January 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Roy Eldridge!

Roy Eldridge with the Oscar Peterson Trio - "Willow Weep for Me" (1961).

January 27, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: January 27 to February 2

January 27
  • Pianist Bill Evans and alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley record Know What I Mean?, 1961.
  • Trumpeter Hot Lips Page born 1908 in Dallas, TX.
  • Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson born 1941 in Los Angeles, CA.
January 28
  • Drummer Bob Moses born 1948 in New York, NY.
  • JATP records "Lady Be Good," 1946, with classic solos by saxophonists Lester Young and Charlie Parker.
  • English saxophonist Ronnie Scott born 1927 in London, England.
January 29
  • Jabbo Smith records "Jazz Battle" at his first session as a leader, 1929.
  • Drummer Ed Shaugnessy born 1929 in Jersey City, NJ.
  • Guitarist Sacha Distel born 1933 in Paris, France.
January 30
  • Bassist and oud player Ahmed Abdul-Malik born 1927 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Roy Eldridge born 1911 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • The Original Dixieland Jazz Band makes the first jazz recordings, 1917.
January 31
  • Trumpeter Bobby Hackett born 1915 in Providence, RI.
  • Guitarist George Barnes records Swing Guitar with Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, and Jo Jones, 1973.
  • Composer George Russell records "The Stratus Seekers," including trombonist David Baker, 1961.
February 1
  • Pianist James P. Johnson born 1894 in New Brunswick, NJ.
  • Saxophonist Joshua Redman born 1969 in Berkeley, CA.
  • Saxophonist Sadao Watanabe born 1933 in Utsunomiya, Japan.
February 2
  • Tenor saxophonist Stan Getz born 1927 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Saxophonist Sonny Stitt born 1924 in Boston, MA.
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet records Lonely Woman, 1962.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

January 25, 2011

Jazz News: Newport Jazz Festival Goes Non-Profit

The Newport Jazz Festival will be returning to its roots as a non-profit entity. George Wein will still produce. Here's the press release:

Famed Newport Jazz & Folk Festivals Go Non-Profit

NEWPORT, RI, January 25, 2011 - The famed Newport Jazz Festival® and Newport Folk Festival®, held in Newport, RI, since 1954 and 1959 respectively, have returned to their original roots as non-profit events. More...

January 24, 2011

Miles Plays Miles

DingoDingo is a little Australian-French film released in 1991 that would probably be lost in obscurity except for one fact - it stars Miles Davis. In the first image of the film, we see John “Dingo” Anderson (played by Colin Friels) playing his trumpet in the Australian outback, which sets up the tension between his life in the middle of nowhere and his dreams of playing jazz. We then see a flashback to John’s childhood in 1969, when a plane carrying legendary trumpeter Billy Cross (played by Davis) lands on a nearby runway and he gets to hear an impromptu jazz concert. John is mesmerized by what he hears and, after he approaches Cross after the concert, Billy tells him to “look me up” if he ever gets to Paris.

Two-thirds of the film is then taken up with John’s current life, twenty years later. He scratches out an existence hunting wild dogs and taking odd jobs to support his wife and two daughters. John also plays the trumpet and leads a band - “Dingo and the Dusters” - that plays a mix of jazz, country, and blues. But Dingo is still not satisfied with his life and he still dreams of going to Paris and playing with his idol, Billy Cross. He has been periodically writing to Cross over the years and sending him tapes of the music he’s playing in Australia. His dissatisfaction with his current life builds - spurred by the visit of a childhood friend who has gone on to financial success in Perth and starts hitting on Dingo’s wife - and he uses money he’s been saving up to fly to Paris.

After initially having trouble locating Cross, and ending up in jail, Dingo finally meets his musical hero. He ends up staying at his house and playing at a small jazz club with Cross, who has essentially retired but is coaxed back on stage. Dingo is a hit and he returns to Australia knowing that he has the musical chops to make it if he wants to.

The story is a little too good to be believed - it's every jazz musician's aboriginal fantasy, to be acknowledged by a master, come true - and the strange mix of hardscrabble outback struggles and big city jazz dreams is jarring to say the least. The real interest is Davis, who basically is playing himself. His character, Billy Cross, is a reticent and world-weary recluse. But when he is on screen, you can’t take your eyes off of Davis. The atmospheric music - by Davis and Michel Legrand - is quite good throughout: more late 1950s Miles than what he was playing at the time the film was made. The playing in the climactic club scene shows that Miles still had it. (Dingo’s playing was overdubbed by trumpeter Chuck Findley, who has played with Buddy Rich’s band, among others.) Miles died the year the film was released.

January 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, J.J. Johnson!

The great J.J. Johnson on trombone playing "It Never Entered My Mind," in Bern, Switzerland, 1993. (Video is incomplete - the second part is available here.)

January 20, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: January 20 to January 26

January 20
  • Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts born 1960 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Miles Davis Quintet (with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams) records E.S.P., 1965
  • Drummer Jimmy Cobb born 1929 in Washington, DC.
January 21
  • Count Basie band makes its first recording, "Honeysuckle Rose," in 1937.
  • Violinist and reedman Robert "Juice" Wilson born 1904 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Miles Davis Nonet, later known as The Birth of the Cool band, records "Jeru," 1949.
January 22
  • Valve trombonist Juan Tizol born 1900 in San Juan, PR.
  • Trombonist/composer J.J. Johnson born 1924 in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Vocalist Billie Holiday records "Good Morning Heartache," 1946.
January 23
  • Guitarist Django Reinhardt born 1910 in Liverchies, Belgium.
  • Duke Ellington’s first Carnegie Hall Concert, 1943.
  • Vibraphonist Gary Burton born 1943 in Anderson, IN.
January 24
  • Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Forrest born 1920 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Oscar Peterson Trio (with drummer Ed Thigpen and bassist Ray Brown) records music from West Side Story, 1962.
  • Pianist/composer Avery Parrish born 1917 in Birmingham, AL.
January 25
  • Bassist Wellman Braud born 1891 in St. James Parish, LA.
  • Composer Antonio Carlos Jobim born 1927 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Dizzy Gillespie, making his last recordings, records Bird Songs in 1992, with altoists Paquito D’Rivera and Jackie McLean.
January 26
  • Saxophonist/composer Benny Golson born 1929 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Louis Armstrong records "I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues," 1933.
  • Violinist/pianist Stephane Grappelli born 1908 in Paris, France.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

January 16, 2011

All the President's Jazz 2010

For the second year in a row, I have been sending CD compilations of jazz music (12 total) to Reggie Love, President Obama’s personal aide, to put on the president’s iPod. (How much of it has made it onto the iPod playlist I don’t know.) As I stated a year ago when I posted the 2009 presidential playlist, this list reflects my tastes in jazz and should not be construed to be President Obama’s choices. So, what follows is the complete playlist of jazz tunes that I sent to the president in 2010 (in alphabetical order by the artist’s first name). 

Ahmad Jamal: Ahmad’s Blues
Anita O’Day: Honeysuckle Rose
Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers: Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You
Barney Wilen: Swing 39
Ben Webster: Bounce Blues
Benny Golson: Blues After Dark; Tippin’ On Thru; Soul Me
Bernie Green and Sonny Stitt: Flame and Frost
Bill Evans Trio: My Man’s Gone Now; When I Fall In Love
Bill Holman/Mel Lewis Quintet: The Beat Generation
Billy Bang Quartet: Bien-hoa Blues
Blue Mitchell: Avars; Blue Soul; Hi-Heel Sneakers; Samba De Stacy
Bob Mintzer Quartet: Listen Here
Bud Freeman: Meet Me In San Juan
Carl Perkins and The Oscar Moore Quartet: There’ll Never Be Another You
Carmen McRae and Dave Brubeck: Take Five
Cat Anderson: Good Queen Bess
Cedar Walton Trio: Bleeker Street Team
Charles Earland: The Dozens
Charles Mingus: Moanin’; Song With Orange
Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie: My Melancholy Baby
Charlie Parker: Chi Chi
Chet Baker: For Minors Only; Soft Winds
Chick Corea: Bossa
Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove and Stephen Scott: Marmaduke
Clifford Brown and The Max Roach Quintet: Joy Spring
Clifton Anderson: Deja-Blu
Coleman Hawkins and The Red Garland Trio: Red Beans
Craig Handy: You’re Blase
Curtis Fuller and Benny Golson: Arabia
Dave Brubeck Quartet: Basin Street Blues; Calcutta Blues; Far More Blue; Osaka Blues; Sometimes I'm Happy
Dave Brubeck: Who Said That?
Dexter Gordon: Darn That Dream
Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz: I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
Dizzy Gillespie: Joogie Boogie
Don Cherry, Lennart Aberg, and Bobo Stenson: Prayer
Donald Byrd and Hank Mobley: Cattin'
Duke Ellington and John Coltrane: In a Sentimental Mood
Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges: Just Squeeze Me (But Don’t Tease Me)
Duke Ellington: Piano Improvisation No. 2
Earl "Fatha" Hines: Love Is Just Around the Corner
Ella Fitzgerald: All the Things You Are; I Found a New Baby
Ellis Larkins: Blues In My Heart
Elmo Hope: It’s a Lovely Day Today
Eric Alexander and One for All: Sweet and Lovely
Frank Strozier: Cloudy And Cool; I Don’t Know; Just In Time
Freddie Jackson: Egypt Land; Minor Exposure; Southern Exposure
Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt: A Pair of Red Pants
Gerry Mulligan: News from Blueport
Gigi Gryce: Nica's Tempo
Grant Green: Blues In Maude's Flat; Born To Be Blue; Green’s Greenery; It Ain’t Necessarily So; Old Folks
Hampton Hawes Trio: All the Things You Are; Easy Living
Hank Mobley: Uh Huh
Harry "Sweets" Edison: How Deep Is The Ocean; Love Is Here To Stay
Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage
Herbie Nichols: Applejackin'
Howard Roberts: When the Sun Comes Out
Ike Quebec: Blue And Sentimental
Illinois Jacquet: Port of Rico; Weary Blues
J.J. Johnson: Groovin’
James Carter: Sussa Nita
James Moody: Bunny Boo
Jimmy Forrest: Soul Street
Jimmy Heath Orchestra: The Picture of Heath
Joe Henderson: Back Road; Blue Bossa
Joe Lovano: Left Behind
Joe Newman: Prelude to a Kiss
Joe Pass: Blues for Alican
Joe Venuti and Zoot Sims: I'll See You In My Dreams
Joe Williams: All Right, Okay, You Win
Joe Zawinul: Money In the Pocket
John Coltrane and Kenny Burrell: Why Was I Born?
John Coltrane: Aisha; Bessie’s Blues; Cousin Mary (Alt. Take); CTA; I’m Old Fashioned; Say It (Over and Over Again); Tunji
Johnny Griffin: Chicago Calling; Nice And Easy
Joshua Redman: Blues On Sunday
Junior Mance: Blue Mance
Kenny Burrell: K Twist (Take 35)
Lee Morgan: Boy, What A Night; The Sidewinder
Lisa Engelken: Winter Moon
Lou Donaldson: Here 'Tis
Lucky Thompson: Fascinating Blues; Invitation
Marc Copland: All Blues
Marty Paich: Jump for Me
McCoy Tyner: Blue Monk; Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool
Miles Davis: I Fall In Love Too Easily; Milestones; Some Day My Prince Will Come
Newport All-Stars: Blue Boy
Nicholas Payton: The Backwards Step
Oliver Nelson: Stolen Moments
Ornette Coleman: Beauty Is a Rare Thing; Lonely Woman
Oscar Peterson Trio: Blues of the Prairies; It Ain’t Necessarily So
Oscar Pettiford: Blues In the Closet
Paco De Lucía, John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola: Manha de Carnaval
Paul Gonsalves: Rapscallion in Rab's Canyon
Pepper Adams Quintet: Muezzin'
Phil Woods: Woodlore
Ray Brown Trio: Mistreated But Undefeated Blues
Red Garland Trio: Makin' Whoopee; September In the Rain
Richie Cole: Adios
Rosemary Clooney and Duke Ellington: Just A-Sittin’ And A-Rockin’
Roy Haynes: Sugar Ray
Sam Rivers: Beatrice
Scott Hamilton: Jump for Joy
Serge Chaloff: Thanks for the Memory
Shirley Scott: I Feel All Right; Soul Shoutin’
Sonny Criss: My Ideal
Sonny Rollins: Alfie’s Theme Differently
Sonny Stitt: Down Home Blues; Touchy
Stan Getz: Love is Here to Stay; Of Thee I Sing
Stanley Jordan: Song for My Father
Ted Greene: Just Friends
Terence Blanchard: You’re a Sweetheart
Thad Jones/Kenny Burrell/Frank Wess: Count One
Thelonious Monk: Blue Bolivar Blues (Take 2); Five Spot Blues; Rhythm-A-Ning; Tea For Two
Tommy Flanagan: Tommy's Time
Tony Monaco Trio: Ode to Brother Jack
Warne Marsh: Autumn In New York
Wayne Shorter: Adam’s Apple; El Gaucho; Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum
Wes Montgomery: The Thumb
Willis Jackson: A Twist Of Blues; He Said, She Said, I Said; Shuckin’; Sweet Peter Charleston
Wynton Kelly: June Night

January 13, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: January 13 to January 19

January 13
  • Horace Silver records "Moon Rays," 1958.
  • Guitarist Danny Barker born 1909 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Trombonist/arranger Melba Liston born 1926 in Kansas City, MO.
January 14
  • Trumpeter Kenny Wheeler born 1930 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Bessie Smith records "St. Louis Blues," 1925, with Louis Armstrong on cornet.
  • Drummer/vocalist Grady Tate born 1932 in Durham, NC.
January 15
  • Drummer Gene Krupa born 1909 in Chicago, IL.
  • Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan records "What Is There To Say" with Art Farmer, 1959.
  • Trumpeter Baikida Carroll born 1947 in St. Louis, MO.
January 16
  • Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Concert, 1938.
  • Vocalist Ivie Anderson born 1905 in Gilroy, CA.
  • Ahmad Jamal Trio records At the Pershing with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, 1958.
January 17
  • Pianist Cedar Walton born 1934 in Dallas, TX.
  • Drummer Sid Catlett born 1910 in Evansville, IN.
  • Pianist Nat "King" Cole’s Trio records "Body and Soul," 1944.
January 18
  • First Esquire Jazz Concert at Metropolitan Opera House, 1944.
  • Trumpeter Clifford Brown records With Strings, 1955.
  • Saxophonist Steve Grossman born 1951 in New York, NY.
January 19
  • Jack Teagarden records the music of Willard Robison with Bob Brookmeyer’s band, 1962.
  • Bassist Israel Crosby born 1919 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Horace Parlan born 1931 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

January 10, 2011

Jazz News: Huge Music Donation to the Library of Congress

Universal Music Group has made a huge donation of treasured recordings from its vault to the Library of Congress. The material, dating from 1926 to 1948, includes music from Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Billie Holiday. Here's the story from the New York Times:

Library of Congress Gets a Mile of Music
By Larry Rohter

The Library of Congress has begun taking possession of a huge donation of recordings, some 200,000 metal, glass and lacquer master discs from the period 1926 to 1948 that have been languishing in the subterranean vaults of Universal Music Group, the largest music conglomerate in the United States. More...

John Coltrane - "Afro Blue" (1963)

With McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. From the television show "Jazz Casual."

January 7, 2011

A Cool Ocean Breeze of Jazz

Jazz On A Summers DayFor anyone who hasn't seen Bert Stern's jazz documentary, Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960), go rent it immediately. This immensely enjoyable film, shot at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, is visual and aural candy. It is equal parts great jazz and people watching and both prove fascinating. The jazz audience of fifty years ago is like an exotic species under Stern's filmic microscope, and you can't take your eyes off the hats and sunglasses, the drunken dancing, the children playing, and the rapt listening. The musical performances are also stellar, with the likes of Thelonious Monk, Mahalia Jackson, Sonny Stitt, Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Giuffre, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day, Louis Armstrong, and even Chuck Berry - all filmed with an intimacy that brings you right on stage with the performers. The way the film is put together - cutting between the performances and the people, along with the languorous pacing - make it a kind of work of abstract art come to life. This classic jazz documentary is highly recommended.

Here is a sample of the film - Anita O'Day singing "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Tea for Two."

January 6, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: January 6 to January 12

January 6
  • Pianist Teddy Wilson records "When You're Smiling" with Lester Young and Billie Holiday, 1938.
  • Jimmie Lunceford records "Margie" featuring vocalist/trombonist Trummy Young.
  • Trombonist Vernon Brown born 1907 in Venice, IL.
January 7
  • Clarinetist Kenny Davern born 1935 in Huntington, NY.
  • In 1986, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams records Roots of Blue, a series of duets with bassist Cecil McBee.
  • Trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen born 1908 in New Orleans, LA.
January 8
  • In 1929, Duke Ellington records "Tiger Rag" (Parts 1 and 2).
  • Pianist Bobby Tucker born 1923 in Morristown, NJ.
  • Saxophonist Jackie McLean records Bluesnik with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, 1961.
January 9
  • Drummer Kenny Clarke born 1914 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Dizzy Gillespie records "I Can’t Get Started," 1945.
  • Vocalist Betty Roche born 1920 in Wilmington, DE.
January 10
  • Percussionist Max Roach born 1925 in New Land, NC.
  • Vocalist Bee Palmer records her vocal version of Frank Trumbauer and Bix Beiderbecke’s "Singin’ The Blues," 1929.
  • Pianist Bud Powell records first trio session (with Max Roach and Curly Russell), 1946.
January 11
  • Lennie Tristano records "Subconscious Lee," 1949.
  • Drummer Osie Johnson born 1923 in Washington, DC.
  • Saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba record Flying Colors, 1997.
January 12
  • Trombonist Trummy Young born 1912 in Savannah, GA.
  • Louis Armstrong records his big band version of "Struttin’ With Some Barbecue," 1938.
  • Pianist/bandleader Jay McShann born 1909 in Muskogee, OK.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

January 4, 2011

Jazz Poetry - “Canary”

Canary by Rita Dove
For Michael S. Harper

Billie Holiday’s burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.

(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)

Fact is, the invention of women under siege
has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.

If you can’t be free, be a mystery.

--From Grace Notes (W.W. Norton, 1989)

Note: Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She graduated with a B.A. degree from Miami University and received her MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1977. She has taught creative writing at Arizona State University and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States in 1993. She has published nine books of poetry, winning the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for her collection Thomas and Beulah. Dove has also published a book of short stories, a novel, a collection of essays, and a play. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

January 2, 2011

Jazz News: The Changing Jazz Scene in San Francisco

A story from the New York Times on the closing of the Coda jazz club and what it means for the state of jazz in San Francisco...

Death of Jazz Club Underscores a Changing Scene
By Reyhan Hamanci
As another holiday season under a stagnating economy draws to a close, it is hardly surprising that San Francisco would lose that rarely profitable of ventures, a jazz room. More...

January 1, 2011