Weekend Listening Tip: Going Green

Benny Green PT

If you were not one of the four- or five-hundred people who attended pianist Benny Green’s concert at the Oregon Coast Jazz Party last weekend—or perhaps especially if you were—here’s a Rifftides listening tip. Jim Wilke’s Jazz Northwest broadcast on Sunday will present Green’s trio with bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green. Mr. Wilke recorded their concert this summer on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. This is from his announcement of the program: …Green leads his … [Read more...]

Catching Up: Logan Strosahl & Nick Sanders

Strosahl ca 2006

Eight years ago, when Rifftides was young, I posted this item from New York following one of the last conventions of the lamented International Association of Jazz Educators. January 19, 2006 It is impossible to predict the course of an artist’s career, but here’s a name to file away: Logan Strosahl. He is a sixteen-year-old alto saxophonist with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band from Seattle, Washington. Strosahl has the energy of five sixteen-year-olds, rhythm that wells up from … [Read more...]

Newport (Oregon) Report

Daniels & Stripling

The Oregon Coast Jazz Party titled one segment “Saturday Morning Chamber Jazz.” In the event, most of the weekend celebration had the character and intimacy of a chamber music festival. The proceedings began with flutist Holly Hofmann—the OCJP’s music director—walking on stage alone, playing “Strike Up The Band.” Chorus by chorus, musicians who were to perform over the two and a half days joined her to improvise on that piece and a good old blues in F. Pictured left to right: a Rifftides … [Read more...]

Listening Tip: Kirchner And Friends, In Person

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For those in or planning to be in New York City next week, here’s a live listening tip from soprano saxophonist, arranger, composer, bandleader and jazz educator Bill Kirchner. He writes, On Tuesday, October 7, at 8 p.m., I'll be doing one of the most unusual concerts of my career, sharing the stage with three wonderful artists. Here are the details: Bill Kirchner, soprano saxophone Holli Ross, voice Jim Ferguson, voice, double bass Carlton Holmes, piano About 2/3 of the songs will … [Read more...]

Apology

In the previous exhibit, I failed when I attempted humor—or something resembling it—in characterizing Holly Hofmann's artistic direction of the Oregon Coast Jazz Party. I apologize to Ms. Hofmann, whose leadership of that festival I admire, and to anyone else who may have been offended. … [Read more...]

That Newport Party

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In a few hours, the Rifftides staff will be hitting the road—a lot of roads—to the Oregon shore of the Pacific Ocean. The occasion is our first visit in a couple of years to the Oregon Coast Jazz Party. The compact weekend fête was once known as the Newport, Oregon, Jazz Festival. Strong hints concerning copyright law and possible legal remedies suggested the practicality of changing to a title that did not include the name of the town in which the festival is held. Whatever it’s … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Dee Daniels

Dee Daniels Intimate

Dee Daniels, Intimate Conversations (Origin) Accompanied only by Martin Wind’s forthright bass lines, the singer sets her story-telling course with the imperishable 84-year-old “Exactly Like You.” She and Wind are so convincing again in “I Wish You Love” that this listener found himself wishing for an entire album with just the two of them. However, Daniels is equally effective accompanying herself on piano and coloring “All The Way” with blues feeling as Wycliffe Gordon provides wa-wa … [Read more...]

Recent Viewing And Listening: Charles Lloyd

Lloyd today

Charles Llloyd, Arrows Into Infinity (ECM) Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance) The steadfastly independent saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd stepped out of the limelight more than once, but even when he was inactive his recordings remained in demand. Lloyd is drawing renewed attention because of a film about his life and music, and an album of previously unreleased performances from a fertile early period of his career. His million-selling 1966 album Forest Flower and the … [Read more...]

Compatible Quotes: Autumn

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No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.—John Donne, The Autumnal But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done … [Read more...]

Autumn Comes

autumn-leaves

In most of the Northern Hemisphere, this is officially the first day of fall. In a weblog devoted primarily to jazz, it seems fitting to welcome the advent of the new season with music. The pleasant problem is that there are so many wonderful recordings of songs with autumn themes, it’s impossible to choose just one. So, here are three. Nat Cole, 1948 Woody Herman, 1948 Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane, 1963 Have a pleasant autumn season or—if you’re in the Southern … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Ali Jackson

Ali Jackson Amalgamations

Ali Jackson, Amalgamations (Sunnyside) In this appropriately titled collection, the irrepressible drummer and 13 colleagues from the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra and elsewhere combine in groups as small as two. Jackson's precision and drive stimulate trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pianist Eldar Djangirov and saxophonists JD Allen and Ted Nash, among others. Performances include the laconic “Done Tol’ You Fo’ Five Times” in which trombonist Vincent Gardner and electric pianist Jonathan Batiste … [Read more...]

The Way Kenny Wheeler Worked

Kenny Wheeler at the piano

Anne Braithwaite alerted me to Kenny Wheeler’s account of how he prepared when he was searching for inspiration. The trumpeter and composer died this week. See yesterday’s Rifftides post for details. The story came from Ken Schaphorst, chairman of the Jazz Studies Department at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Mr. Schaphorst told me this afternoon that in the fall of 2002, Wheeler gave a master class at NEC. Famously shy, nervous about speaking in public, he wrote out his talk. Mr. … [Read more...]

Kenny Wheeler Is Gone

Kenny Wheeler, Smiling (!)

Kenny Wheeler, a Canadian who became a towering figure in British music and an icon of jazz musicians around the world, has succumbed to a long illness. He was in a London nursing home for several months and was moved recently to the hospital where he died. He was 84. Wheeler's brilliance as a composer and arranger, dating from from the 1960s, came to be generally acknowledged fairly late in his career. From the 1968 suite based on Don Quixote that he wrote for the John Dankworth … [Read more...]

Report From Russia: Арфа и джаз (Take Five)

Esse, Moscow

Rifftides reader Svetlana Ilyicheva (pictured right) brings us up to date from time to time on musical events in and around Moscow. Her latest report concerns an organization founded by and for jazz listeners, and one of its concerts by an unusual group. Recently, the Moscow 'Jazz Art' Club celebrated the closing session of its 20th concert season. The club has presented nearly 1,500 weekly concerts, to say nothing of its vocal festivals and fascinating jazz cruises. There is much for the … [Read more...]

Losses: Jackie Cain, Joe Sample

Jackie & Roy

Following a long illness, Jackie Cain died Monday afternoon in her New Jersey home. She was 86. She and Roy Kral combined their talents in 1946. They incorporated the spirit of bebop in their work with Charlie Ventura’s sextet, capturing the public imagination with “East of Suez” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” Recorded with Ventura at a concert in Pasadena, California, in 1949, the records received widespread radio airplay in the days when that was still a route to jazz stardom. Following … [Read more...]

Monday Recommendation: Mark Turner

Lathe of Heaven

Mark Turner, Lathe Of Heaven (ECM) The tenor saxophonist bases the CD’s title on an Ursula K. LeGuin sci-fi novel in which dreams seem to change reality. Her story line turns on unclear perceptions, but Turner’s music is unambiguous in its extension of modern mainstream jazz tradition. Though the harmonized lines he plays with trumpeter Avishai Cohen bear intimations of Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, Turner’s compositions and the emotional unity of the quartet’s playing, particularly in … [Read more...]

Three Listening Tips And A View

Cables & Friends at PT

Tip 1. Jim Wilke’s Jazz Northwest program on Sunday will broadcast the tribute given pianist and composer George Cables at this summer’s Centrum Jazz Port Townsend festival on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Mr. Wilke recorded the concert in July. For years, as performer and teacher, Cables has been an integral part of the festival and its jazz workshops. From Mr. Wilke’s announcement: Three pianists, Geoffrey Keezer, Benny Green and Dawn Clement take solo turns playing compositions by … [Read more...]

Gerald Wilson And Harmony

Gerald Wilson head shot

In the September 8 Rifftides post about this week’s passing of Gerald Wilson, I mentioned his enhanced harmonic palette and its importance to modern jazz arranging (Photo courtesy of Gordon Sapsed). It is one aspect of the Wilson craftsmanship that continues to influence those who write for big bands. When I was working on the essay that accompanies the Mosaic box set of his Pacific Jazz recordings, Mr. Wilson and I discussed his development of eight-part harmony. He applied it to the piece he … [Read more...]

Gerald Wilson, 1918-2014

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Word has come that Gerald Wilson died today in Los Angeles. A swing era trumpeter, he became the pioneering leader, composer and arranger of a modern big band that was a significant presence for more than sixty years. Wilson enriched the language of large ensembles by employing expanded harmonic structures. He was noted for, among other things, his colorful music inspired by Mexican bull fighting. For an obituary, see Don Heckman's article in today's Los Angeles Times. In a post to come, … [Read more...]

We’re Back

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Web server problems resulting in massive slowness interfered with Rifftides today and, evidently, with all other blogs under the artsjournal.com umbrella. As a result, it was not possible to prepare and post new items. I would be happy to report that the crack Rifftides technical staff wrestled the problem to the ground and eliminated it, but there is no Rifftides technical staff. The difficulty seems to have fixed itself, and we're back up and running, witness the next exhibit. I believe the … [Read more...]

Thad, Mel And Co. In Belgium

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In response to the recent Rifftides recommendation of the new album by the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bill Kirchner sent a link to video featuring the VJO’s progenitor. About the clip of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band in Belgium, in 1973, Bill writes: So-so, though acceptable, sound, but great playing and interesting camera work. Note the repair tag hanging from Knepper's trombone. The program includes one of Brookmeyer’ greatest arrangements and three pieces composed and arranged by Jones. 1. … [Read more...]

Other Matters: Finger-Pickin’ Good Sousa

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Bobby Shew sent a link to a performance by a guitarist named Doug Smith. After listening to Smith’s introductory story about his dad, no former Marine could be expected to ignore the video. Anyone who can finger-pick Sousa’s famous piccolo part in “Stars and Stripes Forever” while also playing the harmony and melody must be taken seriously. This is an opportunity to see and hear a man who enjoys his work. I must confess to having known nothing about Doug Smith before Mr. Shew alerted me … [Read more...]

Recommendation: Brookmeyer For The Vanguard

Over Time, Vanguard

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Over Time: Music of Bob Brookmeyer (Planet Arts) This is the album Bob Brookmeyer was preparing for the Vanguard orchestra before he died at the end of 2011. As a composer and arranger, Brookmeyer was a creative force in the Vanguard’s predecessor, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, and its forerunner, the big band co-led by Lewis and Thad Jones. With Jones-Lewis, he was also a principal soloist, on valve trombone. Brookmeyer's rich history with all of the band’s … [Read more...]

Labor Day # 2: Workin’

Labor-Day-US

As pointed out in the previous exhibit, Americans and Canadians are taking a three-day holiday to observe Labor Day, which this year is Monday, September 1. On this occasion established nearly a century-and-a-half ago, they do their best to get sunburned, exhausted and happy—the latter with or without the aid of beer, which sells in oceanic quantities as summer winds down and people populate beaches, mountain meadows, national parks, RV camps and back yards. There are several versions … [Read more...]

Labor Day #1: Struttin’

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This is Labor Day weekend or, if you prefer the Canadian spelling, Labour Day weekend. Monday will see official observance of the day established in Canada in 1872 and the US in 1887 to honor the economic and social contributions of working people. It long ago expanded to a three-day holiday weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer, the return of children to school and huge sales at department stores, automobile dealerships and sellers of electronics. Millions of Americans celebrate … [Read more...]