December 28, 2011

Jazz News: Sam Rivers has Died

Sam Rivers, a key figure in the post-war avant garde jazz scene, has died at the age of 88. The New York Times published an obituary.

Sam Rivers, Jazz Artist of Loft Scene, Dies at 88
By Nate Chinen

Sam Rivers, an inexhaustibly creative saxophonist, flutist, bandleader and composer who cut his own decisive path through the jazz world, spearheading the 1970s loft scene in New York and later establishing a rugged outpost in Florida, died on Monday in Orlando, Fla. He was 88. More...

December 23, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: December 23 to December 29

December 23
  • Coleman Hawkins records “The Man I Love,” 1943.
  • The first Spirituals To Swing concert is held at Carnegie Hall, 1938.
  • Louis Armstrong records “Sweethearts on Parade,” 1930.
December 24
  • Drummer Warren ‘Baby’ Dodds born 1898 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Wayne Shorter records Speak No Evil, 1964.
  • Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk record “Bag’s Groove,” 1954.
December 25
  • Trombonist/bandleader Kid Ory born 1886 in La Place, LA.
  • Pianist/organist/composer Don Pullen born 1941 in Roanoke, VA.
  • Bandleader/singer Cab Calloway born 1907 in Rochester, NY.
December 26
  • Bassist Monty Budwig born 1929 in Pender, NE.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane records “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, 1958.
  • Guitarist John Scofield born 1951 in Dayton, OH.
December 27
  • Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster records “Old Folks” with alto saxophonist Benny Carter and bassist John Kirby.
  • Bassist/author Bill Crow born 1927 in Othello, WA.
  • Pianist Walter Norris born 1931 in Little Rock, AR.
December 28
  • Bassist/composer Charles Mingus records Changes I with trumpeter Jack Walrath, tenor saxophonist George Adams, pianist Don Pullen, and drummer Dannie Richmond, 1974.
  • Lester Young records first session as a leader (“Sometimes I’m Happy”), 1943.
  • Two pianists born: Earl Hines 1903 in Duquesne, PA, and Michel Petrucciani 1962 in Orange, France.
December 29
  • Tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano born 1952 in Cleveland, OH.
  • Pianist Art Tatum records “Without A Song,” 1953.
  • Snub Mosely born 1909 in Little Rock, AR.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

December 17, 2011

Jazz News: Bob Brookmeyer has Died

Legendary valve trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer has died. The announcement was made on his website:

Bob Brookmeyer (1929 - 2011)

12/17/2011 7:19:22 PM - It’s with great sadness that we share the news that Bob Brookmeyer passed away last night, just three days shy of his 82nd birthday. More...

December 16, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: December 16 to December 22

December 16
  • Vocalist Sarah Vaughan records “You’re Not The Kind” with trumpeter Clifford Brown and pianist Jimmy Jones, 1954.
  • Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers record “Grandpa’s Spells,” 1926.
  • Saxophonist Joe Farrell born 1937 in Chicago Heights, IL.
December 17
  • Pianist Bud Powell records A Portrait of Thelonious with drummer Kenny Clarke, 1961.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker records “Crazeology” with drummer Max Roach and trumpeter Miles Davis, 1947.
  • Arranger Sy Oliver born 1910 in Battle Creek, MI.
December 18
  • Jimmie Lunceford records “Rhythm Is Our Business,” 1934.
  • Two saxophonists born: Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson 1917 and Harold Land 1928, both in Houston, TX.
  • Bandleader/arranger Fletcher Henderson born 1897 in Cuthbert, GA.
December 19
  • Drummer Lenny White born 1949 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie records Sonny Side Up with tenor saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Sonny Stitt, 1957.
  • Valve trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer born 1929 in Kansas City, MO.
December 20
  • Clarinetist Sidney Bechet records “Blue Horizon,” 1944.
  • Saxophonist Arne Domnerus born 1924 in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Pianist Larry Willis born 1940 in New York, NY.
December 21
  • Drummer Panama Francis born 1918 in Miami, FL.
  • Ornette Coleman Double Quartet records Free Jazz, 1960.
  • Composer/conductor/cellist/trombonist David Baker born 1931 in Indianapolis, IN.
December 22
  • Red Onion Jazz Babies record “Cake Walking Babies From Home,” with trumpeter Louis Armstrong and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet, 1924.
  • Pianist Ronnie Ball born 1927 in Birmingham, England.
  • Four bands record, 1947 - Stan Kenton (“Interlude”), Dizzy Gillespie (“Woody ’n’ You”), Duke Ellington (“On a Turquoise Cloud”), and Fats Navarro/Dexter Gordon (“Index”).

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

December 9, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: December 9 to December 15

December 9
  • Two trumpeters born: Donald Byrd 1932 in Detroit, MI, and Jimmy Owens 1943 in New York, NY.
  • The John Coltrane Quartet records A Love Supreme, 1964.
  • Louis Armstrong records “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue,” 1927.
December 10
  • Trumpeter/violinist Ray Nance born 1913 in Chicago, IL.
  • Clarinetist Irving Fazola born 1912 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Bassist Bob Cranshaw born 1932 in Evanston, IL.
December 11
  • Duke Ellington records “The Controversial Suite,” 1951.
  • Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins records “Angel Face” with pianist Hank Jones, 1947.
  • Pianist McCoy Tyner born 1938 in Philadelphia, PA.
December 12
  • Pianist Earl Hines records “Fifty-Seven Varieties,” 1928.
  • Vocalist Joe Williams born 1918 in Cordele, GA.
  • Drummer Tony Williams born 1945 in Chicago, IL.
December 13
  • Drummer Sonny Greer born 1895 in Long Beach, NJ.
  • Louis Armstrong records “Hotter Than That,” 1927.
  • Bennie Moten’s band makes its last recordings, including “Moten Swing,” featuring pianist Count Basie, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, trumpeter Hot Lips Page, and arranger/guitarist Eddie Durham, 1932.
December 14
  • Trumpeter Clark Terry born 1920 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Jelly Roll Morton records “King Porter Stomp,” 1939.
  • Two saxophonists born: Budd Johnson 1910 in Dallas, TX, and Cecil Payne 1922 in Brooklyn, NY.
December 15
  • Bandleader/composer Stan Kenton born 1911 in Wichita, KS.
  • Drummer Dannie Richmond born 1935 in New York, NY.
  • Pianist Cecil Taylor and drummer Max Roach record a duo concert at Columbia University, 1979.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

December 2, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: December 2 to December 8

December 2
  • Vocalist Sylvia Syms born 1917 in New York, NY.
  • Composer/arranger Eddie Sauter born 1914 in New York, NY.
  • Two pianists born: Wynton Kelly 1931 in Jamaica, and Ronnie Mathews 1935 in New York, NY.
December 3
  • Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin records The Freedom Book with pianist Jaki Byard, 1963.
  • Valve Trombonist/arranger Brad Gowans born 1903 in Billerica, MA.
  • Alto saxophonist Benny Carter plays and sings his composition “Goodbye Blues” with The Chocolate Dandies, 1930.
December 4
  • Guitarist Jim Hall born 1930 in Buffalo, NY.
  • Duke Ellington records “Daybreak Express,” 1933.
  • Duke Ellington’s band historic opening at New York’s Cotton Club, 1927.
December 5
  • Bassist Art Davis born 1934 in Harrisburg, PA.
  • Louis Armstrong and pianist Earl Hines record their duet “Weatherbird,” 1928.
  • The BeBop Boys, featuring trumpeter Fats Navarro, record Nostalgia, 1947.
December 6
  • Guitarist Remo Palmier born 1923 in New York, NY.
  • Bassists Slam Stewart and Major Holley record “Shut Yo’ Mouth!” 1981.
  • Pianist/composer Dave Brubeck born 1920 in Concord, CA.
December 7
  • The Casa Loma Orchestra records “Casa Loma Stomp,” 1930.
  • Bandleader Teddy Hill born 1909 in Birmingham, AL.
  • Pianist Matthew Shipp born 1960 in Wilmington, DE.
December 8
  • Organist Jimmy Smith born 1925 in Norristown, PA.
  • Louis Armstrong records “That’s My Home” with drummer Chick Webb’s band, 1932.
  • The Sound of Jazz is broadcast live, setting a standard for jazz television that has yet to be equaled, 1957.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

November 30, 2011

Jazz News: A New Post for Jason Moran

Jazz pianist/composer Jason Moran has been selected as the artistic adviser for the Kennedy Center jazz program. Here's the story:

Jason Moran to be Kennedy Center jazz adviser
by Brett Zongker, Associated Press

Washington -- The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday tapped 36-year-old pianist and composer Jason Moran to be its artistic adviser for jazz, a post held by acclaimed musician Billy Taylor until his death in December at 89. More...

November 26, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: November 25 to December 1

November 25
  • Cornetist Nat Adderley born 1931 in Tampa, FL.
  • Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond born 1924 in San Francisco, CA.
  • Pianist/composer Willie “The Lion” Smith born 1897 in Goshen, NY.
November 26
  • Duke Ellington records “I’m Just A Lucky So-and-So,” 1945.
  • Charlie Parker records “KoKo” at his first session as a leader, 1945.
  • Louis Armstrong records “After You’ve Gone,” 1929.
November 27
  • Bandleader/composer Maria Schneider born 1960 in Windom, MN.
  • Violinist Eddie South born 1904 in Louisiana, MO.
  • Pianist Jacky Terrasson born 1966 in Berlin, Germany.
November 28
  • Drummer George Wettling born 1907 in Topeka, KS.
  • Tenor saxophonist Lester Young records The President Plays with Oscar Peterson, 1952.
  • Saxophonist/composer Gigi Gryce born 1927 in Pensacola, FL.
November 29
  • Drummer Adam Nussbaum born 1955 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Lee Morgan records The Rajah, with tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley and pianist Cedar Walton, 1966.
  • Composer/pianist Billy Strayhorn born 1915 in Dayton, OH.
November 30
  • Trumpeter Jack Sheldon born 1931 in Jacksonville, FL.
  • Louis Armstrong records Satchmo at Symphony Hall with drummer Big Sid Catlett and trombonist Jack Teagarden, 1947.
  • Bunny Berigan records Bix Beiderbecke’s “In A Mist,” 1938.
December 1
  • Saxophonist Jimmy Lyons born 1933 in Jersey City, NJ.
  • Bassist/composer Jaco Pastorius born 1951 in Norristown, PA, and records The Birthday Concert, 1981.
  • Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin records Five Birds and a Monk with pianist Stanley Cowell, 1978.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

November 23, 2011

Jazz News: Paul Motian is Dead

Jazz drummer Paul Motian has died. The New York Times has the story:

Paul Motian, Jazz Drummer, Is Dead at 80
by Ben Ratliff

Paul Motian, a drummer, bandleader, composer and one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last 50 years, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 80 and lived in Manhattan. More...

November 19, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: November 18 to November 24

November 18
  • Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra records Hoagy Carmichael’s “Washboard Blues,” 1927.
  • Trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Don Cherry born 1936 in Oklahoma City, OK.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane records “Alabama,” 1963, in reaction to the church bombings in that state that killed four girls.
November 19
  • Drummer/bandleader Chick Webb records “Don’t Be That Way,” 1934.
  • Trombonist/bandleader Tommy Dorsey born 1905 in Shenandoah, PA.
  • Pianist Teddy Wilson records “Pennies From Heaven” with vocalist Billie Holiday and clarinetist Benny Goodman, 1936.
November 20
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis records arranger Gil Evans’ version of “Concierto de Aranjuez,” 1959.
  • Tenor saxophonist Don Braden born 1963 in Cincinnati, OH.
  • Guitarist Skeeter Best born 1914 in Kinston, NC.
November 21
  • Pianist Geoff Keezer born 1970 in Eau Claire, WI.
  • Xylphonist/composer Red Norvo records “Dance of the Octopus,” 1933, with Benny Goodman on bass clarinet.
  • Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins born 1904 in St. Joseph, MO.
November 22
  • Pianist/arranger Horace Henderson born 1904 in Cuthbert, GA.
  • Trombonist /arranger/composer Jimmy Knepper born 1927 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Composer/author/conductor Gunther Schuller born 1925 in Jackson Heights, NY.
November 23
  • Bassist/composer Ray Drummond born 1946 in Brookline, MS.
  • Composer Johnny Mandel born 1925 in New York, NY.
  • Drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers record At the Café Bohemia, with trumpeter Kenny Dorham, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, and pianist Horace Silver, 1955.
November 24
  • Vocalist Bessie Smith makes her last recordings, including “Give Me A Pigfoot,” 1933.
  • Organist/arranger Will Bill Davis born 1918 in Glasgow, MO.
  • Saxophonist/composer/arranger Al Cohn born 1925 in New York, NY.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

November 12, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: November 11 to November 17

November 11
  • Duke Ellington’s band records Billy Strayhorn’s “Progressive Gavotte,” 1947.
  • Cornetist Don Cherry records “Where is Brooklyn?” with tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, 1966.
  • Trumpeter Willie Cook born 1923 in Tangipahoa, IN.
November 12
  • Bassist Sam Jones born 1924 in Jacksonville, FL.
  • Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five record their first piece, “My Heart,” 1925.
  • Trumpeter/arranger Buck Clayton born 1911 in Parsons, KS.
November 13
  • Pianist Hampton Hawes born 1928 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Cecil Taylor Quintet, with John Coltrane and Kenny Dorham, records Hard-Driving Jazz, 1958.
  • Drummer Idris Muhammad born 1939 in New Orleans, LA.
November 14
  • Pianist Don Ewell born 1916 in Baltimore, MD.
  • Guitarist Billy Bauer born 1915 in New York, NY.
  • Benny Carter Meets Oscar Peterson recorded 1986.
November 15
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk makes his last studio recordings with bassist Al McKibbon and drummer Art Blakey, 1971.
  • Drummer Gus Johnson born 1913 in Tyler, TX.
  • Guitarist Kevin Eubanks born 1957 in Philadelphia, PA.
November 16
  • Composer W.C. Handy born 1873 in Muscle Shoals, AL.
  • Guitarist/bandleader Eddie Condon born 1905 in Goodland, IN.
  • Louis Armstrong records “Big Butter and Egg Man,” 1926.
November 17
  • Bassist/bandleader Ben Allison born 1966 in New Haven, CT.
  • Trombonist Roswell Rudd born 1935 in Sharon, CT.
  • Trumpeter Doc Cheatham and pianist Sammy Price record Duets, 1976.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

November 5, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: November 4 to November 10

November 4
  • Pianist Joe Sullivan born 1906 in Chicago, IL.
  • Louis Armstrong records Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust,” 1931.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker records “Klactoveedsedstene,” with drummer Max Roach, 1947.
November 5
  • Vocalist Ella Fitzgerald records “Goodnight, My Love” with Benny Goodman’s band, 1936.
  • Jimmie Lunceford’s band records Sy Oliver’s version of “Annie Laurie” featuring trombonist/vocalist Trummy Young, 1937.
  • Pianist Keith Jarrett records his solo The Sun Bear Concerts in Kyoto, Japan, 1975.
November 6
  • Arranger Andy Gibson born 1913 in Zanesville, OH.
  • Pianist Claude Thornhill’s band records Gil Evans’ arrangement of “Donna Lee” featuring alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, 1947.
  • The World Saxophone Quartet records Steppin’, 1981
November 7
  • Tenor saxophonist David S. Ware born 1949 in Plainfield, NJ.
  • The historic Live at Fargo recording is made of the Ellington band in 1940, giving us an informal listen to the band at its zenith.
  • Pianist Joe Bushkin born 1916 in New York, NY.
November 8
  • Trumpeter Kamau Adilifu (Charles Sullivan) born 1944 in New York, NY.
  • Vocalist Billie Holiday records “Don’t Explain,” 1944.
  • Guitarist Russell Malone born 1963 in Albany, GA.
November 9
  • Two alto saxophonists born: Jesse Davis 1965 in New Orleans, LA, and Pete Brown 1906 in Baltimore, MD.
  • Count Basie records “How Long Blues” with his All American Rhythm Section (guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Walter Page, and drummer Jo Jones), 1938.
  • Pianist Oscar Peterson records “If You Could See Me Now” with guitarist Joe Pass, 1983.
November 10
  • Pianist Paul Bley born 1932 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  • Bassist Walter Page’s Blue Devils make their only recordings, “Blue Devil Blues” and “Squabblin’,” 1929.
  • Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner born 1965 in Fairborn, OH.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 30, 2011

Respect for the Masters

Two recent dates at the San Francisco Jazz Festival (SFJAZZ) show that the jazz tradition continues to thrive and change with the times. On October 10th, pianist Benny Green paid a  birthday tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk with a concert called “Monk’s Dream: 50 Years Fresh.” He was joined by the regular members of his trio, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums, along with a guest saxophonist, the venerable Donald Harrison.

They played tunes from the aforementioned 1963 Monk album, Monk’s Dream, such as “Five Spot Blues,” “Bye-Ya,” and the title tune, as well as other music from the master. Green, who looks considerable younger than his 48 years, is a talented and engaging pianist, bring bop and stride sensibilities to his playing. He has played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and in Betty Carter’s band. All the band members seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves while playing Monk’s music, and they showed that his quirky music can be played afresh without falling into mere imitation.

A week ago, October 23rd, I saw a master in the flesh, guitarist Jim Hall, who is now 80 and still going strong. Hall has been active on the jazz scene since the mid-1950s, playing with the likes of Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Giuffre, Sony Rollins, Paul Desmond, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Lee Konitz, and on and on. He has recorded over 30 albums as a leader and almost as many as a sideman.

His current group includes Greg Osby on saxophone, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Terry Clarke on drums, and all contributed significantly to the evening of standards, originals, and free-floating improvisations. Hall, sitting on a folding chair, sits hunched over his Gibson - the guitar almost seems to have replaced the mid-section of his body - and he shakes out baby powder on his fingers between songs. But he still produces a beautiful, rounded sound from his guitar and seems to have lost little in dexterity. Hall is a quiet presence on the stage but the music he produces is magical.

October 29, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 28 to November 3

October 28
  • Guitarist Philip Catherine born 1942 in London, England.
  • Trombonist Bill Harris born 1916 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Composer/arranger Chico O’Farrill born 1921 in Havana, Cuba.
October 29
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker records “Embraceable You,” 1947.
  • Tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims born 1925 in Inglewood, CA.
  • Composer/arranger/trumpeter Neal Hefti born 1922 in Hastings, NE.
October 30
  • Percussionist/bandleader Poncho Sanchez born 1951 in Laredo, TX.
  • Count Basie records “What’s Your Number?” featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young, 1940.
  • Trumpeter Clifford Brown born 1930 in Wilmington, DE.
October 31
  • Actress/singer Ethel Waters born 1896 in Chester, PA.
  • Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin born 1930 in Denison, TX.
  • Tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet born 1922 in Boussard, LA.
November 1
  • Pianist Roger Kellaway born 1939 in Newton, MA.
  • Basssist/composer Charles Mingus records Mingus Dynasty with a group including Jimmy Knepper, Booker Ervin, and Roland Hanna, 1959.
  • Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson born 1926 in Badin, NC.
November 2
  • Trumpeter Bunny Berigan born 1908 in Hilbert, WI.
  • Alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges records Billy Strayhorn’s “Daydream,” 1940.
  • Saxophonist/clarinetist/bandleader Phil Woods born 1931 in Springfield, MA.
November 3
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records A Night at the Village Vanguard, 1957, with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Wilbur Ware.
  • Bassist Henry Grimes born 1935 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Pianist Fats Waller records “Your Feet’s Too Big,” 1940.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 22, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 21 to October 27

October 21
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie born 1917 in Cheraw, SC.
  • In 1946, Billy Strayhorn begins rehearsing his and Duke Ellington’s only Broadway show, Beggar’s Holiday, which closed after only four months.
  • Tenor saxophonist Don Byas born 1912 in Muskogee, OK.
October 22
  • Pianist/composer Clare Fischer born 1928 in Durand, MI.
  • Count Basie records The Atomic Basie, 1957, featuring arrangements by Neal Hefti.
  • Sam Morgan’s Jazz Band records “Bogalousa Strut” in New Orleans, 1927.
October 23
  • Alto saxophonist Sonny Criss born 1927 in Memphis, TN.
  • Composer/arranger Gary McFarland born 1933 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • The Brass Ensemble of the Jazz and Classical Music Society records J.J. Johnson’s “Jazz Suite for Brass,” featuring trumpeters Miles Davis and Bernie Glow, 1956.
October 24
  • Jazz historian Dan Morgenstern born 1929 in Munich, Germany.
  • Bassist Wendell Marshall born 1920 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “Well, You Needn’t” at his first trio session with bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Blakey, 1947.
October 25
  • Saxophonist/composer Jimmy Heath born 1926 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Trombonist Robin Eubanks born 1955 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “The Way You Look Tonight” with Sonny Rollins, 1954.
October 26
  • Tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh born 1927 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Bandleader/saxophonist Charlie Barnet born 1913 in New York, NY.
  • C. Luckyeth ‘Luckey’ Roberts records an unissued session for Columbia, 1916.
October 27
  • Pianist/composer George Wallington born 1924 in Palmero, Sicily, Italy.
  • Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy records The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy, with drummer Roy Haynes, 1960.
  • Clarinetist Benny Goodman records “Texas Tea Party” featuring trombonist/vocalist Jack Teagarden, 1933.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 14, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 14 to October 20

October 14
  • Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and pianist Joe Zawinul record together, with trumpeter Thad Jones, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, 1963.
  • Trumpeter Dusko Goykovich born 1931 in Jajce, Yugoslavia.
  • Duke Ellington records “Tootin’ Through the Roof,” featuring cornetist Rex Stewart and trumpeter Cootie Williams, 1939.
October 15
  • Nat King Cole’s short-lived television show has Jazz at the Philharmonic as his guest, and Cole plays in a rare jazz appearance with Stan Getz and Coleman Hawkins, 1957.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk makes his first recordings as a leader, 1947.
  • Trumpeter Al Killian born 1916 in Birmingham, AL.
October 16
  • Saxophonist/arranger/composer Benny Carter records “Lonesome Nights” and “Symphony in Riffs,” 1933.
  • Trombonist Ray Anderson born 1952 in Chicago, IL.
  • Trumpeter Roy Hargrove born 1969 in Waco, TX.
October 17
  • Trombonist Jimmy Harrison born 1900 in Louisville, KY.
  • Two guitarists born - Barney Kessel 1923 in Muskogee, OK, and Howard Alden 1958 in Newport Beach, CA.
  • J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding record their first album as co-leaders at Birdland, 1954.
October 18
  • Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis born 1961 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Pianist/composer James P. Johnson records "Carolina Shout," 1921.
  • Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine records “Jubilee Shouts,” 1962.
October 19
  • Trombonist Jack Jenney records his classic version of “Stardust” with his own big band, 1939.
  • Clarinetist Eddie Daniels born 1941 in New York, NY.
  • Clarinetist Alphonse Picou born 1878 in New Orleans, LA.
October 20
  • Saxophonist Eddie Harris born 1936 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton born 1890 in New Orleans, LA. 
  • Vocalist Ethel Waters records “Dinah,” 1925.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 7, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 7 to October 13

October 7
  • Louis Armstrong records his first session with Fletcher Henderson’s band, 1924.
  • Drummer Jo Jones born 1911 in Chicago, IL.
  • Organist Larry Young born 1940 in Newark, NJ.
October 8
  • Baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams born 1930 in Highland Park, MI.
  • Drummer J .C. Heard born 1917 in Dayton, OH.
  • Lennie Tristano records first trio sides (Out on a Limb), 1946, with Clyde Lombardi and Billy Bauer.
October 9
  • Reedman/composer Yusef Lateef born 1920 in Chattanooga, TN, and records Gong, 1957.
  • Alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett born 1960 in Detroit, MI.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “Ba-lue-Bolivar-Ba-lues-are,” with bassist Oscar Pettiford, drummer Max Roach, and saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Ernie Henry, 1956.
October 10
  • Trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison born 1915 in Columbus, OH.
  • Billie Holiday stages a 1956 comeback concert at Carnegie Hall (it also became an album) with a band that includes Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk born 1917 in Rocky Mount, NC.
October 11
  • Drummer/bandleader Art Blakey born 1919 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Trumpeter Lester Bowie born 1941 in Frederick, MD.
  • Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins records “Body and Soul,” 1939, an advanced improvisation that became a hit.
October 12
  • Drummer Tubby Hall born 1895 in Sellers, LA.
  • Bassist/composer Charles Mingus records The Complete Town Hall Concert, 1962.
  • Alto saxophonist James Moody records “I’m in The Mood for Love,” 1949, which later becomes a hit as “Moody’s Mood” for vocalist Eddie Jefferson.
October 13
  • Bassist Ray Brown born 1926 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Pianist Art Tatum born 1909 in Toledo, OH.
  • Saxophonist Lee Konitz born 1927 in Chicago, IL.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

September 30, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: September 30 to October 6

September 30
  • Bassist Oscar Pettiford born 1922 in Okmulgee, OK.
  • Louis Armstrong and vocalist Billie Holiday record “You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart,” 1949.
  • Drummer Buddy Rich born 1917 in New York, NY.
October 1
  • Bassist Dave Holland born 1946 in Wolverhampton, W. Midlands, England.
  • Duke Ellington and bassist Jimmy Blanton record “Pitter Panther Patter,” 1940.
  • Pianist/composer Horace Silver records Cape Verdean Blues with trumpeter Woody Shaw and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, 1965.
October 2
  • Guitarist Howard Roberts born 1929 in Phoenix, AZ
  • Composer/pianist Django Bates born 1960 in Beckenham, England.
  • Guitarist Charlie Christian makes his first recording “Flying Home” with the Benny Goodman Sextet, 1939.
October 3
  • Pianist Dave Brubeck records “All The Things We Are” with alto saxophonists Lee Konitz and Anthony Braxton, 1974.
  • Fletcher Henderson records Benny Carter’s arrangement of “Somebody Loves Me,” 1930.
  • Tenor saxophonist Von Freeman born 1922 in Chicago, IL
October 4
  • English tenor saxophonist Tubby Hayes records in New York with Clark Terry and Horace Parlan, 1961.
  • Vocalist Leon Thomas born 1937 in East St. Louis, IL.
  • Electric/acoustic bassist Steve Swallow born 1940 in Fair Lawn, NJ.
October 5
  • Bassist Jimmy Blanton born 1918 in Chattanooga, TN.
  • Cornetist Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang record “Jazz Me Blues,” 1927.
  • Trombonist Steve Turre records In The Spur of the Moment with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Jack DeJohnette, 1999.
October 6
  • Ellington records “Black and Tan Fantasy” at first Victor session, 1927.
  • Pianist Norman Simmons born 1929 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Sammy Price born 1908 in Honey Grove, TX.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

September 24, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: September 23 to September 29

September 23
  • Saxophonist/composer John Coltrane born 1926 in Hamlet, NC.
  • Saxophonist/composer Frank Foster born 1928 in Cincinnati OH.
  • Pianist/vocalist Ray Charles born 1930 in Albany, GA.
September 24
  • Trumpeter Fats Navarro born 1923 in Key West, FL.
  • Bassist Charles Mingus records Let My Children Hear Music, 1971.
  • Sarah Vaughan records My Funny Valentine, 1973.
September 25
  • Saxophonist Sam Rivers born 1923 in El Reno, OK.
  • Woodwind expert Garvin Bushell born 1902 in Springfield, OH.
  • Saxophonist Lee Konitz records Duets with drummer Elvin Jones, violinist Ray Nance, guitarist Jim Hall, and others, 1967.
September 26
  • Duke Ellington and John Coltrane record the album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, 1962.
  • Xylophonist Red Norvo records "Old Fashioned Love" with clarinetist Artie Shaw, trombonist Jack Jenney, and pianist Teddy Wilson, 1934.
  • Saxophonist Gary Bartz born 1940 in Baltimore, MD.
September 27
  • Pianist Bud Powell born 1924 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Red Rodney born 1927 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • The Kansas City 6, with clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Lester Young and electric guitarist Eddie Durham, record “Countless Blues,” 1938.
September 28
  • Tony Bennett and Bill Evans record Together Again, their second album, 1976.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Gilmore born 1931 in Summit, MS.
  • Pianist Kenny Kirkland born 1955 in Newport, NY.
September 29
  • Coleman Hawkins and Red Allen record “The Day You Came Along,” 1933.
  • Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty born 1942 in Avranches, France.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie plays Carnegie Hall with his big band, with guests Ella Fitzgerald and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, 1947.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

September 19, 2011

Jazz Poetry - “Billy Strayhorn Writes ‘Lush Life’”

Billy Strayhorn Writes “Lush Life” by Elizabeth Alexander

Empty ice-cream carton
in a kitchen garbage can.
Up all night with your mother.
He beat her again. Up all night
eating ice-cream, you made your mother laugh.

Life   is lone

Duke’s hands on your shoulders,
you play it again. Cancer
eats moth holes through
you and you and you.

Life   is lone

Speeding upstate in the backseat,
on the Taconic, cocktail
in one hand, book in another
as autumn leaves blur by.
This life, New York, piano,
love, then lonely, this life, love.

--From American Sublime (Graywolf Press, 2005)

Note: Elizabeth Alexander was born in Harlem in 1962 and grew up in Washington D.C. She is the daughter of former U.S. Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander, Jr. In 1963, her parents brought her to Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. She graduated from Yale University, and then studied with poet Derek Walcott at Boston University, where she earned her master’s degree. She later earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. She was briefly a reporter for the Washington Post but then turned to teaching English at the University of Chicago in the early 1990s, where she met a charismatic young law lecturer named Barack Obama. She recited a poem at his presidential inauguration that she had composed for the occasion. Her published work includes Body of Life, American Sublime (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), and a verse play, Diva Studies. She currently teaches at Yale.

September 16, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: September 16 to September 22

September 16
  • Singer John Hendricks born 1921 in Newark, OH.
  • Violinist Joe Venuti born 1903 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Guitarist Charlie Byrd born 1925 in Chuckatuck, VA.
September 17
  • Clarinetist Perry Robinson born 1938 in New York, NY.
  • Bandleader Bill McKinney born 1895 in Cynthiana, KY.
  • Duke Ellington, bassist Charles Mingus, and drummer Max Roach record Money Jungle, 1962.
September 18
  • Guitarist Emily Remler born 1957 in New York, NY.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker records Parker’s Mood with pianist John Lewis, 1948.
  • Saxophonists Lester Young and Charlie Parker and trumpeter Roy Eldridge record “Embraceable You” at Carnegie Hall, 1949.
September 19
  • Woody Herman’s band records Ralph Burns’ extended composition “Summer Sequence,” 1946.
  • Pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams born 1930 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Erroll Garner records Concert By The Sea with bassist Eddie Calhoun and drummer Denzil Best, 1955.
September 20
  • Saxophonist Johnny Dankworth born 1927 in London, England.
  • Duke Ellington records “Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue,” 1937.
  • Saxophonist Steve Coleman born 1956 in Chicago, IL.
September 21
  • Jelly Roll Morton records “Dead Man Blues,” 1926.
  • Drummer Sunny Murray born 1937 in Idabel, OK.
  • Bassist Slam Stewart born 1914 in Englewood, NJ.
September 22
  • Guitarist Wes Montgomery records Unit 7 with pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, 1965.
  • Trombonist Roswell Rudd records “Broad Strokes” with vocalist Sheila Jordan, 1999.
  • Vocalist Marlena Shaw born 1942 in New Rochelle, NY.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

September 9, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: September 9 to September 15

September 9
  • Drummer Elvin Jones born 1927 in Pontiac, MI.
  • Bassist George Mraz born 1944 in Pisek, now in the Czech Republic.
  • Duke Ellington records Indigos, an album of ballads, 1957.
September 10
  • Drummer Cliff Leeman born 1913 in Portland, ME.
  • Trombonist Craig Harris born 1954 in Hempstead, NY.
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis records ’Round Midnight with tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, 1956.
September 11
  • Fluegelhornist Stacy Rowles born 1955 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Lionel Hampton records “When Lights Are Low,” 1939.
  • Pianist/singer Harry Connick, Jr., born 1967 in New Orleans, LA.
September 12
  • Trombonist Steve Turre born 1948 in Omaha, NE.
  • Trumpeter Cat Anderson born 1916 in Greenville, SC.
  • George Russell records Manhattan with a band including John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Bob Brookmeyer, and Bill Evans, 1958.
September 13
  • Tenor saxophonist Chu Berry born 1910 in Wheeling, WV.
  • Billie Holiday records “He’s Funny That Way,” 1937.
  • Composer/pianist Tadd Dameron records “Lady Bird,” 1948.
September 14
  • Cecil Taylor makes his first session as a leader 1956. Band includes Steve Lacy, Buell Neidlinger, and Dennis Charles.
  • Saxophonist Joseph Jarman born 1937 in Pine Bluff, AR.
  • Trumpeter Bill Berry born 1930 in Benton Harbor, MI.
September 15
  • Saxophonist Cannonball Adderley born 1928 in Tampa, FL.
  • Bassist Arvell Shaw born 1923 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton records “Black Bottom Stomp,” 1926.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

September 4, 2011

Sarah the Tame

Jazz Icons: Sarah Vaughan Live in '58 & '64I am a big fan of the Jazz Icons series of DVDs, which has uncovered some of the classic jazz performances of all time. I was looking forward to viewing Sarah Vaughan: Live in ’58 and ‘64 with great anticipation. So, I am sorry to say that I found it a major disappointment.

The first set, filmed in Sweden, is the strangest of the three. Apparently filmed for television, Sarah ends each number by thanking the audience, yet there is no sound of applause. I’m not sure if they later added canned applause or what, but it’s a bit disconcerting as presented here. And Vaughan’s vocals, while lovely and always musical, are simply tame and uninspired. The other set from 1958, filmed in Holland, is clearly in front of a live audience, but the effect is the same: lovely but bland. In the third set from 1964, we see Vaughan in a bad wig and sweating profusely through a somewhat livelier vocal delivery.

While the material she’s chosen - “Misty,” “Lover Man,” “Tenderly,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” “Maria” (from West Side Story), among others - is impeccable and the group behind her is terrific, the overall effect of the whole is something less than the parts.

September 2, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: September 2 to September 8

September 2
  • Pianist Horace Silver born 1928 in Norwalk, CT.
  • Tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan born 1931 in Chicago, IL.
  • Saxophonist John Coltrane records “First Meditations For Quartet,” 1965.
September 3
  • Drummer Roy Brooks born 1938 in Detroit, MI.
  • Pianist/musicologist James Dapogny born 1940 in Berwyn, IL.
  • Baritone saxophonist Serge Chaloff records “The Fable of Mabel” with pianist Richard Twardzik, 1954.
September 4
  • Miles Davis Nonet opened at The Royal Roost, 1948.
  • Saxophonist/educator Dave Liebman born 1946 in New York, NY.
  • Composer/arranger Gerald Wilson born 1918 in Shelby, MS.
September 5
  • Count Basie’s Kansas City Seven records “Lester Leaps In,” 1939, featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young.
  • Duke Ellington records “In a Mellotone,” 1940.
  • Trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff born 1928 in Frankfurt, Germany.
September 6
  • Cornetist Buddy Bolden born 1877 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Clarinetist Sidney Bechet records “Blues In Thirds” with pianist Earl Hines and drummer Baby Dodds, 1940.
  • Saxophonist/musicologist Andrew White born 1942 in Washington, DC.
September 7
  • Trumpeter Joe Newman born 1922 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins born 1929 in New York, NY.
  • Bennie Moten’s band records "South," 1928.
September 8
  • Cornetist’s Bix Beiderbecke’s last session as leader, 1930.
  • Pianist Elmer Schoebel born 1896 in East St. Louis, Illinois.
  • Bassist Wilbur Ware born 1923 in Chicago, IL.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

August 26, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: August 26 to September 1

August 26
  • Saxophonist Branford Marsalis born 1960 in Breaux Bridge, LA.
  • Vocalist Jimmy Rushing born 1903 in Oklahoma City, OH.
  • Duke Ellington records “Old Man Blues,” 1930.
August 27
  • Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon records GO! with drummer Billy Higgins, 1962.
  • Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz records Big Band Bossa Nova, arranged by Gary McFarland, 1962.
  • Tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Lester Young born 1909 in Woodville, MS.
August 28
  • Clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre records with the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Music Inn, 1956.
  • Tenor saxophonist Chu Berry records Monday at Mintons with pianist Clyde Hart and trumpeter Hot Lips Page, 1941.
  • Pianist Kenny Drew born 1928 in New York, NY.
August 29
  • Vocalist Dinah Washington born 1924 in Tuscaloosa, AL.
  • Trombonist/vocalist Jack Teagarden born 1905 in Vernon, TX.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker born 1920 in Kansas City, KS.
August 30
  • Max Roach and Archie Shepp duo concert is recorded in Switzerland, 1979.
  • Trumpeter Kenny Dorham born 1924 in Fairfield, TX.
  • Tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris records Freedom Jazz Dance, 1965.
August 31
  • Alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman records Colors, duets with pianist Joachim Kuhn, 1996.
  • Jimmie Lunceford records “Organ Grinder’s Swing,” 1936.
  • Composer/arranger Edgar Sampson born 1907 in New York, NY.
September 1
  • Saxophonist Art Pepper born 1925 in Gardena, CA.
  • Bassist/French hornist Willie Ruff born 1931 in Sheffield, AL.
  • Duke Ellington records his tribute to Billy Strayhorn, And His Mother Called Him Bill, 1967.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

August 20, 2011

The Embodiment of Jazz Violin

Stephane Grappelli: A Life in the Jazz CenturyStéphane Grappelli: A Life in the Jazz Century (DVD, 2003) presents a fascinating look at the life of the great Stéphane Grappelli (1908–1997), who, one could argue, was the Louis Armstrong of the jazz violin.

Born in Paris, Grappelli was thrust out into the world at a young age. His mother died when he was four and his father went off to fight in World War One, and the young Grappelli was left at the Isadora Duncan dance school, where he became enamored of the French impressionistic music popular at the time. He went on to study music and busked on the streets of Paris to support himself. He soon gained fame as a violin virtuoso.

It was hearing Joe Venuti play violin in the late 1920s that turned Grappelli to jazz. In the 1930s, he teamed up with guitarist Django Reinhardt to form the famous Quintette du Hot Club de France. His work with the Quintette was to cast a shadow over the rest of Grappelli’s career, particularly after the Django’s death in 1953. He could never quite live up to the legend.

During World War Two, he played in England with George Shearing. He continued to record during his entire life, producing an extensive discography that is impressive in its breadth and variety. He recorded with the likes of Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Martin Taylor, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Dave Grisman, cellist Yo Yo Ma, Paul Simon, and Pink Floyd.

Grappelli’s violin sound is instantly recognizable - a tone pure as a birdsong. He never played a bad note. But his wide range of collaborations and the fact that he played the cocktail hour at the Paris Hilton in the 1960s has left Grappelli with an unjustified lightweight reputation. I would say that his life embodies the history of the jazz violin.

Some might balk at the comparison to Armstrong. Grappelli was certainly not in the ranks of Armstrong as an innovator - Armstrong was a force of nature in jazz without peer. However, Grappelli’s time with the Quintette ranks as one of the high points in jazz history. There is also a parallel with Armstrong in the fact that Grappelli maintained his playing style throughout his life (lack of innovation) and had a reputation as an entertainer, which the jazz cognoscente sniffed at.

This film presents a thorough look at Grappelli’s life, including extensive interviews with the man himself and considerable concert footage. Thoroughly enjoyable.