Other Places: BBQ In Balalaika Land

Balalaika Lady

If you're keeping up with the adventures of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet in Russia, read Chris Brubeck's latest blog post, an account of the BBQ's good will mission to a country town. The band held a concert for the citizenry and, in return, heard some of the locals, including "extremely sturdy Russian women playing the melody of “In The Mood” with their balalaikas." You'll find Rifftides posts about the Moscow leg of the BBQ tour here and here. … [Read more...]

Dizzy Gillespie And “Brother K”

Dizzy head shot

Everything else in life has not quite come to a standstill while I race the deadline for the Dizzy Gillespie project mentioned in the “Sweet Lorraine” post of September 20. It only seems that way. Researching Gillespie’s “Brother K,” his tribute to Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, I encountered a 1985 video known to few, if the low number of YouTube hits is reliable evidence. Robert Farnon conducts Dizzy and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra not in one of Farnon's own celebrated … [Read more...]

Correspondence: On Desmond

David Evans head shot

Responding to the Brubeck-Desmond item in the previous exhibit, David Evans writes: Thanks for sharing that! Desmond always kills me. It takes tremendous strength and control to play with such a beautiful sound and such balanced phrasing. It sounds easy, but believe me, it’s not. Classical dancers make it look easy, too, like they are effortlessly floating around, but it takes great strength and toughness to create that illusion. And Desmond’s solo construction is always so compelling. … [Read more...]

Encore: A Little Blues With Brubeck And Desmond

Bru & Des

The following item ran on Rifftides more than five years ago, with a link to video that later disappeared from the web. The clip has been restored. In light of recent discussions about the blues theme that frequently appeared when the two men played together, even after the Brubeck Quartet dissolved in 1967, the item is worth presenting again. This time, the video is on your screen. The picture quality is bad. The quality of the sound and the music is good. June 29, 2007 By Doug Ramsey Dave … [Read more...]

Dizzy’s “Sweet Lorraine”

Dizzy, head shot

After rounds of research and interviews, I am finally in the writing phase of a Dizzy Gillespie project whose nature I will disclose to you one of these days. For now, suffice it to say that it involves Gillespie club performances most of which have never been released. In the course of listening to them, I took many side trips to his work on issued records . One of them that I hadn’t listened to in a couple of decades reminded me that Dizzy made one of the classic versions of a song that has … [Read more...]

Correspondence: On the BBQ In Moscow

Svetlana Ilicheva 2

Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilicheva (pictured) responded from Moscow to yesterday's post with an account of a later Brubeck Brothers Quartet concert during the band's visit to Russia. In addition to what Chris Brubeck wrote about his first concert at the Igor Butman club in Moscow and his panegyric to the US ambassador in Russia, I would like to add a few words about their concert in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on September 17. I was invited to this concert at the last moment so was a little … [Read more...]

Brubecks: To Russia With Music

C. Brubeck, M. McFaul

Chris Brubeck reports from Moscow about the Brubeck Brothers Quartet’s Russian tour. He last played there a quarter of a century ago as a member of his father Dave’s quartet, when the country was the Soviet Union. Chris writes on his blog that at the BBQ’s first concert of the current trip, the US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, introduced the band… …in fluent Russian, right before our 2nd set. What he said in essence was that although he was the official Ambassador from the United … [Read more...]

Smoke Followup

Smoky Saddle Rock

Here’s another shot from the visit to smoky central Washington State, where the wildfires are intensifying today. Now, firefighters are coming down from Canada to help in the battle to contain the blazes. The landmark in the hazy distance is Saddle Rock. You may recognize it as the skyline feature on the cover of Poodie James. For a thorough roundup of Washington fire stories and pictures, go here. For a good song with "smoke" in the title, listen to Django. Django Reinhardt … [Read more...]

On The Road And Into The Smoke

Wenatchee Postcard

Heading for a reunion and coming into the picturesque valley that holds Wenatchee, we saw little of the hundreds of acres of apple trees that have made the area famous. Clouds and walls of smoke obscured them. For days, dry hills in Eastern Washington State have been under attack by wildfires. A postcard in the hotel room shows the valley on a clear day. This was the view from the same hill looking south across town at noon today. Governor Chris Gregoire has banned agricultural and other … [Read more...]

Other Places: Marion Brown Recognized

Marion Brown

In the wake of Ornette Coleman and the post-“Giant Steps” developments pioneered by John Coltrane, many listeners to free jazz heard anger and unrest. Through the tumult, though he was in the heat and hurly-burly of the movement, Marion Brown (1931-2010) managed lyricism, logic and quiet beauty. He was an alto saxophonist who never attracted the recognition accorded peers like Coleman, Coltrane, Archie Shepp and Cecil Taylor. Nonetheless, the impression he made lasted, and now the leader of the … [Read more...]

As Desmond Might Not Have Said…

Des head 90X68

Paul Desmond had political convictions. He occasionally indicated but rarely went on at length about them. Iola Brubeck knows that and called our attention to an opinion piece by Chan Lowe, and his accompanying editorial cartoon, in today’s Florida Sun Sentinel. Here’s one line: If the note wasn’t needed, he didn’t play it. He played silence. I say “played,” because his silences could be as eloquent and pregnant with meaning as his bare-bones riffs. To see how that relates to the … [Read more...]

Continue Your Week With Hampton Hawes

Hawes & Brown

Things are popping around here on several fronts, sending the development of blog posts to the back burner. The good news is that the Rifftides staff has come across film of Hampton Hawes in action with three of his peers. The quality of the new print outshines that of a previous web version. In visual and audio clarity, it may not be in the same league as 2012 digital videos, but it takes you from a 1970 Los Angeles sidewalk into a club where four major musicians are at work. This was Shelly’s … [Read more...]

Start Your Week With Hampton Hawes

Hampton Hawes Alligator

By the time Hampton Hawes’ third trio album appeared, his piano playing had me in thrall. I was so taken with the LP’s cover that I traced its portrait of an alligator transported by music, inked in the outline, colored the gator with an Asparagus green Crayola and framed the copy. I have been carting it around from place to place ever since. My copy of the LP wore out long ago, but Concord Music, the inheritor of Contemporary Records, is keeping Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes in digital … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Grégoire Maret

Gregoire Maretg

Grégoire Maret (e-one) Grégoire Maret divides his time between his mother’s native United States and Europe, where he was born in the land of his Swiss father 37-years ago. For more than a decade, Maret has been in demand for his harmonica playing by performers who occupy distinctly different precincts of music, among them Herbie Hancock and Pete Seeger; Youssn’Dour and Jimmy Scott; Bebel Gilberto and Sting. After years as a sideman on other peoples’ records, Maret has released his own CD. … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Ewan And Hannah Svennson

Hannah Svensson

At the Ystad Jazz Festival in Sweden last month, scheduling caused me to miss a concert by the young Swedish singer Hannah Svensson and her guitarist father Ewan. Someone who did not miss it took along a camera and posted videos on YouTube. Svensson père, if that is an appropriate designation in Sweden, is a seasoned guitarist with senses of timing, swing and appropriate chords that create effective accompaniments. She is a singer with control, intonation and lyric interpretation that make her … [Read more...]

Followup: Iola, Apples, Pears, Cezanne, Satie

Iola Brubeck

Iola Brubeck, whom Paul Desmond described as "the incomparable, regal Iola," sent a comment about the Rifftides 2012 Crop Forecast. She included the words of a choral piece by her husband, whose name is Dave. To see her comment, Mr. Brubeck's lyric, photographs of ripening fruit, and to listen to Wayne Shorter and Eric Satie (not together) go here. … [Read more...]

Other Places: A Shorter Review

Wayne Shorter

The massive Detroit Jazz Festival happens over Labor Day weekend. Because it collects an astonishing array of major musicians and presents them in outdoor performances at no charge, it is a festival I have long meant to attend some day. Rifftides reader Larry Peterson has gone several times. He sent a message about Wayne Shorter (photo by Jarrad Henderson) that made me wish this had been my year. Walking to a concert of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music from Hart Plaza, where Kenny Garrett … [Read more...]

Correspondence: Desmond, Lewis & The Overdub

Mel Lewis

Thomas Cunniffe's Jazz History Online essay, the basis for “Desmond And The Canadians” two items below, contains this paragraph: Pure Desmond isn’t a “pure” example of the Canadian group, but the recording clearly echoes the style that Desmond and the Toronto musicians had worked out at Bourbon Street, featuring moderate tempos, melodic solos and low volume. Yet, the album nearly wasn’t released: Taylor was unhappy with Kay’s drumming and brought in Mel Lewis to dub in a more aggressive … [Read more...]

Labor Day 2012

Honor Labor

In the United States this is Labor Day, since 1894 a national holiday that celebrates working peoples’ contributions to the nation. Although the calendar says that summer doesn’t end until September 21 this year, many Americans consider that Labor Day marks the close of the season. This three-day weekend, they pile into their automobiles despite four-dollars-a-gallon gasoline. They range through the land to camp out, have picnics, visit lakes and ocean beaches, and watch fireworks. This being … [Read more...]

Other Places: Desmond And The Canadians

Des Canadian Quartet

No sooner had I added Thomas Cunniffe’s website Jazz History Online to the Rifftides blogroll (bottom of the right column) than Tom posted an essay about the last period of Paul Desmond’s musical life. That was the era, all too brief, of Desmond’s Canadian quartet. The piece did not come as a complete surprise to me. As he was in the final stage of preparing it, Tom asked me to help him get permission to use a fine Ron Hudson photo of the quartet. The picture appears in my biography of Desmond. … [Read more...]