pumpkin 2013

Favorite front porch exchange with one of tonight's scores of trick-or-treaters. Me: "Don't eat too much of that candy." Eight-year-old Green Hornet: (with a sigh of exasperation through his mask) "I know ." … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: Anthony Wilson Nonet

Anthony Wilson Nonet

As noted occasionally on Rifftides, the creative power of medium-sized jazz ensembles often exceeds their size. Go here to read several posts on that topic. The guitarist Anthony Wilson added to the mid-sized genre’s discography with his Power of Nine in 2006. Over the summer, he revived the group and peopled it with an impressive array of name musicians. Jim Wilke, winner of the Jazz Journalist Association’s broadcaster award, recorded the group and will put them on the air and stream them on … [Read more...]

Frank Wess, January 4, 1922 – October 30, 2013

Frank Wess

We have confirmation that Frank Wess died today. The flutist and saxophonist succumbed to kidney failure at 91. Wess played with undiminished spirit and creativity that kept him in the forefront of jazz soloists for decades after most of his contemporaries had retired or died. A professional from the age of 19, following service in World War Two Wess joined Billy Eckstine's big band. After earning a conservatory degree in flute, he became a member of Count Basie's reed section in 1953 and … [Read more...]

Poodie James Special: A Few Copies Left


By special arrangement with the publisher, Rifftides readers may acquire autographed copies of Doug's novel Poodie James at a reduced price. To see a description of the book, read an excerpt and learn how to order, click on Purchase Doug's Books on the blue border above. The special price will be in effect until the limited supply runs out. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Language Progress (Hah) Report


"Thank you," I said to the clerk at the hardware store. "Hey, no problem, ya know?" she replied. It occurred to me that she had not jumped aboard the Rifftides Department Of Language Reform (DOLR) bandwagon. Despite our periodic efforts to encourage clarity of expression, Americans and other speakers of English continue in their wanton linguistic ways. I concluded that it's time to rerun this item from more than three years ago. February 26, 2010 The Rifftides Department Of Language … [Read more...]

Ellington At Work

Ellington Cote d'Azur

Lester Perkins, the proprietor of Jazz On The Tube, sent an alert to a rare opportunity to watch and listen to Duke Ellington rehearsing a new piece. This was on the French Cote d’Azur in 1966. We see glimpses of Paul Gonsalves, Russell Procope, Cat Anderson, Buster Cooper, Jimmy Hamilton and the other members of the ’66 band, even one of Tom Whaley, Ellington's indispensable arranger and copyist (at :37). The video clip melds smoothly from rehearsal into performance and features chorus after … [Read more...]

Litchfield Jazz Camp

Litchfield Jazz Camp

I must confess that among the dozens (and dozens) of unsolicited email messages that pour into the Rifftides computer each day, I have paid little attention to those from the Litchfield Jazz Camp. That changed when one arrived with news that next year the camp moves from Kent to another Connecticut town. From the news release: The camp will now be held at Canterbury School in New Milford, CT. The new campus allows the camp to offer a wide array of health and fitness options along with … [Read more...]

Longo Joins The Blogroll

Mike Longo at Microphone

The Rifftides blogroll near the end of the right-hand column now includes a link to pianist-arranger-composer Mike Longo’s new website. Longo’s site is replete with practical tips to musicians about developing and refining their craft. By way of example, it also presents videos of his trio and his New York State Of The Art big band. Here, the band plays “No More Blues,” aka “Chega de Saudade.”       Longo's site contains archive clips of him playing with his mentor and … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Hoses (Early Autumn, Part 2)

Hoses 1

It was a fine day for the ritual of draining, coiling, labeling and storing the hoses. The canal has been dry and the irrigation water off since Tuesday. That news is of no importance whatever and has nothing to do with the usual topics of this blog. Hoping to find a connection (hah), I searched for music inspired by hoses and found nothing but a semi-bawdy saloon song that ended up being about a garden hose only after implying that it was about something else. Therefore, we offer a song the … [Read more...]

Early Autumn Three Ways

Early Autumn From Upstairs

First, from an upstairs window looking across the valley. This is a fine time of year to live in the high desert at the foot of the Cascades. Next, in the exquisite 1948 original adapted by Ralph Burns from a movement of his Summer Sequence suite for the Woody Herman Ochestra. This is the recording that sent young Stan Getz on his way to tenor saxophone fame. A YouTube contributor identified as ZOrkaz added the autumnal photographs. If Johnny Mercer had written nothing but, "There's … [Read more...]

Clark Terry Still Needs Help

clark terry white cap

Rifftides reader Ted Hodgetts writes from Ontario, Canada, with a reminder that Clark Terry's prolonged, expensive, illness continues. CT's medical bills are accumulating at an accelerating rate. The Jazz Foundation of America set up a special fund to help with, among other things, the substantial cost of aides who give care. The health workers make it possible for him to remain at home, where he continues to support and advise developing young musicians. For details about his situation and how … [Read more...]

A Columbus Day Serenade

Christopher Columbus

It’s a bit late to recognize Christopher Columbus on his holiday but at this writing it’s still Columbus Day in the Pacific time zone. The banks and the post office were closed for the day in the land that Columbus discovered. Substantial parts of the federal government have been shut down for two weeks and our elected leaders in Washington are in political confusion. According to the latest news, there may be hope that the nation won’t go into default this week. But, in the unforgettable … [Read more...]

Reminder: The Paul Desmond Bio Is Now Digital


Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond is moving along briskly in its new digital life as an ebook. The hardcover edition has sold out. Used copies are going for as much as $335 on book and auction sites, but new clothbound copies are history. The electronic transformation is good news on several counts: The book will continue to be available. For now, it is on Kindle. Publisher Malcolm Harris of Parkside Publications tells me that he expects to have it up on Apple and … [Read more...]

Weekend Listening Tip: Bill Ramsay

Bill Ramsey shouts

Jim Wilke will devote his Jazz Northwest broadcast on Sunday to a musician who has been the bartitone saxophone anchor in a significant number of great bands and, on baritone and alto, a mainstay of jazz in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s the announcement: Saxophonist Bill Ramsay is a Northwest treasure who's been both leader and sideman in dozens of bands, not only in this region but also internationally. He recently played concerts in Brazil with former Count Basie Band members. He's played … [Read more...]

Odds And Ends

George Wein head

Congratulations to George Wein, who will be honored on Thursday with an award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities. The honor comes from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities in recognition of Wein’s stewardship of the Newport Jazz Festival since 1954 and the Newport Folk Festival since 1959. The council cites his launching of what “became the first jazz festival in America and started an era that has inspired music events around the world.” At 87, Wein is still organizing festivals … [Read more...]

Recent Listening in Brief…Mintz, Burrell, Lefkowitz-Brown, Anschell, Weston

CD Packages, stack

Vacate for a short time, and the postman brings more music than anyone could begin to listen to without abandoning sleep or risking madness. The stack of packages on the left is the accumulation of three days away. In addition, three times that number has piled up since the whaling expedition to Canada. Each package contains at least one CD hoping for a review or a mention. I hate to break it to those who contribute to the flood of mostly unsolicited albums, but it is impossible to sample, much … [Read more...]

Weekend Extra: Steve With Pee Wee, Red And J.S.


Around the same time in 1966 that pianist Steve Kuhn made The October Suite with Gary McFarland (see the post two items down), he was one of a more or less impromptu intergenerational group. Kuhn played a college concert with two of his contemporaries, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Marty Morell, all in their twenties. They accompanied the headliners, two of the music’s brilliant eccentrics. Trumpeter Red Allen was only 58, clarinetist Pee Wee Russell 60, but they had been around since … [Read more...]

Oscar Castro-Neves, 73


News comes of the death of Oscar Castro-Neves, one of the leading guitarists to emerge from Brazil’s bossa nova movement. As samba music moved north in the 1960s and became a powerful element in US popular music and jazz, Castro-Neves was an important player, coach, producer and catalyst. After hearing him at Seattle’s Jazz Alley with pianist Kenny Werner and harmonicist Toots Thielemans in 2005, I wrote: Thielemans and Werner, long established as a formidable duo, became a virtual … [Read more...]

October Suite

October Suite

Happy October. I can think of no better way to welcome my favorite month than to remind you of a splendid recording named for it. Gary McFarland (1933-1971) composed and arranged October Suite for the pianist Steve Kuhn. They recorded it in 1966. Almost immediately, the LP on the Impulse! label went into hiding. Well into this century, a CD version finally appeared. The quality of October Suite earns it renown far beyond what it has received. Many recordings of McFarland’s music, and of Kuhn’s, … [Read more...]