jazz” Recordings 1958-1959 (Fresh Sound) This nine-CD treasure chest contains dozens of the finest mainstream artists from a golden era. Stanley Dance, who applied the term mainstream to jazz, supervised the sessions for the British Felsted label. Johnny Hodges, Earl Hines, Coleman Hawkins, Rex Stewart, Buster Bailey, Jo Jones, Budd Johnson, Dicky Wells, Billy Strayhorn; they’re all here, along with superb half-forgotten musicians like … [Read more...]

CD: Brad Mehldau Trio

Mehldau Ode

Brad Mehldau Trio, Ode (Nonesuch) Mehldau has recorded lately as solo pianist, in duets with classical mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Van Otter and with a large orchestra. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard join him in a stimulating return to trio playing. They are attuned to the pianist as if by ESP. He describes the title tune as “an ode to odes” and dedicates other pieces to figures in his personal and musical lives. Among those who inspired them are Michael Brecker, Kurt … [Read more...]

CD: Mike Longo


Mike Longo, To My Surprise: Trio + 2 (CAP The trio is pianist Longo, bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash— a formidable New York rhythm section. With the addition on half the tracks of trumpeter Jimmy Owens and tenor saxophonist Lance Bryant, Longo takes the quintet through classic bop territory and beyond into modal country. If there were Oscars for Wilde titles, “A Picture of Dorian Mode,” would win. The adventurous playing on the track awards the listener. With trio or quartet, … [Read more...]

DVD: Thelonious Monk


Thelonious Monk Live in France 1969 (Jazz Icons) The video of Monk alone at the piano in a Paris studio is the jewel of the fifth Jazz Icons box set that many feared would not come. Taped with visual simplicity and excellent sound, he plays 12 pieces, all of them his compositions but “Don’t Blame Me” and a rollicking “Nice Work if You Can Get It.” Except for that exultant conclusion, the concert has an air of reflective, almost Brahmsian, gravity. His harmonies can be breathtaking. The … [Read more...]

Book: Timme Rosenkrantz


Timme Rosenkrantz, Fradley Hamilton Garner, Harlem Jazz Adventures: A European Baron’s Memoir, 1934-1969 Timme Rosenkrantz (1911–1969) had royal Danish blood, but no royal pretensions, and when he came to the US in 1934, his garrulous charm made him fit right in. What attracted him here was jazz. He became a chronicler and friend of musicians from Louis Armstrong to Art Tatum to Lennie Tristano and dozens of others. He was a rounder and a storyteller, and he could write. His memoir, artfully … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Life

We in the Western world suffer from too many categories and classes; we've forgotten that we all still have diapers on. We've separated music from life.—Ornette Coleman If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.—Charlie Parker What we play is life.—Louis Armstrong To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.—Emily Dickinson … [Read more...]

Lagniappe*: Thelonious Monk

Monk Sillhouette

Thelonious Monk with Charlie Rouse, Butch Warren and Frankie Dunlop in Japan in 1963, playing “Epistrophy.” *la·gniappe (lan-yap), noun Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas . 1.a small gift to a customer by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus. 2.a gratuity or tip. unexpected or indirect benefit. … [Read more...]

Other Places: A Rifftides Dedication

Bruno Leicht

Here's a first: trumpeter, composer, teacher, blogger and frequent Rifftides correspondent Bruno Leicht (seen here) has dedicated a new composition—a suite, no less—to this weblog. Mr. Leicht, who is based in Cologne, explains on his own blog that he bases the composition on several important pieces of music sharing certain harmonic characteristics. The piece has yet to be premiered or recorded. How did Rifftides get involved? Go here for Bruno's explanation and a lead sheet. Then, … [Read more...]

International Jazz Day


The first annual International Jazz Day came and went on April 30 with no mention on Riffitdes, a lapse I regret. Fellow arts journal blogger Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, has a fine report at his Jazz Beyond Jazz site. Howard includes a great quote from United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon (pictured) and a tribute to Herbie Hancock, who came up with the idea of such a day. A video posted on YouTube gives a scattershot idea of some of the events at the UN … [Read more...]

Miscellany From The West

PJ Label

It may have been news to many that there was a trace of jazz left anywhere on AM radio, but that doesn’t make a report from Los Angeles easier to take. Here’s the lead paragraph from Kirk Silsbee’s story in today’s L.A. Times. A silence has descended on Los Angeles' AM radio band. On April 2, KABC's longtime morning man, Doug McIntyre (pictured), acquiesced to his management’s request that he no longer program jazz. Although he hosts a current events show 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays, McIntyre … [Read more...]