Belated Holiday Greetings

Halloween 2012

Halloween is nearly over here in the western US, but the trick-or-treaters are still ringing doorbells in Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, Guam, the Philippines and, for all I know, Tokyo and Beijing. We plied 115 ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires, cowboys, ballerinas, spidermen and fairy princesses with candy—a new record. I’m told that this is the best jack o’lantern I’ve ever carved. But, she says that every year. Happy Halloween. … [Read more...]

Homage To Clifford—In Transit

Alto saxophonist Jeff Chang responded to yesterday’s Clifford Brown item with this message: I don't know if you've heard this guy Dominick Farinacci. He is quite a trumpet player, and you may find this clip fun to watch. Oh, I’ve heard of Farinacci. The clip of him flawlessly spinning out a Clifford solo is, indeed, fun to watch—unless you’re a trumpeter who has struggled trying to play it. This is the preamble to the video, which was posted on YouTube today. Amidst an … [Read more...]

Clifford Brown, 1930-1956

Today is the 82nd anniversary of Clifford Brown’s birth. Here is what I wrote in Rifftides on June 26, 2006, half a century following his death. Fifty years ago today at The Seattle Times, as I ripped copy from the wire machines my eye went to a story in the latest Associated Press national split. A young trumpeter named Clifford Brown had been killed early that morning in a car crash. My heart stopped for a beat or two. My stomach churned. I felt ill. I was attempting to master the trumpet … [Read more...]

Jazz Archeology: Mulligan’s “Yardbird Suite”

Mulligan ca. 1952

Readers familiar with Jeff Sultanof’s essays for Rifftides on Pete Rugolo and Russ Garcia know the depth of his knowledge and wisdom about arranging and composing. Professionals in many areas of music admire him for his analyses and editing of scores and for his teaching about major figures including Robert Farnon, Miles Davis and Gerald Wilson. With some excitement, Jeff recently told me about discovering a score from the days when Gil Evans, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, Lee Konitz … [Read more...]

Mulligan’s “Yardbird Suite,” Continued

Gerry & Franca

MULLIGAN AND “YARDBIRD SUITE" Part 2 By Jeff Sultanof When Jazz Lines began operation, Rob DuBoff had a meeting with Franca Mulligan and made an agreement. I contacted him about what Mulligan had said to me, and became his editor. Obviously the CJB library was a priority, but Jazz Lines also issued new editions I prepared of Mulligan’s contributions to the Miles Davis Nonet, which originally appeared in book form from Hal Leonard as scores only. (Photo by Hank O'Neal) In 1995, Gerry … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Strategic Withdrawal & Good Advice


If all had gone as planned, in a few hours I would be on an airplane headed east. A bunch of us who wrestled our commissions from the United States Marine Corps a few years ago were going to have a reunion at Quantico, Virginia, the scene of the struggle. Hurricane Sandy put an end to that. Along with countless other events, she wiped out the reunion and is making life inconvenient— to say the least—for 50 million people in and near her path. If you and your loved ones are among them … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Amabile And Yates, Coltrane And Monk

J. Michael Yates

Old Pal Mike Yates mentioned in an e-mail note that he’s going to see his old pal George Amabile for the first time in 40 years. J. Michael Yates (pictured left) is one of Canada’s pre-eminent poets, radio dramatists and prison memoirists. We met in New Orleans in the 1960s and have stayed in touch. The story is too long to go into here, but without Mike my novel Poodie James (right column, scroll down) would still be in a digital desk drawer. The Winnipeg Review says that Amabile (pictured … [Read more...]

Update: After The Fires

Post-fire Wenatchee

Last month, we reported on the smoke that filled the Columbia River town of Wenatchee in eastern Washington state. During a visit, it looked like this. Rain, wind and a few high pressure systems later, the fires that blackened foothills of the Cascade Mountains and menaced towns are no longer a threat. This photograph by Sandy Parkhill shows the skies above Wenatchee earlier this week. … [Read more...]

Recent Listening In Brief (2)

Listening drawing

The Rifftides staff is making its way through a few of the CDs that have accumulated while we paid attention to some of the other matters alluded to in the subtitle of this enterprise. You will find a previous installment two posts below, where October 23, 2012, will live forever in the archive, or as long as there’s an archive. At this juncture it is unclear when you will find the next in this series, but please keep coming back; there’s almost always something or other. Tommy Cecil and … [Read more...]

Correspondence: A Collier Memorial Concert


Rifftides readers in the UK or planning to be there next month, or those with internet capability, may be interested in this communiqué from John Gill, partner of the late composer, arranger and bandleader Graham Collier. The London Jazz Festival in conjunction with the BBC Radio Big Band has confirmed the memorial concert for Graham at the BBC Maida Vale Studios in London on Wednesday 14 November at 8pm. The concert will feature the British premiere of Graham’s penultimate work, The … [Read more...]

Recent Listening In Brief

Listening girl

Stacks and boxes of CD review copies surround me, an indication that the music is alive and well or—at any rate—an indication that lots of jazz artists are recording. That’s good. The bad news is that unless someone discovers a way of listening that is other than sequential, it is impossible to hear and evaluate more than a smattering of those albums. Let's attempt to catch up with a few recent releases. I thought of adopting the Twitter maximum of 140 characters, but that’s … [Read more...]

Missing Diz

Dizzy in France

I have no intention of posting about every jazz person’s birthday. There are other sites on the web for that. I have every intention of acknowledging Dizzy Gillespie’s 95th, which is today. The video below finds him sitting in with Johnny Griffin’s quartet at Châteauvallon, France, in August of 1971. Gillespie was 53 and at a peak of one of the great playing periods of his life. Vince Benedetti is the pianist, Alby Cullaz the bassist, Arthur Taylor the drummer. The same band appears on the … [Read more...]

New Picks

Guitar picks

You may think it’s about time the Rifftides staff gave you new recommendations. So do I. Therefore, merciless taskmaster that I am, the staff has complied by finding three CDs that are quite different from one another, a DVD that has one grand jazz master sitting in with another, and a readable book that can go a long way toward telling you everything you wanted to know about the jazz repertoire. You will find the recommendations in the right column under Doug’s Picks and, temporarily, also on … [Read more...]

CD: Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Cover

Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform) The trumpeter and composer’s four-disc work is a monument to Black Americans’ struggles for freedom. The names of the 19 movements summon up key episodes in the story, among them “Dred Scott,” “Thurgood Marshall and Brown vs. Board of Education” and “The Freedom Riders Ride.” With his free jazz quintet’s unfettered improvisation Smith blends skilled writing, including passages for a nine-piece ensemble of strings and winds. The tempers of the … [Read more...]

CD: Ben Webster, Joe Zawinul

Webster-Zawinul Cover

Ben Webster and Joe Zawinul: Soulmates (Riverside OJC) Long after Ben Webster became famous and when the pre-Weather Report Joe Zawinul was laboring as a sideman, the immigrant Austrian pianist and the seasoned tenor saxophonist became pals. In 1963 they made this album, a product of their friendship and a reminder of what a splendid mixing bowl for jazz New York was in those days. Philly Joe Jones is the drummer, Sam Jones and Richard Davis split the bass duties, Thad Jones plays cornet on … [Read more...]

CD: Diana Krall

Krall Cover

Diana Krall: Glad Rag Doll (Verve) Krall takes a side trip into the 1920s and shows a bit of thigh on the album cover. Evidently, that’s all it takes to get the music business stirred up and the tweets and sales figures flying. How’s the music? Not bad. On some tracks, she has fun. On others—well, how much uplift could anyone get from “Here Lies Love?” The harmonies, if not the lyric, of “Let it Rain” inspire animation in her voice. Glad Rag Doll won’t replace Live In Paris, but the … [Read more...]

DVD: Johnny Griffin

Griffin Cover

Johnny Griffin Live In France 1971 (Jazz Icons) One of the greatest second-generation bebop tenor players, Griffin (1928-2008), was also one of the fastest. He is often remembered for speed and excitement , but here his ballad playing is an equal attraction, notably on his “When We Were One” and “Soft and Furry.” In a concert performance with Dizzy Gillespie sitting in on two pieces, and filming in a studio, the man known as The Little Giant is in superb form. His colleagues are veteran … [Read more...]

Book: Ted Gioia

Gioia Cover

Ted Gioia: The Jazz Standards: A Guide To The Repertoire (Oxford) In nearly 500 pages, Gioia covers 254 songs that he considers the core of the jazz repertoire. They include compositions by jazz musicians as well as standard songs. Duke Ellington, of course, fits both categories. In a typical essay of perhaps 500 words, Gioia discusses a song’s and its writer’s history, its musical form and construction and, often, its social and cultural significance. He also recommends important recordings … [Read more...]

Remembering Anita O’Day On Her Birthday

Anita O'Day

Anita O’Day was in Chicago born 93 years ago today. From my notes for the 2009 O’Day Jazz Icons DVD, this is a summary of her importance: Anita O'Day was the last of the great female jazz vocalists who emerged in the swing era. She survived Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee and Carmen McRae. She had perfect time and pitch, a voice virtually without vibrato and the ability to swing as hard as the top horn players of her era, which was long. Her feistiness matched her musicianship … [Read more...]

Art Tatum!

Art Tatum head shot

It has just been called to my attention that this is the birthday of Art Tatum (1909-1956). Before the day expires, at least in my time zone, here is one of the few instances of Tatum’s being caught on film. The clip is from the 1947 movie The Fabulous Dorseys. It finds the great man in a jam session with his peers—as if he had any. This may not be the most stunning Tatum ever recorded, and he gets only one chorus of a fast blues, but we see as well as hear the pianist who awed his … [Read more...]

Newport (Oregon) Wrap

Peplowski, Gordon

Musicians at the Oregon Coast Jazz Party can count on a busy weekend. If this jewel of a little festival had a theme, it would be compatibility. Regardless of whether the musicians she assigns have previously played together, music director Holly Hofmann assembles the players and singers in combinations that yield results. For three days, she was on target, relying on her instincts as a musician and producer and on her faith in the common language of jazz. Ms. Hofmann put Ken Peplowski at the … [Read more...]

The Atsuko Hashimoto Sets

Hashimoto Trio

Hammond B3 organist Atsuko Hashimoto bookended the Oregon Coast Jazz Party. The diminutive bundle of energy from Osaka performed on opening night, again on Saturday and in the Sunday morning wrap session. Her set with drummer Jeff Hamilton and guitarist Graham Dechter began with the ballad “All or Nothing at All” from their most recent CD. She and Hamilton kicked it off at a blistering non-balladic tempo, as later they did “Yours is My Heart Alone,” another piece that began life as a tender … [Read more...]

Newport (Oregon) 2012

Holly Hofmann

Holly Hofmann directs the Oregon Coast Jazz Party with the organizational skills of a headmistress, the firmness of a Marine Corps drill instructor and the finesse of a world-class flutist. At the 2012 party, she unsheathed her flute twice, sitting in with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and joining in the closing jam session. The rest of the time, she field-marshaled the three-day gathering. Held in the town of Newport, the festival presented 19 musicians playing in established groups and being … [Read more...]

Back To Newport


Tomorrow morning, I am off to Newport, Oregon to attend the 2012 Oregon Coast Jazz Party. The three-day event used to be called The Newport, Oregon, Jazz Festival, but I'm told that it became necessary to rename it because of concerns that it could be mistaken for another festival. Perhaps you can guess which one. This poster, perhaps commissioned by the chamber of commerce or the tourist commission, clearly shows that the Oregon Newport is on the left coast. If you look closely, you will see … [Read more...]

Other Places: Kirchner and Iverson Do The Math


Pianist, composer and member of The Bad Plus, Ethan Iverson is also a prodigious and canny blogger. On his Do The Math blog, he often features extended interviews with prominent musicians. I have never been a fan of transcribed interviews. Too often, they are a boring substitute for writing. Ethan manages to make them interesting, by choosing interesting people to talk with and by raising important questions. His newest entry in the sweepstakes is a conversation with Bill Kirchner, the … [Read more...]