Thad Jones (1923-1986)

Santa Barbara

Vacationing in Santa Barbara, Ojai and environs does not preclude observing Thad Jones's 90th birthday. There's no better way to do that than with Thad conducting the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra's extraordinary version of Jerome Richardson's "The Groove Merchant." This is from a European tour probably in the fall of 1969—not '68, as YouTube indicates. The reed section: Joe Henderson, Jerry Dodgion, Jerome Richardson, Eddie Daniels, Pepper Adams. Trumpets: Snooky Young, Danny … [Read more...]

Missing Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan

The Rifftides staff is on vacation, but we took a vote and decided that Sarah Vaughan’s birthday warrants a break. We came across a couple of videos from Sarah’s 1985 appearance at the Satin Doll in Tokyo. They have not had the hundreds of thousands of YouTube hits awarded some of her other pieces from that celebrated engagement. She is in fine voice here—nothing unusual about that—and enjoying her relationship with the audience and her trio, Frank Collett, piano; Bob Maize, bass; and Harold … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Anthony Lewis, 1927-2013


I was saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Anthony Lewis, the New York Times columnist and, earlier in his career, nonpareil Supreme Court reporter. Lewis had a nearly unmatched ability to make complex issues clear and understandable. He set standards. For a comprehensive obituary and review of his life, see this Times article. … [Read more...]

Catching Up With Eric Felten

Felten 2

Journalist, trombonist and bandleader Eric Felten continues his multifaceted ways. He has added internet television to his repertoire, presenting, interviewing and sometimes sitting in with prominent jazz artists. His latest Wall Sreet Journal op-ed piece recalls how a tax rule now nearly forgotten had a dramatic effect on popular music and the evolution of jazz. It begins: These are strange days, when we are told both that tax incentives can transform technologies yet higher taxes will not … [Read more...]

Nemuri Kyoshirō, Live

Ian Carey playing

No sooner do I review the new Ian Carey album (see the previous exhibit) than “Nemuri Kyoshirō” pops up on YouTube with moving pictures of another installment of that Evan Francis (tenor sax)-Kasey Knudsen(alto sax) blues chase and fresh solos by Carey and pianist Adam Shulman. We get a bonus (?)—occasional shots out the window of Oakland at night. If you are wondering about the name of that tune, Nemuri Kyoshirō is the hero of a series of novels by Renzaburo Shibata. He is … [Read more...]

Recent Listening: Carey, Mingus, Ellington


It’s time to catch up with a few of the CDs that make their way into my house from what is often described, puzzlingly, as the dying jazz scene. If jazz is dying, the people recording and distributing all this music haven’t noticed. Hey, at least I got the piles of recordings off the floor. Now they’re in cardboard boxes and a wicker basket crowding one another off the coffee table in the music room, and there’s no room for a coffee cup. Ian Carey Quintet + 1, Roads & Codes … [Read more...]

Marian McPartland!


I missed Marian McPartland’s birthday. Now, she’s 95 plus one day, and I wish her all the best. Here she is in 1955 with her Hickory House trio, Bill Crow on bass, Joe Morello on drums (courtesy of Steve Cerra's Jazz Profiles), then in solo with her ballad “Afterglow” at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1975. Happy birthday, McP. You’re a treasure. … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Marian McPartland

At the risk of being a fuddy-duddy I don't have a computer; I don't have e-mail; and I really don't need something in my house that I would be sitting in front of for hours. By the way, I got a Grammy, which was a big thrill. It's awful to have to, but I've started thinking about that, you know. 86. I'm thinking, well, maybe I might make it to 90.—(2004) … [Read more...]

The Brubeck Institute Festival

Brubeck Festival

The Brubeck Institute Festival—underway since Monday—gets into full swing tonight in Stockton, California, with a concert by the Tom Harrell Quintet. Other major musicians involved include The Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Gunther Schuller, Wynton Marsalis and Joe Gilman. Paul Conley reports about the festival for Capital Public Radio and KXJZ in Sacramento. To hear Paul's story about the first major Brubeck Institute event since Dave’s death in December, click here. For a compete … [Read more...]

Other Matters: If It’s Not One Thing…

Tech-Gremlin-2's another; in this case that pesky gremlin. Rifftides finally banished him after two weeks of intermittent computer attacks, so he moved on to disrupt power to the western data center that provides the energy blogs need to get on the internet. Rifftides was out of business for several hours today and inaccessible to thousands of readers. The hosts have it fixed. (Fingers crossed.) Most of my thinking about gremlins lately has been confined to cursing them, but it … [Read more...]

Twitter And Rod Levitt

Twitter icon

Twitter and I are not strangers, but I recognize the addictive potential of tweeting and try not to get hooked. Still, occasional Rifftides announcements via Twitter turn up followers whom I, in turn, follow. A new one is Ken Pickering, the artistic director of the Vancouver, Canada, Jazz Festival. He liked an item he found in the archive and tweeted about it. It was from this blog's Neolithic era, about the late composer, arranger and bandleader Rod Levitt. Mr. Pickering’s tweet reminded me … [Read more...]

New Recommendations

Hand pointing

The new batch of suggested listening and viewing—a long time coming—will be posted in the main column for a day or so before the recommendations move down for new exhibits. They will be in the right column under Doug's Picks until the staff can be persuaded to post new ones. This time around, we have two trumpeters named Miles; one guitarist twice; an enchanting CD by a young singer with an (ahem) experienced pianist; and a music book held over because rereading Dostoevsky's The … [Read more...]

CD: Ron Miles

Ron Miles Quiver

Ron Miles: Quiver (enja yellow bird) Miles’s playing on “There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth the Salt of My Tears” draws 21st century Denver and 1928 Chicago close. Some of his flurries of wildness on this album are as daring as the work of any modern trumpeter, but the Bix Beiderbecke lyricism in Miles’s soul extends into everything he plays. With just Bill Frisell’s guitar and Brian Blade's drums, Miles may seem to be operating lean. No, there is richness in their harmonic inventiveness and … [Read more...]

CD: Heather Masse And Dick Hyman

Masse and Hyman

Heather Masse And Dick Hyman: Lock My Heart (Red House) With The Wailin’ Jennys and the Wayfaring Strangers and appearances on radio’s Prairie Home Companion, Heather Masse has attracted a following among folk and bluegrass fans. This album of duets with master pianist Dick Hyman discloses the jazz foundation that has long been evident in her singing. Their treatments of Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” and Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell For You” are ballad perfection. In their … [Read more...]

CD/DVD: Miles Davis


Miles Davis Quintet Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy) This three-CD, one-DVD set finds the trumpeter fomenting even more dramatic change than usual. The first volume in the so-called bootleg series of Davis concert recordings found his primarily acoustic 1967 quintet already tending toward electronic music and rock. Saxophonist Wayne Shorter remains from that band. Here, the transition intensifies. Electric pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave Holland and drummer … [Read more...]

DVD: Bill Frisell


Bill Frisell, The Disfarmer Project (La Huit) Belgian filmmaker Guillame Dero captures the eclectic guitarist Frisell, violinist Carrie Rodriguez, guitarist Greg Leisz and bassist Viktor Krauss in a live performance set to portraits by the 1950s Arkansas photographer Mike Disfarmer. Some of the music was on a 2009 CD mentioned in this Rifftides post. Hearing it in new versions with Disfarmer’s eccentric and vaguely disturbing photos looming over the band is an adventure. Watching interaction … [Read more...]

Book: Paul de Barros on Marian McPartland

deBarros McP

Paul de Barros, Shall We Play That One Together? The Life and Art of Jazz Piano Legend Marian McPartland (St. Martin’s Press) The nonagenarian pianist presented de Barros with every biographer’s hope, unrestricted access to his subject’s personal papers and nearly unrestricted access to her private thoughts. He made the most of it, turning exhaustive research and hundreds of hours of interviews into a true story with the sweep of a novel. From the early discovery of McPartland’s musical gift … [Read more...]

Roy Haynes, 88

Roy Haynes 3

I’ve been busy in my continuing battle with the tech monster you see on the right. He won’t leave my computer system alone. I was so occupied with his depredations that I didn’t realize until the day was all but gone that this is Roy Haynes’ 88th birthday. It would be wrong to let it go by without celebrating. I’ll do that by toasting Roy with a glass of Layer Cake Shiraz and by sharing with you one of his solos from Jack Kleinsinger’s Highlights in Jazz concerts. This was New York, 1973. Mr. … [Read more...]

Artt Frank’s Double Celebration

artt frank-chet baker175t

The drummer Artt Frank is observing his 80th birthday and the impending publication of his memoir about work and friendship with Chet Baker (they are pictured together). On Frank’s website, Baker is quoted as saying, “Artt Frank is my all-time favorite drummer. He always seems to know where I'm going.” This performance from one of their 1981 gigs features impressive latterday blues playing by the trumpeter and highlights Frank’s propulsive brush work behind Baker. For an appreciation of … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: SRJO’s Music Of Thad Jones

Leo's Thad & Mel Cover

The attention-getting device above is one of the late Leo Meiersdorff’s album covers for the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. If we have your attention, here’s an announcement from Jim Wilke’s Jazz Northwest about next Sunday's broadcast: SRJO PLAYS THAD JONES: FROM BASIE TO THE VILLAGE VANGUARD Thad Jones played trumpet with the Basie Band and he brought the jazz orchestra into the modern age with his unique compositions and arrangements for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz … [Read more...]

Paul Paolicelli Reviews A Tony Bennett Biography

Bennett Book

All The Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett by David Evanier Reviewed by Paul Paolicelli Tony Bennett is the longest-running act from the “greatest generation” of American popular singers. His career has spanned seven decades and his popularity is as strong today as it was when he was breaking into the public’s psyche with overly-emotive tunes like “Rags to Riches.” Not only a civil rights supporter, like Sinatra, but also an activist. A man who walked across the bridge in … [Read more...]

Used Alto Saxophone For Sale

Coltrane ebay

Speaking of John Coltrane (see the post two items down), if you’re looking for a starter saxophone for your child, here’s a great opportunity. Yes, that says $115,000. But, hey, shipping is free. Before he became famous for his tenor and soprano saxophone playing, Coltrane was an alto saxophonist in the Navy and in the early part of his professional career with King Kolax, Dizzy Gillespie and Earl Bostic, among others. Of the few recorded instances of his alto work, this may be the … [Read more...]

The Gremlin And Infinity

Tech Gremlin

Blogging will be suspended while we try to subdue an invading tech gremlin. Damage so far is slight, the only casualty a printer. The Rifftides staff is doing everything possible to make sure that the incursion is terminated—with prejudice—and we send the troublemaker back to infinity, or wherever he came from. In the meantime (sneaky transition), enjoy the classic Shorty Rogers recording of "Infinity Promenade." Shelly Manne is the magician with cymbals. Soloists: Art Pepper, alto … [Read more...]

Jimmy Garrison After Coltrane

Jimmy Garrison

Lester Perkins of Jazz On The Tube pointed out that today is Jimmy Garrison’s birthday. Garrison, who died in 1976, would have been 79. Perkins alerted his subscribers to a 1968 video from Danish television of the bassist featured with Elvin Jones’s trio on Garrison’s composition “Sweet Little Maia.” Joe Farrell was the soprano saxophonist. Jones and Garrison had been members of John Coltrane’s quartet. When this was televised, Coltrane had been dead less than a year. Farrell was attracting … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Michele Rosewoman & Julian Priester

Rosewoman, Priester

At last year’s Healdsburg Jazz Festival in California, pianist Michele Rosewoman’s trio welcomed trombonist Julian Priester as their guest. They played Priester’s “End Dance” from his album In Deep End Dance (say it aloud, fast). Andy McKee is the bassist, Billy Hart the drummer. The sound quality of this video is acceptable. That—and closing your eyes while you listen—helps compensate for the fuzzy picture. Ms. Rosewoman’s three-decade career in music that combines jazz and … [Read more...]