Recent Listening In Brief: Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones Big Band

The Quincy Jones ABC/Mercury Big Band Jazz Sessions (Mosaic) Preparing for my public conversation with Quincy Jones (two items down), I’ve been reading his 2001 autobiography, chatting with people he knows and listening to his music. The inventiveness, sparkle and audacity of Jones’ arrangements in the 1950s and early ‘60s gave his music freshness that was notable when he was in his twenties. Now that he’s nearing 80, these works of his youth are still among the most vital big band recordings … [Read more...]

News From The Science Front

Haley & the Comets

Pop music too loud and all sounds the same: official (London, July 26, 2012)—(Reuters) Comforting news for anyone over the age of 35, scientists have worked out that modern pop music really is louder and does all sound the same. Researchers in Spain used a huge archive known as the Million Song Dataset, which breaks down audio and lyrical content into data that can be crunched, to study pop songs from 1955 to 2010. A team led by artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra … [Read more...]

To Ystad

Ystad scene

In a few days the Rifftides staff flies to Europe to report from the Ystad Jazz Festival on the southern coast of Sweden. Organized by pianist Jan Lundgren in 2010, the festival has developed into one of Europe's most important music events. Among the US contingent August 2-5 will be Benny Green, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Eliane Elias and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Billy Harper and Victor Lewis will play with Swedish trumpeter Anders Bergcrantz. Dozens of Europe's brightest stars will perform, including Bengt … [Read more...]

Bijoux Barbosa?

Brad Goode

An e-mail announcement from the trumpeter Brad Goode: This Thursday, July 26th: THE BRAD GOODE JAZZ TRIO Brad Goode trumpet Bijoux Barbosa bass Todd Reid drums 6:30 -9:30 pm TREPPEDA'S ITALIAN RISTORANTE 300 2nd Avenue Niwot, CO 80544 303.652.1606 I realize that few Rifftides readers will find themselves in the tiny Boulder, Colorado, suburb of Niwot tomorrow. If you are in that area of the Rocky Mountains, however, and make it to Trepedda's Italian … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Jessica Williams

Jessica, Earth

Jessica Williams, Songs Of Earth (Origin) Williams, the Triple Door’s Steinway and the Seattle theater restaurant’s audience collaborate on yet another album of solo pieces by the pianist. The audience gets credit because their attentiveness, appreciation and courtesy help establish the atmosphere in which Williams creates seven pieces comprising a collection unlike any other in her vast discography. You can almost hear the audience listening. For all of its suggestions of preconceived … [Read more...]

Uncle Lionel Goes Out In Style

Lionel Batiste

Of the many places where I’ve lived, from Choteau, Montana, to Iwakuni, Japan, to San Francisco and New York (mentioning a few), New Orleans is the most unusual, the one most often on my mind. “This is really a banana republic, you know,” my friend Bill Corrington once told me. He loved the city as much as I do, and he wasn’t the only one to invoke that metaphor. Most people know about above-ground cemeteries, jazz funerals, streetcars, beignets and the madness of Mardi Gras, to mention obvious … [Read more...]

Commenting Restored

We're Back

Well, actually, we were never gone. However, for several hours, the Rifftides comment mechanism was broken. If you tried to use the "Speak Your Mind" box at the end of an item, or found that it had disappeared, we would like you to know that the feedback function is back in business. Provided that they are pertinent and civil, reader comments are always welcome. They give us some of our best stuff. Thanks to the technical team for the restoration work. LATER: No sooner had … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Standard McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner

For all of the excitement with modes that McCoy Tyner generated with John Coltrane and still achieves in long his post-Coltrane career, I have always been partial to Tyner’s way with standard songs and jazz originals with standard changes in albums like this and this. That aspect of his playing is brilliant in this video from the 1987 Mount Fuji Festival in Japan. Ron Carter is the bassist, Joe Chambers the drummer. Ethan Iverson featured that video recently in his Do The Math blog. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Ravi And Igor

Ravi Coltrane

National Public Radio's series "Mom And Dad's Record Collection" recently featured Ravi Coltrane, who has followed his father as a tenor and soprano saxophonist. John died when Ravi was two years old. Most of his son's early musical memories stem from records his pianist and harpist mother Alice played when he and his siblings were children. He told NPR's Robert Siegel: I remember my mother playing lots of symphonic music. Specifically, my mom was a great admirer of Igor Stravinsky. Her … [Read more...]

Other Matters: “Hello, I’m Alive”

Hang Up

On today's cycling expedition during rush hour, I saw an amazing sight. A motorist pulled to the side of the road and stopped to use her phone. Hard to believe, I know, but it's true. On the other hand, a man in Naples, Florida, was reaching for his cell phone just as a fire truck arrived in the intersection. Boy, was he embarrassed. … [Read more...]

Four MFs Talkin’ ‘Bout What They Do

Branford Marsalis Head

I cannot recall having previously posted a promotional video, and I may never post one again. But the video about the Branford Marsalis CD recommended in the new batch of Doug’s Picks has helpful insights into the philosophy of the band’s approach to its work. In addition, it is a nice little piece of documentary film-making. … [Read more...]

The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful Ladies

Bruno Leicht 2

Bruno Leicht of Cologne, Germany—trumpeter, composer, teacher, and frequent commenter to this blog—has dedicated a four-part suite to Rifftides. The work is based on George Gershwin’s “Oh, Lady Be Good” and played by a band of Bruno’s students. On his web log, Brew Lite’s Jazz Tales, he explains the suite’s gensis and makeup, and links to the band’s performance at a festival earlier this month. The Rifftides staff is, to say the least, flattered. Thank you, Bruno. To go to Brew Lite’s … [Read more...]

Mid-July Recommendations

Thumbs Up

The latest listening, viewing and reading suggestions are posted immediately below and in the right column with the heading Doug's Picks (scroll down). They include CDs with the music of a forthright quartet, a great 20th century composer-arranger, and the satisfying second volume of a piano trio's club engagement. We also recommend a DVD by a quartet that changed jazz and the biography of a pianist whose musical partnership with cartoon characters endeared him to generations. … [Read more...]

CD: Branford Marsalis

B. Marsalis, Four MFs

Branford Marsalis, Four MFs Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music) The Marsalis quartet achieves openness without abandoning harmonic guidelines, hipness without complex chord permutations. A saxophone soloist who manages to meld aggressiveness and wryness, Marsalis is at his peak here. The delight that he, pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and young drummer Justin Faulkner find in supporting and surprising one another is likely to also affect the listener. The tunes are by members of the … [Read more...]

CD: Ryan Truesdell/Gil Evans

Truesdell Evans

Ryan Truesdell, Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans (artistShare) Truesdell apprenticed with arranger and composer Maria Schneider, who apprenticed with Gil Evans. That makes him, in effect, Evans’ musical and spiritual grandson. He does his heritage proud, taking 10 previously unrecorded Evans arrangements from manuscript—or, in some cases, expanding Evans sketches—to performance by a superb collection of musicians. The scores go back as far as Evans’ Claude Thornhill … [Read more...]

CD: Alan Broadbent

Broadbent Giannelli 2

Alan Broadbent Trio Live At Giannelli Square, Volume 2 (Chilly Bin) Recorded in Los Angeles shortly before Broadbent transplanted himself to New York, Giannelli 2 is the equal of Volume 1. That is high praise. The pianist’s harmonic acuity, melodic invention, touch and rapport with bassist Putter Smith and drummer Kendall Kay made this one of the finest trios in jazz. They find freshness in “Yesterdays,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and a romp based on “Just Friends.” Broadbent’s … [Read more...]

DVD: John Coltrane


John Coltrane, Live In France, 1965 (Jazz Icons) Television cameras captured Coltrane with his classic quartet months before it disbanded and he began the space-bound journey he was on when he died two years later. At the Juan-le Pins Jazz Festival in Antibes, Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones accomplished a concentration of passion even greater than that in their studio recordings of “Naima,” “Ascension,” “Impressions” and “A Love Supreme.” Much of … [Read more...]

Book: Derrick Bang/Vince Guaraldi


Derrick Bang, Vince Guaraldi at the Piano (McFarland) There was much more to Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) than “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” and his “Peanuts” television sound tracks. Bang’s substantial biography covers the pianist and composer’s life from his pre-Cal Tjader days through success with the vibraphonist’s jazz and Latin groups, his own trio, his collaborations with Bola Sete and the Charlie Brown connection that made him famous. He captures the balance between Guaraldi’s serious … [Read more...]

Looking For A Listening Post?


An outfit called Find The Best has established an online guide to jazz clubs. It could be useful to Rifftides readers planning to travel or, for that matter, who are looking for places to listen in their hometowns. The site lists location, meal policy and cover charges, which range from second-mortgage territory to zero—$85 cover for The Fox in Tampa, Florida; nothing for Vibrato in L.A.’s exclusive Bel Air section—go figure. At any rate (heh, heh), they include clubs as far-flung as … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Monarchs

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies are passing through on their migration south. This morning, one rested on a maple leaf outside our window. His or her majesty was no object of pity, but it seemed to call for a performance of that most famous of all butterfly tunes (are there others?). Here’s the late Dave McKenna. Alternate version for two pianos, Count Basie and Oscar Peterson. … [Read more...]

Frishberg And Friends Channel Al And Zoot

Al & Zoot Utica 1

If you live in or near Portland, Oregon, this is your lucky week. I am not at all reluctant to plug Ivories Jazz Lounge or this group of elite Portland players. Here’s the announcement from Ivories. Thursday July 12 The Two Tenors & Dave Frishberg play the music of Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, with David Evans, Lee Wuthenow, tenor saxophones; Dave Frishberg, piano; Tom Wakeling, bass; Charlie Doggett, drums. Ivories Jazz Lounge 1435 NW Flanders, Portland, OR … [Read more...]

“Solar” (Davis) Or “Sonny” (Wayne)?

Chuck Wayne

A long-running discussion (or argument) about the authorship of a major jazz tune may have been resolved once and for all. The tune is “Solar,” copyrighted in 1963 with the name of Miles Davis as composer, nearly a decade after he recorded it. It is a 12-bar minor blues based, with certain departures, on aspects of the harmonic structure of “How High The Moon.” Here, from the compilation album Walkin’, is the trumpeter’s 1954 recording with Davey Schildkraudt, alto saxophone; Horace Silver, … [Read more...]

“America The Beautiful” The Ray Charles Way

Ray Charles

After he heard the Eddie Higgins solo on “America The Beautiful” (one exhibit below), Rifftides reader Terence Smith wrote to suggest: Sometime on the 4th let's all listen to the Ray Charles version. That’s a fine idea. There are several versions of the song by Charles, some more musically successful than others, none more touching than this performance at the 2001 World Series, less than three years before he died. To all Americans at home and abroad, and to all friends of … [Read more...]

Encore: America The Beautiful, Eddie Higgins

Flag, 2012

Two years ago on July 4, we presented this performance by the late Eddie Higgins. When it didn't appear in 2011, we heard from disappointed Rifftides readers. Perhaps we should establish it as an Independence Day tradition. We'll make up for last year's oversight by bringing on Mr. Higgins a day early. Happy birthday, United States of America. … [Read more...]