Hall Overton, Thelonious Monk, Jack Reilly


Most jazz listeners know Hall Overton (1920-1972) for his orchestrations of Thelonious Monk piano solos. Those arrangements are a major factor in the success of Monk’s concert with a 10-piece band at New York’s Town Hall in 1959, preserved in this essential album. Musicians familiar with Overton’s other accomplishments and broad scope respect him for his knowledge of music and his effectiveness in sharing it. During Overton’s time at Juilliard, he learned from great teachers, including the … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: Green And Smulyan

Benny Green, PT

The tip comes from Jim Wilke in Seattle, a suburb of Port Townsend. Sunday, September 2nd on Jazz Northwest from 88.5 KPLU, the Benny Green Trio with special guest Gary Smulyan on baritone saxophone is heard in concert at Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend. The concert was recorded in McCurdy Pavilion at Fort Worden on July 28, and consists of original music by Benny Green. Benny Green has been a favorite at Jazz Port Townsend for years. He has been an active professional pianist since … [Read more...]

“Summer Sequence” Revisited

Burns, Herman

With less than a month of summer to go (in the northern hemisphere), this is timely. If it has been a while since you have heard “Summer Sequence,” the brilliant suite composed by Ralph Burns for Woody Herman—or if you have never heard it—this is your lucky day. Rifftides reader Roger Hunter's comment on our recent Hi-Los post triggered a search for a recording of that timeless piece by Herman's First Herd. To read Mr. Hunter’s comment and hear the music, go here and scroll down to … [Read more...]

Other Matters: The 2012 Crop Forecast With Music

Orchard wide shot

East of the mountains, we live in apple country ——and pear, peach, cherry and hop country. Those dark green areas in the picture above are orchards typical of those that cover the hills and valleys. The orchards were quiet on Sunday during our photo expedition, but before long they will be alive with pickers and the warehouses full of packers preparing fruit for shipping all over the world. The Washington Apple Commission is predicting the second biggest harvest ever, nearly 109 … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Speaking Of The Hi-Los…


Regarding the Singers Unlimited item in the following exhibit, Rifftides reader David Perrine writes: The Singers Unlimited was an updated and expanded (via technology) version of Puerling's previous group the Hi-Lo's (which in a later edition also included Don Shelton as one of the four voices.) While Fischer probably wasn't involved with "In Tune", he did write instrumental arrangements for both groups and one of the Hi-Lo's finest tracks is a Fischer piece called "Summer Sketch" from … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: Singers Unlimited

Singers Unlimited

Bill Kirchner sent a description of his next program in the Institute of Jazz Studies “Jazz From The Archives.” He will feature a vocal group with close ties to jazz, that for more than a decade reached a wide audience with its rich series of recordings and continues to amass new fans. Here’s Bill’s announcement. Between 1971 and 1982, The Singers Unlimited (pictured left to right, Bonnie Herman, Len Dresslar Gene Puerling, Don Shelton) recorded fifteen albums, mostly with varied … [Read more...]

How To Sleuth Rifftides: A Periodic Reminder


Every once in a while, a reader asks how to find items in the Rifftides archive. Rummaging through the blog's seven-year history, you may discover interesting things you missed. Here's a way to get started. Scroll down to the "Older Posts" function at the bottom of the main page. Click on that command and it will take you to the previous 20 posts. Click on it again, you will see another 20, and so on back through the mists of time to the primitive beginnings of this blog in June of 2005. … [Read more...]

Trumpet Stuff: Saunders And Shew

Shew & Saunders

The subject line of Scott Weiss’s e-mail was “trumpet stuff.” His message included a link to video Weiss took of Bobby Shew and Carl Saunders. For decades, the trumpeters played together in big bands including those of Buddy Rich, Bill Holman and Bob Florence. On his website, Weiss quotes Shew as saying that he and Saunders have been, “thick as thieves since around 1961.” In a rare combination of talents, each of them is a major improvising soloist also capable of the most demanding lead trumpet … [Read more...]

Annie Kuebler, R.I.P.

Annie Kuebler

The death a week ago of Annie Kuebler prompted a flood of tributes from writers, academics and researchers who benefited from her expertise, kindness, unfailing good humor and friendship. Ms. Kuebler was the archivist at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Her name is unfamiliar to most jazz listeners, but they are likely to have learned indirectly from her about the music by way of books, articles, blogs and liner notes written by people she helped. Annie … [Read more...]

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In response to readers' requests, Rifftides has added a way to subscribe by e-mail. Scroll down to the third item in the right column and follow the easy instruction. … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Bill Evans

First of all, I never strive for identity. That's something that just has happened automatically as a result, I think, of just putting things together, tearing things apart and putting it together my own way, and somehow I guess the individual comes through eventually. Words are the children of reason and, therefore, can't explain it. They really can't translate feeling because they're not part of it. That's why it bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It's … [Read more...]

Bill Evans

Evans head

Before the 83rd anniversary of Bill Evans’ birth fades away, at least in this time zone, let’s listen together to “Gloria’s Step,” a masterpiece from his 1961 Sunday At The Village Vanguard album. The trio, of course, was Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Evans died on September 15, 1980. … [Read more...]

Ack Värmeland, Stan, Miles And A Question

Colm O'Sullivan

Rifftides reader Red Sullivan (pictured), who is Irish, plays the flute and lives in Rio de Janeiro, wrote a comment and question about the Swedish folk song cum jazz standard mentioned in the review of the recent Quincy Jones celebration at the Ystad festival. Others may be interested in the music that prompted his curiosity. The comment and reply are posted with the Jones item four exhibits down. For those who might otherwise miss them, here they are: And Miles very wonderfully and … [Read more...]

Von Freeman, 1922-2012

Von Freeman 1

Von Freeman had everything it took to be a world-famous tenor saxophonist. He chose, instead, to remain in his native Chicago for his entire career. Appearances at a few jazz festivals in the US and abroad were the main exceptions. Freeman’s death on August 11 was announced today. He would have been 89 on October 3. Freeman shared many of the influences that affected such contemporary Chicago tenor artists as Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Harris and Fred Anderson. Like theirs, his … [Read more...]

And Finally From Ystad…

Jones Ystad Video

Video has shown up on YouTube of the last two minutes of the Quincy Jones tribute at the Ystad Jazz Festival in Sweden. (See the item below for details). The celebration ended with the audience joining the musicians and vocalists on stage in singing “We are the World” and Jones thanking everyone, in English and idiomatic Swedish. … [Read more...]

A Quincy Jones Celebration…

Jones Quincy-BBB 12-1

...that was the name of the Ystad Jazz Festival's concluding event recognizing the career and achievements of its guest of honor. Quincy Jones spent a week in Ystad, listening to music, meeting the press, being wined and dined and reuniting with friends, some of whom he first knew in Sweden 60 years ago. Earlier on August 5, Mr. Jones and I chatted before an audience at the Ystad Museum about his career, going back to the early 1950s. That's when he first made his mark, writing arrangements for … [Read more...]

Green, Moses And Bridgewater At Ystad

Benny Green

More from the Ystad, Sweden, Jazz Festival, as the week wound down. BENNY GREEN Benny Green’s Ystad Theater concert previewed music the pianist is preparing for his next record. His trio played some of Green’s new pieces for the first time, giving the set an air of discovery and, occasionally, of a rehearsal. A few seconds into a fast tune titled “Flying Saucer,” Green declared a false start, called a halt, counted off a new tempo and started over. Following the opening melody chorus he … [Read more...]

A Whirlwind Called Hiromi

Hiromi by Gronwall

Back from Sweden jet-lagged but unbowed after 10 time zones and 16 hours in the air, the Rifftides staff is alternating work and naps, some voluntary. (Pictured: above the Baltic Sea.) Over the next couple of days, I’ll give you brief impressions of performances in the final days of the Ystad Jazz Festival. An economy-size pianist with massive technique, Hiromi Uehara performs using only her given name, a la Eldar or Madonna. With skill that evidently knows no limitations of speed or … [Read more...]

Tomasz Stanko, Mare Nostrum At Ystad

Stanko Ystad 1

TOMASZ STANKO Resplendent in houndstooth jacket, tight jeans and two-tone buckle shoes,Tomasz Stanko took to the stage and attached a wireless microphone to his trumpet. He offered a half smile to the welcoming audience, nodded to his colleagues and launched into the first of four unannounced pieces that took the Ystad Jazz Festival into the rarified atmosphere of Stankoland, where adventure is the rule. Inspired by free jazz, Stanko achieves creative independence within musical forms, … [Read more...]

Hallberg And Lundgren Back To Back Again

Lundgre-Hallberg B to B

One of the premier events of this festival was the appearance of a pair of world-class Swedish pianists separated in age by 34 years. One is a cultural hero of his nation. The other is reaching that status. 46-year-old Jan Lundgren, artistic director of the festival and a resident of Ystad, greeted Bengt Hallberg, 79, onstage for a concert back to back on 9-foot grand pianos. Hallberg was the pianist on the legendary 1953 record sessions that this festival’s honorary guest, Quincy Jones, … [Read more...]

Martin And Rosenwinkel In Ystad

Claire Martin

Compact and organized, the Ystad Jazz Festival is nonetheless too loaded with music for anyone to be able to hear more than a generous sampling. Here are a few samples. CLAIRE MARTIN Ystad artistic director Jan Lundgren introduced the group as The Claire Martin Band. Whether or not that is their official name, it makes sense. Martin is the leader, but it is apparent that pianist Gareth Williams, bassist Laurence Cottle and drummer Kristian Leith regard her as more than—you should … [Read more...]

Three Swedish Tenors

Per Helsas Gard courtyard crowd

The 250 listeners of a certain age who filled Per Helsas gård on Friday got what they came for—reassurance that solid mainstream jazz is alive and well in Sweden. The courtyard surrounded by venerable half-timbered buildings rang with the brawny music of three of the country’s best-known tenor saxophonists, Nisse Sandström, Krister Andersson and Bernt Rosengren (left to right in the second photo). Framed by walnut and pear trees as clouds drifted and birds swooped chirping in brilliant … [Read more...]

Two Ystad Concerts

Eliane Elias

As the schedule attests, Sweden’s Ystad Jazz Festival is programmed tightly. Over a quick lunch, Iouri Lnogradski of the Russian magazine Jazz.Ru observed that it would be technically possible for a listener to attend everything, but at the price of exhaustion. Rather than sprint from site to site sampling, one must choose. Here are reflections on two events. Thursday evening, Eliane Elias and her quartet illuminated the Ystad Theater with performances of modern music of her native Brazil and … [Read more...]

A Pre-Festival Glimpse

Ystad Theatre

The only way a town of 18,000 can bring off a four-day music festival is to involve the community. In Ystad, a summer beach haven in the south of Sweden, a staff or nearly one hundred volunteers and a corps of financial supporters work together for months to create Sweden’s only major jazz festival. From the women who prepare food and the retired executives who chauffeur visiting musicians to festival president Thomas Lantz and artistic director Jan Lundgren, the people of the region contribute … [Read more...]

Ystad Ho

Ystad Beach

Just arrived in Sweden to cover the Ystad Jazz Festival this week. Here's the view from the hotel window. It's a tough assignment, but somebody had to volunteer. Reports coming soon. Watch this space. … [Read more...]