Monday Recommendation: Logan Strosahl

Logan Strosahl

Logan Strosahl, Up Go We (Sunnyside) The unconventional structure of the title of Strosahl’s album smacks of post-Elizabethan England. Currents running through the music also evoke that time and place. The composer and saxophonist is a devotee of the orderly composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and of disorderly free improvisation. Both elements are apparent. “M.M. Ground,” concerned with post-Coltrane harmonic content, has a wild Strosahl alto saxophone solo leavened with Earl Bostic throat … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: The Jaki Byard Project

Jaki Byard Project

The Jaki Byard Project, Inch By Inch, Yard Byard (GM Recordings) An album in tribute to a prodigious pianist—without a pianist; it must have seemed a good idea when flutist Jamie Baum conceived it. And it was. Ms. Baum, drummer George Schuller and guitarist Jerome Harris studied with Byard at the New England Conservatory. He died in 1999. Byard's compositions and the inspiration of his genius as an arranger influenced their musical development. They recruited bassist Ugonna Okegwo and … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Music Of Gary McFarland


The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble, Circulation: The Music of Gary McFarland (Planet Arts) Concerned that recognition of Gary McFarland’s achievement was fading, drummer Michael Benedict created the ensemble named for McFarland and recorded 11 of his compositions. The mystery of McFarland’s death at 38 in 1971 remains unsolved. His composing and arranging made him a welcome presence in jazz in the 1960s. With slight academic training and a large natural talent, he produced work of freshness … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Jan Lundgren

Flowers of Sendai

Jan Lundgren, Flowers Of Sendai (Bee Jazz) Recorded six months before his acclaimed All By Myself, pianist Lundgren’s 2013 trio album contains two unaccompanied pieces that differ from the solo album and from one another. Lundgren develops his “Flowers Of Sendai” into a series of dance-like chromatic passages seasoned with whimsy before he lets it down easy, still dancing. His version of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” lives up to the title, with sumptuous harmonies including, as a distingué … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Brad Terry

Brad Terry

Brad Terry, I Feel More Like I Do Now Than I Did Yesterday (Lulu) The quotations on the back of this remarkable book include one from a Jazz Times review that I wrote many years ago. It calls Terry, “one of the well-hidden clarinet secrets of our time.” At 78, his talent remains undercover despite accolades from Jim Hall, Roger Kellaway and Gene Lees, despite Dizzy Gillespie’s admiration for his musicianship. In part, that is because of his devotion to the camp he ran for years to develop … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Sam Most

Sam Most Attic

Sam Most, From the Attic of My Mind (Elemental/Xanadu) There were flutists in jazz before Sam Most (1930-2013), but not many. He was the first to bring bebop to the instrument. His 1953 recording of “Undercurrent Blues” had a profound impact on virtually every flutist who followed him, including Herbie Mann, Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef, Hubert Laws and James Moody. Most made this album for Xanadu during a late 1970s resurgence. It finds him at a peak of expressiveness. The richness of his … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: George Cables

Cables good company

George Cables, In Good Company (High Note) The “Company” of the title refers to more than Cables’ trio members, bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis. It alludes to four fellow pianists whose compositions he plays in addition to two of his own in this relaxed collection. At 70, Cables reflects the values of the jazz mainstream of which he has been a solid part. In decades of work with Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Joe Henderson and others he has been a … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Kenny Dorham

Quiet Kenny

Kenny Dorham, Quiet Kenny (Original Jazz Classics) Dorham was of the generation of trumpet players indebted to Dizzy Gillespie. As his playing gained individuality in the late forties, he developed into one of the trumpet’s great melodic improvisers. His rhythm section here is pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Arthur Taylor. A few months earlier in 1960, they accompanied John Coltrane in his watershed “Giant Steps” session. The CD contains Dorham originals and five … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Antonio Sanchez

Sanchez 3X3 cover

Antonio Sanchez, Three Times Three (CamJazz) Sanchez is inevitably associated with his improvised solo drum sound track of last year’s hit film Birdman. The essential part he played in the movie brought him to the attention of millions unlikely to have known him from his work with Pat Metheny, Danilo Pérez and Miguel Zenón. Here, Sanchez collaborates with musicians from the top ranks of jazz who are masters at listening, adapting and melding. The three trios have different personalities, but … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Andy Brown

Andy Brown

Andy Brown, Soloist (Delmark) In his liner note essay, Brown mentions ten guitarists he admires, some of them famous (Andres Segovia, Joe Pass, Chet Atkins), others heroes in the guitar community who are barely known to general audiences (Kenny Poole, Ted Greene). Having absorbed the work of all the players he credits with inspiration, Brown makes it plain that he has internalized their lessons and shaped an individual approach. Reminiscent of George Van Eps in terms of masterly chording and … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Tony Fruscella

Tony Fruscella

Tony Fruscella (Atlantic) Blogger and Rifftides reader JazzCookie commented that her Memorial Day song was “I’ll Be Seeing You.” That led to a reply including trumpeter Tony Fruscella’s 1955 recording of the Sammy Fain ballad. Frank Sinatra’s version with Tommy Dorsey had been a bestseller when millions of Americans were away fighting World War II. Fruscella made it the basis of a medium tempo excursion through the harmonies with no direct reference to Fain’s melody. Yet, in a masterpiece of … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Steve Coleman

Synovial Joints Cover

Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance, Synovial Joints (PI Recordings) Steve Coleman’s edgy alto saxophone and flute playing, iconoclastic composition methods and founding of the 1970s and ‘80s M-Base movement led the inattentive to classify him with free-jazz adventurers. In fact, he was and is dedicated to precision and control in applying his theories. At the heart of the CD is a four-movement suite as intricate as its inspiration—the interaction of the system of bones and sinews that … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Jack DeJohnette

DeJohnette Chicago

Jack DeJohnette, Made In Chicago (ECM) Listeners accustomed to hearing drummer DeJohnette in the comparatively restrained Keith Jarrett Standards Trio may be taken aback by the audacity and abandon of the group he heads here. This live recording from the 2013 Chicago Jazz Festival finds DeJohnette reunited with three of the adventurers he played with in his hometown a half century ago. Pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill went on to become central … [Read more...]

Recommendation: Charles Lloyd

Lloyd Wild Man Dance

Charles Lloyd, Wild Man Dance (Blue Note) For the first three minutes of the opening “Flying Over The Odra Valley,” the Greek lyra of Sokratis Sinopoulos and the Hungarian cimbalom of Miklós Lucáks play what might be music for yoga meditation. Then the commanding tonality and rhythmic push of Lloyd’s tenor saxophone charge the atmosphere, and the exotic stringed instruments meld with his quartet in a suite fascinating in its variety and depth. In six movements, Lloyd, pianist Gerald Clayton, … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Jack Teagarden

Think Well of Me

Jack Teagarden, Think Well of Me (Verve) Rifftides reader David Chilver, son of the guitarist Pete Chilver (1924-2008), writes from the UK that he recently found among his father's belongings a Jack Teagarden CD minus cover or liner notes. He listened to it, liked it and went online to see what he could learn about the album. What he found was my 1999 JazzTimes review. Mr. Chilver’s enthusiastic discussion of the recording encouraged me to listen to it for the first time in too long, and then … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: The Surprising Tom Varner

Varner Nine Surprises

Tom Varner, Nine Surprises (Tom Varner Music) In writing for his nine-piece ensemble, Tom Varner layers and interleaves parts for the seven horns so that his textures of harmony and rhythm often create the illusion of a larger band. His skill as a composer and arranger equals his virtuosity as one of the few first-rate French horn improvisers in jazz history. “Seattle Blues,” the sixth movement in this 15-part suite, is a prime example of his achievement in both areas. In the decade since he … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Terry, Keepnews & Monk

In Orbit

Clark Terry, In Orbit (Riverside) The coincidence of trumpeter Clark Terry and producer Orrin Keepnews passing within a few days of one another brings to mind a timeless album on Keepnews’s Riverside label. Terry’s 1958 In Orbit featured a special sideman. He asked for Thelonious Monk on piano. For a reissue of the album the producer wrote that, to his surprise, “…Monk agreed without hesitation, did not ask for a heavy fee (I believe he was paid no more than twice the union-scale maximum) and … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Pullman On Powell

Wail Bud Powell cover

Peter Pullman, Wail: The Life of Bud Powell (Pullman) Pullman’s research, detail and zeal override flaws of style in this indispensible study of the architect and spirit of modern jazz piano. The author is illuminating in his treatment of Powell’s early years as a child prodigy. He is chilling in his documentation of the mature pianist’s tribulations in the hands of police, mental institutions, lawyers, the courts, and some of his women companions. He paints a bleaker picture than the … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Vijay Iyer Trio

Iyer Break STuff

Vijay Iyer, Break Stuff (ECM) It would be safe to say that the pianist Vijay Iyer is the only jazz musician who constructs his music on the Fibonacci sequence of numbers introduced by the Medieval Italian mathematician. Safe that is, if Iyer didn’t credit saxophonist Steve Coleman with giving him the idea years ago. Maybe Coleman got it from Bartók (e.g., “Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta”). Whether Iyer’s ascendency in jazz can be credited to his mathematical expertise and … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Lisa Parrott

Lisa Parrott Round Tripper

Lisa Parrott, Round Tripper (Serious Niceness Records) There is muscle and grit in the sound of Ms. Parrott’s baritone saxophone on Ornette Coleman’s “Round Trip.” Playing alto, she comes closer to essence of Coleman in “Rosa Takes a Stand” and “D. Day.” Her work on both horns is inflected with a kind of Coleman chanciness, but it would be a mistake to categorize this Australian who moved to New York in the 1990s. In a song written with her bassist sister Nikki, “Do You Think That I Do Not … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Bley, Sheppard, Swallow

Carla Bley Trios

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow, CBTrios (ECM) Trios concentrates the essence of understanding that Bley, Sheppard and Swallow have developed over two decades of collaboration. She recorded the album’s five pieces in various configurations on earlier albums, but the spare instrumentation of her piano, Sheppard’s saxophones and Swallow’s bass creates space for leisurely exploration of the deep harmonic possibilities in her compositions. Most of all, though, melody is what dominates … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Art Tatum

Tatum, God

Art Tatum, God Is In The House (High Note) The title comes from what Fats Waller said when he saw Art Tatum walk into a club where Waller was playing. Dan Morgenstern tells the story in his notes for this essential collection, “…he stopped the music and announced: 'Ladies and gentlemen, I play the piano, but God is in the house tonight.'” Tatum was Waller’s primary inspiration. The master had no hesitation about paying obeisance to the student. Using a disc recorder, Jerry Newman captured … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Jimmy Greene

Greene, Beautiful Life

Jimmy Greene, Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue) The album opens with saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s 6-year-old daughter Ana angelically singing “Come Thou Almighty King” at a 2011 family Christmas celebration. A year later Ana was one of the 26 pupils and teachers murdered in the assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In his notes, Mr. Greene stresses that the album is in memory not of how she died, but of “how she lived, lovingly, faithfully and joyfully.” Joining him in the … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Nat Hentoff

Hentoff Doc.

The Pleasures Of Being Out Of Step: Notes On The Life Of Nat Hentoff (First Run Features) In his 89 years, Nat Hentoff has melded defense of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution with his love of jazz. His writings on those passions have made him a powerful voice in music journalism and in the turbulent arena populated by those who debate what the American founders intended in the Bill of Rights. This David L. Lewis film presents Hentoff reflecting—often … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Edward Simon

Simon Venezuelan Suite

Edward Simon, Venezuelan Suite (Sunnyside) Few jazz albums have been devoted to the music of Venezuela. Victor Feldman’s superb The Venezuelan Joropo (1967) was an exception. Latin musicians were impressed with the authenticity that Feldman achieved using Los Angeles colleagues to interpret traditional Venezuelan music. When it comes to authenticity, however, Edward Simon has an advantage. He is a native of Venezuela who has established himself in the US as a versatile pianist, composer and … [Read more...]