main: July 2007 Archives

The Rifftides staff is up against non-Rifftides deadlines. Rather than abandon you, we offer links to Lionel Hampton videos. You can use them in lieu of your morning coffee to perk you up, or benzedrine to keep you awake. The piece is "Flying Home," which was to Hampton what home runs are to Barry Bonds and tie-breaking goals to Beckham.

The first version is from the 1960s. It has solos by Hamp and the very young baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, playing with ferocity. The second is from a 1957 TV program hosted by the singer Patti Page. Hamp plays his patented solo, familiar but always swinging, until the full band comes in for the last chorus. The most remarkable thing about this performance is the driving bass playing of Milt Hinton. The only other sideman I can identify is Billy Mackel, Hampton's guitarist for decades. He is a co-conspirator in swing with Hinton and the drummer, whose face is lost in shadow.

Seat belts, please.

July 31, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (4)

The guest on Marian McPartland's current edition of Piano Jazz is alto saxophonist Bud Shank. Engaging talk and fine quartet playing, including one of the fastest versions of "Beautiful Love" you're likely to encounter. Go here.

July 31, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

This turned out to be Italian Sunday. My frequent companion Vigorelli Bianchi and I went for a twenty-mile ride full of ups, downs and early morning beauty in the hills of orchard country. Back home, I wrapped up a two-day ciabatta project and baked four loaves, then made a dinner that also featured salmon, pasta with pesto and a homey 2000 La Loggia Barolo from Trader Joe's. The wine is not a triumph of the Piedmont, but it worked with the meal. A classic (read expensive) Barolo would have fought with the salmon. The La Loggia was a bit pinot noirish and suited the fish and the pasta. For dessert, we had gelato and espresso.

The music I listened to in the kitchen was off the paisan track: Rostropovich playing Bach's solo cello suites. No matter. When you're in love with a day like this, the whole world's Italian.

July 29, 2007 9:53 PM | | Comments (1)

A year and a half ago a Rifftides report on the conference of the International Association of Jazz Educators included this paragraph:

It is impossible to predict the course of an artist's career, but here's a name to file away: Logan Strosahl. He is a sixteen-year-old alto saxophonist with the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band from Seattle, Washington. Strosahl has the energy of five sixteen-year-olds, rhythm that wells up from somewhere inside him, technique, harmonic daring with knowledge to support it and--that most precious jazz commodity--individuality. If he learns to control the whirlwind and allow space into his improvising, my guess is that you'll be hearing from Logan Strosahl.

I heard Strosahl again last winter in a student adjudication at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. For his appearance before the judges, he did not choose pushover pieces with easy harmonic structures; he played Thelonious Monk's "Ruby, My Dear" and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Strosahl won a top evaluation, and response as close to an ovation as anyone is likely to get from an audience mainly composed of educators and competitors. For a short biography, click here.
Logan Strosahl

Last night at The Seasons Summer Festival in a concert billed as The Future of Jazz, I heard Strosahl again, not in the anxiety-inducing circumstance of an academic exercise but in a full-fledged gig. Leading a band called the Playtonic Quartet, in an hour's performance he accomplished--at greater length and in greater depth--everything that prompted my enthusiasm for him in New York. With a rhythm section notable for its sensitivity and responsiveness, Strosahl showed that he has grown. Like Strosahl, bassist Jeff Picker is a national award winner in student music events and about to enter the Manhattan School of Music. Strosahl is off to the New England Conversatory in Boston, where, I predict, he will quickly gain notice when he takes time from his composition studies to jam in the city's clubs. Pianist Victor Noriega and drummer Chris Icasiano, bright lights in the young adult division of Seattle's jazz scene, were impressive in support and in solo.

Evidence of Strosahl's increasing maturity included the opening up of space in his solos; pauses that allowed his ideas breathing room and emphasized the melodic and rhythmic content, including humor, in his choruses. His improvised lines have logic, continuity and originality, with a fine edge of freedom and wildness. His mastery of the saxophone and of harmony evidently allow him to play any idea that comes into his head. Tall and slender, with wide shoulders, he cannot repress the urge to stay in motion. Strosahl moved about the stage in movements between jerking and gliding, pausing to listen intently to his bandmates, uttering syllables of encouragement or approval, then resuming his ballet, often while playing, a thick crop of dark hair flopping over his forehead.

His time feeling is so strong that on a couple of occasions when someone in the rhythm section drifted almost imperceptibly out of plumb, all it took was two or three perfectly placed quarter notes from Strosahl to get things back on course. That is a technique well known to seasoned horn players, evidence of natural leadership in one so young. His improvisation on "It Could Happen to You" was, simply, one of the most satisfying solos I have heard in years. He showed judgment in program construction, with a balance between original compositions and standards to which the audience could relate. In his announcements, he was brief, good natured and informative, if a bit rushed in his delivery.

Strosahl is the son of Pat Strosahl, the driving force behind his family's conversion of The Seasons from a church into one of the finest performance halls in the west. If this was a case of fatherly favoritism, it was one that could give nepotism a good name.

July 28, 2007 5:36 PM | | Comments (2)

There is a joke from a category of jazz humor labeled the chick singer file. I hasten to add that there are plenty of non-chick singers to whom the sentiment of the story applies.

A woman asks to sit in with a band. The leader suggests "My Funny Valentine." She agrees, but confesses that she's a bit unsure of the bridge.

"That's okay," the leader tells her. "You'll be next to the bass player. He knows it. If you get hung up, just turn to him."

She approaches a part of the song where she needs help and looks at the bassist. He whispers, "D-minor, C-7, B-7, B-flat major 7."

The story typifies musicians' wry amusement and frequent frustration inspired by people without musical knowledge who try to be "jazz singers." They are especially taken with those who decide they can improvise with their voices in the way that, say, Charlie Parker improvised with his alto saxophone. In her wonderful blog, Carol Sloane writes about the time she was asked to teach at the New England Conservatory and ended up with a brood of would-be scat singers. Here's an excerpt:

You should not attempt Advanced Calculus (scat singing) until a firm grasp of basic math (chord structure) is achieved. My students much preferred the bungee-jump thrill of diving into wordless versions of "Joy Spring" or "Ornithology". Yes, I certainly understand the desire to explore improvisational jazz since so many singers with impeccable credentials express themselves in this manner, thereby suggesting to the not-so talented that this activity is easy and without peril. My argument is that scat singing is an acquired attribute developed and nurtured over time. Listening to some blatantly confident but thoroughly unskilled scat singing can be harmful to your health, or (if you're lucky) hysterically funny.

To read the whole thing go to SloaneView.

July 26, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (5)

It's amazing; YouTube can cosponsor presidential debates and still find time to put new music on the internet. In the past few days, up popped two clips of vibraharpist Charlie Shoemake playing and his wife Sandi singing with the Bill Holman Orchestra.
Shoemake%20C.jpg Holman.jpg Shoemake%20S.jpg
Charlie Shoemake Bill Holman Sandi Shoemake

YouTube provides no information beyond the superimposed titles, so the Rifftides staff swung (heh-heh) into research mode. The video was taken in Los Angeles during the making of Charlie Shoemake's 1991 CD, Strollin', a fine entry in the discographies of the Shoemakes and Holman. Stan Levey, the late drummer turned photographer, produced and directed a videotape at a rehearsal for the recording session. It is the source of the YouTube clips. To see and hear the clips, go here and here. The tenor saxophone soloist on "I'll Never Stop Loving You" is Pete Christlieb.

Alerting me to the clips, Charlie Shoemake reminded me that I wrote the album notes for Strollin'. I looked them up and, as Paul Desmond used to say, didn't have to cough too often during the playback. Here is a paragraph about Shoemake the teacher.

Shoemake goes a long way toward putting to rest the popular notion that jazz can be learned but not taught. When he came off the road in 1973 after six years with George Shearing, he settled down in Los Angeles to teach. For hundreds of musicians, he has solved the puzzles of improvisation. His system includes study of the solos of, among others, Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro and Hank Mobley. These were musicians for whom chords comprised territory to be won through exploration. Studying their solos does not mean memorizing notes in the light of the harmonic possibilities that led to their choice. It means learning to apply that knowledge at the speed of thought so that the student can make choices of notes and execute them with coherence on his instrument in improvised performance, often at rapid tempos while observing a time feeling that grows out of a communal pulse.

What's more, he wrote a book about it.

On the CD and in the YouTube clips, Charlie Shoemake demonstrates that, sometimes, those who teach, can. And, as it says in those Strollin' liner notes, Sandi Shoemake displays "her control, her intonation and the meaning she imparts to lyrics." Holman reminds us, if a reminder is needed, that he is the eminence grise of modern arrangers, with a magnificent band that keeps helping him prove it. In addition to Christlieb, the 1991 version of the Holman band was loaded with stars including Lanny Morgan, Jeff Hamilton, Andy Martin, Bob Enevoldsen, Bob Summers and Carl Saunders.

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

No, that is not the name of an obscure Mississippi Delta blues man. It's the title of my forthcoming novel, which has nothing to do with the Delta or the blues, except, perhaps, the kind we all have. A few Rifftides readers have expressed interest. On its web site, the publisher provides an excerpt and a few outside opinions. Please have a look.

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

In the right-hand column under Doug's Picks, you will find new recommendations for your aural, visual and mental pleasure. Please use them responsibly.

July 24, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

When I arrived home after a post-concert hang late Saturday night, I found this message from a musician friend:

Has there ever been a better concert at the Seasons than the Ingrid Jensen one this evening?

No. I have attended most of the jazz and classical events at The Seasons in its nearly two years of operation. I have heard wonderful performances in that former church, with its dramatic domed space and nearly perfect acoustics, but none better than when Jensen, the gifted Canadian trumpeter, and pianist Benny Green got together in a one-off collaboration. Creative sparks flew.
Ingrid Jensen

Jensen's quartet included drummer Jon Wikan, bassist Russ Botten of Vancouver British Columbia, and Green. They were headed to western Washington state to teach at the Centrum Port Townsend Jazz Workshop this week and perform at the festival there next weekend. A convenient gig on the way to Port Townsend, the stop at The Seasons in Yakima grew into a memorable evening. Before they were married a couple of years ago, Jensen and Wikan developed musical empathy. In their own groups, with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and with other bands, they have become one of New York's most remarkable musical couples.

Saturday was one of those occasions when the combination of musicians, location, audience and circumstances elevated the proceedings. Jensen and Wikan had just come off vacation. They were relaxed and ready to play. Green is always ready to play. He was accomplished so young that he seems to have been around longer than his age makes possible, a phenomenon enhanced by his looking at least ten years younger than forty-four. The Seasons audience is chronically attentive and knowledgeable. How they got so hip in a small city in the middle of an agricultural area with no jazz history to speak of, I cannot tell you. They know what they're hearing and react in the right places. Saturday night, a bond quickly developed on stage and between the musicians and the listeners.

In what was essentially an ad hoc group, harmonic and rhythmic extrasensory perception emerged with the first piece, a fast "If I Were a Bell." Jensen's abstraction of an arrangement encouraged chance-taking in a round of solos by all hands, ending in a spontaneous tag inspired by the fifty-year-old Red Garland ding-dong piano introduction to the Miles Davis recording of the song. When it ended, smiles decorated the bandstand. Then, through Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" to the wildness of an impressionistic "Summer Night," there was so much variety, so much inventiveness, that time flew. When it was over, I was surprised to discover that the concert had run a good half hour beyond its scheduled end.
Benny Green

It is impossible to analyze with accuracy what is responsible for a performance that rises above even the usual excellence of artists of the quality of Jensen, Green, Wikan and Botten. I have a notion that what fired it up in this instance was the depth and unusual makeup of Green's accompanying chords in the first piece, and the way he applied them rhythmically. The harmonic changes in his comping stimulated Jensen to daring ideas that she incorporated in long, flowing melodic lines through the entire concert. The range and virtuosity of her trumpet and fluegelhorn playing are givens. What I am emphasizing is the lyric and melodic content of her improvisations. For a decade or more, I have listened to her develop as a soloist. This was, simply, the best I have ever heard her play. Green, at a nine-foot Steinway, matched Jensen's brilliance. So did Wikan, in his ensemble work and in solo. This was my first opportunity to hear Botten at length. He does not engage in the fingerboard acrobatics that put many modern bassists into competition with guitarists. He plays good time and good notes, listens carefully to what his colleagues are doing, responds with appropriate support and improvises well when he is called upon to solo.

I steeled myself when Jensen bent down to set up an electronic loop device, but was relieved that she used it to enhance, not dominate, the music. She combined the looping echo and repetition overlays with a Harmon mute producing judicious wa-wa effects in "It Never Entered My Mind." Her performance took on an endearingly--well, loopy--aspect, complete with an extended quote from "Petrouchka" as she wrapped up her stunning solo on "Summer Night." I don't know whether in a recording studio this group could capture the camaraderie, looseness and stimulation they found on Saturday night. I hope that they will give it a try.

In the meantime, Jensen and Wikan team with Ingrid's saxophonist-composer sister Christine, the Swedish pianist and composer Maggi Olin and bassist Mattias Welin in the new CD Flurry. The group is called Nordic Connect. The CD is full of what Ingrid Jensen in the liner notes calls "happy-sad" music. Christine Jensen's piece "Garden Hour" is a highlight in an album that is at once stimulating and peaceful.

Benny Green's Bluebird places him in a duo setting with a frequent partner, the guitarist Russell Malone. They support and energize one another in a fiesta of harmonic and rhythmic ingenuity. The fun is infectious.

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

For two years, the Doug's Books section of the right-hand column has ended with this forecast:

His next book is a novel that has almost nothing to do with music.

That is about to change. The target date for publication is next month. Am I relieved, breathing easier? Yes. Am I excited? You bet. Please stay tuned.

July 23, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)

Singular They

By way of suggesting that I was misguided when I railed against the use of "they" with singular antecedents, Rifftides reader David Seidman directed me to a web log called Language Log. Language Log summons up the Bible and Shakespeare to make the case that "everyone" and "themselves" are good partners, and concludes, alliteratively:

This use of "they" isn't ungrammatical, it isn't a mistake, it's a feature of ordinary English syntax that for some reason attracts the ire of particularly puristic pusillanimous pontificators, and we don't buy what they're selling.

If this argument interests you, here is Mr. Seidman's communique, complete with links to Language Log entries on the matter and, for dessert, to an essay on Ray Charles and a language choice he made in a performance of one of his most famous specialties.

A covey of professors of linguistics operates a blog called Language Log. One of the professors wrote, some time ago, "Singular they, as we've repeated at tiresome length, has been sanctioned for centuries by the usage of esteemed writers, though it's deprecated by some." These blog posts cover singular they in the Bible and in Shakespeare, as well as some other things:

Some of the same material is covered in the Wikipedia article Singular They -- Wikipedia notes the content is disputed (and the full notes on the disputes seem to be available).

While at Language Log (which I read regularly, perhaps less because I am interested in language than because the writers write well, interestingly, and often very amusingly), you might want to take a look at this entry, which has nothing to do with the singular they. It is an appreciation of Ray Charles's magnificence, combined with an analysis of a linguistic error in his recording of "America the Beautiful" -- the analysis includes a highly plausible discussion of the likely reasons why Charles made the error.

David Seidman

As for the Rifftides staff, it invites, or they invite, further discussion. Just click on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this item.

Have a linguistically satisfying weekend.

July 21, 2007 3:25 PM | | Comments (1)

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae. --Kurt Vonnegut Jr

One should not be too severe on English novels; they are the only relaxation of the intellectually unemployed. --Oscar Wilde

July 21, 2007 2:39 PM | | Comments (0)

Rifftides reader Marc Myers writes:

Among the most underrated and barely celebrated pianists from the 1950s has to be Lorraine Geller, the late wife of alto saxophonist Herb Geller, who today lives in Germany. Stylistically, Lorraine was a funky bop cross between Bud Powell and Horace Silver. She can be heard playing with Herb on a number of solid Emarcy LPs from the mid-50s, including Herb Geller Plays and the stunning The Gellers. Just listen to "Araphoe" from The Gellers, which is set to Cherokee changes--or the loping "Two of a Kind."


No mouse, Lorraine was always in full command. She also can be heard on
Miles Davis and The Lighthouse All-Stars and was a sidewoman on many notable West Coast 1950s dates. Some of her solo efforts are captured on the import, Lorraine Geller at the Piano. But my favorites feature Lorraine playing in Maynard Ferguson's Dimensions and Around the Horn big bands of 1955-56. Perhaps her high point was her vamping front and center on Bill Holman's "Dancing Nitely," which builds steadily and showcases Lorraine's signature touch throughout. And dig her on Holman's "Wildman." The Ferguson sessions can be found on Jazz Masters 52. Lorraine died of a heart ailment shortly after her 30th birthday in October 1958. Sadly, she's all but forgotten today. Here's to Lorraine Geller!

Thanks to Mr. Myers for those leads to the work of a pianist who deserves the attention--and more. She came in for mention in this Rifftides item from April, 2006. While we're visiting the past, we may as well replay the Doug's Picks that occasioned that piece.

Herb Geller Plays the Arthur Schwartz Songbook (Hep). The enduring, and enduringly inventive, alto and soprano saxophonist visits seventeen songs by the unclassifiable composer of whom Alec Wilder said, "quality was his style." Melody was his style, too. Schwartz wrote songs that brighten the atmosphere of American life; "Dancing in the Dark," "You and the Night and the Music," "Gal in Calico," "A Shine on My Shoes," "Alone Together" and the others addressed by Geller and an excellent rhythm section of Britons barely known outside the UK. As tough-minded and disciplined as musicians come, Geller reaches deeply into these songs to extract beauty and joy. The Schwartz pieces bring out the romantic aspect of his nature and--I rather imagine--of the listeners'. In Geller's hands, "That's Entertainment," the album closer, is a smile-inducing bebop romp.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk: Brotherman in the Fatherland (Hyena). Kirk died in 1977, but Hyena's Joel Dorn keeps finding music by the astonishing multi-instrumentalist that is worth issuing. In this case, it comes from a 1972 date at the Funkhaus in Hamburg, Germany. The album finds Kirk fully armed with tenor saxophone, flute, nose flute, manzello, stritch, clarinet and siren. Now and then, he plays three of the horns at once. Early in his career, he was accused of using that capability as a gimmick. But Kirk's real gimmicks, if you care to think of them that way, were his deep musicianship and his massive, unending, energy. He unleashes both in a breathtaking seventeen-and-a-half-minute examination of the blues on John Coltrane's "Blue Trane." I would call it the highlight of the CD, except for Kirk's live cross-fade from a gloriously unadorned "Lush Life" on tenor sax to manzello and the Latin urgencies of "Afro Blue." This is exciting stuff.

July 20, 2007 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

In the steady dumbing-down of the English language, there is little dumber than the convoluting fandango that began about twenty years ago to achieve political correctness by avoiding gender. Today's Wall Street Journal story about efforts to protect the pre-publication sanctity of the new Harry Potter book quotes Potter's inventor, J.K. Rowling:

I'd like to ask everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan to help preserve the secrecy of the plot for all those who are looking forward to reading the book at the same time on publication day.

"...everyone who calls themselves a Potter fan..."

It shouldn't be too difficult for a professional writer to figure out ways of avoiding singular-plural disagreement. How about, "...people who call themselves Potter fans..." or "...those who call themselves Potter fans..." Ms. Rowling could work around the generic "himself" by using "herself." That's not an ideal solution, but it doesn't make my teeth hurt. Perhaps it is inevitable that "they" will replace "him" and "her" in the English language, but I'm not going to let it happen without a fight.

What kind of sentence is this?

President Bush saying we'll have to wait for General Petraeus's report.

It is not a sentence. Nor is:

Officials telling Fox News the fire is eighty-seven percent contained.

Fox News and, I regret to report, established news organizations that don't use the slogan "fair and balanced" have adopted this imbecilic way of writing and talking, evidently in the interest of imparting a sense of urgency and immediacy to the news. If you haven't noticed, the news these days is urgent and immediate all by itself. It doesn't need hypeing at the expense of further deterioration of English usage.

Children may be listening. We wouldn't want them to think that's how to speak. People who know good English may be listening. We wouldn't want them to suffer apoplexy.

July 19, 2007 3:17 PM | | Comments (4)

He has been gone for fifteen years, but interest in the American Indian tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper seems to be building. Pepper's music, full of vigor and allusions to his cultural background, has received attention akin to cultism in parts of Europe and seems headed toward at least a modest revival in the US. (See this January Rifftides piece.) In Portland, Oregon, Pepper's home town, the journalist and historian Jack Berry produced for Oregon Public Broadcasting a mini-documentary about Pepper and wrote an article for the Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society. Here is a section of the article.

During the 1970s, at the height of the Black Power movement, a phenomenon called Crow Jim materialized. Some major black jazz musicians began insisting on an exclusive franchise; only African Americans could authentically perform the music. Pepper, who played with more white than black musicians, opposed Crow Jim, but he was also spared most of its consequences and was rarely spurned by black musicians. (Pepper's mother Floy recalls saying at the moment of his birth: "How light is he? If he's white, dip him in some chocolate. I want an Indian baby.")

In the early 1980s, we worked for a time on a writing project. It was intended to show how the musical connection between, in his words, "the skins and the brothers" reflected a larger and neglected story, the way Africans and Native Americans collaborated to survive in racist America.

His singularity as a performer was the merging of two very different musical idioms, jazz and traditional Indian song. This made him difficult to categorize, one reason his recorded music is so difficult to find. It is probably more accurate to say that he played the two idioms side by side. The Indian songs are almost purely melodic, uncomplicated by the harmonic density of jazz. Most of the Indian songs come from tribes of the Southwest, where Pepper spent summers during his youth. He is better known by American Indians in that part of the country than he is to members of tribes in his native Northwest.

Apropriately for a historic journal, Berry's article concentrates on Pepper's ancestry and heritage, but it also has insights into his music. To read it, go here.

As for Berry's film for Oregon Public Broadcasting's Art Beat, it has shown up in two parts on YouTube. Its historical sequences include Pepper playing his most famous composition, "Witchi-Tai-To." At the end of Part 2, host KC Cowan interviews Berry about Pepper and a proposed festival devoted to Pepper's music. "The Pepper music just keeps rollin' along," he says. To see the film, go here...and here.

July 19, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (5)

The family of blogs becomes richer by one today. Howard Mandel (accent on the first syllable) debuts his Jazz Beyond Jazz with a manifesto that begins:

What if there's more to jazz than you suppose? What if jazz demolishes suppositions and breaks all bounds? What if jazz - and the jazz beyond, behind, under and around jazz - could enrich your life?

What if jazz is the subtle, insightful, stylish, soulful, substantive guide to successful navigation of today's big and little challenges?

He has other questions:

Like -- if it's so popular, why ain't jazz rich? And how popular is it, anyway? What's behind the imminent demise (or will it be another reorganization?) of the Jazz Alliance International, a basically bankrupt lobbying group established to function on the model of the far better positioned Country Music Foundation? Is it true Jazz at Lincoln Center loses money every time it has a show at 1000-seat Rose Hall, even if all tix sell out?

Howard has been around jazz a long time as a writer, producer, teacher and--for the past several years--as president of the Jazz Journalists Association. He is an insider. I look forward to his answers.

Welcome aboard, Howard. The more smart bloggers, the merrier--and the better informed we will all be.

July 18, 2007 2:48 PM | | Comments (1)

John Coltrane
Not long after John Coltrane died forty years ago this week, Cannonball Adderley was the guest on Jazz Review, a radio program I did in New Orleans. He and Coltrane had forged a bond in the late 1950s as members of the Miles Davis Sextet. I wrote about their relationsip in a profile of Adderley in Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of its Makers:

With Davis, Adderley began to alter his conception. Miles often leads in strange and reticent ways. But he was never reluctant to tell his sidemen when he didn't like their playing. He told Cannonball he played too many notes, that when a note is played it should mean something. And Cannon, ever open, curious, receptive, listened more and more carefully to Davis's playing and to his criticisms. Miles's economy and his harmonic subtlety began to make themselves known in Adderley's playing. After John Coltrane was added to the band, Cannon's harmonic development accelerated through exposure to one of the most restlessly creative soloists in the history of jazz. The saxophonists rubbed together and threw off sparks. For a stunning instance of the way Coltrane infuenced Adderely, consult their solos on "Two Bass Hit" (Columbia) .

By the time of the epochal Kind of Blue session in 1959, the innocence in Julian's solos had not been deflowered, but it had been tempered with deep insights into the possibilities of chords, with the wisdom that leads to a realization that one note can simultaneously serve more than one chord, with the knowledge that a pause may make a point more effectively than a trill. Cannonball became a more conservative player in the sense that he learned to hold something in reserve, but a more daring one in his harmonic aspects.

Cannonball told me on the air, "It's still very hard for me to talk about him, except to say I learned more from him than from anybody."

I remember waiting that night in 1967 for Adderley to say more about Coltrane, but he swallowed hard and waved me off. I introduced a piece of music. While it played, he told me that when it was over, he'd rather talk about something else, it was too soon to talk about John.

Unlike Cannonball and Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Coltrane were not student and teacher, but equals. They shared Miles Davis in their backgrounds, but their approaches to improvisation were independent of one another, distinctive saxophone offshoots of a common source, Charlie Parker. In Like Sonny, a short film he put up on the Rollins web site yesterday, journalist Bret Primack explores the relationship between the two men. Rollins appraises Coltrane's importance, and there are insights from saxophonists Jimmy Heath and Paul Jeffrey. The mini-documentary includes footage of Coltrane and Rollins playing--not together--and audio of Coltrane talking about Rollins. To view it, go here and marvel that four decades following his death, Coltrane's presence in music is as powerful as that of his old friend who plays on.

July 18, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

From San Francisco comes word that Earl Watkins died early this month at the age of eighty-seven. Elegant, softspoken and full of knowledge, Watkins was a key figure in Bay Area jazz as a drummer and a historian of the music. He played with bands as varied as Bob Scobey's traditional revival outfit at the Tin Angel and Earl "Fathah" Hines' at the Hangover Club. He was the first drummer hired at Jimbo's Bop City when that celebrated after hours club opened in 1950. He worked steadily until bad health sidelined him last fall, and he was a mentor to generations of young musicians.
watkins.jpgWatkins spent most of his life in the Bay Area, but in the mid-forties played for a time in the Los Angeles big band of pianist Wilbert Baranco, a friend from his days as a World War Two US Navy musician. Another member of the rhythm section was bassist Charles Mingus. The band included Snooky Young, Melba Liston, Lucky Thompson and Britt Woodman. Watkins is with the Baranco band on four tracks of the CD Groovin' High in L.A. 1946. He recorded at the Hangover Club in 1957 and '58 with the Hines band, which had Muggsy Spanier, Darnell Howard, Jimmy Archey and Pops Foster. Some issues of the Hines-Spanier recording are subtitled, "The Chicago Dates," but as Jepsen's discography delicately puts it, "the above details are believed to be more correct."

Mr. Watkins enriched my research when I was working on Paul Desmond's biography. His generosity with his expertise about the San Francisco jazz scene of the forties and early fifties was invaluable. Earl was good company. I shall miss him.

July 17, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)

If you are holding on to your turntable and LPs, you may be encouraged by what Katie Allen reports in The Guardian, especially if you are in the United Kingdom.

The format was supposed to have been badly wounded by the introduction of CDs and killed off completely by the ipod-generation that bought music online.

But in a rare case of cheerful news for the record labels, the latest phenomenon in a notoriously fickle industry is one nobody dared predict: a vinyl revival. Latest figures show a big jump in vinyl sales in the first half of this year, confirming the anecdotal evidence from specialist shops throughout the UK.

To read the whole thing, go here. Then follow up with Mr.On An Overgrown Path.

National Public Radio says it's happening in the US, too--with a kind of reverse spin.

July 17, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Sue Raney, Heart's Desire: A Tribute To Doris Day (Fresh Sound).Raney.gif
Sue Raney is hardly without a following, but it is a puzzle why a singer of her gifts never achieved widespread fame. For far too long, general audiences have been unaware of Raney's sublime work. Happily, EMI recently reissued All By Myself, one of her early Capitol albums. She seldom makes new recordings, and most of her reissued albums are on CDs that are hard to find except as imports. Since the death of Albert Marx and the end of his Discovery label, American companies have missed the boat on this exemplary artist. Raney's new Doris Day tribute is one of the best albums of her career. The Spanish label Fresh Sound recorded it last fall in Los Angeles with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Alan Broadbent.

Day was in the last wave of quality popular singers blessed with good material, and Raney makes the most of "Secret Love," "Love Me Or Leave Me" and twelve other songs. A singer who has achieved technical perfection that encompasses tonal accuracy and range into the stratosphere, she provides a moment of thrilling vocalese when she parallels the lead trumpet in an interlude on "Sentimental Journey." For the most part, however, she just sings the songs, and sings them superlatively. Her treatment of "Shanghai" ("I'm just around the corner in a phone booth....") is a joy. But then, so is the entire CD. Broadbent's arrangements perfectly complement Raney. There are succinct solos by Broadbent at the piano, Carmen Fanzone (Raney's husband) on fluegelhorn and saxophonists Bob Sheppard and Gary Foster. Doris Day did not record Broadbent's and Dave Frishberg's "Heart's Desire," a modern ballad that equals the best of the great American song book, but Raney's version dedicated to Ms. Day is likely to steal your heart.

To hear and see Raney as guest vocalist with a latterday Stan Kenton band, go here for "Let There Be Love" and "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good." There is nothing wrong with your computer; the clip is black and white.

July 16, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (4)

There are undoubtedly pairs of CDs farther apart in spirit than these; say, New Orleans Rhythm Kings 1922-1925 and The Art of Mabel Mercer. Well, I like both of those together under my roof. Weber and Salim are welcome to join them.

Eberhard Weber, Stages Of A Long Journey (ECM). In 2005 Weber's home town, Stuttgart, Germany, threw him a 65th birthday celebration. Weber has staked out territory that borders the jazz avant garde, modern classical minimalism and Bill Evans romanticism, with a hint of Charles Mingus rambunctiousness. The concert in the acoustically blessed Theaterhaus included several of the composer and virtuoso bassist's most popular pieces. The SWR Southwest Radio Orchestra Stuttgart provided support in passionate performances of Weber orchestrations, with their contrasting textures and arresting silences. Longtime Weber colleagues vibraharpist Gary Burton, saxophonist Jan Gabarek and pianist Wolfgang Dauner joined in the festivities, which ECM recorded with its customary clarity and fullness. Burton is as lyrical as ever. Gabarek plays with force that may surprise devotees of his work on ECM albums that verge on easy listening. The title composition features all hands, to dramatic effect.

Weber plays his electric upright bass, save on one piece, but it is the exception that steals the album. In a duo performance of Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" with his old friend Dauner, the natural tone, sensitivity and concentrated power of Weber's work on double bass made me wish that he had reversed the CD's eleven-to-one track ratio of electric to acoustic.

A.K. Salim, Pretty For The People (Savoy). Salim, whose surname was originally Atkinson, was a Chicago contemporary of trombonist Bennie Green and tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons. A composer and arranger who wrote for Lionel Hampton and Count Basie, among others, he left music for a time, then reappeared in the late 1950s to write for Tito Puente and lead a few record dates for Savoy. Salim's writing reflects a bit of his admiration for Tadd Dameron, but has harmonic undercurrents and a sauciness all his own. What makes Pretty For The People so satisfying is the platform it provides for eight musicians who in a large sense epitomize the state of jazz in 1957, when it was recorded. They were:

Kenny Dorham, trumpet

Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone

Buster Cooper, trombone

Pepper Adams, baritone saxophone

Wynton Kelly, piano

Paul Chamber, bass

Max Roach, drums

Chino Pozo, congas

Any reasonably hip jazz listener will see that list, consider the year and conjure up an approximation of the style. It was bebop, of course, going through a change wrought in part by the so-called hard bop movement that included groups led by Roach, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and--of increasing importance--Miles Davis. The most important thing about this recording, however, is not its watershed nature, but the music.

When the drummer Kenny Washington was in town with Bill Charlap's trio a few weeks ago, he mentioned the album and, when I drew a blank, strongly recommended it. It took a week or so to acquire it. I have listened to it most days since, and--in the immortal words of James Brown--I feel good. The playing is unselfconscious and swinging. As extensively as I have heard them, Dorham, Adams and Griffin have never given me more enjoyment. Buster Cooper is a revelation. Even the era's mandatory conga drums can't derail the perfect rhythm section.

As a bonus, you get period liner notes of the exclamation point school, with passages like this:

Kenny Dorham floored me! Without the hustle-bustle of the whirring, buzzing, frantic backgrounds and tempi fans are coming to associate with him of late, he emerges sensitively and surely in the most perfect sequence of solo and ensemble statements heard from his corner in quite a spell!
An ex-Kentonite who has returned to the fold (Pepper Adams's) statements are direct and skillful on the unwieldy instrument, yet not without bite!


Apparently, the album has never been out of print since its LP days. I'm not sure how it managed to escape me all these years, but I'm glad that I have it now. Thank you, Kenny Washington. I owe you one.

July 14, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (2)

In response to the John Frigo item in the next exhibit, Rifftides reader Jim Brown writes:

In later years, I heard Johnny say of "Detour" that "it was all mine, words and music." He explained that The Soft Winds was a co-op group, and they had an agreement that all of their names would go on anything they wrote while they were together. On his self-produced CD Rennnaissance Man (recorded 1985, released 1999), "Detour Ahead" is credited as "words and music by Johnny Frigo, with thanks to Lou Carter and Herb Ellis."

Johnny was also a superb country and western fiddle player, and held a long time gig (decades) on the WLS Barn Dance. On one track of Rennaissance Man (Back Home Again in Indiana), the band breaks into a kicking C&W bag for a half chorus. The band is Larry Novak (p), Larry Gray (bs), Kenny Soderblom (ts), Pat Ferreri (g), Howard Levy (harm), and Rick Frigo (d).

Johnny continued to write music throughout his life, from jingles to jazz tunes. Rennaissance Man includes two of his later compositions, "Apogee" and "Bow Jest." "Hey, Hey, Holy Mackerel" (the Cubs are on their way) (1969) was played on WGN, Chicago, for several decades as the opening theme for Cubs broadcasts. The title was an amalgam of lines used by Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse. Chicagoan Scott Simon chose it to close his remembrance on NPR's Weekend Edition.

Thanks for the YouTube links. They are typical of Johnny's writing and style. He would read several things like this during an evening in a club.

Mr. Brown, long a Chicagoan, now lives in northern California.

July 14, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

If John Frigo's only contribution to good music had been his co-authorship of "Detour Ahead" and "I Told You I Loved You, Now Get Out," he would have deserved admiration and gratitude. He wrote those songs in the late 1940s with Herb Ellis and Lou Carter, his partners in the elegant Soft Winds trio. Frigo played bass in the trio. The other members were guitarst Herb Ellis and pianist Lou Carter, buddies from his stint in the Jimmy Dorsey band. However, when he died last week in Chicago at the age of ninety, Frigo left a larger legacy than his compositions and the moderate success of The Soft Winds. In his last three decades, he established himself as a virtuoso jazz violinist.
Violin was Frigo's first instrument when he was a child in Chicago. He turned to bass because it brought him more work. Late in his career he began concentrating again on violin, with harmonic resourcefulness, passion, swing and warmth of tone to rival Stuff Smith and Joe Venuti. Don Heckman of The Los Angeles Times reflected the opinion of other serious critics and listeners when he wrote that Frigo "made a convincing case for himself as the premier violinist in contemporary jazz." A couple of Frigo's latterday recordings support that case. Released on Hank O'Neal's Chiaroscuro label, they have him in old and new settings.

In The Soft Winds Then and Now, one CD is devoted to reissues of the trio's original recordings from 1947 and '48, with Frigo playing bass. A second disc reunites Frigo, Carter and Ellis, with Frigo on violin and a guest, Keter Betts, on bass. The happiness of the occasion is reflected in the performances and in a long bonus track of Frigo, Carter and Ellis reminiscing. If anything, The Johnny Frigo Quartet Live at the 1997 Floating Jazz Festival represents with even greater clarity Frigo's ability to generate excitement without sacrificing tone and lyricism. He demonstrates his power in a series of standards, ending in an incandescent "Lester Leaps In."

Frigo was a poet and raconteur as well as a musician. There is little of his playing on internet videos, but several YouTube clips of decidedly unprofessional picture and sound quality capture something of his personality. They were made on the occasion of his 88th birthday celebration at the equally venerable Green Mill club in Chicago.

July 13, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Vladimir Godar, Mater (ECM).

In the course of writing the notes for George Mraz's forthcoming CD Moravian Gems, I made the aural acquaintance of the Czech singer, violinist and actress Iva Bittová and was enchanted by her. Mraz informed me that the composer Vladimír Godár, inspired by Bittová's talent, wrote a mass for her. I acquired the CD of the work and have been listening to it over several weeks.

Bittová's singing and Godár's writing not only held up through all of those playings, but with repeated hearings the music took on greater depth and profundity. Bittová, the small string ensemble and Dušan Bill's Bratislava Conservatory Choir under conductor Marek Štryncl are moving in the pieces that precede the "Stabat Mater," their serenity interrupted only by expressionist instrumental stabs in the "Magnificat." Godár's "Ecce Puer," based on the James Joyce poem (Of the dark past/A child was born;/With joy and grief/My heart is torn), has Bittová floating ethereally between string passages.

In an ECM news release, Godár says, "Only when I got to know Iva, her musical intuition, energy and discipline, did I feel able to write a Stabat Mater for her. Her singing is pure and full of emotion and her articulation is just perfect." A prominent figure in Czech culture, Bittová is best known as a singer of Moravian folk music, Janáček, and popular songs. Once you have heard her, you will not confuse her with what pop singing has come to mean in the United States. Her voice is deceptively light and the articulation that Godár admires is virtually free of vibrato, but when Bittová does apply it in the "Stabat Mater," her notes bloom with color an operatic soprano would be pleased to achieve. The joy of her expression in the "Regina Coeli," with its rhythmic displacement of "alleluia," is priceless. She is exquisite in passages teaming her with solo violinist Miloš Valent.

To people primarily interested in jazz, all of this may seem far afield. I can only refer you to the standard observed by Duke Ellington, who said, "There are two kinds of music, good music and the other kind." Mater is good, and Bittová is addictive.

For video of Bittová performing two Janáček songs with the Stampa Quartet, go here.

July 11, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

Remember our series of Rifftides riffs and exchanges about applause? It started like this.

Then it went here

and here

In the past year and a half, the issue has not gone away. San Diego Union-Tribune classical music critic Valerie Scher's Sunday, July 8 column bore the headline, "Think Before You Stand Up." It began,

There's a malady sweeping the nation that's highly contagious to concertgoers. It doesn't have a name yet, so let's call it Excessive Ovation Syndrome (EOS for short). Those suffering from it stand and applaud at performances that aren't good enough to deserve such enthusiasm. In extreme cases, they shout "Bravo!" during events that are best forgotten.

To read all of Ms. Scher's case for restraining misplaced enthusiasm, go here.

Comments, as always, are welcome. If yours is for Valerie Scher, I'll be happy to pass it along.

July 11, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (3)

If you enjoyed the video montage of women in painting a few weeks ago, click here for act two; women in film. The cello accompanist is the same. I wonder who it is.

July 11, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)
Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water-bath is to the body.--Oliver Wendell Holmes
You can't possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh and go slow.--Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket
My life is music, and in some vague, mysterious and subconscious way, I have always been driven by a taut inner spring which has propelled me to almost compulsively reach for perfection in music, often--in fact, mostly--at the expense of everything else in my life.--Stan Getz
July 11, 2007 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

Marsh.jpgReaders of Safford Chamberlain's An Unsung Cat: The Life and Music of Warne Marsh--indeed, anyone interested in that staunch individualist among saxophonists--will want to investigate The Warne Marsh Site. The web pages developed by Rifftides reader Jack Goodwin include a thorough discography, a news section, photographs and a page called Global Warne-ing in which afficionados around the world exchange Marsh anecdotes and listening experiences.

The discography begins with a trio recording Marsh made at age fifteen with thirteen-year-old André Previn playing piano. It ends with a session three days before he died in 1987.

To sample Marsh's latterday playing, see him in this video clip with Sal Mosca, Eddie Gomez and Kenny Clarke.

July 10, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)

Terry Teachout, our favorite polymath arts blogger, has cleaned out and reorganized his clearinghouse of cultural blogs and websites, to my knowledge the most extensive such guide on the internet. It's worth a look. For TT's preamble to the revision, go here.

When you see the extent of his choices, it will be tempting to spend the rest of your life with Terry, but please come back.

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

Rifftides reader Don Emanuel alerted us to video of Supersax nineteen years ago at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland. The band organized by Med Flory was devoted to Charlie Parker solos transcribed and harmonized for a saxophone section. It played them with accuracy and feeling that gave their treatment of Bird's inventions a sense of improvised sponaneity. Often, a guest trumpeter was aboard to create new solos and provide contrast. Conte Candoli was on several Supersax recordings. In this case, the trumpet soloist is Steve Hufstetter.

The saxophonists, from screen left to right, are Jay Migliori, Ray Reed, Med Flory and Lanny Morgan. Baritone saxophonist Jack Nimitz is missing. The rhythm section is Lou Levy, piano; Monty Budwig, bass; and Larance Marable, drums. Supersax has had many imitators, but the original was best, and this is a rare opportunity to see them in performance. The song is "Just Friends."

July 9, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (1)
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.--Charlie Parker
If Charlie Parker was a gunslinger, there'd be a whole lot of dead copycats.--Charles Mingus
July 9, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (1)

In Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond, I told of having heard Desmond's "Take Five" on a music box in a Prague gift shop and in a number of other unlikely places including the Mexico City subway and my neighborhood gas station.

There are sheet music arrangements of "Take Five" for solo piano, brass band, chorus, accordian, guitar, flute choir, string orchestra, drum and percussion and--I swear--hand bells.

To the list of unusual performances of "Take Five" you may now add the 12 Girls Band live at Budokan. The short solo beginning a minute and four seconds into the performance seems truly improvised. As I watched this, I imagined Desmond's grin if he could see it.

Thanks to Iola Brubeck for pointing out this treasure.

July 9, 2007 1:03 AM | | Comments (0)

A message from Bill Crow:

Here's a YouTube video I found, of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in Rome, 1959, playing my tune.
Bill Crow

The composer is featured on bass. The trumpeter is Art Farmer, the drummer Dave Bailey. The Chinese Shadow Show effect is interesting. Just try to disregard the venetian-blind video and enjoy one of Mulligan's greatest quartets playing Mr. Crow's intriguing blues waltz.

While you're in YouTube territory, why not listen to the same group on the same occasion playing Mulligan's "Spring is Sprung," a blues of another color.

July 7, 2007 11:16 AM | | Comments (0)

Frances Lynne, Remember (SSJ).
Lynne.jpgOften discussed but seldom heard, Ms. Lynne is a charming singer. She worked with Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Norman Bates in 1948. Recalling their time with her at the Geary Cellar and the Band Box, all of them told me that they were moved by her clarity, phrasing, feeling and interpretation of lyrics. She went on to sing, but not record, with the Charlie Barnet and Gene Krupa bands and kept on singing after she married trumpeter John Coppola, a veteran of the Barnet, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman bands. Finally, in 1991, she recorded for their private label, Lark, with Coppola's medium-sized orchestra, which included strings and French horn. The album had virtually no distribution when it was released in 1999 and still has little, but it has been nicely repackaged by the Japanese label SSJ and is available from at least one web site (click on the link in the title above).

Ms. Lynne includes the seldom-heard verses of several songs. In his liner note message, Brubeck tells her that at the Band Box "there were many times you gave me goosebumps." It may have been singing like her treatment of the verses of Irving Berlin's "Remember" and the Oscar Hammerstein's-Jerome Kern song "Can I Forget You?" that affected him. The CD is all the more precious for the presence of a pair of rarities, Kern's "The Touch of Your Hand" and Harry Warren's "Spring Isn't Everything," beautifully sung by Ms. Lynne. The superb arrangements of a dozen classic songs are by Mike Abene, who also conducts. The classy bass and drums are by Bill Douglass and Eddie Marshall. Soloists are Abene on piano, trumpeters Coppola and Johnny Coles, tenor saxophonist John Handy and--on alto sax and clarinet--Herbie Steward, one of the original Four Brothers of the Woody Herman Second Herd. Their vigor complements Ms. Lynne's restraint and mature wistfulness. For most of us, Frances Lynne's singing was mythical. This CD brings it happily to life.

For an account of the Geary Cellar-Band Box milieu long before there was a Dave Brubeck Quartet, see Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond.

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

Rifftides reader Peter Luce has a question:

I'm wondering if someone in Rifftides' knowledgeable readership can help clarify some conflicting information I've read about Ellington's used of trumpet, trombone and clarinet in the original recording of "Mood Indigo." John Edward Hasse, in The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington, writes:

"Ellington turned on their heads the usual roles of trombone, trumpet and clarinet, assigning the trombone the high notes and the clarinet the low."

Alyn Shipton in A New History of Jazz writes:

"Whereas in the traditional order of things, the clarinet would take the upper part, the trombone the lower, with the trumpet in the middle, [Ellington] assigned the highest notes to the muted trumpet, the central part to a muted high-register trombone, and the lowest notes to a clarinet in its deep chalumeau register."

Both of these jazz historians agree that the clarinet was assigned the low parts, but clearly disagree on the trumpet and trombone. Can any of your readers shed any light?

We have in the audience arrangers, composers, musicologists and other listeners with big ears. Click the link above, listen, send your answers to Mr. Luce's query and we will post them.

July 5, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (4)

Graham Collier, Hoarded Dreams (Cuneiform). Here we have further, but not recent , adventures of the pioneering British composer, arranger and leader. Hoarded Dreams is a seven-part suite commissioned by the Bracknell Jazz Festival in 1983. Following its one performance by a band of European stars plus trumpeters Kenny Wheeler (Canadian) and Ted Curson (American), the music has languished in a tape archive for twenty-four years. Collier is in a league with George Russell and Charles Mingus in the demanding discipline of writing for large ensembles populated by musicians whose improvisation goes beyond the fringe of standard harmony.
Graham Collier

The looseness and cogency in Collier's arrangements are in ideal balance to contain the wildness, daring and--it must be emphasized--good humor of the soloists. There is no trace of the anger and willfull distortion that marred so much avant garde playing in the final decades of the twentieth century. The quality of solos and interchanges by familiar players like Curson, Wheeler, trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and the baritone sax powerhouse John Surman is equaled by musicians who deserve to be better known outside the British Isles. Among them are guitarist Ed Speight, drummer Ashley Brown, tenor saxophonist Art Themen and trombonist Conny Bauer. Bauer manages to combine elements of Bill Harris and Roswell Rudd, to startling effect. There is so much happening in this music, I suggest that you give it two or three hearings to begin to absorb its dynamics, complexity and subtlety and to sort out which parts are written and which improvised. It's worth your time. For thoughts on a previous release by Collier, go here.

July 4, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (1)

(An annual Rifftides reminder)

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

André Previn, Alone (Emarcy). When in the mid-1960s Previn committed himself to classical conducting, composing and performing, he did not leave jazz behind. Technique, taste and touch intact, he plays thirteen pieces using his range of dynamics, rhythmic subtlety, harmonic sensibility and capacity for surprise. He recalls a lick or two from his period of intense jazz involvement in the 1950s, but the greater interest here is Previn's depth of exploration within the chord structures of familiar songs including "Angel Eyes," "Skylark" and "It Might As Well Be Spring."

In a lovely moment in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," he sets up tension with riff-like repetition then provides release with a key change. His abstract treatment of "I Can't Get Started" encompasses passages of the lightning finger work that reflects his classical background. The repertoire includes an original blues; "Darkest Before The Dawn," a Previn collaboration with Johnny Mercer; and Previn's 1966 hit song "You're Gonna Hear From Me." If the last title implies further solo adventures, they will be welcome. This is Previn's best solo album since his 1960 Harold Arlen collection.

July 2, 2007 1:58 PM | | Comments (0)

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

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Life's a Pitch
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
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No genre is the new genre
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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
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Foot in Mouth
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
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Tobi Tobias on dance et al...

Jazz Beyond Jazz
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Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...

Out There
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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

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Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off

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Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
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