main: April 2007 Archives

Rifftides reader Bruce Tater came across a classic Warner Bros. cartoon from the Looney Tunes series. He called our attention to Three Little Bops, a perfectly preserved piece of 1950s hipness. Stan Freeburg is the narrator. Shorty Rogers did the music. Notice the stylized drawings of the nightclub audience. Don't miss Shorty's little sui generis muted solo near the end. Here's the link.

April 30, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)

Jessica Williams linked readers of her blog to the Before & After test she allowed me to give her for the current issue of Jazz Times. In the test, she reacted to recordings by ten pianists. To read some of the comments she received, go to Currents and scroll down.

Oddly, Rifftides has received no reaction to the article despite Ms. Williams' unreserved assessments.

April 30, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (4)

National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Saturday included a report by Howard Mandel on Sonny Rollins, who recently founded his own record label, Doxy. In a sound bite, Rollins asked Mandel not to identify him as a corporate executive of a record company. "Don't do that to me man," he laughed as he pleaded with Mandel. "No, I don't want to screw anybody." Then he talked about the contradiction between corporate thinking and jazz thinking.

The corporate culture is anathema to jazz. We don't like cookie cutter, everything exactly the same way. We're about creation, thinking things out at the moment, like life is. Life changes every minute. A different sunset every night; that's what jazz is about.

To hear Mandel's profile of Sonny Rollins at seventy-six, click here.

April 28, 2007 1:01 PM | | Comments (1)

The past couple of days I have been listening to two CDs containing fresh old music and enjoying it as much as if hearing it for the first time.


Scott LaFaro had a rich musical life before he joined the Bill Evans Trio in 1959 and helped change the role of the bass in interactive improvisation. In 1957 when he was twenty-one, LaFaro was playing in Chicago with Pat Moran, a young pianist from Oklahoma who had studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory and been infuenced by Bud Powell and Horace Silver. During the short time LaFaro was with her trio, Moran recorded a trio album and another adding the singer Bev Kelly. They have been combined in a CD just issued by Fresh Sound. LaFaro has often been quoted about his dissatisfaction with most of his early recordings:

I don't like to look back, because the whole point in jazz is doing it now. I don't even like any of my records except maybe the first one I did with Pat Moran on Audio Fidelity.

We can hear why he made that exception. The strength, authority, swing and harmonic ingenuity in LaFaro's bass lines are gripping. Moran, drummer Johnny Whited and Kelly are fine, but LaFaro--beautifully recorded and dominating the right stereo channel--demands the listener's attention, particularly on the trio session. When Evans found LaFaro and combined him with drummer Paul Motian, he was able to put into operation the trio concept he had been hearing in his head for years. These recordings make it easy to understand how excited Evans must have been the first time he heard LaFaro.


In 1960 MGM released a feature motion picture more or less based on the Jack Kerouac novel The Subterraneans. The movie about a bunch of San Francisco beatniks was so-so, maybe not quite that good, but it had a superb Andre Previn orchestral score, Previn's compositions for small jazz groups and wonderful playing by a bakers dozen of the best musicians of the period. Gerry Mulligan had a part as a priest who played the baritone saxophone. Art Farmer, Art Pepper and Shelly Manne played themselves, as did Previn, Red Mitchell, Dave Bailey, Russ Freeman, Bob Enevoldsen, Bill Perkins and Buddy Clark. Jack Sheldon is heard in solo with the orchestra and in a quintet with Pepper, Freeman, Mitchell and Manne.

The film has all but disappeared and is apparently impossible to find on DVD or VHS. The sound track, fortunately not only has survived but is expanded for a CD reissue that includes twice as much music as the original release. This increases the small available number of recordings Mulligan's group made when Art Farmer was his trumpet player and adds a few tracks to the legacy of Previn's trio with Manne and Mitchell. Previn's main theme, "Why Are We Afraid," made its way into the repertoires of a few musicians in the sixties. It is puzzling why so memorable a melody failed to become a standard.

April 27, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

There will be a concert this weekend in Washington, DC, honoring Willis Conover, the Voice of America jazz broadcaster who was one of the most effective public diplomats in US history. The nation he served did little while he was alive to recognize his contributions and since he died in 1996 has done less. Efforts to persuade President Clinton, then President Bush, to award him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom have gone nowhere. To read a Rifftides posting about Conover, go here. You may browse the archive (link in the left-hand column) and find several items.

There are those in Washington not in the administration who know the value of what Conover accomplished. They include people at the VOA and at the Smithsonian Institution and, apparently, all of the Blues Alley Jazz Society. Here is the announcement about Saturday night's concert.

Blues Alley Jazz Society invites you to the First Annual Willis Conover Memorial Concert, featuring the U.S. Military Academy "Jazz Knights" and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Whereas H.R. 57 officially proclaimed jazz as America's indigenous musical art form, we seek to memorialize the legacy of Willis Conover and his efforts to extend jazz music during the Cold War era through the radio waves of the Voice of America. It is our hope that you will join us in making Washington, D.C. the home of jazz music during this component of the Third Annual Big Band Jam.

The Willis Conover Memorial Concert will be held from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 28th at the Voice of America Stage. You are asked to arrive at 6:00 p.m. with photo identification as the Voice of America building is a federal facility. Some street parking is available, and attendees are encouraged to utilize the Colonial Parking service located at 6th and C Streets, SW. Reservations are required due to security issues; visit the Big Band Jam Web site to make a reservation.

Willis Conover at the White House, 1969

Under Doug's Picks in the right column, you will find mention of a new book about Conover.

April 26, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

During a 2005 trip to New York to promote Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond, one of my rewarding encounters was with the longtime broadcast journalist Bill Vitka. After we talked about Desmond for CBS Radio News, Vitka mentioned that he had recently interviewed Kurt Vonnegut. He said Vonnegut told him that Desmond was his favorite musician. Back home, I arranged for Vonnegut to be sent a copy of the book. Vitka and I planned to get together with the great writer on a later visit to New York. My next New York trip was brief and hectic. I decided to set up the meeting when the three of us could have a relaxed visit. Then Vonnegut fell and suffered the brain injury that led to his death on April 11.

In the course of preparing a story about Vonnegut, Bill stayed in touch with him. Last November Vitka delivered to the author a copy of the feature profile that he developed out of their interview. He took his younger son, Sean, with him to Vonnegut's townhouse on Manhattan's East Side . What follows is the story of that visit. Bill sent it to me in an e-mail message. I asked his permission to share it with you.

I grieved when Vonnegut died.
His voice is still on my phone machine.
He had called several times -- while I was working on an interview/feature for the Network -- to make sure I got things right.

On Meeting Kurt Vonnegut (11/18/06)

When Sean and I were ushered into Kurt Vonnegut's townhouse on New York's East Side, what we found was a home.

His wife, Jill Krementz, had to wake him. We were expected but not at that hour (3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon).

Vonnegut was a redwood, hair like gray broken branches. He smiles. Extends his hand. Tell us to make ourselves at home, then politely he plants himself in a soft, upholstered chair that he knows well.

He's sizing us up, subtle to the point of being sly. I catch his eye sometimes as he drinks us in.Vonnegut.jpgBut malice, any kind of ill will, seems so foreign to his nature as to be a distance measurable in light years. All I feel is a sensation of disarmament. My defenses stand down, willingly conquered.

Sean is quite animated. He does much, if not all, the talking for a patch. Vonnegut is curious about his schooling, asking questions and Sean answers, enjoying the attention -- but more then that -- he rises to meet someone who would address him as an equal. Sean is 17.

There is an out-of-time character about Vonnegut, not unlike Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five. He isn't tethered to the 21st century or to the last, but outside of both. He speaks with a kindness, even innocence as though he hasn't grown up.

At this moment, I can't imagine the source of the razor wire, which I know can be found in his writing. His jokes, satire -- gallows humor -- doesn't seem to fit the man.

If he comes to know us by our answers, I come to know him by his questions. Our name, Vitka, he hasn't heard before. What nationality is it? Where did we come from? Our parents, perhaps my parents and grandparents -- who were they? I oblige. He rewards us with details of his own family. There is, like us, a Catholic bloodline. He says his grandparents were so consumed by Darwin that they became free thinkers. They abandoned religion. He had asked us about belief. He was curious about the Byzantine rite on my Mother's side. Did the priests marry? As we - Sean and I -- draw closer to our past, Vonnegut draws more from his own childhood. He recalls blues musicians from the South who performed on his family's lawn. Jazz and Blues. Joe Heller's name comes up. He misses Joe.

Vonnegut is now 83, an age when so many that you know are gone.

His family, he said, came over before the wave that brought my family to Ellis Island. They were entrepreneurs. They had money. They were smart. They invested. They did well.

At some point I realized that he could feign sleepiness, even laziness, to disguise casualness with a purpose. He was working.

He talks about teaching. He's been talking to Sean about the classroom for fifteen minutes or so and he mentions that John Irving was one of his students at the Iowa Workshop. What did you teach your students, about writing, I ask? He answers that it takes two. A writer is writing for a reader. (as much as a reader needs a writer.) It's not enough to write. Someone has to read what you write (as though it would be incomplete otherwise).

He talks about reporting. One of his first jobs was just that in Chicago. He would talk to a guy on the phone, filing the story, telling him that Joe Whatzit, age 48, was arrested for disorderly conduct and drunkenness at the corner of Waverly and Blastoff. "See," he says, "everything in the first sentence is right out there. The reader doesn't want to find out on page 48 that Lizzie was black. He wants to know right away." You can't -- shouldn't -- cheat the reader is the lesson. Would, to do otherwise, mean the writer is cheating his or herself?

At first I think he will smoke the Pall Mall cigarette he has pulled from the pack, drawn from beneath the sweater which I am sure he slept in, but instead he is stroking it, as though a man petting a cat. Over the course of an hour, he does this but does not light it

He talks about the golden age of radio. (I work in radio) I mention someone at the CBS Broadcast Center who had said he remembered Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater. So I picture him planted in front of a radio, a machine the size of refrigerator -- listening intently and laughing. Because he likes jokes. Because, I suspect, he likes people. Because we are fools. Because we make mistakes. Because, in Vonnegut's universe, it doesn't matter -- but it does. He doesn't want to hurt people and he doesn't want people hurt but the human race continues to find original, if not ingenuously cruel methods to inflict pain. And he's looking at 17-year-old Sean as he talks about radio. I mention Fred Allen but he is addressing Sean and says "Say good night, Gracie."

A working journalist since 1972, Bill Vitka has been a correspondent for CBS News and NBC News. To hear his 2006 Vonnegut profile, go to this archive podcast of the CBS News Weekend Roundup hosted by Dan Raviv and advance the timing slider to 33:59. Or listen to the entire hour and hear how little things have changed in the world, which might have saddened but not suprised Vonnegut.

April 25, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Rifftides reader Jon Foley recommends a YouTube clip of the Dave Brubeck Quartet with the comment, "They were in a good mood that night!"

They sure were. I thought that we had linked to this performance before, but I can find no trace of it in the archive. The clip isn't dated, but it is amost certainly from the quartet's 25th anniversary reunion tour in 1976. The piece is "Three To Get Ready." I have no idea what set off the merriment, but the silliness was contagious and brought out Brubeck's inner Cecil Taylor. To join in the fun, click here.

April 25, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)

If you are new to Blogville and wonder what those underlined words in blue are all about, you should know that they are links. When you click on a link, you are spirited away from Rifftides to another place on the internet that amplifies, explains or demonstrates the linked term. Happily for Rifftides, all you have to do is close out of the linked site to get back to home base.

Perhaps you'd like to try it. Click on this link. You will be rewarded.


Welcome back. That was Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five in 1927, playing "Hotter Than That." It is a recording not discussed as often or as deeply as other Hot Fives; "West End Blues" or "Cornet Chop Suey," as examples. The jazz scholar William R. Bauer is doing something about that. Professor Bauer is writing a book that will analyze Armstrong's early work and pay particular attention to the astonishing cornet and vocal solos in "Hotter Than That." The book, The Early Recordings of Louis Armstrong: The Codification of Jazz Performance Practice, will be published by Scarecrow Press in 2008.

That makes two important Armstrong books in the works. My colleague Terry Teachout (see the item titled Coherence) is writing a full-scale Armstrong biography, also targeted for publication next year. If you had no reason to look forward to 2008, you now have two reasons.

April 24, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

From time to time, Rifftides Washington, DC correspondent John Birchard reports on musical events in the US Capital City.


The Smithsonian Jazz Café hosted a 70th birthday celebration for guitarist Gene Bertoncini on Friday, April 20th. What words come to mind when you think of Bertoncini? Taste, quiet beauty, delicacy? All true. Bertoncini.jpg But it was a different Gene Bertoncini on display Friday night. The Café was packed and LOUD. The place attracts a blend of true jazz fans, tourists looking for a meal and a place to sit down after a week of schlepping through national landmarks and monuments, and folks looking for something different to do on a Friday night. The mix is not conducive to the nurturing of hothouse flowers.

One can't be sure what he was thinking as he stepped before the chattering crowd, but what came out of Bertoncini's guitars was surely designed to deal with the evening's reality. We got a side of the man we hadn't heard before. Tasteful, yes. Elegant, sure. But also strong and swinging. He turned up the amp and appeared to have fun.

Accompanied by two Washington area musicians - bassist Tommy Cecil and drummer Chuck Redd - Bertoncini scored with standards such as "I'll Remember You", "Gone With the Wind" and a nice medley, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and "It Might as Well be Spring".

The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", long a part of Bertoncini's repertoire, closed the first set and showed the guitarist still willing to take risks and solve self-imposed challenges. He tried a solo version of Strayhorn's "Lush Life", but it drowned in a sea of babble and laughter. Not the time or the place for subtlety.

The closer for the second set was Miles Davis's "Milestones". Bertoncini played the hell out of it, piling chord upon chord, finding odd voicings to lead in fresh directions, conducting interplay with Cecil and Redd with head nods, eye contact and grins.

As I headed for home, I was thinking about this "different" side of a musician I had long ago pigeonholed. And, I thought, "Who's limited here - him or me?" You don't get to be 70 years old and perform as a professional jazz musician all these years by being a hothouse flower. You adapt, you overcome, you live to play another day.

So, hats off to the Birthday Boy - and to all who earn a living making art in difficult circumstances.

--John Birchard

April 23, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

The British musician Graham Collier is an astute observer and a good writer. (Rifftides recently reviewed one of his early recordings.) In the current entry on his web site, Collier comments favorably on blogger Terry Teachout's review in Commentary of Alyn Shipton's massive A New History of Jazz. Unfortunately Teachout's review is available on line only to Commentary subscribers. Part of it is quoted later in this posting. Collier questioned TT's observation that "it is by no means clear that post-modern jazz is itself sufficiently coherent to be grasped as a unified phenomenon continuous with pre-1970 predecessors."

Here's what Graham Collier wrote in response to Teachout's proposition:

To expect what has happened in jazz in the last 50 years to be as coherent as what happened before is to miss the wood for the trees. There was a change in jazz in the period between the mid 1950s and the mid 1960s which opened up the music in such a way that it will never be the same again, and this change made any "coherence" impossible. For me the pivotal point was Miles Davis's 1959 album Kind of Blue, but other musicians, such as Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane, were each trying to open up the music in their own way.

The result has been the possibility of musicians developing their own way, showing influences (such as that of Ellington, Mingus and Gil Evans in my music) but realising that there is now room for unique jazz voices to develop. To invert my previous analogy, there are now lots and lots of individual trees and no wood will ever emerge.

My guess is that close listeners familiar with the first decades of jazz hear incoherence in plenty of new music after, say, 1958, the year of Ornette Coleman's Something Else. If we need a benchmark year, '58 is as good as any for the apparent start of a shift away from strict observance of traditional harmony and, to an extent, from melody and rhythm. (In Coleman's case, the shift was not nearly as radical as those who professed shock or outrage over it seemed to think it was.) You could make a case that the beginnings of a shift came in 1949, when Lennie Tristano recorded "Intuition" and "Digression." Although those free pieces did not start a movement, they forecast it. Pick a year. How about 1946? Shorty Rogers told me that to kill time between shows at the Paramount Theater in New York, members of Woody Herman's First Herd stood in a circle in the basement playing what fifteen years later came to be called free jazz. But who knew? Rogers said, "We'd never have dreamed of doing that in public." If we're dealing in forestry metaphors, the Herman Herd example is a case of a tree that fell, or grew, with no one hearing it.

Abandonment of approved guidelines governing coherence has been a fact of musical life throughout history. Otherwise, we'd be listening to clubs on hollow logs. Beethoven would have done things as Mozart did, Stravinsky as Brahms did.

I wonder if Graham Collier missed a larger point that Terry Teachout was making or suggesting in his Commentary piece, which is that when one is in the midst of any area of human activity, it is impossible to put it in historical perspective. It may be helpful to read Teachout's line about coherence in its fuller context at the end of his long review. Here are the final few paragraphs.

In recent years, many jazz musicians have looked for the answers to such questions in a famous remark made by the pianist Bill Evans and quoted in A New History:

"Jazz is not a what, it is a how. If it were a what, it would be static, never growing. The how is that the music comes from the moment, it is spontaneous, it exists in the time it is created. And anyone who makes music according to this method conveys to me an element that makes his music jazz."

Alyn Shipton clearly understands the implications of this remark, and the catholicity with which he describes pre-1970 jazz promises an equally clear understanding of later styles. "In what follows," he writes in his introduction, "I have attempted to examine what was being described as jazz throughout its history, and I have taken a very broad view of how jazz should now be defined." But, despite this broad perspective, he does not succeed in integrating postmodern jazz into his narrative.

His failure to do so reinforces my own belief that it is not yet possible to write a coherent historical survey that includes post-1970 stylistic developments. Not only are we too close in time to the jazz of the 70's, 80's, and 90's to write about it with detachment, but it is by no means clear that postmodern jazz is itself sufficiently coherent to be grasped as a unified phenomenon continuous with pre-1970 predecessors.

Still, even if the many kinds of music that we continue to call "jazz" no longer have enough in common to be discussed collectively, most listeners and critics, myself included, stubbornly persist in viewing them as parts of a whole, unified (in Bill Evans's words) not by their "whatness" but by their "howness." Perhaps some jazz scholar as yet unborn will be able to explain to our children why we were right to do so.

In any case, whether or not his political characterizations of market forces and of what "passes as jazz today" are accurate, Collier lays out an unavoidable truth facing all creative artists who depart from accepted norms.

The only problem for these individuals - who exist in every part of the world - is getting heard. And finding an audience among the increasingly market-led neo-conservative, re-creative and tribute-led music which passes as jazz today.
April 23, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (4)

Just in case you have lost track of the famous white plastic Grafton alto saxophone that Charlie Parker played for a time, here's a reminder. The horn, actually cream-colored and made of acrylic, was among items sold at Christie's in London when the Chan Parker Collection was auctioned in 1994. Chan, never legally Parker's wife, was the mother of two of his children and inherited most of his possessions when he died in March, 1955.

As part of the pre-bidding activity, alto saxophonist Peter King played the horn, with the auction tag dangling from it. Rifftides reader Don Emanuel sent this link to a video of King demonstrating the alto with his regular rhythm section of the time, pianist Steve Melling, bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Steve Keogh. The eight-minute clip has more than curiosity value. King can play.

The city of Kansas City, the birthplace of Charlie Parker, won the bidding at $144,500. The saxophone is in the collection of the American Jazz Museum in KC.

April 20, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)
It was the kind of success that resists analysis, but it undoubtedly involved the contrast presented by (Dave) Brubeck and (Paul) Desmond, the pianist openly touching on the pensive, the boisterous, and the bombastic, the saxophonist a self-effacing master of a coolly detached, liquid lyricism.
--Stuart Broomer, pianist and critic, review
The word bombastic keeps coming up, as if it were some trap I keep falling into. Damn it, when I'm bombastic, I have my reasons. I want to be bombastic. Take it or leave it.
--Dave Brubeck, quoted in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers.
April 20, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)

Regarding the poll described in this item, a singer who requests anonymity for reasons of "career protection and seemliness" writes:

Your Jamie Cullum piece is spot-on, but it is worth noting that, unlike those many jazz singers who self-produce, Cullum is on a prominent European label (and a label with the savvy to rig polling). There are plenty of singers out there on labels who are just plain awful. I'm sure the need to attract the interest of label execs does help to filter out many of the awful singers who put out their own discs. But it certainly doesn't ensure that there will be any baseline of quality.
The Brits, by the way, seem to have a particular taste for bad pseudo-jazz singing. Robbie Williams, anyone?
In any case, you're absolutely right that we're in for a fascinating stretch watching how the jazz world changes as it becomes ever easier for product to flood the rather miniscule market for the music. I too wonder what sort of new gatekeeping processes might develop, because they will have to. Otherwise the noise of all those recordings will drown out the ability to listen for anything good.
April 19, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Carol Sloane has joined the ranks of bloggers, telling stories accumulated during her career as one of the best singers on earth. Her first entry has an introduction and a gripping story about the time she went to prison. I look forward to regularly reading SloaneView.I have added it to the links in Other Places in the right-hand column.

April 18, 2007 4:20 PM | | Comments (0)

A new jazz radio station in England, theJazz, recently conducted a poll of its listeners to determine--as they put it--the "best ever jazz record." This was the result, as reported on the BBC web site.

1. Miles Davis - So What
2. Dave Brubeck - Take Five
3. Louis Armstrong - West End Blues
4. John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
5. Miles Davis - All Blues
6. John Coltrane - My Favourite Things
7. Weather Report - Birdland
8. Jamie Cullum - Twentysomething
9. Duke Ellington - Take The 'A' Train
10. Miles Davis - Blue In Green

If you go to the web site of theJazz and examine its list of the top 500 records, you will discover that recordings by Jamie Cullum, a young British singer and pianist, placed 29, 32, 33, 46, 53 and 54. Do listeners to theJazz hear something that puts him in a league with Davis, Brubeck, Coltrane and Ellington? Or is there just the slightest chance--shocking to suggest it, I know--that there was a bit of ballot stuffing by Jamie Cullum interests?

This sort of thing accentuates the absudity of surveys and polls that rank the popularity of art. It may encourage some of us to reevalute the wisdom of taking part in, for instance, critics polls.

April 18, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)

The traditional record industry is imploding. It is impossible to say what will emerge from the turbulence. Some analysts of the music business are predicting that the compact disc will quickly go the way of the LP, the cassette, the eight-track tape, the 45, the 78 and the cylinder. They say it's going to be an iPod world, an MP3 world. How long will technology allow those new means of music delivery to survive? Are you ready for a digital implant in your brain?

In the meantime, CDs proliferate because they're so easy, so cheap, to make. The expense and sheer complexity of gettting music from an instrument or a voice into a microphone and ultimately onto a record used to require the resources of a company. Digital technology, the internet and distribution by downloading make it possible for anyone who can raise a few thousand dollars to be a record label. One of the immediate by-products of the transition is that recording "artists" (ahem) are materializing at an incredible rate. Who knew that there were so many jazz singers? The maturing and development of singers once took place through the demanding process of experience, during which those with the goods survived and the wannabees, for the most part, didn't. Now the wannabees bypass experience and put out CDs on their own labels. Some of those recordings are awful, most merely boring. That is why it was welcome to receive the recent release--in one fell swoop--of nine CDs by survivors of a more rigorous system. These albums from EMI were issued in the 1950s and '60s on the Capitol, Pacific Jazz and Roulette labels. Some of the singers were more accomplished than others, but all are at or near their best in this series, and it may be instructive for some of the wannabees to study them. One clue to what they might listen for: in nearly every case, the performances are more about the song than the singer.

Sarah Vaughan, Sarah + 2 (Roulette). Vaughan recorded two indispensable albums with only bass and guitar, this one and the earlier After Hours, also for Roulette. Here, the bassist is Joe Comfort, the guitarist Barney Kessel, who may have been her ideal accompanist. In this minimal setting, Sarah powered down and avoided the excesses that sometimes marred her work when she was surrounded by massed strings, reeds and brass. Everything that made her a phenomenon of twentieth century art is in balance--musicianship, elegance, judgment, intonation, control, vocal quality and that astonishing range. If you need to know why an opera star like Renee Fleming worships Vaughan, consult this CD.

June Christy, The Intimate Miss Christy (Capitol). Christy's strength was her story telling. Her famously unstable intonation occasionally wanders here, but it is perfect as she gets to the hearts of "The More I See You" and "Don't Explain." Her "Misty" is the best I've ever heard (yes, I know about Sarah Vaughan's). Christy should have recorded with small groups more often. Her compatability with guitarist Al Viola is a large reason for the success of this venture.

Sue Raney, All By Myself (Capitol). There's a hint of Christy in some of this early work by the sublime Raney, but her flawless intonation, time and phrasing are her own. The zest she brings to "Some of These Days" and the longing to "Maybe You'll Be There," define those songs. This was her second album for Capitol, made when she was twenty-three. It disappeared for decades. It's good to have it back.

Chris Connor, At The Village Gate (Roulette). Because she succeeded Christy in Stan Kenton's band, was also blonde and had a husky quality to her voice, Connor was at first presumed to be a Christy imitator. She never was. In this club date long after her Kenton years, Connor was a powerhouse, nailing every song, creating excitement that rarely surfaced in her better known albums. This is a revelation.

Joe Williams, A Man Ain't Supposed to Cry (Roulette). This was the first of Williams's great ballad albums, the one that disclosed him as more than a magnificent blues singer. In a class with Billy Eckstine and Frank Sinatra as a balladeer, Williams finds the soul and meaning of a dozen songs. He and the incomparable arranger Jimmy Mundy include the seldom-heard verses of several of the pieces. Still with Count Basie when this was recorded, Williams was at the apex of his ability.

Irene Kral, The Band and I (Capitol). Nearly thirty years after her death, a substantial cadre of afficianados maintains that Kral was the best female jazz singer of them all. This is the record that made her a darling of musicians and sophisticated listeners. Never interested in scatting, Kral used taste, rhythmic assurance and intelligent interpretation to establish jazz authority. The band was Herb Pomeroy's. This album was the only time they and Kral worked together. They created a classic.

Jon Hendricks, A Good Git-Together (Pacific Jazz). Hendricks does scat. He knows what chords are made of and takes musicianly advantage of that knowledge. Of the albums he recorded apart from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross during that group's primacy, this is the most joyous. No doubt his elation had something to do with the company he kept in the studio. His sidemen included Wes, Buddy and Monk Montgomery; Nat and Cannonball Adderley and Pony Poindexter.

Dakota Staton, Dynamic! (Capitol). Staton could be dynamic, all right, earning that exclamation point in the title. She could also go into a cloying sex kitten mode, saccharine to the point of embarrassment. When she concentrated on serving the song, she was often splendid, as she is here on "They All Laughed," "Cherokee" and "I'll Remember April." Among the supporting cast, Harry Edison's trumpet is obvious, but who are the terrific bassist and the lightning-fast trombonist? The reissue producers might have consulted the original session sheets and listed the musicians for all the CDs in this series.

Julie London, Around Midnight (Capitol). London's treatments of "Misty," "'Round Midnight" and "Don't Smoke in Bed" are among her best performances. Now and then she glides in and out of tune on a held note, but on balance this may be her finest album. London's strengths were a bewitching intimacy and her believable connection to lyrics. This is a ballad collection relieved by "You and the Night and the Music" and "But Not For Me" well arranged by Dick Reynolds at medium tempos. London does an effective cover of Christy's "Something Cool," despite the distraction of a vocal group behind her chanting "something cool, something cool, something cool."

April 17, 2007 1:33 PM | | Comments (0)

Responding to the Rifftides review of the Cannonball Adderley CD in the current batch of Doug's Picks, its producer writes:

A somewhat important point needs to be made about the current ownership of a significant, if relatively small, segment of the records produced by Orrin Keepnews. I'm in a pretty good position to know about his work, since that's who I am. From 1953 to until the end of '63, Bill Grauer and I were Riverside Records. I produced records; Grauer handled business matters. Then he died, following a heart attack. After having helped in the rise of such artists as Monk, Adderley, Montgomery, Bill Evans, Milt Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Jimmy Heath, Wynton Kelly and a few dozen others, Riverside (and assorted subsidiaries, mostly Jazzland) disappeared beneath the waves of a substantial bankruptcy.

A few years later, I started again, as Milestone Records, developed with considerable assistance from pianist-and-sometime-producer Dick Katz. From 1972 until 1980, Milestone and Riverside and I were all part of Fantasy, where I worked with such remarkable artists as Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Bobby Timmons, et al. Having departed from Fantasy in 1980, Ieaving past labels behind, I eventually could point with pride to Landmark Records, which included Bobby Hutcherson, Mulgrew Miller, the Kronos Quartet, Wesla Whitfield. Somewhat confusingly, Landmark was only distributed, not owned, by Fantasy; therefore, it passed through other hands and -- unlike just about everything else that once was mine, did not eventually end up owned by the Concord Group.

Currently, much of my energy is being devoted to a project under the auspices of Concord. Known as the "Keepnews Collection," it involves remastering, additional performances, and thoroughly expanded annotation of some of the original productions described above. Of course you understand all this, but I much appreciate your lending me some space in which to attempt to explain these creative but confusing matters to your jazz-loving audience.

Best regards,


April 16, 2007 8:23 PM | | Comments (0)

Rifftides reader Eric R. Quick writes from Gaithersburg, Maryland about one of the CDs reviewed in this recent posting and about the valuable collection of which it is a part:

With regard to Red's Good Groove - you say get it while you can (I already have the CD) Will the OJC catalog (or much of it) be deleted by its current owners? What is the word? Should I be purchasing all those discs I have never gotten around to buying?

I passed along Mr. Quick's question to Nick Phillips of Concord Records, since Concord's purchase of Fantasy Inc. the owner of the OJC (Original Jazz Classics) archive. I asked him about the closing of the company's Berkeley, California, warehouse where much of the OJC stock was stored. Here is his reply:

While it is true that the Berkley warehouse is closed, that doesn't mean we're embarking on any kind of wholesale deletion campaign. That warehouse facility is closed because we've consolidated our warehousing operations to one facility, in Cleveland (where our Telarc operations are based).

We are not planning to "delete the OJC catalog."

That said, as the consumer trends in acquiring music continues to shift toward downloads (much in the same way that there was a shift from LP to CD) there may be, however, instances of titles that simply are not selling any more on CD that we will not reprint in that format; but they will continue to be available via digital download (via i-tunes,, etc.).

Finally, there are also many examples of titles where we've taken the OJC CD version of a classic album off of the market, when we reissue a new version of the same title (such as our RVG Remasters series, and our new Keepnews Collection series).

April 14, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

After reading the Rifftides remembrance of Tony Scott, Jair-Rohm Parker Wells sent a message from Stockholm. Mr. Wells discusses a facet of Scott's musical life about which few people may have known.

I'm a bass player. I played with Tony in Germany in the mid-seventies and then in the US in the early 80s. There are two reasons i feel compelled to leave a comment here. The first is, Tony's graduation didn't cause me to remember him again. I never forgot him. During the last couple of years, i was trying to get together with him to do some new music. After tracing him through the Internet i set about nagging him to do a project with me. The other reason for my taking up bandwidth here is to mention something i never see in any of the biographical info on Tony. Tony played clarinet in a New Jersey based "Avant-Rock" band that i was in called "DP and the Grays". We toured in the north-eastern US with this band during the early 1980s.

Tony was something of a mentor to the band's leader and guitarist, Dani Petroni. The story was they met when Dani was playing in the streets in Rome. When Dani got back to the states and got his band together and a record deal, he called Tony and asked him to be in the band. Imagine what a surprise it was to me when i showed up to a gig and he was there. The band only released one LP which was recorded before Tony entered the band (Frank Lowe is on reeds on the album). We played all of the significant regional clubs of the time, CBGBs, The Stone Pony, Maxwell's, etc. Tony Scott was an electrifying musician who elevated any and every musical situation he found himself in. It's a shame that his playing with DP and the Grays wasn't properly documented. I'm sure that somewhere out there are concert bootlegs of Tony Scott ripping it up. He is still the only musician i have ever heard who made a clarinet sound more ferocious than an over-driven guitar. It was a dimension of the multi-faceted Tony Scott that i feel privileged to have experienced first-hand.

Jair-Rohm Parker Wells

April 14, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Bobby Broom, Song And Dance (Origin). Accompanied by bass and drums, the Sonny Rollins and Dr. John guitarist plays a relaxed program of his compositions and others by Schwartz & Dietz, The Beatles, Charlie Chaplin and Jimmy Webb. A highlight: Broom's harmonic adventuring in an extended cadenza in "Good Old Days," the Little Rascals theme.

Frank Foster Loud Minority Band, Well Water (Piadrum). There is more than curiosity value in this session that went three decades between recording and release. It may not quite qualify as recovered treasure, but the writing and ensemble playing are fine, and Elvin Jones's drumming is superb. In his liner notes Foster puts himself down, amusingly, but he solos well on tenor and soprano saxophones, and we are treated to several solos by Charles Sullivan, a drastically overlooked trumpeter.

Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life (Blue Note). Blue Note's all-star variety show CD of Strayhorn compositions was designed as a supplement to the PBS television special of the same name. Hank Jones, Bill Charlap, Joe Lovano, Diane Reeves and Elvis Costello head the bill, with important participation by George Mraz, Paul Motian, Russell Malone, Peter Martin, Gregory Hutchinson and Reuben Rogers. Charlap sets the bar high by opening with a tight, smart "Fantastic Rhythm," and all hands maintain his standard. The collection is weighted toward Reeves, who sings with simplicity and little of the overdone melisma that sometimes mars her work. Lovano's tenor sax is a hoot on "Johnny Come Lately."

Jackie Cain & Roy Kral, Echoes (Jazzed Media). Five years after Kral's death comes the discovery of a new Jackie & Roy album. Beautifully recorded in 1976 at Howard Rumsey's Concerts By The Sea and digitally remastered, it contains a rich cross-section of the repertoire of the preeminent jazz vocal duo of their time. Of any time.

Frank Collett, Music From The Movies (Fresh Sound). Following up his CD of the film music of Bronislaw Kaper, the pianist surveys some of the best known movie songs. Among them: "Laura," "I Remember You," "Tangerine" and "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead." With bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe La Barbera, or in solo, Collett builds new stories around old themes.


Red Garland, Red's Good Groove (Jazzland OJC). I ran across this on the shelves when I was looking for something to play along with and, boy, was I glad. There's nothing recent--and nothing dated--about it. Recorded in 1962 and reissued on CD in 2001, the master pianist is nominally in charge of an organized jam session with four of his peers. And what peers: Blue Mitchell, trumpet; Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone; Sam Jones, bass; and Philly Joe Jones, drums. Six good tunes. Relaxed, unpretentious blowing. Sheer pleasure. It's still in the OJC catalog. Get it while you can and remember five great players, all departed.

April 13, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

In an attempt to keep my head above the rising tide of incoming CDs, in the next few posts I will offer impressions of a few recent arrivals.

Not all recent arrivals are new. Graham Collier's Deep Dark Blue Centre (disconforme) has been around for forty years, but it is as fresh as last week. A bassist, composer, arranger and leader, Collier made British jazz more interesting in the 1960s and has helped to keep it that way. The album title is part of what Hoagy Carmichael is said to have answered when he was asked about the future of jazz. Whatever happened, he replied, he hoped the music would always keep its deep dark blue centre. In 1967, Collier succeeded in his exploration of new possibilities by holding that vital center (centre if you spell in British).

His writing for a pianoless seven-piece ensemble had economy, daring and just enough whimsy to prevent the music from perishing of an overdose of self-regard, the fate of so much avant garde jazz of the sixties. Collier was aided by his choice of musicians. His sidemen included the young Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, the Rhodesian trombonist Mike Gibbs, and drummer John Marshall, all to become important figures in jazz. Reed and woodwind experts Dave Aaron and Karl Jenkins and guitarist Philip Lee are equally important as soloists and as contributors to the ensemble work in this still vital recording. Remastered in digital sound for the CD version, this is a perenially interesting introduction to Collier's work.

April 12, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Williams%2C%20Jessica.jpgThe May issue of Jazz Times has a Before & After listening test to which the pianist Jessica Williams subjected herself at my request. She was forthright, smart and funny in her comments on ten recordings. This is some of what she said about Fats Waller's "Smashing Thirds," recorded in 1929.

It's together; it swings. It reached a crescendo, a pinnacle. Then it switched gears unexpectedly and came home and resolved itself. It had humor, drama, amazing technique. It's a great piece of art.

This is a little of her reaction to a track from a Myra Melford album.

Maybe 40 years ago, I might have tried that on one tune, to express a lot of pent-up rage. I'd never consider doing it again. You can hurt yourself doing that. You can leave blood on the keys.

The Before & After feature is on line at the Jazz Times web site. It is interactive, with samples of the tracks Williams heard.

April 12, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

The Rifftides staff offers a belated welcome to Larry Blumenfeld, a new blogger who recently launched Listen Good: Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and other sounds. Blumenfeld, a New Yorker, has established a three-months residency in New Orleans. He is covering efforts of the jazz community--and the city at large--to make a comeback in the face of daunting odds dealt more by man than by nature.

Anyone in New Orleans will offer stern correction should you refer to Katrina as a "natural disaster."

And anyone involved in the city's culture will point out the many unnatural barriers that have popped up in Katrina's wake.

You'd think that New Orleans would welcome back the communities and establishments that anchor its culture.

Not so, Blumenfeld says. To read the whole thing, go here.

Cynthia Joyce has been blogging for from New Orleans a little longer than Blumenfeld. Her Culture Gulf (an inspired title) can be read as a companion piece to Listen Good. As a former Orleanian whose heart still beats in the bend of the river, I frequently visit both, wishing that I were there.

April 11, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

It was not my intention today to serve as a referral service to other peoples' work, but the two blogs mentioned in the above item deserved referral. The next recommendation demands it. Gene Weingarten wrote the story for last Sunday's Washington Post. It is about the classical violinist Joshua Bell playing for tips in the Metro, Washington DC's subway. It is about much more. It is about us, what is important to us and what we make time for in the United States in 2007. The story is long. It has a video component. To read, see and hear it, click here.

I thank Hotel Pianist for pointing us toward this remarkable piece of work.

April 11, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (2)

Thanks to Rifftides reader Jon Foley for alerting us, in the wake of Tony Scott's death, to what is evidently the colorful clarinetist's final recording. Information about Scott's CD/DVD is at this web site. Scroll down and if you wait for a video sample to load--slowly--you will be able to view a portion of the DVD.

April 10, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Porno spammers continue to invade the Rifftides comments sector. You don't don't see what they send. Nor will you. The staff is redoubling efforts to combat the flood and taking additional steps to segregate the slime from your comments. There is evidence that some legitimate comments have been squeezed out, but we think we have corrected that problem.

If you have sent comments and had no response, please send them again. The Rifftides staff is interested in your information and opinions. A comment link follows each posted item.

April 10, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

I was curious about the tunes in guitarist John Stowell's CD Swan Tones, Volume 1. so I asked him about those that he based on the harmonic structures of standard songs. Here is his reply:

"Wiil We Be One?" is based on "You and The Night and the Music" (second line of the lyric)

"Hot Flash" is an original

"A Tropical Breeze"is based on "St Thomas" (also a line from the lyric)

"Gabriel's Fall" is based on "Falling Grace": by Steve Swallow

"When Is He Coming?"i s based on "Someday My Prince Will Come"

"What Month Is This?" is based on "I'll Remember April"

"We're Going Now, Toto" is based on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

"Silver Wish" is based on "Peace" by Horace Silver

"The River Is Near" is a free improvisation (luthier Jim Soloway's house is on the Columbia, where the CD was recorded)

"Ginger's Dance" is an original

"Jerome's Things" is based on "All the Things You Are"

"Tom's Road" is based on "Caminhos Cruzados (roads crossing) by Jobim. I'm sure you know that Jobim's nickname was Tom

I found that knowing the original tunes made hearing my improvisations a bit more pleasant to listen to.

April 9, 2007 2:08 PM | | Comments (0)

Rifftides reader Hans Christian Dörrscheidt writes from Germany:

Having listened to Barnet's various bands from the 30s-60s a lot recently, I'd agree with Cannonball's description. While Barnet probably won't be counted among the great innovators of jazz saxophone playing, he certainly was a very individual player, always true to himself, be it on alto, tenor, or the soprano. And he always had good bands going, too!

Here's an interesting Barnet clip, from late 1948/early '49, C.B. and band playing "East Side, West Side". That's Doc Severinsen playing the trumpet solo. Danny Bank is on baritone sax, and Bunny Briggs is the singing telegram guy.

This clip is Charlie Barnet and his Orchestra playing "Skyliner", from the November 1950 Snader Telescriptions session. The young Bill Holman can (more or less) be seen playing tenor in the section. The piano soloist is Arnold Ross.

Not to be contradictory, but the pianist appears to be Don Trenner. The alto saxophonist next to Holman is Dick Meldonian. I think I see Johnny Coppola in the trumpet section. Thanks to Mr. Doerrscheidt for the video alerts.

April 6, 2007 12:18 PM | | Comments (1)

With the blazingly honest message heading, "Terrible Pun," Rifftides reader Don Frese writes from the University of Maryland:

As part of my last duties as a librarian before retirement, I am wading through Garrison & Morton's Medical Bibliography to identify which historically important books we own so that they may be tagged for keeping as we prune our collection to make room for renovations to the building. Just now, I was in the psychoanalytic section, and seeing Carl Jung reminded me of my never-used idea for an album title.

I wanted someone to title one of Shelly Manne's dates, Manne and His Cymbals, but alas, it never happened.


April 6, 2007 12:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Charlie Barnet was one of the first guys I thought was unique. I can tell you step-wise how the alto players got to me. The first one I knew played alto was Jimmy Dorsey. Then Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter and Willie Smith. Then when I first heard Charlie Paker I heard something different, really different. There were some guys who were trying to sound like Charlie Parker. Then I began to notice Charlie Barnet for the first time, even though he'd been on the scene. He was saying an awful lot of different things. He was peculiarly original from the outset. He played only like himself. And not just on alto. Here's a guy whose tenor playing was far more influential than people realize. A great number of rock and roll players utilize Charlie Barnet devices. The so-called "chicken" tenor sax playing of King Curtis and Boots Randolph--direct quotations from Charlie Barnet thirty years ago.

On Jazz Review, WDSU, New Orleans, September 2, 1967, quoted in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers.

April 6, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Tony Scott's death at eighty-five in Rome on March 28 set off a flurry of remembering by people who may not have thought about him for years. A clarinetist with a large sense of daring, a massive sound and nearly supernatural upper range, Scott was an important player in the New York bebop milieu of the late 1940s, an intimate of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He was an encourager of post-bop talent in the fifties. He exposed Bill Evans as the pianist's career began to accelerate in the mid-1950s, hiring Evans regularly and featuring him on recordings.

Whether or not he initially intended to be, with a big-selling album, Music For Zen Meditation, in the sixties Scott was a pioneer of what came to be known as new age and world music. He was also a character known, even celebrated, for his conviction, flamboyance and occasional outrageousness. Jazz Times has a comprehensive, if rather dry, Scott obituary on its web site. The New York Times obit includes a splendid latterday photograph and the late critic John S. Wilson's description of Scott "playing his clarinet in his own uncompromisingly distinctive manner, a manner which encompasses both a feathery, light-as-air impressionism and an intense, emotional ferocity that makes the old-time 'hot' men sound as though they were blowing icicles."

Scott and I conducted a sporadic correspondence that began after I did a radio program about him in 1967. It fell off for a few years, then resumed in October of 1982 with a letter from Rome. I'm sharing the letter with you because it gives a sense of Scott's personality and the passion with which he lived his life. I retain his punctuation, spelling and usage. My clarifications are in parentheses.

Hello Doug are you still there? I left NYC for Europe 1967. To Africa 1968/70. Live Italy 1970 till now. I am still alive and kicking. I have written a book. 700 pages of my life in jazz with Bird Lady Ben (Charlie Parker, Billie Holday, Ben Webster), 52nd St, Harlem, jazz in NYC 1939 till I left in 1959. My life in jazz with the giants, my travels, philosophy. About 100 photos I took of Lady Miles Ben Prez Mahalia (Holiday, Davis, Webster, Jackson).

My past has been 1967 to Europe with wife/child. 1968/70 to Africa playing a jazz show with locals I trained in luxury hotels. Then settled in Senegal 5 months study African music/rhythms.

1970 to Italy Roma to settle. Played mostly with Romano Mussolini on tour. Enjoyed life in Roma. 1975 divorced. Wife remarried. Two daughters Nina 10 Monica 5 live in Roma. I leave Italy for jobs in Europe for 2 years. Tired of travel. Stay in Roma 1977/78 see daughters - practice piano write music for big bands in Italy and Europe. Pays aboutr $3000 a show total for 3 day rehearsal & radio concert with public. 1979/80 travel around Europe always based in Roma.

1981 in and out of Italy. 1982 stay Holland 8 months with nice lady. Have $10,000 dental work. Lose feeling to play clarinet. Write book. Made a suite "African Bird" dedicated to Charlie Parker in 1981. Recorded in London. Glenn Ferris (USA) trombone, percussion, marimbas, flute, alto and vocal. Hope to sell in USA when I come in November for one month to sell book and "African Bird."

See lots of old friends on tour Dizzy Buddy Blakey (Gillespie, De Franco, Art Blakey). Seems they are all here to work. I like Italy. My roots. I played with Kenny Clarke (drummer) in Sicily at festival. Good success. We played bebop. I want to do college tour with Kenny plus talk and photos & films of old days, Bird Monk Harlem. Kenny is 69 but OK and wants to make college tour with me. I need to play with my cats to get an urge to play clarinet.

My Music For Zen Meditation gives me money to live on. Sells 15,000 a year for 10 years now. 10,000 in Europe, 5,000 in USA. Japan put out my RCA Big Band with Clark Thad (Terry, Jones), Bill Evans. Made 1956. Have you got it?

In USA, thinking of teaming up with Buddy De Franco for a clarinet clan show. Regards to any fans or friends.



Scott's autobiography has never found a publisher. I'm told that members of his family are still trying to place it. His web site, yet to be updated with his death, has historical sections and photos.

April 5, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

My internet service provider, Charter Communications (remember that name) is providing internet service hit or miss today. Mostly miss. When it gets on an even keel, Rifftides will resume posting. Mostly hit. Thank you for your patience.

April 3, 2007 4:53 PM | | Comments (0)

The Spoleto Festival USA chamber group is on tour in the Pacific Northwest under the direction of the festival's founding director, the venerable and irrepressible Charles Wadsworth. Friday night in the Spoletinians' (new word) concert at The Seasons, Cellist Andres Diaz and violinist Chee-Yun played the Pascaglia for Violin and Cello, a ravishing set of variations by Johan Halvorsen on themes by Handel. At one Steinway, Wadsworth and Stephen Prutsman roared through three Hungarian Dances by Brahms, reinforcing my conviction that Brahms is the true father of stride piano. Chee-Yun, Diaz and Prutsman did a splendid Haydn Trio for Violin, Cello & Piano.

After intermission came the familiar Sonata for Clarinet & Piano by Francis Poulenc with Wadsworth and the young virtuoso Todd Palmer, a clarinetist with amazing facility, feeling, and consistency of tone in every register of the horn. Smetana's big, powerful, seldom-heard Piano Trio in G-Minor was the official closer, but introducing it Wadsworth told the audience that the group had prepared an encore and were going to play it even if the Smetana was a dud and got no reaction. The Smetana was not a dud.

There being no such animal as a classical piece for two pianists, cello, clarinet and violin, Prutsman had written the encore. It was a riotous set of variations on Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" that started with crippled cadences and ending up swinging hard. Palmer was operating in Benny Goodman territory, even higher; Artie Shaw territory. He managed one of those classic 1930s poses with his clarinet pointed practically straight up. At dinner after the gig, I asked Palmer and Wadsworth how much of the "Rhythm" extravaganza had been improvised. "Much more than you might think," Palmer said. Wadsworth merely laughed.

Wadsworth had the hippest spoken line of the night. Introducing the Poulenc and discussing the chords of that impressionistic French classic, he told the audience, "Poulenc used these harmonies even before Bill Evans used them."

April 2, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

There seems to be concern among its competitors in internet technology that YouTube will rule the world. I suppose that no one is in favor of universal domination--except, possibly, YouTube--but when they come up with clips like this one from the 1983 Aurex Jazz Festival in Japan, they deserve thanks.


All but Shank and Giuffre are gone, worse luck. This was around the time that Shank swore off the flute to concentrate on being a full-time bebop alto saxophonist. It's hard not to miss his incomparable flute, but with alto playing like this, who can complain? My only argument with this performance is that Perkins's baritone solo is at least one chorus too short.

For dessert, try "Infinity Promenade." It's not quite the same without the scorching double trumpet lead of Maynard Ferguson and Conrad Gozzo on the original recording, but we get a nice round of sixteen-bar solos.

PS: The original posting of this item included the wrong assumption that Jimmy Guiffre was dead. He is not. The Rifftides Staff regrets the error and apologizes.

April 1, 2007 1:56 PM | | Comments (1) is out with its annual April 1st collection of reviews covering previously undiscovered jazz albums. It contains several surprising disclosures, including this one from Ken Dryden's review of Paul Desmond's Autumn Leaves: The Lost Vocal Session.

It was recorded during the making of the album 1975: The Duets with Dave Brubeck. Desmond, who at the time was seeing a young lady in her early twenties, wanted to make a special recording just for her. So the alto saxophonist sang for the first and only time on any record, something that he intended for her ears only, with Brubeck as his sole accompanist.

Dryden also unearthed Tonight At Noon, a buried CD of Jane Monheit singing works of Charles Mingus.

With a strong supporting cast of European musicians, Monheit tackles the difficult works of Charles Mingus on stage at Ronnie Scott's in London. She nails "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," the moving tribute Mingus wrote in memory of Lester Young, offering a powerful interpretation that will silence earlier critics. She shows off her playful side with her adept scatting through the brisk arrangement of "Boogie Stop Shuffle," trading licks with trumpeter Harley Herald.

And who would have guessed that Jerry Lee Lewis recorded an album in tribute to one of the great boogie-woogie pianists, The Killer Plays Boogie Woogie Classics by Meade Lux Lewis.

To find all of the AAJ April Fool's reviews by Dryden, Jack Bowers, Jim Santella and others, click here.

April 1, 2007 12:39 PM | | Comments (0)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the main category from April 2007.

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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
lies like truth
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
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
State of the Art
innovations and impediments in not-for-profit 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
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
The Unanswered Question
Joe Horowitz on music

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

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off

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
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