The Bickert Tribute Concert

Bickert facing right

Word from Canada is that the CBC program honoring Ed Bickert is online and available for listening. Bickert celebrates his 80th birthday today. The venerable guitarist is a veteran of decades with Rob McConnell, Moe Kauffman, Phil Nimmons, Paul Desmond and hundreds of studio hours. For details about his career—and videos, see this Rifftides post. Here’s a paragraph from the page that contains the link to the broadcast: Bickert could “combine in his solos the logic of a … [Read more...]

Ron Crotty, Still Up

Ron Crotty

Nearly four years ago, Rifftides reminded you of the bassist Ron Crotty, whose brief season of renown came in the early 1950s. Andrew Gilbert, a free lance writer and critic in the San Francisco Bay area, sought out Crotty recently and published an update in The Monthly, an East Bay magazine. Here’s an early paragraph from Andy’s article. Crotty’s autumnal creative resurgence would be heartening in any context, reminding us that it’s never too late to make a mark, but his lion-in-winter … [Read more...]

Correspondence: More About Crotty

Vartanian Trio

The veteran Bay Area pianist Dick Vartanian sent the following illustrated note: From 2006 to 2009 Ron and Harold Jones were in my trio. I never worked with any bassist (or drummer) whom I enjoyed more, or was more relaxed with, than those two. I sure miss our gigs. … [Read more...]

The BBC Remembers Graham Collier


If you missed last night’s BBC concert commemorating the late composer, arranger and bandleader Graham Collier, you can still hear it online. The concert at the BBC studios in London featured the British premiere of The Blue Suite, one of Collier’s final works. His partner John Gill describes the program as containing “a selection of his and the musicians’ personal favourties from the Collier canon.” The 90-minute broadcast has Collier stalwart Geoff Warren conducting the BBC Radio Big Band with … [Read more...]

It’s Nat Adderley’s Birthday, Too

Nat Adderley

Among those who shared November 25 as a birthday was Nat Adderley. The cornetist was born in 1931 in Tampa, Florida. His distinguished career included two extended periods in his brother Cannonball’s quintet. He also played in the big bands of Woody Herman and Lionel Hampton and in trombonist J.J. Johnson’s combo. Adderley formed his own quintet after Cannonball died in 1975. For the 1987 Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland, He led an all-star sextet. His former boss, Johnson, joined Adderley, … [Read more...]

Paul Desmond, Take 88


Paul Desmond was born on this date in 1924. As I was contemplating how to observe his 88th birthday without repeating material from the previous seven Rifftides observances of the occasion, a reader came to the rescue. Frank Roellinger sent a link and the following message. There is an ever-so-slight chance that you may not have heard this track before. I first became aware of its existence in 1963 when I saw that it was on a 2-LP set called "Playboy Jazz All-Stars", or something like … [Read more...]

Happy Holiday

SB View 2

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. The staff is thankful for all Rifftides readers, wherever they live. From somewhere in vacationland (seen below)... ...Happy Thanksgiving … [Read more...]

Bill Holman’s “Just Friends”

Holman conducts

I’m on vacation, but my mind seems not to be. It summoned up Bill Holman’s arrangement of “Just Friends” and wondered if Holman has ever recorded it on video. So, my mind and I went to the web. Sure enough, there was Willis with the WDR Big Band in 2000. We get not only his celebrated chart including the solo that he imagined and orchestrated, but also James Moody playing a solo of his own, Jeff Hamilton on drums, John Goldsby on bass and Frank Chastenier on piano. The video includes full band … [Read more...]

Current Lee

Current Konitz

The flurry of comments, reminiscences and stories stimulated by the Konitz And Kenton post in the previous exhibit leads me to suspect that there may be considerable interest in Konitz’s current work. Jim Brown’s comment about that item described the effect on him of Konitz’s new quartet with a rhythm section of young European musicians who, in Jim’s words, spur Konitz to “new heights of creativity.” Since the Rifftides staff is on the eve of a vacation of at least several days and blogging … [Read more...]

Konitz And Kenton

Konitz, Parker

Following up on the piece in the next exhibit, below is a poster for an edition of Stan Kenton’s Festival of Modern Jazz that played in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 7, 1954. Kenton was a busy fella in the fifties and put together concert packages that included a variety of artists in the days when jazz was a major factor in popular music. Except for Kenton’s band and Candido, the lineup seems considerably different from the one reader Jon Foley mentioned—in yesterday’s comments—that he … [Read more...]

When June Met Bird And Diz

Diz, June C., Bird

Through the 1950s, touring jazz package concerts filled huge auditoriums. This picture from Jet Magazine’s September 4, 1952, issue shows three stars of a Stan Kenton package that combined Kenton’s band and an array of guest artists. If Gillespie, Christy and Parker recorded together on that tour or at any other time, I’d be glad to know about it. Until such a recording surfaces, we’ll have to settle for Gillespie and Parker with Thelonious Monk, Curly Russell and Buddy Rich playing … [Read more...]

Jazz Blogs: The Future

Blog icon

When Rifftides launched in the dark ages of jazz blogging, 2005, a handful of us, if that many, pursued this hybrid form of communication. Now, jazz blogs have proliferated to the point where it is probably impossible to keep tabs on the expansion. This evening, Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, conducted a webinar (web seminar) with four young bloggers. Howard’s selection of his guests indicates his regard for their work or, at least, for their potential. All … [Read more...]

Salt Peanuts In The Hinterlands

Salt Peanuts

As he was about to leave for three weeks of gigs in Japan, to be followed by a week in Prague, peripatetic trumpeter Bobby Shew forwarded a succinct message and a video link from Cal Haines: Here is "Salt Peanuts" on tube. The band was swinging and solos were very good. There are accomplished jazz players almost everywhere, including Albuquerque. In that city in the American southwest there is a band called SuperSax New Mexico. It specializes in arrangements of Charlie Parker … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Jive At Five

Prez Smiling

Why? Because it’s been too long since you’ve heard it. What, you’ve never heard it? Good. I envy your coming to it for the first time. Here’s Count Basie from The Complete Decca Recordings. February 4, 1939. Harry Edison wrote the tune. He has the trumpet solo. Jack Washington is the baritone saxophonist. We get Lester Young (pictured) twice. His eight bars following Edison’s solo launched a thousand tenor saxophonists. Now, you’re bound to have a happy weekend. … [Read more...]

From The Archive: Thoughts On Change

President Obama

Much of the post-election analysis overflowing the airwaves, newspapers and internet has to do with how the demographics of the United States have shifted. The change away from decisive political dominance by white people was underway long before the first Obama election in 2008. Since, it has accelerated. All signs are that the change will continue. Still, it is hard for many to accept, as a fact of evolving democracy, the shifting makeup of the population in our free land of immigrants and … [Read more...]

Cécile McLorin Salvant

Cécile McLorin Salvant

Memo, or tweet, to Ben Ratliff: I owe you one. Somehow, I managed never to have heard of Cécile McLorin Salvant until Mack Avenue, a record company, sent a message announcing that it has signed her. The announcement included a link to a Sunday New York Times story by Mr. Ratliff. In a long article packed with praise from him and others, he wrote: Her voice clamps into each song, performing careful variations on pitch, stretching words but generally not scatting; her face … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Elliott Carter

Carter (Quotes)

I am a radical, having a nature that leads me to perpetual revolt. One thing I can’t understand is why people have such trouble with modern music. It seems to me to be perfectly intelligible. When I hear one of my pieces again, or listen to the record, I don’t see why people could find this perplexing in any way. Yet audiences can’t make head or tail of it... I finally said the hell with that whole point of view and decided to write what I really always hoped to write, and what I … [Read more...]

Elliott Carter, 1908-2012

Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter went his own way writing music that was often difficult to play and, for many audiences, difficult to hear. Eventually, he captured listeners and became one of the most honored American composers. Carter died yesterday in New York at 103 in the Greenwich Village apartment where he had lived since the 1940s. In an interview a few years ago, he said: As a young man, I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn’t care. So I decided … [Read more...]

Other Places: NYC Jazz After Sandy

If you have been wondering how New York City's jazz clubs are faring following the onslaught of of Tropical Storm Sandy, Nat Chinen reports in The New York Times on several of them. Clubs form the core infrastructure of jazz in New York, and many of the leading showcases or incubators — the Blue Note, the Village Vanguard, the Jazz Standard, the Jazz Gallery, Cornelia Street Café, Smalls, the Zinc Bar, the 55 Bar — are in the part of Manhattan that recently came to be known as the dead … [Read more...]

Up North, They’re Celebrating Ed Bickert

Ed Bickert 2

Ed Bickert will observe his 80th birthday on November 29, but some of his admirers are starting the celebration early. They will honor the guitarist, one of Canada’s foremost jazz artists, Tuesday evening, November 6, at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. Among the celebrants will be members of the music’s Canadian elite; Don Thompson, Lorne Lofsky, Mike Murley, Neil Swainson, Terry Clarke, Steve Wallace and many others. Veteran CBC jazz broadcaster Katie … [Read more...]

Woods And Geller: In The Altosphere

alto sax

This is a busy week for birthdays of major jazz artists: On Tuesday it was Clifford Brown’s. Today belongs to two musicians who have been in the vanguard of the legion of alto saxophonists—often called Bird’s children—who were inspired in the 1940s by Charlie Parker. One of the children, Herb Geller (pictured right) turns 84. The other, Phil Woods (pictured left), is 81 today. Both are traveling the world and performing regularly. Mr. Geller plays tomorrow night at Birdland in Hamburg, … [Read more...]

Autumn Leaves, 2012

Maple, November 2012

I wanted to show you the maple tree on the west side of the house at its peak of fall glory. The question was, whose version of “Autumn Leaves” should accompany it? I considered those by Miles Davis, Eva Cassidy, Eddie Higgins, Doris Day, Cannonball Adderley, Sarah Vaughan, Nat Cole—including one of Cole singing the song in Japanese—and a couple of dozen others. In the end it came down to Bill Evans, from Portrait In Jazz, recorded on December 28, 1959, with Scott LaFaro and Paul … [Read more...]