New York City’s Library for the Performing Arts announces that it has received the archives of George Avakian, who supervised some of the most influential jazz recordings of the past 70 years. At first as a student working part time for Columbia Records and then as an executive at Columbia and, later, RCA, Avakian was responsible for recordings by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, among dozens of other artists. The library will catalog his personal papers as well as unissued recordings. It will also have the archives of Mrs. Avakian, the prominent classical violinist Anahid Ajemian. Avakian celebrated his 95th birthday on March 15. For details, see this story in The New York Times.
In another important bequest, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane has presented his father’s tenor saxophone to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American National History. It is the instrument that the senior Coltrane most likely used when his quartet recorded A Love Supreme in 1965. The album not only became one of Coltrane’s biggest sellers but also one of the most potent musical statements of the post bebop era, influencing countless musicians to take new directions. In another gift to the museum, photographer Chuck Stewart donated more than two dozen images he made of Coltrane, some at the A Love Supreme session, others never published. You will find a story about Coltrane’s saxophone here, and one about the Stewart pictures here, both on the Smithsonian website. Here are the “Acknowledgement” section of A Love Supreme and Stewart’s cover photograph for the album.
The poignant muted trumpet on “Flamingo” in Charles Mingus’s 1957 album Tijuana Moods was by Clarence Shaw, a Detroiter whose career derailed for a time, in part because of Mingus. More about Shaw in a moment, but first let’s listen to his most famous solo.
By the time RCA finally released that music in 1962, Shaw had rebuilt his career, altered his first name, moved to Chicago and began recording again. There remains a good deal of mystery surrounding his story, which is nicely told by Thomas Cuniffe on his Jazz History Online website. To read it, go here.
The survivors across the mountains from us in the little community of Oso are hurting, in every conceivable way. The physical and emotional devastation caused by that gigantic mudslide last week has them reeling. They are in need of just about everything. Washington state’s governor, Jay Inslee, is making a plea for help. He says that the best way to provide it is through the American Red Cross. Go here to see the governor’s message—and how you can pitch in. Thank you.