Rahsaan Roland Kirk Live in ’63 & ‘67 (Jazz Icons). One of eight DVDs in the impressive Jazz Icons third release, this finds Kirk touring Europe with his arsenal of horns. It is fascinating to watch him manage tenor sax, manzello, stritch, clarinet, siren and nose whistle. The forthright music he makes is even more gripping. Pianist George Gruntz, bassist Niels Henning Ã˜rsted-Pederson and drummer Daniel Humair are among his accompanists in Belgium, Holland and Norway. Kirk’s fourteen performances include two versions of his explosve “Three For the Festival”
Archives for January 2009
In the second concert of their 50-stop national tour, the Blue Note 7 drew a full house Friday night at The Seasons Performance Hall in Yakima, Washington. From the opener, Horace Silver’s “The Outlaw,” to the encore, Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels,” the all-star band dipped into the vast repertoire of compositions by artists who have recorded for Blue Note Records in its 70-years.Â
your town or one near it. This is a band more than worth hearing. Â
The unforgettable 1959 Thelonious Monk Orchestra concert at Town Hall will have a 50th anniversary recreation next month at the scene of the event in New York City. Preserved on a famous Riverside album and performed by jazz repertory orchestras everywhere, Monk’sÂ compositions in orchestrations by Hall Overton are perennially fresh, full of ensemble performance challenges and of opportunities for soloists. Reissued every few years on LP, then on CD, the recording is a basic repertoire item, as timeless as Bach, Stravinsky or Charlie Parker.Â
Rifftides reader Peter Myers writes:Â
In your liner notes from the great Christmas present CD I received, The Art and Soul of Houston Person, you mentioned a gifted 19-year-old jazz musician who plays few standards. I wondered if you were talking about Eldar. I was looking forward to seeing him at the Clearwater, FL Jazz Holiday back in October. I came away disappointed for the same reason. He played mostly his own compositions. Brilliant though he may be, his choice of music almost boredered on semi classical. I think he played one number, “Straight, No Chaser,” that was recognizable, and that you could tap your foot to. I wanted to approach him at the CD sales and signing booth and tell him, in a constructive, senior citizen way, but I did not.
A gifted nineteen-year-old jazz musician recently told me why he and his band play few standards. With touching earnestness, he explained that people under sixty don’t relate to standards and that his generation has no connection to the classic songs of the last century. He had just played a concert of compositions mostly written by him or his band members. It evidently escaped him that the audience, with a sizeable component of young people, gave its most enthusiastic response of the evening to an adventurous performance of Matt Dennis’s “Everything Happens to Me.” As his career progresses, it may dawn on our emerging young artist that when he provides his listeners a melody they can hold onto, they open up to him and accept considerable leeway when he goes beyond the familiar. That has been a fact of life in music at least as far back as Mozart.
Because of a digital malfunction the nature of which I am unequipped to explain, some of the pictures in the recent Rifftides archives have disappeared and been replaced by empty boxes. The artsjournal.com technical hierarchy assures me that the gremlins have been found and summarily executed, but their mischief remains until the Rifftides staff can repair it. That is a matter of one photo being restored at a time. The staff has plenty to do and will undertake restoration as time allows. If you are browsing the archive and disturbed by those ghostly frames, we offer the standard modern mea culpa in times of disaster large or small: we regret any inconvenience.
As readers of Rifftides know by now, The Wall Street Journal provides more than financial news and market reports. The newspaper has a Leisure And Arts section with extensive, varied, informed cultural coverage. It includes writing about music by several contributors. I am happy to be one on occasion. In today’s WSJ, Nat Hentoff brings together his friendship with Dizzy Gillespie and the need to care for sick or injured musicians with little or no health insurance.Â Â
…dying of pancreatic cancer, Dizzy, who had health insurance, said to Francis Forte, his oncologist, and himself a jazz guitarist: “I can’t give you any money, but I can let you use my name. Promise you’ll help musicians less fortunate than I am.” That was the Dizzy I knew, regarded by his sidemen as a teacher and mentor. From that conversation began the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund and the Dizzy Gillespie Cancer Institute at the hospital. By now more than a thousand jazz musicians unable to pay have received a full range of medical and surgical care by Dr. Forte and a network of more than 50 physicians in various specialties, financed by the hospital and donations.
To read the whole thing, go here.Â
As I write this, Dizzy Gillespie has been dead a few hours and KLON-FM is playing his recordings one after another. I’m sipping a red wine as close as I could find to the one he and I drank a lot of on a fall afternoon of listening and laughter in 1962 in his hotel room in Cleveland. I’m trying to summon the feelings of desolation and loss requisite when a friend and idol dies.Â
But there’s so much joy in his music, so much of his irrepressible spirit, so much of his foxy wisdom and humor, that John Birks Gillespie won’t allow me to sustain grief for more than a few seconds. At the other end of the phone line, up in Ojai, Gene Lees tells me that after someone called with the news, he stopped working, couldn’t write; a man who’s written yards about Birks, who wrote a book called Waiting For Dizzy.Â
I stare out into the rain, thinking about the next to last time I saw Diz in Los Angeles, backstage at the Universal Amphitheater following a middling concert by his quintet He was standing against a wall, relaxed, leaning on a broomstick loosely covered with bottlecaps, his famous rhythmstick. He shrugged and grinned. The shrug and the grin said, “What the hell, you can’t win ’em all.”
I think about the day I was walking down Broadway in New York and heard his unmistakable voice from the midst of the traffic roar. A car pulled up to the curb. Dizzy got out, bowed low and said, “Get in, please, you’re coming with us.” And we spent a crazy hour touring midtown Manhattan while Birks entertained everyone in and within hearing distance of the car with his descriptions of people, buildings and city life. Over the years, I had a least a dozen such experiences with Dizzy, and each of them had the warmth, spontaneity and unpredictability of his music. Multiply that by the hundreds, probably thousands, of people he treated with the same generosity and affection, and you begin to comprehend the dimesions of love and pleasure he created not only with his music but his being.Â
The last time I saw him in L.A., at the Greek Theater, he had just led his big band through two hours of perfection. There were moments that night when his trumpet had the glory, the impossible virtuosity, of the strongest performances of his youth. This time backstage there was a bear hug and a little dance and he said, “Rams, you dog, if I’d known you were out there, I’d have tried to play something.”Â
Daz McSkiven Voutzoroony, Slim Gaillard called him. Young trumpet players called him God. “It’s all in Arbans,” all in the famous trumpet exercise book, he used to say when he was asked about his technique. Right. And everything William Faulkner needed was in Webster’s dictionary. Birks and Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Oscar Pettiford, and a few others transformed jazz in the 1940s and the power of their transformation influenced American music in all of its aspects, from pop hits and supermarket Muzak to the tonal values and breathing habits of symphony trumpet sections. Gillespie’s mastery of rhythm has been an inspiration to players of every instrument, including drums. Show me a jazz drummer born after 1920 who doesn’t worship Diz and I’ll leave you to listen to some mediocre drumming.Â
Driving home through the storm tonight, I played a new compact disc by a group of musicians including the young trumpeter Tom Williams. As Williams blew phrases Clifford Brown developed after hearing Fats Navarro, who learned from Dizzy, who studied Roy Eldridge, Louis Armstrong’s great successor, I reflected on the “end of an era” clichÃ©s we hear when a great person dies. The end of an era, possibly. But not the end of a tradition. Thanks, Birks. See you in the land of Oobladee.
If you are at all disturbed by what we human beings are doing to one another in Israel, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Georgia, Russia, Colombia, the Koreas (sorry if IÂ left out your favorite), spend a few minutes with a man who died 98 years ago. I wish I’d thought of this, but my artsjournal.com colleague Terry Teachout gets credit for recalling a classic piece of theater–and a great American philosopher. To see that man revived on Terry’s blog, click here.
Today is the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records, and — what a coincidence — I have at hand an advance CD by the Blue Note 7. That is the all-star band of Blue Note artists onÂ the verge of a three months tour to celebrate the longevity of a company that has made a difference in music. The tour opens Thursday evening at the Moore Theater in Seattle. Friday, the band will be across the Cascade mountains in Yakima, Washington, at The Seasons Performance Hall. I will be there, listening intently after having the pleasure of introducing the band. It is my intention to give you a report reasonably soon after the event. For a list of cities and dates of the tour, go here.Â
Dena DeRose: Live At Jazz Standard, Volume Two (MaxJazz). Spontaneity and a sense of discovery continue in this second set by DeRose and her trio at the New York club. She, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson connect with one another and with an enthusiastic audience. The connection comes by way of taste, musicianship and a sense of shared enjoyment — outright fun, in fact. As in volume one, she concentrates on standard songs, but this time she includes three that are seldom done.Â
A concert in memory of Richard M. Sudhalter, the distinguished jazz musician, historian, biographer, and critic, will be held on Monday, January 12, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church,Â 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, New York City, from seven to ten p.m.â€¨â€¨Sudhalter died last September. For a Rifftides remembrance and appreciation of this extraordinary man, go here.Â
Freddie Hubbard’s family has released information about his funeral service.Â
Faithful Central Bible Church’s Tabernacle
321 North Eucalyptus Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90301
Bill Ramsay is a veteran saxophonist widely admired in jazz circles
across the US but little known to the public outside the Pacific Northwest.
Accomplished on alto and baritone saxes,he co-leads the Ramsay-Kleeb band and
is the baritone sparkplug of the SeattleÂ Repertory Jazz Orchestra. Ramsay has
been a first-call sub on the Count Basie band for decades.Â His good-natured jousting partnership
with tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb never fails to produce hard swing and spontaneous
Ramsay celebrates his 80th birthday this month. Jim Wilke
will observe the occasion on his Jazz Northwest radio program on Sunday, January
4 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Â Wilke will include previously unissued music by Ramsay’s big
band, recorded in 1961. To hear the program in the Seattle-Tacoma area, tune in
KPLU at 88.5 FM. To hear it on the internet, go here.Â Â
Ramsay and I are not related — except by mutual interests. Whenever I encounter him, he tells me to correct the spelling of my last name and I tell him to correct the spelling of his. Â Â