From The Archive: Ciao, Chow


This bit of Rifftides revisited is from an earlier encounter with the mortality of someone close. When I posted it, I was executor of the estate of a lifelong friend and influence, the pianist Jack Brownlow, recently profiled by Steve Cerra. __________________________________________________________________________________________ Respite Seattle, Washington November 10, 2007 Preoccupied with death and its aftermath for two weeks, I decided to seek out life, so I went to … [Read more...]

From The Archive


As the year winds down and we attempt to catch up after a rough patch, Rifftides is revisiting posts from the past. __________________________________________________________________________________________ THE POWER OF MUSIC Posted December 22, 2005 Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated … [Read more...]

From The Archive

Screen shot 2012-12-29 at 12.17.53 PM

While the Rifftides staff regroups and copes with family matters, we shall revisit a few posts from the past. This one appeared almost exactly four years ago. It concerns a recording that received far less general attention that it warranted. __________________________________________________________________________________________ December 30, 2008 THE FILM MUSIC OF RALPH RAINGER The release of a new CD, The Film Music Of Ralph Rainger, is the occasion for my piece in today's Wall … [Read more...]

Other Places: Wilke To The World

Jim Wilke

It seemed for a few years that jazz on the radio was doomed to isolation on niche FM stations with weak signals and short wavelengths. As rock, pop, rap and hip-hop shouldered aside the attraction of jazz for mass audiences, the music all but disappeared from AM radio. Then, the internet made it possible for radio stations to stream their programming around the globe. Jim Wilke, whose Jazz Northwest programs we sometimes tell you about in advance, is a veteran jazz broadcaster who long ago … [Read more...]


Dave obit photo

Profound thanks to the dozens upon dozens of Rifftides readers who sent messages and comments following the death of my brother Dave. Your words are a great comfort. Please understand my failure to respond to you individually. In the photograph, Dave is arriving at our house for Christmas a few years ago. His obituary is in the hometown newspaper. If you care to read it, click here. Again, thank you all. … [Read more...]

Other Places: Brubeck Remembered & A Niles Christmas


Rifftides is on hold, as explained in the previous post. However, I’m taking a moment for a couple of timely alerts. Chris Brubeck posted a memoir about life with his father, Dave. Chris’s article is packed with family anecdotes about the patriarch of American music who died on December 5 at age 91. Here’s a sample: We were really poor in those early days. When we went on the road, we would stay in old hotels that had cavernous closets—most times the closets were the best thing going … [Read more...]


Wenatchee Spring

The little valley where my brother and I grew up together is not green today. It is white and getting whiter, but when I think of it, this is how I remember it. … [Read more...]

Jazz: Such A Flexible Category

Sgt. Pepper

With the following preamble, Rifftides reader and retired Toronto jazz broadcaster Ted O’Reilly called our attention to an innovation in his former profession. ...Hawkins, Basie, Gillespie, Ornette -- all those old guys -- later. Here’s important JAZZ to learn about. This news release from a Canadian jazz radio station is what caught Mr. O’Reilly’s attention: DECONSTRUCTING SGT. PEPPER WITH SCOTT FREIMAN JAZZ.FM91 announces a new pop culture initiative, the … [Read more...]

One Whom The Murderer Took Away

Ana & Isaiha

Following yesterday’s post, blogger Richard Kamins of Hartford, Connecticut, forwarded a Facebook message from one of his readers, whose name is Sarah Lee. The video that accompanies the message is of Ana Grace and her brother Isaiah. The 6-year-old daughter of saxophonist Jimmy Greene was one of 26 people shot and killed in Friday’s school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. ♥RIP Ana Grace Márquez-Greene...Ana's mom Nelba was part of my masters program. They just recently moved to the … [Read more...]

Ana Grace


Among the 20 elementary school children killed in Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was Ana Greene, the 6-year-old daughter of saxophonist Jimmy Greene. She is on the right in the photograph with her father, her mother Nelba Marquez-Greene and her brother Isaiah, also a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Isaiah is reported unharmed. Six adults also died in the onslaught. A relative said that the Greenes moved to Newtown last summer after Greene accepted a teaching … [Read more...]

Eddie Palmieri, Jazz Master


On January 14, the pioneering Latin jazz artist Eddie Palmieri will be among those honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as 2013 NEA Jazz Masters. The others are pianist, singer and songwriter Mose Allison; alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson; Owner Lorraine Gordon of New York’s Village Vanguard; and writer A. B. Spellman. Tonight and tomorrow night, Palmieri is being recognized by Jazz at Lincoln Center in concerts reprising the 76-year-old pianist’s career. From the JALC announcement: … [Read more...]

Other Places (2): Konitz On Bird

Bird cover

On his New England Public Radio blog, Tom Reney's new post on Charlie Parker includes Lee Konitz material for which he credits Rifftides. I thank Tom, but I thank him more for including a clip of Lee Konitz talking about what it was like to work and travel with Bird in their mutual Stan Kenton days of the 1950s. To hear Konitz on Parker, go here. The clip is at the end of the piece. … [Read more...]

Other Places (1): A Brubeck Radio Tribute

Ken Dryden

Journalist and occasional Rifftides commenter Ken Dryden (pictured) works nationally and lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Among other activities, he conducts a radio program. Mr. Dryden sent an alert to a special edition of his show remembering Dave Brubeck. If you are one of the unfortunate millions who do not live within broadcast earshot of Chattanooga, there’s good news; Ken’s show will be streamed tomorrow evening on the web. Here is his announcement. Please join me for Dziekuje, … [Read more...]

Brubeck: Things Ain’t What They Used To Be

Brubeck & Mulligan

With Dave Brubeck’s passing, interesting bits of arcana about his life and music are rising to the surface. BBC Radio 4 replayed a portion of an interview from 2000 on the network’s Front Row program with John Wilson. Brubeck tells Wilson about the role of vitamin B-6 in saving his hands and the unusual use of a bungee cord in his exercise routine. He illustrates polytonality by playing a bit of Duke Ellington's “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” in C and E-flat, simultaneously. To hear the … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck Quartet

There's a way of playing safe, there's a way of using tricks and there's the way I like to play, which is dangerously, where you're going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven't created before. I'm always hoping for the nights that are inspired, where you almost have an out-of-body experience. Damn it, when I'm bombastic, I have my reasons. I want to be bombastic: take it or leave it (Photo of Dave Brubeck at the Stockholm Jazz Festival by … [Read more...]

On Dave Brubeck

Time Dave_Brubeck

There is no guarantee that a great artist will be an admirable person. Many sublimely gifted musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and actors fail as human beings. Dave Brubeck was on the positive end of the scale. Among the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of obituaries and remembrances of Brubeck that have emerged since his death yesterday morning, a thread becomes clear: those who knew him emphasize that his extraordinary musicianship went hand in hand with kindness, generosity, humor and concern … [Read more...]

Wall To Wall Brubeck

Brubeck smiling

The Columbia University radio station WKCR is playing Brubeck recordings around the clock and will until 9:00 EST tonight. To hear the station, click here, then on one of the connecting links in the WKCR site’s upper right corner. It is impossible to individually thank the Rifftides readers who have sent comments about Dave Brubeck's passing; there are too many of you. As the comments come in, we post them with thanks to all. More later on Brubeck. … [Read more...]

Dave Brubeck Is Gone

Brubeck facing right-thumb-90x113-18094

Dave Brubeck died this morning. He would have celebrated his 92nd birthday tomorrow. Russell Gloyd, Brubeck’s manager and conductor of the pianist and composer’s extended orchestral works, said that Brubeck suffered cardiac arrest. In fragile health for several years, he was being driven from his home in Wilton Connecticut to an appointment with his heart doctor in nearby Norwalk. For a comprehensive obituary tracing the career that made Brubeck one of the few jazz artists to achieve mass … [Read more...]

Jim Wilke’s Northwest Christmas

lanphere original

If you are yearning for Christmas music, it isn’t hard to find. Walk into a supermarket, park at a service station pump or step into an elevator. Whether the stuff piped into commercial establishments suits your taste is beside the point; they give you no choice. This weekend, Jim Wilke won’t give you a choice, either, but considering the proclivities of Rifftides readers, his selections are more likely to meet your criteria than those of the lowest-common-denominator marketers who program … [Read more...]

That Brubeck Blues

Piano blues

The vacation is over. I’m getting back into some kind of routine, if not yet what could be called a groove. Before that happens, I’m hitting the road again to spend a bit of time with my brother, who is less than well. In the meantime, here’s a followup to a post that attracted considerable comment. The item about Paul Desmond’s 88th birthday included a link to a track called “Pilgrim’s Progress” from a 1956 Dave Brubeck Quartet concert recording. The piece is a close relative of “Audrey,” … [Read more...]