Rifftides: July 2006 Archives

I had just sat down to write a tribute to Hank Jones on his 88th birthday when I was alerted to a column about Hank by Mark Stryker in the Detroit Free Press. I may flatter myself that I know and understand a great deal about the elegant Mr. Jones, but on my best day I could not improve on what Stryker wrote. I wish Hank a happy birthday and enthusiastically recommend that you read Stryker's article. Here's a sample:

Jones' marriage of grace and guts created the template for a school of modern jazz pianists from Detroit -- he was later followed by Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris and Roland Hanna -- and his often overlooked influence has seeped into the bloodstream of jazz.

"His style is as profound and defined as any of the major masters," says (Bill) Charlap. "It's equal to Teddy Wilson, equal to Bill Evans, equal to Thelonious Monk, equal to Tommy Flanagan. It's as much a unique musical utterance and just as balanced in terms of intellectualism and feeling.

"With Hank Jones you hear the past, present and the future of jazz piano."

To read the whole thing, go here.

All I will add to Mark's list of recommended Jones albums is a suggestion that you also listen to Second Nature if you can find it on, say, eBay. It is a double-LP Savoy package that contains the 1956 quintet session vibraharpist Milt Jackson made with Jones, tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson, bassist Wendell Marshall and drummer Kenny Clarke. Jackson and Jones created magic together, and this was a glorious example of it. Short of Second Nature, a fair sampling of the session's tracks are on the Jackson CD called Jackson's Ville.

July 31, 2006 8:08 PM | | Comments (0)

One For All, The Lineup (Sharp Nine). I have groused often enough, maybe too often, about soundalike improvisers in the younger generations of jazz players. One For All have their audible influences but for the most part they are happy exceptions to the carbon copy rule. In addition, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, trumpeter Jim Rotondi, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth are a band, not just a bunch of guys thrown together to record. The album is consistently satisfying. One For All's version of "Sweet and Lovely" is a gem.

July 31, 2006 1:07 AM | | Comments (0)

Neil Blumofe, Piety and Desire (Horeb). If you know New Orleans, you recognize Piety and Desire as the names of streets. If you know Jewish liturgy, piety and desire have additional meaning. If you think you know New Orleans music, you are likely to find surprises in this melding of Jewish and secular wedding themes, protestant hymns, blues, street parade rhythms, the sensibilities of traditional and modern New Orleans jazz and the spirit of a city determined to recover from disaster. Blumofe is a cantor with a clear voice, a clear vision and roots in the Jewish and jazz traditions. His ten sidemen include drummer Jason Marsalis, bassist Roland Guerin, saxophonist Alex Coke and the formidable tuba player Matt Perrine.

July 31, 2006 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

Jan Lundgren in New York (Marshmallow). The great young Swedish pianist teams with two of the brightest rhythm players in New York, both named Washington; Peter on bass, Kenny on drums. Lundgren and the Washingtons give satisfaction in a program of classic standards plus originals by John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson and the pianist himself. With the exception of a speedy "Cherokee," Lundgren holds the fiery side of his nature in abeyance, but compensates with his touch, harmonic riches and gift of melodic invention. His refractive lines in solo on Shorter's "This is For Albert" are a particular pleasure. Ordering information for Marshmallow, a Japanese label, is available by e-mail.

July 31, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

This is not, precisely, a DVD. It is a portion of the only known video of a collaboration between Stan Getz and John Coltrane, tenor saxophonists of different styles who admired one another's work. (Coltrane once said of Getz, "We'd all sound like that if we could.") The occasion was a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1960. The rhythm section is Paul Chambers, bass; Jimmy Cobb, drums; and Oscar Peterson, who is seen at the beginning relieving Wynton Kelly at the piano. There is more video of this encounter, but I haven't been able to turn it up on the web, and it is not available commercially. Thanks to Bobby Shew for alerting me to this rarity. The piece Getz and Coltrane play, coincidentally, is "Rifftide." To see it, go here and scroll down to the third item. Be sure your RealPlayer is up to date.

July 31, 2006 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Ashley Kahn, The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, Norton. John Coltrane's dominance of the jazz of the 1960s intensified after he moved from Atlantic to Impulse!, a new label. His success made it possible for Impulse! (the exclamation point was part of its name) to record dozens of other important musicians as stylistically varied as Pee Wee Russell and Albert Ayler. Kahn's story-telling ability, reporter-like objectivity and thorough research make what might have been dull corporate history a valuable reference work that is also a good read.

July 31, 2006 1:03 AM | | Comments (0)

The right hand column sports new CD recommendations under Doug's Picks. DVD and book picks will follow in a few days.

July 31, 2006 1:01 AM |

The Rifftides staff received the following e-mail message from Portugal:

I'd visit your blog. I hope you visit my blog: http://www.jazzseen.blogspot.com./. If you don't understand Portuguese, don't worry, you can listen jazz.


Portuguese and Spanish are similar enough that I was able to make out some of the Jazzseen text in the reviews to which Luiz's blog is primarily devoted. But they are not why I suggest you pay it a visit. At the top of the page is a video of the classic "Manah Manah" routine from the Muppets Show. Click on the nose of the pink fuzzy bovine on the right to start it. Judging by the subtitles at the end, it was borrowed from German television. It's good for a smile in any language.

Have a nice weekend.

July 29, 2006 3:26 PM | | Comments (0)

One of the new Tulane University students reading Tom Sancton's Song For My Fathers sent this comment about the book and the Rifftides report on it:

As an entering freshman at Tulane, I can only give the highest praise for Sancton's book. My first visit to New Orleans, in March of 2004, is forever marked in my memory by the night I spent at Preservation Hall. I don't know if words can adequately desribe the kinship I feel with Sancton after learning that, nearly 40 years ago, he had the same experience, and had the fortune to learn from the musical masters of the Hall. thank you for highlighting this book.

Hannah Trostle

July 29, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Slow Drag Dead


four black Cadillac

high black hearse

and all

the people come

to hear the trom

bone bawl

look at Slow

Drag picture on

the Wall

He call again

Sweet Emma come

Big Jim come when He call

then honkie play

and honkie plunk

in Preservation


--Miller Williams, "Alcide Pavageau," from The Only World There Is

That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes
Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,

Building for some a legendary Quarter
Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles,
Everyone making love and going shares--

Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles
Others may license, grouping around their chairs
Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced

Far above rubies) to pretend their fads,
While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed
Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids.

On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes. My Crescent City
Is where your speech alone is understood,

And greeted as the natural noise of good,
Scattering long-haired grief and scored pity.

--Philip Larkin, "For Sidney Bechet," from The Whitsun Weddings

July 29, 2006 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

The Bix Beiderbecke Festival opens today in Beiderbecke's home town, Davenport, Iowa. It features Randy Sandke and, in a nice stroke of timing, so does The Wall Street Journal. My piece called "The Best Trumpeter You Never Heard Of" is in the Journal's Leisure and Arts section. Here are samples:

The trumpeter and sometime guitarist Randy Sandke receives neither the critical nor the popular attention that goes to fellow trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Dave Douglas -- to pick a couple of names out of the air -- but everything about his music says that he should. He is a technical and creative virtuoso. Regardless of the styles and eras of music he chooses for his projects, he seems unrestricted in interpretive power. He arranges and composes for large and small groups with a canny understanding of dynamics, instrumental textures, relative harmonic densities and the importance of space.

In seven fairly recent albums by Mr. Sandke, there is scarcely a routine moment. The settings range from a trumpet-piano duo to a 16-piece band. "Subway Ballet" finds Mr. Sandke at a peak of complexity in concept, instrumentation and daring. The CD's accessibility is partly because it portrays an aspect of something familiar, New York, the nation's second hometown even to those who have never been there. Not yet choreographed, the ballet music is so graphic that anyone capable of connecting sounds with images (all of us) can listen with eyes closed and supply the action.

To read the whole thing, go here, but hurry; the article is free to non-subscribers to the Journal Online for only seven days.

July 27, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

It turns out that many listeners are concerned with the issues covered in our Means of Delivery discussion. Here are comments from three Rifftides readers.

Like you, I'm pondering today's post re: means of delivery. We really must adjust to new realities, but I'm having a hard time believing that I will LIKE them. Downloading is fine -- IF I get uncompressed WAV files of the music. But NOT if what I get is compressed MP3 that sounds OK with rock music, or for listening in a noisy car, but not at home.

Jim Brown

Mr. Brown is an audio imaging expert with long recording experience.

To me the whole downloading thing seems like just a tease - except for iPod users, who are happily blasting these sounds into their earbuds. It's such a different experience of music, & each to his own, but what about printed matter, documentation, & all that? What about high-quality equipment, high-quality nondeafening sound, filling a room with music? The iPod/download audio experience is like AM radio at the beach - it has its place, & its merits, but it's a far cry from hearing live music or reclining on one's couch awash in beautiful sounds emitting from those speakers you paid a lot of money for.

Terri Hinte

Ms. Hinte is a free lance publicist and jazz archivist.

I understand that people still want to have a disc to hold and cover art to fondle. I do too. But, if the choice was between no physical disc, and no music, which would you take? It costs practically zero to keep lots of catalogue in digital print, and there are real costs to keeping things in physical print. If a company is making back catalogue available in any format, I count that as a plus.

I sell my music at my own download store. All of the offerings have pdf liner notes that can be downloaded, and the last two additions have pdfs of the full album art, so the listener could print the book and traycard if she so desired. The liner notes are free downloads separate from the purchased music, so one could even read the liners before deciding to buy, like the good old days of vinyl in the store.

Jeff Albert

I took a look and was impressed. Mr. Albert's graphic downloads are a right step in the direction of information about the music, but Jim Brown's caution about sound quality is a crucial point. Will listeners accustomed to CD clarity will settle for less?

July 27, 2006 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)

Yesterday's colloquy on the unavailabity of certain music in CD form brought the following thoughtful and informative response from a veteran of the jazz record business.

With due respect, I'm unconvinced that there is enough consumer demand for most deep jazz catalog to justify continued CD manufacturing and retailing in conventional stores. When I was running Verve/Polygram in the mid-to-late 90s, there was a good deal more stability in the jazz reissue and catalog market than there is now, and we still had to work hard to convince retailers to hold more titles of slow sellers. You'd be surprised at who some of those slow sellers were: Dizzy, Sarah, Mulligan, Konitz---just to name a quick handful of giants who were a tough sell to all but the Towers and the Virgins of those days. Still, there was enough aggregate activity so that we didn't see a lot of returns.

That began to change in 1996-7, as stores became saturated with product of all kinds, and we started to see a radical escalation in returns. Things kept getting worse from there. The record industry would have you believe it's all about downloading, but many other factors have brought the CD business to where it is now, beginning with outrageous pricing in an attempt to rescue a bad-margin business. The simple fact is that most catalog titles don't turn over fast enough to justify the retailers' cost of doing business, starting with real estate and shipping costs. You may want that Chubby Jackson CD, but you'll have to give me the math that says it's "absurd" for the label not to release the CD "at standard prices" (whatever they may be.) The economics of brick and mortar retail and consumer demand aren't quite as simple as they used to be, and if it was tough to sell Dizzy a decade ago, how does it make sense to try to get Chubby into whatever stores are left today?

Which makes the "long tail" of digital distribution the only hope for the continued existence of the highways and the back roads of the riches of our recorded musical archives. All of the costs associated with hard goods manufacturing and distribution of CDs disappear in the digital world. Both the casual consumer and hard core fan have not only a deeper selection and immediate availability to attract them, but the recommendation and filtering systems potentially available to everyone are much more interactive and rich. The old "read about it, hear it on the radio, buy it" paradigm is being embellished in all sorts of creative ways, blogs such as Rifftides among them.

Big problems and hurdles exist. It's proving to be a nightmare for the huge recording conglomerates to shift from a hard goods business model to a digital one. The financial projection of download sales is an unsettled and slippery task for CFOs of labels large and small. And speaking of bad margins, it's impossible at present to predict if or how a standard economic system will develop. It's easier to predict that the bigger companies will continue to attempt to deprive the creators of music of their fair share of these tiny pies called downloads. But the upside for the new creators of jazz is that digital economics are in their favor. The big conglomerates simply aren't necessary any more to get their music out and spread the word.

Certainly for jazz fans, the issues of booklet annotation, personnel listings, recording information, etc. must be addressed better than iTunes or the other services are doing it now. Like everyone else, I'd like to see some better digital "packages" created. And I have no doubt there will be in time.

While I treasure my thousands of vinyl LPs and CDs just as much as any collector, I'm much more concerned about the ongoing health of the global library of recorded music, and its continued availability to our culture. If Paul Desmond's, Chubby Jackson's, or Miles Davis's music is to survive---and it must---it will do so online. Get used to it.

Thanks again for Rifftides.

Chuck Mitchell

I am encouraged by Mr. Mitchell's optimism that useable packaging and notes will become available in digital downloads. Why not now? The technology exists.

The standard price I had in mind for the nonexistent Verve Chubby Jackson CD was $15.00 or $16.00, not the $30.49, plus shipping, that Amazon is asking for the Japanese import edition.

July 26, 2006 1:06 AM | | Comments (1)

Mention of Chubby Jackson's album Chubby's Back as a digital download brought this account of the session that produced it.


I was at the session in 1957 when this album was recorded. I was editor of Down Beat at the time, and a close friend of Chubby's, and I had been asked to write the liner notes.

Bill Harris and Don Lamond, ex-Hermanites along with Jackson, had been flown in from Florida to do the date--the rest of the musicians were Chicagoans, all of whom were determined to prove that New York and Los Angeles were not the sole sources of top players.

The band, except for Harris and Lamond, had rehearsed the charts and were raring to go--Chubby had them ready.

The entire album was cut one night (a Sunday if I recall) in just two three-hour sessions that ended at about 1 a.m. The engineer was the legendary Bill Putnam, a true innovator of modern recording techniques.

Enthusiasm in the studio was contagious, with trumpeter Don Jacoby and Chubby being the most vociferous. Bill Harris, quiet and professorial as always, played beautifully. Lamond was inspirational, and the band responded blazingly to his drive. A couple of the studio playbacks that were unmistakably master takes brought cheers from the band as they ended.

I have attended a great many recording sessions in subsequent years, both as observer and as a producer, but I can't recall another that had this sort of atmosphere. When it finished, nobody wanted to go home.

I'd love to hear it on CD, carefully mastered and transferred to digital. I think it would be great listening.

Jack Tracy

You will find a biography of Jackson here.

July 26, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Rifftides Reader Marc Myers writes from New York City:

Some jazz tidbits...

1. Desmond's Bridge Over Troubled Water is an iTunes download for $9.90. This is an absolute gem (thanks so much for turning me onto it). Wow.

2. The rare and expensive import, Chubby's Back (Chubby Jackson, about whom not enough has been written or re-released) is a $6.90 iTunes download. Chubby's Back is a fun album--but I did have to do a Google search for the personnel, which turned up at a Tiny Kahn site.*

DR: It is absurd that Verve won't reissue Bridge Over Troubled Water on CD. As for Chubby's Back, originally on the Argo label, Verve owns the master to that, too, and they could easily put it on CD for domestic consumption at standard prices. People still want to own albums with packaging and liner notes. I don't consider myself a technological troglodyte, but I do not welcome a future in which I have to buy an iPod or a computer with a CD burner in order to hear music that becomes available only through digital downloads. I've written about this recently in connection with the disappearance of other important CDs. It brought a fair amount of comment.

MM: I know. My absolute joy after a hard week of reporting and writing is spending two hours in Tower in NYC (Lincoln Center). The place is slowly and steadily becoming a dump. The racks aren't managed, new stuff isn't in stock, headphones are busted. Hence, the iPod add-on, since "shopping" around the iTunes site allows you to listen to clips and find stuff that isn't available on CD. Part of the problem is that CDs are terribly overpriced, and many people are running out of room in their homes. I'm at the point where I'll buy CDs only if it's a wonderfully produced classic. Otherwise, I'll download it. I had a choice--spend $70 on Desmond and Jackson CDs from Japan or spend $18 for both via iTunes download. The download won--and the sound is great.
MM: 3. I watched an odd, colorful 1966 film the other night, Made in Paris, with Ann-Margaret and Louis Jourdan. The big surprise was that Count Basie and Mongo Santamaria are in it (swinging nightclub cameos). We should start a list of films in which jazz artists appear (i.e. Young Man with a Horn, etc.). Best part of Made In Paris was seeing Lockjaw Davis take a solo, though way too brief. Wish they'd release the entire footage v. chopped song for flick. Be fun to see entire filmed appearance. Lockjaw--talk about Mr. Cool!

DR: Made in Paris sounds intriguing. I looked for it on Netflix and Amazon and did a general web search. It seems not to be available on either DVD or VHS.

MM: I caught it on Turner Classic Movies

DR: Young Man With a Horn is a cliched but powerful film with Kirk Douglas as Rick Martin, who is, more or less, Bix Beiderbecke. The only real musicians who appear in it are Hoagy Carmichael in a character role and Louis Armstrong, uncredited, as himself.

*Date: March 31, 1957
Location: Chicago
Chubby Jackson (ldr), Don Geraci, John Howell, Don Jacoby, Joe Silva (t), Cy Touff (btp), Bill Harris, Tom Shepard (tb), Howard Davis (as), Sandy Mosse, Vito Price (ts), Bill Calkins (bar), Remo Biondi, Jimmy Gourley (g), Marty Rubenstein (p), Chubby Jackson (b), Don Lamond (d), Tiny Kahn (a)

July 25, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)

Each summer, Tulane University in New Orleans sends the coming autumn's entering students a book to read. Tulane's goal in its reading project is "to provide new students with a shared intellectual experience through the reading and discussion of a common book and a campus-wide intellectual dialogue that begins during orientation and continues throughout the fall semester."

This year, Tulane's book is Song For My Fathers, Tom Sancton's moving account of growing up white and middle class in New Orleans and learning about life from his own father and from the old black men who played at Preservation Hall. Sancton's insights into what makes the city tick, the characters of the last generation of original New Orleans jazz musicians and the varieties of human relationships, are bound to enrich the development of Tulane's new students. It will certainly help them understand some of the reasons why so many Orleanians are emotionally committed to the revival of a city where the environment, meteorology and common sense say it should never have been built.

Traditional New Orleans jazz is not at the top of the listening lists of many people under the age of seventy. And yet, such hip modern musicians as Steven Bernstein, Randy Sandke and Don Byron take a genuine interest in jazz from the 1920s and thirties not because of its quaintness but because of its content and passion. Anyone who pays serious attention to the musical heroes of Sancton's book--George Lewis, George Guesnon, Joe Watkins, Papa Celestin, Punch Miller, Narvin Kimball and the rest--will get the bonus of deeper knowledge and appreciation of all the jazz that followed

If you wish to hear how well Sancton learned from George Lewis to play the clarinet, try this album. He is a world-class journalist who ran TIME's Paris bureau for two decades, and he lives in Paris now, but Song For My Fathers and his playing leave no doubt about where his heart is.

July 24, 2006 1:14 PM | | Comments (0)

Il Bello Del Jazz

The Italian pianist Roberto Magris, who operates a band called Europlane, is out with a new CD featuring a distinguished guest. In his mid-forties, Magris is one of those European artists so steeped in jazz that in a blindfold test a listener--no matter how perceptive--would be unlikely to conclude that he was hearing somone not from the United States. In Il Bello Del Jazz, Magris adds to his quartet Herb Geller, the American alto saxophonist who for decades has made Hamburg, Germany his headquarters. At seventy-seven, Geller retains the fire of his youth as a no-holds-barred bebopper and brings to his ballad playing a distillation of the creamy sound and conception that Benny Carter inspired in him when Geller was a boy.

I have heard no more ravishing instrumental version of the Billie Holiday standby "Some Other Spring" than the duo treatment it gets from Magris and Geller. Both of them explore the bop sides of their natures in Magris's "Parker's Pen," which also has an impressive solo from the Croatian guitarist Darko Jurkovic. The repertoire is nicely balanced between established but not over-performed songs ("Key Largo," "A New Town is a Blue Town," "Here I'll Stay") and stimulating new pieces by Magris and Geller. Geller's "Stray Form," alluding in the title and the melodic content to Billy Strayhorn, and Magris's title tune are highlights. Bassist Rudi Engel, a German, and Magris's fellow Italian, drummer Gabriele Centis, round out an international group that erases boundaries.

Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet

What attracted me to Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet, once Rifftides reader Ted Allen called our attention to it in the recent roundup of listeners' choices, was Hans Teuber. Teuber is the talented Seattle reed and woodwind player whose jazz work, particularly on alto saxophone, captivated me years ago. There is plenty of Teuber to appreciate here, and although it took me a couple of hearings to get past, or accommodate myself to, the funk and hip-hop aspects of the music, the CD has boogied its way onto my current play list. Skerik, who goes by only that name, is the tenor saxophonist and leader. The instrumentation also includes trumpet, trombone, drums and organ.

Boy, does it ever include organ. When Joe Doria's Hammond B-3 and Craig Flory's baritone sax are in full voice, with the other horns laying down Mingus-like unison commentary, you may as well invite your neighbors to the party because they're not going to get any sleep. For all the rambunctiousness, Skerik manages to avoid what makes so many funk bands boring--a continuous undifferentiated dynamic level. Much of the writing here is subtle and, occasionally, flat-out funny. As on the raucous concerto grosso called "Fry His Ass," Skerik's gutbucket tenor solos approach but never quite go over the edge. Flory does a convincing Gerry Mulligan on "Song for Bad." This is good-time music with more depth than at first meets the ear.

The name of the band rang a bell. A little research suggests that it was inspired by a phrase that came from Harry J. Anslinger, the mission-driven first chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a job he held from 1930 to 1962. "Syncopated Taint" is how he characterized what he said jazz and marijuana were doing to the nation in the 1930s. To learn more about Anslinger, who, oddly, is not in the pantheon of the current anti-drug warriors, go here.

July 21, 2006 5:52 PM | | Comments (0)

Malachi Thompson, the sparkling, exploratory, Chicago jazz trumpeter who died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of fifty-six, recorded a flurry of CDs in his last decade. Many of Thompson's albums for his hometown label Delmark pulled off the demanding trick of looking simultaneously forward and back. Following an initial seige of cancer, his renaissance began in 1992 with Lift Every Voice and included Buddy Bolden's Rag, 47th Street and one of the last and most effective with his Africa Brass ensemble, Blue Jazz. Critic Howard Reich has an appreciation of Thompson and a review of his career in the Chicago Tribune. You'll have to register to read it online. Registration is free.

July 20, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Thank you so much for the great service you did for all serious jazz lovers regarding Concord's discontinuing so many important titles. This is infuriating and exasperating news. Key titles by Miles, Trane, and so many others will soon be axed. It's disgusting. I was already p____d off when they canned Terre Hinte. This is too much.

Jan Stevens

Jan Stevens is the proprietor of the The Bill Evans Web Pages.

Thanks for the heads-up on Concord Records' Summer Blowout--and subsequent unavailability of a lot of great recordings. Having read your piece EARLY this morning, I immediately went to the Concord website and ordered the Bill Evans Riverside collection. My Evans LPs are getting pretty scratchy and I wouldn't want to be without those in future.

John Birchard

I'm sure this means the end of the availability of these titles as CDs (and I bought a pantload of them at the beginning of the week, since once you hit 30 they are an astonishing $2.98 each)--but that may not mean that they disappear. For some time, Verve has been making portions of its catalogue available on a download-only basis (viz., Herb and Lorraine Geller's early recordings), and if Concord has any sense, it will do the same. Many independent labels--like New York City's wonderful Sunnyside--are decreasing their CD runs and relying on downloads. Here's hoping Concord is just switching formats, so that the only unpleasant side effect will be the need for some of us to do the same.

Peter Levin

Two thoughts on today's post about Concord and OJC:

I suspect Concord is going with the times and temper of the brick-and-mortar retail business and preparing to move much of its catalog to online retailers, much as Verve has done in the past couple of years.

The slow turnover of jazz CDs at retail, combined with unreasonable pricing in the entire industry, is changing the market for recorded jazz irrevocably. Two of the largest jazz (and classical) catalog accounts, Barnes & Noble and Borders, have recently declared their intentions to reduce floor space devoted to CDs in favor of DVDs and other items. What we call "deep catalog" is bound to take a big hit; but I wouldn't necessarily assume that much of this music will be "out of print" forever. One will just have to find it online.

In fact, jazz and classical music are just the leading edge of this trend. A staggering percentage of the staggering number of CDs still released annually have a limited to bleak future in the chain stores.

Which leads me to my second thought, actually a recommendation: Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, a new book that provides some clearly expressed theory about digital age retail economics. It only takes an evening to read, and I'd be interested to hear what your thoughts are about the book as it relates to the jazz "marketplace."

Chuck Mitchell

If the download is the future medium for music, I hope that Mr. Levin's and Mr. Mitchell's forecast for Concord is accurate. One place younger buyers are not going for music, in addition to the chain book stores Mr. Mitchell mentions, is your friendly corner CD shop. Here is some of what Alex Williams wrote in Sunday's New York Times.

In the era of iTunes and MySpace, the customer base that still thinks of recorded music as a physical commodity (that is, a CD), as opposed to a digital file to be downloaded, is shrinking and aging, further imperiling record stores already under pressure from mass-market discounters like Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

To read the whole thing, go here.

July 20, 2006 1:04 AM | | Comments (2)

It was over in three seconds. I had broken out my moderately refurbished road bike early in the morning and taken it for its first real ride in a couple of years, a break from my recent steady routine of mountain biking. Along the trail near where the Naches River flows into the Yakima, I came up behind a short, stocky, shirtless runner sticking to the right side of the path. To be safe, I drifted way to the left. Just as I was nearly even with him, he leaped--still running--directly in front of me.

"Whoa, whoa whoa," I yelled, barely grazing him.

"Sorry, Dude," he yelled. "Snake."

I looked over my shoulder. A three-and-a-half-footer was making its way across the trail. I didn't go back to see if it was a rattler.

July 20, 2006 1:03 AM | | Comments (0)

Recordings are a commodity. Companies sell them to make money. When a CD stops selling briskly, only a label willing to make money slowly over a period of years, or one that feels a cultural obligation, keeps it in the catalog. For decades, the Fantasy complex of labels took the long view. Its Original Jazz Classics program maintained supplies of LPs, then CDs, that sold slowly but steadily. The collection preserved a wide slice of music essential to American culture. Companies that make decisions based on quarterly earnings reports tend not to live by the long sales haul. A few months ago, Concord Records, owned by a group of investors, bought Fantasy.

On July 10, writing of good old Miles Davis and Cal Tjader albums, I observed:

Concord deserves credit for keeping this and other valuable music available in the Fantasy Original Jazz Classics reissue program. But how long the OJC program will last is anybody's guess. I recommend prompt action if you want to acquire these and other CDs in the OJC series.

Concord has just made plain how long that invaluable treasury of recordings of American music will last. It will last while supplies do. The warehouse is being cleared. Concord's "Summer Blowout Sale" is not subtitled "last chance," but the not-so-fine print on the company's web page leaves no doubt. It bears the phrase, "discontinued titles."

Special bundled pricing applies only to the discontinued titles included in the Summer Blowout Sale section of the online store. While supplies last. All sales are final.

Among the discontinued titles are the massive box sets of John Coltrane's complete Prestige recordings, the complete Riverside recordings of Bill Evans, and more than three hundred CDs in jazz, gospel, blues, Latin and other genres. This is money-saving information for current buyers, but bad news for the next generation of listeners, who will have to look on E-Bay or at garage sales for some of the most important music of the last half of the twentieth century. It seems that dire predictions about the fate of the OJCs under Concord's stewardship are coming true.

It is not difficult to understand why so many musicians of all generations are taking their recording, distribution and sales fate into their own hands. They want their music to survive the oversight of stockholders and accountants. Large-scale capitalism works but, except for the occasional spectacular sale of a Van Gogh or Hockney, it doesn't work for the preservation of art. Small-scale entrepreneurial capitalism may be better for serious musicians unlikely to attract mass audiences.

July 19, 2006 1:06 AM | | Comments (1)

In the final installment of Listeners' Choices, Sam Stephenson mentioned Two Jims and Zoot and I mentioned indignation over that great 1964 album remaining out of print. It was guitarist Jimmy Raney's date, with Jim Hall also on guitar; Zoot Sims, tenor saxophone; Steve Swallow, bass and Osie Johnson, drums. Devra Hall reports on two sources for the album.

This album included the first recording of dad's tune "All Across the City"; he wrote it for that record date. It was on Mainstream Records and they released a CD as well as an LP. (I have the CD.) The LP was also reissued under the title Otra Vez. Then in October 1990 Mobile Fidelity reissued it on CD.

Outrageous! On ebay someone in Germany is selling the Mobile Fidelity CD for $91 (plus shipping, I imagine).

Or you can buy the LP (Otra Vez) for $4.95 plus 2.60 shipping.

Ms. Hall, aka Devra DoWrite, blogs here.

July 19, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Welcome to the final installment of messages from Rifftides readers sharing with all of us what you have been listening to.

·I enjoy reading your blog. The following is what have been listening to recently.

Dave Holland Quintet, Prime Directive. I have been listening to this album for the last few weeks. It makes me smile.

Tom Jobim & Elis Regina, Elis and Tom. I got this after I saw your link to the YouTube video of them singing "Waters of March". Thank you for introducing me to this music.

Vanitha Ragunathan
Melbourne, Australia

·Recent music (5-CD changer):
Carmell Jones, Mosaic Select #2
J R Monterose/Tommy Flanagan, A Little Pleasure
Blue Mitchell, Blue's Moods

TD (prefer anonymity)
Hardenburgh, NY (rural Catskills), USA

·Three most recent iPod additions:
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Inner Mounting Flame
Jose Gonzalez, Veneer
Los Lonely Boys, Diamonds EP

Jason Crane
Rochester, New York, USA

·Paul Desmond: Bridge Over Troubled Water. (A&M, now a
Japanese import). With Herbie Hancock playing dreamy
Rhodes piano, Ron Carter, Airto on drums (!) with Don
Sebesky arrangements, "Scarborough Fair" in 5/4!, all
tunes by Paul Simon. In my car: Bill Evans and Bob Brookmeyer (on two
pianos!) The Ivory Hunters, with Percy Heath and
Connie Kay.

Jan Stevens
Passaic County, New Jersey, USA

·Being old-fashioned and fond of fine rhythm sections, I have been
enjoying The Swing Kings, led by pianist Ray Kennedy, with Bucky
Pizzarelli on guitar and Ken Peplowski on clarinet. For a more mellow clarinet, I've enjoyed Easy to Remember, by Ken Peplowski, which has some soothing ballads, a vocal by Bobby Short and a nice version of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," a tune I've always liked.

Tracy Warner
Wenatchee, Washington, USA

·"Rising Sun" from the Brubeck Quartet's Jazz Impressions of Japan.

Owen Cordle
Cary, North Carolina, USA

·I am currently listening to the Ray Charles and Betty Carter duet album and also to Ralph Sharon Plays the Harry Warren Songbook. Enjoy the blog very much.

Alonso Jasso
San Antonio, Texas, USA

·Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet

Ted Allen
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

·The Bill Holman Band Live What an arranger. What a band.

Dave Ramsey
Wenatchee, Washington, USA

Spent the weekend listening to Bird. Every time I return to the Master, I'm amazed at his music. The Royal Roost broadcasts kept taking my breath away all weekend.

Bird Lives , indeed!

- Jeff Rzepiela

·Here's what I'm wearing out this summer.
Branford Marsalis, A Love Supreme Live
Branford Marsalis, Eternal
John Coltrane,Transition
Buddy DeFranco, Quartets w/Sonny Clark (Mosaic) [Out of print - DR]
Larance Marable,Tenorman
Brad Mehldau, Day is Done
Pee Wee Russell, Swingin' with Pee Wee
Messiaen, Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus (both the Serkin and Aimard recordings)
Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time (Tashi)
Over the Rhine, Ohio
Over the Rhine, Drunkards Prayer
Meshell Ndgeocello, Comfort Woman
Zoot Sims At E.J.'s
Zoot Sims, Two Jims and a Zoot [Out of print. I demand an investigation - DR]

It's been a helluva summer so far. I can't get enough of this stuff.
I've been on the road a lot and I've absolutely worn this stuff out on my
iPod. I resisted the iPod for a long time but it is a beautiful
convenience for travel.

Sam Stephenson
Pittsboro, North Carolina, USA

That flurry ends our survey. You brought to my attention music I didn't know existed; Over The Rhine and the Brad Mehldau-Renee Fleming collaboration, for instance, not to mention Skerk's Syncopated Taint Sextet. I hope that you made discoveries, too. Maybe we'll do this again sometime, but not until the Rifftides staff's fingers, eyes and patience have recovered from entering the code for all of those links.

Thanks to everyone who responded. Good listening to you all.

July 18, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Ah, well, over the weekend so many more of you responded to the request for your current listening choices that we can't wrap it up today after all. If you wish to understand the genesis of these listings, go here. But--I am sorry--it's too late to contribute. At some point, we have to get back to business as usual, whatever that is, so the arbitrary cutoff is hereby imposed. The final batch will appear in tomorrow's Rifftides edition, or whatever you call a blog installment.

·The most recent things on my listening agenda:
Kronos Quartet: Plays Music of Bill Evans and Monk Suite.
Jack Sheldon: California Cool

Jack Brownlow
Seattle, Washington, USA

·Bob Brookmeyer's most recent New Art Orchestra collection, Spirit Music, which has, no surprise, great brass arrangements and performances, and demonstrates that Europeans can swing.
A couple of recently remastered good ole' good ones: The Complete Studio Recordings of the Gerry Mulligan Sextet, featuring, among others, Messrs Brookmeyer and Art Farmer; and the Mosaic box of the Phillips/Verve Dizzy Gillespie small group recordings, which is the best Father's Day present I've ever received.
I've also been playing Magnus Lindberg's Clarinet Concerto, simply one of the most engaging pieces of new "legit" music I've heard in a long time. Finally, for the obvious reasons, I've been listening to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's recording of the Bach cantatas BVW 82 and 199. Those who have never heard Ms. Lierberson's angelic voice do not know what they are missing. RIP.

Steven Marks
Potomac, Maryland, USA

·I find as I get older that I'm listening more and more to the music that first turned me on to jazz and not so much to what's currently being released. So today it was Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra on Decca (1936 to 1938) featuring a couple of my favorite tunes that nobody does, "Ev'ntide" and "Lyin' To Myself". Also Carmen McCrae Live at Donte's, with Jimmy Rowles giving a master class in the art of the accompanist.

Mike Greensill
St. Helena, California, USA

Mr. Greensill has himself given a few master classes as the accompanist to, among others, Wesla Whitfield.

·I discovered your site just by coincidence while I googled George Mraz's Morava. Currently I listen to Abbey Lincoln's The World Is Falling Down (thanks a lot, Gary Giddins!), with stellar playing from Clark Terry and the late Jackie McLean. Also on the desk is the wonderful Mary Stallings with her Live at the Village Vanguard , including great playing and arrangements from Eric Reed . When will be there a follow-up from this great but neglected singer? Yes, and last but not at least there is Paul Reddick, a great Canadian singer, songwriter-poet and harmonica player. I saw him recently in a small club in Leverkusen (thats close to Cologne, Germany) playing and singing his heart out for 6 (!) listeners. His albums Rattlebag and Villanelle are marvelous stuff and offer great production and guitar playing from Colin Linden. Oh yeah, did I mention Otis Rush with his intense 1976 live recording just recently reissued by Delmark?.It's a gas and an all-time-classic!

Clemens Zahn
Cologne, Germany

·Two weeks ago, I finally obtained a copy of Woody Herman's Verve LP Woody Herman '58 that has some Bill Harris solos, among others, with most of the writing by Gene Roland, but there is also a Bill Holman original and one by Al Cohn called "Try To Forget."

I have also been listening to a couple of CDs that I recently acquired. One is the latest by Henry Francis' small swing group The Swing Legacy. Superb in all respects, as was the first disc by this swinging jump band issued around 1999. Sound samples and ordering info at www.swinglegacy.com.

The other CD is called "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" and features music from the University of New Hampshire's Traditional Jazz Series. Proceeds from sales go to Music Cares, Hurricane Relief 2005, and American Library Association, Katrina Relief Fund. Learn more at http://www.izaak.unh.edu/nhltj/. It is $20 well spent.

Russ Chase
Kendall Park, New Jersey, USA

·Da Vida Bella - a two-CD set of wonderful solo piano performances by 30 great players from Gerald Wiggins to Gerald Clayton. The album includes a lovely "If You Could See Me Now" by Alan Broadbent, a take-no-prisoners version of "A Night In Tunisia" by Patrice Rushen and tracks from, among others, Kenny Barron, Dick Hyman, Dave Grusin, Cedar Walton, Bill Mays, Roger Kellaway, Bob Florence, Clare Fischer and Mike Melvoin, who also produced this marvelous collection. This album was recorded as a tribute to dedicated fan and patron David Abell, and released in conjunction with a concert in his honor June 2005 at UCLA. It now serves as a touching and fitting memorial, since David died in March. As far as I know, Da Vida Bella has not been released commercially and is available only from Friends of Jazz UCLA with proceeds going to the David Abell Scholarship Fund for the Jazz Studies Program. For info: e-mail Susan Townsley or call (310) 206-3269.

Also on my turntable or in the CD player this past week:

Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band - Now Hear Our Meanin'

Bruce Brown (pianist/singer/songwriter and one of the world's great undiscovered talents) - Love Finds You

Pat LaBarbera Quintet featuring Randy Brecker - Crossing The Line (Jazz Compass)

Sandi Shoemake - Sophisticated Lady

Mulgrew Miller - With Our Own Eyes

Charles Lloyd Quartet (with Gabor Szabo, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) - Of Course, Of Course. This 1965 Columbia album was out of print for years and was never reissued on CD...until recently. Mosaic has just released it as part of their new 'Singles' series.

Dick McGarvin
Van Nuys, California, USA

·I've been totally immersed in the 4-CD set, The Dutch Jazz Orchestra Plays the Music of Billy Strayhorn in preparation for a course I gave this past week at the Chautauqua Institution. This is the music that the musicologist Walter van de Leur uncovered in the 1990s. Most of the music is original compositions for jazz orchestra, but there is
one full CD of gorgeous Strayhorn arrangements of standards. If you like Billy Strayhorn's music with Ellington, you will be richly rewarded by these works which, for the most part, were never recorded or performed during Strayhorn's lifetime.

Peter Luce
Rochester, New York, USA

·Gerry Mulligan meets Johnny Hodges, with Claude Williamson, piano, Buddy Clark, bass, Mel Lewis, drums, July 1960. A profoundly beautiful recording--"Shady Side" as the supreme gem among gems. This won't be dated until music itself is.

Peter Bergmann
Berlin, Germany

Finally in this penultimate group of listeners' choices, we have an essay from Larry Kart, one of our most esteemed and penetrating critics. It's a pleasure to have him aboard.

·I'm working my way through a biggish batch of Hep label reissues of 1939-53 big band material -- Teddy Wilson from '39, Charlie Barnet's 1947 Town Hall Concert, three by Sam Donohue, '49'-53 Claude Thornhill, Jimmy Dorsey from '46, et al. So far I'm struck by how unique, fine, and still fresh the latish Thornhill material is (does anyone know who among Lee Katzman, Tom Patton, and Chuck Speights takes that lovely-eerie trumpet solo on "Oh You Beautiful Doll"? -- it's worthy of Bobby Hackett or Tony Fruscella); by the sheer fieryness of that '47 Barnet band (with Clark Terry and the stratospheric yet sweet-toned Jimmy Nottingham in the trumpet section, and swinging drummer Dick Shanahan); the distinctive, throaty-reedy timbre of the Donohue band, and the classiness of featured trumpeter John Best in the band's U.S. Navy version (his sectionmates were Conrad Gozzo, Frank Beach, and Don Jacoby); the humane warmth of the Dorsey band (I like Jimmy on alto especially) and the fact that on a track from July 1944, "All the Things You Ain't," trombonist Sonny Lee's solo makes use of the "Salt Peanuts" figure -- this from a date that included a chart, "Grand Central Getaway," that Dizzy Gillespie wrote for the band). And there's lots more.

Thinking these thoughts, I also began to think about the life-stories behind this music -- the various interactions between these leaders, their audiences, and the larger worlds (the music business, and the external social-historical world as a whole) in which these music makers made their way. About Barnet, who sank his heart and much of his ample inheritance into his bands and also into his taste for high living (no regrets for him, it seems); about Wilson (whose marvelous 1939 band failed to make its way commercially); about Donohue (whose service band was felt by many to be was superior to Artie Shaw's [which Donohue had taken over and remade] and Glenn Miller's but who belatedly entered a post-war market without his core musicians because of the Navy's point system of discharges); about the equivocal, vulnerable temperaments of Dorsey and Thornhill and the relatively early deaths of those two and Donohue; about the two AFM recording bans, the wartime entertainment tax that lingered on afterwards and did much damage to live music, etc. What if we had the power to preserve and protect in all this what was worth preserving and protecting, while shunting aside or even destroying all that threatened what was lovely and living here? Perhaps to even ask the question -- given the weight and the sometimes ghastly connectedness of all that we know was at stake here, not to mention all that was at stake or connected to what was at stake here that we aren't or can't be aware of -- is a form of absurdity.

Larry Kart
Highland Park, Illinois, USA

July 17, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Here is the third report on the survey of what Rifftides readers are listening to these days.

·Today I have two CDs in my car player: A lovely duo recording by Randy Sandke and Dick Hyman, and a CD reissue of one of my favorite LPs, Boss of the Blues, with Joe Turner and a dynamite studio band arranged by Ernie Wilkins.

Bill Crow
New City, New York, USA

·I'm currently knocked out by a net recording from website Dimeadozen from Vienna's Opera House in June 2006 of Sergio Mendes current band. How he has manged to update his sound after 40 years amazes me. The Austrian audience is grooving, just shows how Brazilian music can get to the most staid (assumed) audience.

I've also just discovered Duke's Cosmic Scene, great stuff, Gonzalves and Terry are sublime.

Plus a lovely record by Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi Fellini Jazz with Chris Potter, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Lovely stuff from all concerned with some exquisite themes.

Don Emanuel
Kent, England

·I have been utilizing my aging El Camino recently. Its tape deck won't play bebop. That said, I've been listening to a home-made compilation of Benny Goodman material from the 1940's Columbia era, with the likes of Mel Powell, Sid Catlett, Vido Musso, Cootie Williams, Billy Butterfield, Dave Tough, Peggy Lee, Lou McGarrity and those fine Eddie Sauter arrangements such as "Benny Rides Again," "Perfidia," "Scatterbrain," "The Man I Love," if you will. Indeed, at the end of the day I'm ready for some Artie Shaw.

R.H. Godfrey
Wenatchee, Washington, USA

A virtuoso double trifecta of words and phrases. Bravo, Mr Godfrey.

·Listening to Erik Truffaz's Face a Face

Kevin Wehner
Kansas City, Missouri, USA

·Lee Morgan, Tom Cat (car)
John Coltrane, Live Trane: The European Tours (iPod)

Patrick J. Whittle
Washington, DC, USA

·The car CD changer currently has on:
Trio de Paz, Somewhere
Very recently:
Louis Armstrong, In Scandinavia Vol 1
Bryn Terfel, An Die Musik: Schubert favorites
Charlie Parker Studio Chronicle 1940-1948 discs C & D
Oscar Peterson Trio At the Stratford Shakespearean Festival
Fredrik Ullen, Ligeti Complete piano music
Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus
Karrin Allyson, Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane

Garret Gannuch
Denver, Colorado, USA

·Pianist Frank Kimbrough's new CD Play, and: Various Artists: From Ragtime to Rock: A History of American Music This rare LP (supposed only 100 were pressed) features live performances from the January 13, 1970 Today Show, including Lionel Hampton, Bud Freeman, Dave Brubeck & Gerry Mulligan, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and more. Issued by Mrs. Paul's Kitchens!

Ken Dryden
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

·Right now, I'm listening to and enjoying Change Of Heart by Martin Speake Quartet on ECM, and the Dutch Jazz Orchestra's 1996 collection of Billy Strayhorn compositions, Portrait Of A Silk Thread. Also, Brad Mehldau's and Renee Fleming's Love Sublime on Nonesuch, but I don't know how I feel about that one yet. I enjoy Rifftides. Thanks for keeping it going.

Chuck Mitchell
Kinnelon, New Jersey, USA

·Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band at the Olympia, Paris, Nov.
19, 1960
, a 2-CD set.

Jon Foley
Providence, Rhode Island, USA

·Reuben Rogers, The Things I Am
Tim Garland, If The Sea Replied
Frank Kimbrough, Play
Ray Brown, Something For Lester
Fay Claassen is a wonderful and extremely inventive singer. Her recording titled RHyTHMS & RHyMeS ( yes, that's the correct typeset ) is very fine indeed with a wonderful arrangement of "Seven Steps to Heaven," but the whole recording is at a very high standard. Toots Thielemans; Joe Locke; Steve Davis; Kenny Werner assist.

Tom Marcello
Webster, New York USA

Tomorrow, the Rifftides staff has a day of rest. The final batch of listeners' choices will appear on Monday, so if you have been holding back, now's the time to send yours.

July 15, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Entries are still arriving in the worldwide Rifftides listeners' sweepstakes (no losers, no prizes). It is not too late to join. All civil responses will be published. Simply send an e-mail message telling us your current listening choice. Please include your name and where you live. Here is the second installment.

·Jimmy Witherspoon featuring Ben Webster. And for the past week, it was Charlie Byrd/Herb Ellis. Must have played that record twenty times.

Sean Cannon
Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, USA

·Stan Kenton: West Side Story
Oscar Peterson: West Side Story
Andre Previn & His Pals: West Side Story

Carl Abernathy
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

·The Rempis Percussion Quartet (482 Music)

Jeff Albert
Mandeville, Louisiana, USA

·Pat Metheny, Secret Story
... because I woke up in a sentimental mood this morning

Deborah Hendrick
San Leon, Texas, USA

·Over the last few days I've been giving very careful attention to Bob
Brookmeyer with the Ed Partyka Jazz Orchestra: Madly Loving You(Challenge Records, recorded in September 1999 and mixed in May of 2000). Not only is this CD revelatory with respect to BB and his playing but the composers of the 8 tunes are quite a mix: Bill Holman, Marka Lackner, Maria Schneider, Manny Albam, Jim McNeely, Frank
Peinshagen, Ed Partyka and John Hollenbeck. The concept, the compositions and the playing are all extraordinary.

And from the sublime to something a little less sublime, The Ed Palermo Big Band: Take Your Clothes Off When you Dance (Cuneiform Records, 2006). This is the second Palermo collection of Frank Zappa compositions and, like the first CD, this one continues to enthrall. It's fun and serious at the same time. Arrangements are superb and the band seems to get tighter as the CD deveops (8 tracks).

And then I'm listening to Lorraine Hunt-Leiberson, Sibelius and Louise Talma.

Peter Kountz, Ph.D
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

·Frank Sinatra Jr.'s new album, That Face. Great charts and to my ears damned good singing from this fine musician.

Pat Goodhope
Middletown, Delaware, USA

·Frank Kimbrough: Play
Matthew Shipp/William Parker/Guillermo Brown: Trio Plays Ware

Chris Harriott
Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

·I'm now listening to WWOZ, 90.7-FM, online from New Orleans. In my CD changer I have a Buddy Guy acoustic, Gatemouth Brown, the most recent Monk/Trane, Bill Frisell's Nashville, and No Room for Squares, Hank Mobley. (I've been a fan of your writing since I first began listening to great American Music when I was at Whitman College. I'm a frequent attendee at The Seasons, where your introductions are greatly appreciated. I've also enjoyed your descriptions of cycling in the Yakima Valley. I'm an avid cyclist myself and just wanted you to know you are not alone.)

Barry K. Schmidt
Yakima, Washington, USA

I was wondering about that. See you on a hill somewhere.

More choices next time. What an interesting group you are.

July 14, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

We suggested that Rifftides readers around the world disclose their current listening. The replies are rolling in, so many that we will have to post them in installments. Here is the first batch. Wherever possible, the Rifftides staff has provided links for those who are interested in pursuing their fellow Rifftiders' choices.

What We're Listening To

·A recently arrived shipment of Mosaic Select sets. I'm currently enjoying the wonderful Bob Brookmeyer "revisited" sessions that I first fell in love with 40 years ago. Just before that, it was Annie Ross on the Mulligan set, and before that, the Desmond/Hall Mosaics that I've owned for many years.

Jim Brown
Santa Cruz, California, USA

·I listened last days at :
Warne Marsh - Berlin 1980
Don Fagerquist - Portrait Of a Great Jazz Artist
The Trumpet Artistry of Stu Williams
Leith Stevens scores for The Wild One & Private Hell 36
John Coltrane - Live at the Showboat

axel van looy
antwerp, belgium

·Presently, in the CD player in my car I have a private recording of Warne Marsh with Hank Jones at the Village Vanguard. On my turntable I have a Japanese reissue of Dick Wetmore's 10" LP on Bethlehem. In my CD player at home I have the second disc of the recent Gerry Mulligan Mosaic Select

Pete Bainbridge
Lititz, Pennsylvania, USA

·Bob Magnusson Quintet - Liquid Lines
Roger Kellaway Trio - Remembering Bobby Darin
Oscar Peterson Trio at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival

John Birchard
Washington, DC, USA

·Right now I'm listening to a Han Bennink CD: Nerve Beats (1973), purchased recently on the internet. It is a live recording from Radio Bremen with cover artwork by Han Bennink himself. Listening to rare recordings and discovering something new and exciting is certainly one of the best sides of my job of the last 15 years as a jazz program producer for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (public radio). Thank you for an entertaining website,

Lana Kolbrun Eddudottir
Rykajavik, Iceland

·My latest "find" is Fay Claassen. About the time you mentioned the Two Portraits of Chet Baker album, I was busy looking for a place to buy it. Your recommendation increased my efforts. The two-disk project is beautiful. The band is very impressive, providing the Mulligan-Baker feel perfectly for underpinning the vocals. The singer, whom I had never heard before, does an amazing job of matching Baker's phrasing and timing. Best of all, the music comes first and she is an interpreter with taste and respect. I would put this tribute album alongside Italian trumpeter Felice Reggio's I Remember Chet CD on Philology. They both understand what Chet's music was about.

Jim Wardrop
Whitehall, Pennsylvania, USA

·Phil Woods Unheard Herd. Mind-blowing stuff from senior citizens who should be taking life easy. Thank god they are not.

Doug Stewart

Many more to come in the next posting, possibly tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who responded.

July 13, 2006 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

Homeward bound on a two-hour ride, I saw this sign on the front of a ramshackle house:


If you have forgotten about hippies or are too young to remember them, or if you're an aging hippie and want to read about yourself, here are the first few lines of the Wikipedia definition

Hippie, often spelled hippy, is a term originally used to describe some of the rebellious youth of the 1960s, although the dawn of the 21st century has brought with it a neo-hippie movement, holding similar beliefs and values as the hippies of the 1960s. The word hippie was popularized by the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen.

For the rest the article, go here, but be aware that the Wikipedia entry brushes by the beatniks of the 1950s, the immediate forebears of the hippies. For John Ciardi's exploration of the word's root, go here.

Dave Frishberg's song "I'm Hip" captured the essence of hippiedom with lines like these:

When it was hip to be hep, I was hep.
I'm so hip, I call my girlfriend "man."
July 13, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)
The site meter shows that new Rifftides readers have checked in this week from
Algiers, Algeria
Tokyo, Japan
Bejing, China
Reykjavk, Iceland
Ajidjan, Cote D'Ivoire
Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
North Ockendon, Thurrock, in the United Kingdom
And from these places, among others, in the United States
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Kihei, Hawaii
Cave Creek, Arizona
The Rifftides staff is interested in what all of those readers, and all of you, are listening to. Please take a moment to send a message with your name (if you care to disclose it), your location and the most recent music on your iPod, CD player, tape deck, wire recorder, turntable or cylinder machine. We will keep track and compile a report when we have a sizeable list. I'll get the ball rolling: Doug Ramsey. Yakima, Washington, USA. Alec Wilder's score for the 1961 film The Sand Castle Out of print and difficult, but not impossible, to find).
July 12, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Devra DoWrite, of eagle eye and encylopedic knowledge, adds information to the Rifftides item in the following exhibit about a good old Cal Tjader album wth Eugene Wright, Gerald Wiggins and Bill Douglass.

What was not mentioned was a small fact that gives "but of course" understanding to why "everything clicked" -- Bill Douglass was Wig's drummer and they'd been working together alot in the few years leading up to the Tjader recording.

To read all of Devra's addendum and mild rebuke, go here. Hey, to paraphrase the deathless words of Steven Wright, you can't know everything; where would you put it? I appreciate the clarification.

July 12, 2006 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

At a concert, Louis Armstrong almost invariably said, "And now, we're going to lay one of those good old good ones on you." He used variations of that introductory line during his entire career. Here's an example, on video, from 1933. I'm borrowing Pops's line and applying it to two albums from the mid-1950s. This fits in with Deborah Hendrick's (she has a last name, after all) request to suggest CDs she can recommend to friends who are neophyte jazz listeners.

Concord, through its Fantasy, Inc. subsidiary, has just released another batch of RVG Remasters, named for Rudy Van Gelder, the gifted engineer who recorded them and has digitally updated his original work. It includes Walkin': The Miles Davis All-Stars, two sessions from April, 1954 with brilliant playing by Davis, trombonist J.J. Johnson, tenor saxophonist Lucky Thompson, alto saxophonist Dave Schildkraut, pianist Horace Silver, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Kenny Clarke. Most jazz musicians and many listeners who came up in the fifties and sixties know the album's solos by heart, particularly those on "Walkin'" and "Blue and Boogie." The title tune has become a part of the basic repertoire. Davis had yet to make what repeater-pencil jazz writers persist in describing as his "comeback" at the Newport Jazz Festival the following year. He had never been away. He was yet to record the series of Columbia albums that brought him widespread fame, but he was a major figure in jazz. He, Johnson, Thompson and Silver were inspired in their improvisations on the sextet date. Their solos so quickly became ingrained in the minds of jazz musicians everywhere that within weeks of the album's release, you could hear paraphrases of them in jam sessions and, before long, in other recordings. More than half a century later, they are a part of the lingua franca of jazz.

In the quintet session, the other horn was Schildkraut, whose alto playing so closely resembled Charlie Parker's that no less a Parker intimate than Charles Mingus thought that he was hearing Parker when Leonard Feather played Schildkraut's "Solar" solo for him in a blindfold test. Throughout both sessions, the rhythm section demonstrates that perfect accompaniment can be as satisfying as the improvisation it supports. Focusing on Heath's bass lines alone can bring great rewards. This is a record to go back to time and again for deeper discoveries.

In 1956, Cal Tjader recorded Cal Tjader Quartet, an album that received little critical notice and sold modestly but over the decades has proved one of the most enduring of the vibraharpist's dozens of recordings. By 1956, Tjader was becoming better known for his role in the development of Afro-Cuban jazz than as the straight-ahead musician who debuted with the Dave Brubeck Octet and later was the drummer and occasional vibist in Brubeck's trio. In a pickup date while he and his bassist Eugene Wright were in Hollywood, Tjader brought in pianist Gerald Wiggins and drummer Bill Douglass. Everything clicked. They produced a collection notable for its consistent sensitivity and good feeling. Their "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is one of the finest jazz versions of that piece. The album has an engaging balance of swinging peformances with three slower ones that demonstrate Tjader's seldom-recognized status as one his generation's most effective players of ballads. His "For All We Know" solo alone proves that, and his playing on Wright's "Miss Wiggins," incorporating the "new blues" harmonic changes introduced by Charlie Parker, gives insights into his understanding of the blues.

Wiggins' comping complements Tjader in quite a different manner than that of the funkier Vince Guaraldi, who was Tjader's regular pianist at the time. Wiggins' solos are a delight. He manages to combine harmonic and melodic delicacy with muscular swing. The sturdy, dependable Wright melds with Douglass, one of the great brush artists among drummers, into a mutual surge that floats the entire enterprise. The instrumentation inevitably brings to mind the Modern Jazz Quartet, which was riding high in 1956, but too much has been made of the comparison. This is music with its own flair and personality.

Concord deserves credit for keeping this and other valuable music available in the Fantasy Original Jazz Classics reissue program. But how long the OJC program will last is anybody's guess. I recommend prompt action if you want to acquire these and other CDs in the OJC series.

July 10, 2006 12:10 AM | | Comments (0)

Terry Teachout has come up with a terrific idea for his About Last Night blog. I only wish that I had thought of it first.

In recent months I've been posting links to interesting videos that I found on other blogs, but until a few days ago it never occurred to me to experiment with turning this blog into a one-stop portal to the wonders of YouTube. Now I've done just that. Take a look at the "Sites to See" module of the right-hand column and you'll see that it ends with a brand-new roll of selected culture-oriented video links, most of them to YouTube. So far as I know, this is the first such list to appear anywhere on the Web.

Watching Hank Williams, followed by Maria Callas followed by Spike Jones, then Thelonious Monk, is a trip. Please make it a round trip; we want you back. To read Terry's entire entry and visit his list of YouTube links, go here.

July 10, 2006 12:08 AM | | Comments (0)
There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Red Smith
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury
Writing does for me what milking does for a cow. ~H.L. Mencken
July 8, 2006 2:45 PM | | Comments (0)

From Washington, DC:

The other morning I was pawing through my CD collection, looking for something to accompany my pre-work meal when I came upon The Oscar Peterson Trio at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival.
I put it on and, in seconds, was reminded why that recording has stayed near the top of my all-time best list for nearly 50 years. For sheer head-long momentum, nothing I have ever heard can match it. Peterson has headed some notable trios, but the Herbie Ellis-Ray Brown edition beats 'em all.
The chemistry among those three guys bordered on the miraculous. And I defy anyone to show me how any other three people ever achieved grooves of that incredible depth.
I bought the LP in the winter of '57-'58 while stationed with the Air Force in Fairbanks, Alaska. My roommate for part of that year was the drummer Roy McCurdy. As wonderful a drummer as he is - and as partial to his instrument as he is - he had to admit that he couldn't imagine how the group could swing any harder with the addition of a drummer.
As I listened to the trio this week, to tunes like "Gypsy in My Soul", "Love You Madly" and "Noreen's Nocturne", they produced the same reactions in me they did nearly a half-century ago--laugh-out-loud amazement and delight. That, it seems to me, is one definition of great art.
John Birchard
July 7, 2006 12:15 PM | | Comments (0)

The DVD choice is now among the new batch of Doug's Picks in the right-hand column. It took a while to get it there because isolating nearly two hours of viewing time during the holiday weekend turned out to be impossible. When I finally got to it, I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would that I watched it twice.

July 7, 2006 12:01 AM | | Comments (0)

Hey, do you want to read some nifty short stories? Go here. You may get hooked. Don't forget to come back, please.

July 5, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.--Benjamin Franklin
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.--Abraham Lincoln
July 4, 2006 1:44 PM | | Comments (0)

Jason Crane writes concerning the Doug's Picks item about John La Barbera (right-hand column):

If I'm not mistaken, Joe is a co-owner of Jazz Compass with Clay Jenkins, Tom Warrington and Larry Koonse. The label has put out a crop of high-quality releases. It's refreshing to see the players taking control of their musical destiny.

Mr. Crane is not mistaken. Jazz Compass is an intelligently run independent company, five years old, with a catalogue of fourteen CDs by its owners, as well as John La Barbera and drummer Steve Houghton. With major labels abandoning, downgrading or diluting jazz, companies owned and operated by musicians are helping to keep the music available. They have the laudable effect of also allowing musicians to keep more of the money they earn. Distribution is a problem, but it is one that Jazz Compass, Artist Share and other independent CD organizations are solving by way of the internet.

July 4, 2006 1:40 PM | | Comments (2)

In the right column under Doug's Picks, you will find three new CD entries and a timely book tip. A new DVD entry will follow before the week is out, if I can get ahead of the apricot and cherry harvesting long enough to watch the one I have in mind. The birds got most of the Royal Annes and Bings, but I spent an hour and a half picking pie cherries this morning, ending up with enough for one pie. We had it for dessert this evening. It was sensational. Last year, our one apricot tree was barren. This year, it came back like a champ, producing the biggest, sweetest cots I've ever known.

July 4, 2006 11:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Ralph Burns, Perpetual Motion (Fresh Sound). Infrequently mentioned today, Burns was one of the great jazz arrangers of the 1940s and 50s, with a later career scoring for radio, TV and motion pictures. His arrangements were central to the success of several Woody Herman herds. The final movement of his "Summer Sequence" for Herman gained additional fame as "Early Autumn." This CD brings together two of his mid-fifties albums, Ralph Burns Among the JATP's and Jazz Studio 5. The soloists include Jazz at the Philharmonic regulars Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Roy Eldridge Flip Phillips and Bill Harris as well as comers like Joe Newman, Davey Schildkraut and Herbie Mann. But the star throughout is Burns' brilliant writing. His setting of Alec Wilder's "I'll Be Around" for Newman's trumpet is a quiet masterpiece.

July 4, 2006 1:10 AM | | Comments (1)

Jenny Scheinman, 12 Songs (Cryptogramophone). Scheinman is the violinist who mesmerized a Portland Jazz Festival audience earlier this year as a member of guitarist Bill Frisell's Unspeakable Orchestra. Frisell is aboard here as a member of Scheinman's band, and much, but no means all, of the album's energy comes from the sparks flying between the two. The music by her seven-piece band ranges across a number of genres, including calypso, bluegrass-cum-Caribbean, what sounds like a schottische, and dirges. For all its eclecticism and free-ranging nature, the thread of Scheinman's personality runs through the twelve pieces. The album's charm, cohesiveness and sense of fun lie as much in her canny arranging as in the joyful peformances. I cannot classify this music and won't try to, but I've found myself listening to it often.

July 4, 2006 1:09 AM | | Comments (0)

John La Barbera, On The Wild Side (Jazz Compass). This has been out for three years, but I just caught up with it. I'm glad that I did. La Barbera's arrangements for Buddy Rich and Woody Herman impressed me years ago, and so does this new batch. The album bears endorsements by Elmer Bernstein and Horace Silver. It features La Barbera's older brother Pat on tenor saxophone and younger brother Joe on drums and has other gifted players including trombonists Andy Martin and Bruce Paulson; trumpeters Wayne Bergeron and Clay Jenkins; saxophonists Tom Peterson and Kim Richmond; bassist Tom Warrington; pianists Bill Cunliffe and Tom Ranier; plus a guest appearance by Bud Shank. La Barbera's writing, marked by a judicious use of ensemble power, is among the most exciting by contemporary arrangers. I see that he has released a followup CD on Jazz Compass. If it is as satisfying as this one, I look forward to it.

July 4, 2006 1:08 AM | | Comments (1)

Keith Jarrett, Tokyo Solo (ECM). With this magnificent DVD, the pianist banishes worries that his years under seige by chronic fatigue syndrome may have ended his solo career. He demonstrates, too, that he has learned the discipline of self-editing, reducing the average length of his inventions while sacrificing nothing of intensity, creativity or daring. Except for three encores, "Danny Boy," "Old Man River" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," his pieces have part numbers, not names. That may seem inelegant. The playing is not. The shortest piece is less than three minutes, the longest more than twenty. The instantaneous composition in one section of a piece inspires ideas for the next, and although the segments vary in shape and style, we witness the continuity of a fecund mind at work. As Jarrett wound down the ravishing "Part 1b," it occurred to me that it must have been something like this when Mozart improvised.

July 4, 2006 1:07 AM | | Comments (0)

Catherine Dinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention, May-September 1787 (Back Bay). With all of today's arguments about what is, isn't or should be constitutional, Bowen's classic offers a refresher course on the original arguments, who made them, why, and how the foundation of US liberty was built by a few men sweltering in a big room during a blazing hot summer. The book reads like a great novel, but most novels don't have this interesting a cast of characters.

July 4, 2006 1:07 AM | | Comments (0)

Deborah, who may or may not have a last name, wrote a few days ago about her encounter with "I Remember Clifford" and followed up with this message.

Thank you for helping to educate me!

Regarding the John Lewis-Wonderful World of Jazz album ... I have twice given it to other jazz newbies, but new CDs of the album can no longer be bought in the US.

Please, will you suggest another jazz album I could give as an introduction to the genre for my friends who express an interest?

One place you can buy the Lewis CD in the United States is here, at prices ranging from reasonable to outrageous.

I could suggest a hundred or more introductory albums for your friends, but I like your challenge of picking just one. Tomorrow, it might be another, but today it's The Lester Young Story, a bargain four-CD box set that contains many of the great records that Young made from his period of genius with Count Basie in the 1930s to his death in 1959.

Why Lester Young? In the development of the art of jazz soloing, he was the link between Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. At his best, he was sublimely lyrical, inventive, swinging and richly satisfying. No one who truly wants to be interested in jazz should fail to become intimately acquainted with Young. John Lewis, by the way, revered Lester and played piano for him in the early 1950s. Many of their recordings together are on this CD, but the comprehensive box set above is the place to start.

July 4, 2006 1:06 AM | | Comments (1)

Our colloquy on annoying, useless, stupid and redundant words and phrases could probably go on forever, but it won't. It's time to wrap it up with these entries from Rifftides readers.

Any time soon.
Ramping up.
(From Gene Lees)
Add to the list of unnecessary expressions: "To utilize" means nothing more than "to use." I can't think of a single instance where "utilize" would be more clear or more precise than the word "use." There seems to be no reason to utilize the longer word at all. But I could care less.
(From Dave Frishberg)
Your mention of "data" reminds me of my pet peeve. That word is plural (the singular being datum). People consistently use a singular verb with it though (The data is based on on a large sample size, rather than: The data are ...) One last pet peeve: comprise. That word is NOT followed by "of."
(From Jeff)
I hate marketers who turn nouns into verbs. (e.g. leverage, network, and task). I, like Ted O'Reilly, get NAUSEATED by people who say they are NAUSEOUS.
(From Scott Faulkner)
As a Brit I'd rather not get into a debate about 'mispronunciations.'
(From Gordon Sapsed)
Disinterested is often correctly brought up in word misuage discussions. I looked up the word today in the American Heritage Dictionary online and learned:

"Oddly enough, 'not interested' is the oldest sense of the word, going back to the 17th century. This sense became outmoded in the 18th century but underwent a revival in the first quarter of the early 20th. Despite its resuscitation, this usage is widely considered an error."
(From Garrett Gannuch)

An odd one is the phrase "is that" inserted without logic or neccessity, creating phrases like:

"What you're forgetting is, is that I didn't graduate."

I call this the double "is." You hear it all the time in conversations on the radio.
(From Bill Crow)

Being the chief of the language police has some heavy resposibilities for you in this era. One thing that I would suggest is to advise all of your readers to avoid the stock channel (CNBC) at all costs. Today, after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates a quarter of a point, one of the commentators stated that it "was pretty much exactly" what he expected.
(From Charlie and Sandi Shoemake)

I have resigned as chief of the language police. The criminals are winning.

As John Ciardi would say if he were still with us, good words to you.

July 4, 2006 1:05 AM | | Comments (2)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Rifftides in July 2006.

Rifftides: June 2006 is the previous archive.

Rifftides: August 2006 is the next archive.

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About Last Night
Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Artful Manager
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
blog riley
rock culture approximately
critical difference
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dog Days
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
Mind the Gap
No genre is the new genre
Performance Monkey
David Jays on theatre and dance
Plain English
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Real Clear Arts
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
Rockwell Matters
John Rockwell on the arts
Straight Up |
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Seeing Things
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Serious Popcorn
Martha Bayles on Film...

classical music
Creative Destruction
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
The Future of Classical Music?
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
On the Record
Exploring Orchestras w/ Henry Fogel
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Slipped Disc
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds

Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world

Aesthetic Grounds
Public Art, Public Space
Another Bouncing Ball
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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