April 29, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: April 29 to May 5

April 29
  • Composer/pianist Duke Ellington born 1899 in Washington, D.C.
  • Tenor saxophonist George Adams born 1940 in Covington, GA.
  • Harmonica player and guitarist Toots Thielemans born 1922 in Brussels, Belgium.
 April 30
  • Pianist Richard Twardzik born 1931 in Danvers. MA.
  • Bassist Percy Heath born 1923 in Wilmington, W.VA.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker makes his first commercial recording (Swingmatism) with Jay McShann’s band in Dallas 1941.
 May 1
  • Vocalist/pianist Shirley Horn born 1934 in Washington, D.C.
  • Pianist Bud Powell records Night in Tunisia 1951
  • Flutist James Newton born 1953 in Los Angeles, CA.
 May 2
  • Organist Richard "Groove" Holmes born 1931 in Camden, NJ.
  • Pianist Eddie Heywood records How High The Moon with the tenor saxophonist Don Byas, 1944.
  • Vocalist/bandleader Billy Eckstine records "A Cottage For Sale," 1945.
 May 3
  • Pianist/composer John Lewis born 1920 in La Grange, IL.
  • Vibraphonist Red Norvo Trio with Charles Mingus and Tal Farlow make their first recordings 1950.
  • Vocalist Ethel Waters records “Stormy Weather,” 1933.
 May 4
  • Duke Ellington records “Cottontail” featuring tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, 1940.
  • Bassist Ron Carter born 1937 in Ferndale, MI.
  • Vocalist Bessie Smith records “Lost Your Head Blues,” 1926.
 May 5
  • Trumpeter Jack Walrath born 1946 in Stuart, FL.
  • Drummer/bandleader Paul Barbarin born 1899 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane records Giant Steps with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor 1959.

 Source: Smithsonian Jazz

April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ella Fitzgerald!

Singing "On the Sunny Side of the Street" on a 1962 television appearance. While everyone around her seems to be just a little too happy, Ella delivers a very swinging performance.

April 22, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: April 22 to April 28

April 22
  • Bassist/composer Charles Mingus born 1922 in Nogales, AZ.
  • Bassist Paul Chambers born 1935 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Bassist John Kirby’s Sextet records 20th Century Closet, 1940.
 April 23
  • Vocalist Lil Brown records "Why Don’t You Do Right," which Peggy Lee later turns into a major hit with Benny Goodman’s band, 1941.
  • Clarinetist Jimmie Noone born 1895 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Vocalist Abbey Lincoln records Over The Years, 2000.
 April 24
  • Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson born 1937 in Lima, Ohio.
  • Guitarist Jim Hall and pianist Bill Evans record duo album Undercurrent, 1962.
  • Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin born 1928 in Chicago, IL.
 April 25
  • Vocalist Ella Fitzgerald born 1917 in Newport News, VA.
  • Saxophonist Earl Bostic born 1913 in Tulsa, OK.
  • Saxophonist Archie Shepp records Goin’ Home, a duo of traditional themes with pianist Horace Parlan, 1977.
 April 26
  • Drummer Dave Tough born 1907 in Oak Park, IL.
  • Blues singer Ma Rainey born 1886 in Columbus, GA.
  • Reedman/composer Jimmy Giuffre born 1921 in Dallas, TX.
 April 27
  • Multi-instrumentalist/composer Scott Robinson born 1959 in Pequannock, New Jersey.
  • Three drummers born - Denzil Best 1917, Connie Kay 1927, Freddie Waits, 1943.
  • Saxophonist John Coltrane records The Drum Thing with drummer Elvin Jones, 1964.
 April 28
  • Trumpeter Mario Bauza born 1911 in Havana, Cuba.
  • Pianist Thelonious Monk records San Francisco Holiday, 1960.
  • Louis Armstrong records "Blue Again," 1931.

 Source: Smithsonian Jazz

April 19, 2011

Ellis Marsalis Live in San Francisco

Ellis Marsalis is the patriarch of one of the most prominent jazz families in America. He has played piano and taught jazz in his native New Orleans for decades, but it is only since his more famous sons, particularly Wynton and Branford, have come to prominence that he has started to gain some well-deserved recognition. (Marsalis and his sons are group recipients of the NEA Jazz Masters Award for 2011.) His former pupils include well-known jazz artists Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, and Nicholas Payton. Despite coming from New Orleans, Ellis was never a Dixielander, and back in the day he played with the likes of Cannonball and Nat Adderley.

On March 17, he played at the San Francisco Jazz (SFJAZZ) Festival in a quartet that was a bit of a family affair, as it featured youngest son Jason on vibes. The elder Marsalis plays with a gentle elegance and sureness of touch that speaks of the years spent below the radar in New Orleans. One can see where his sons absorbed so much music and musical history from. Jason, who is known primarily as a drummer, is a terrific and lively vibes player. Father and son showed a wonderful sense of playfulness as they made music together.

Open Letter to TheloniousThe program featured a lively dose of Thelonious Monk tunes taken from Ellis’s 2008 album, An Open Letter to Thelonious, including “Evidence,” “Round Midnight,” and “Straight, No Chaser.” The interpretations were both faithful to the originals and updated too. The group also played a wonderful version of an old King Oliver tune called “Doctor Jazz,” with Ellis starting out on solo piano, attempting to adhere to a 1920s playing style, then the group coming in for an extended and swinging modern version. The evening was a class act all the way.

April 15, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: April 15 to April 21

April 15
  • Bassist Richard Davis born 1930 in Chicago, IL.
  • Vocalist Bessie Smith born 1894 in Chattanooga, TN.
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis’s Quintet records In Person: Saturday Night At the Blackhawk, 1961.
 April 16
  • Trombonist Benny Green born 1923 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Earl Hines records solo piano Plays Cole Porter, 1974.
  • Pianist Alice Coltrane records Transfiguration, 1978.
 April 17
  • Bassist Buster Williams born 1942 in Camden, NJ.
  • Banjoist/guitarist Johnny St. Cyr born 1890 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Pianist/composers Mary Lou Williams and Cecil Taylor record Embraced at Carnegie Hall, 1977.
 April 18
  • Multi-instrumentalist Sidney Bechet overdubs records a one-man band version of "Sheik of Araby," 1941.
  • Pianist Hal Galper born 1938 in Salem, MA.
  • Pianist Jimmy Rowles records his last album, Lilac Time, 1994.
 April 19
  • Drummer Tommy Benford born 1985 in Chaleston, W. VA.
  • The Great Concert of (bassist) Charles Mingus is recorded in Paris, France, 1964.
  • Saxophonist Jimmy Greene records Live at Birdland, 1998.
 April 20
  • Drummer Beaver Harris born 1936 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Percussionist/bandleader Tito Puente born 1923 in New York, NY.
  • Pianist/composer Sun Ra records The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume 1, 1965.
 April 21
  • Trombonist/arranger Slide Hampton born 1932 in Jeannette, PA.
  • Pianist Chick Corea records solo Piano Improvisations in Olso 1971
  • Guitarist Mundell Lowe born 1922 in Laurel, MS.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

April 10, 2011

Art Blakey in Paris, 1959

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Paris 1959Drummer Art Blakey had a knack for attracting the best young talent to his ever-changing groups, collectively known as The Jazz Messengers. Over the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond, this was a proving ground for musicians to show their stuff. Blakey was often the biggest cheerleader as well as the one setting a perfect backbeat to showcase his soloists.

Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers: Paris 1959, a brief (51-minute) film of a concert date at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, features Wayne Shorter on saxophone, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Walter Davis Jr. on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass. (The Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, by the way, was the site of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913; the choreography by Nijinsky caused such consternation among attendees that the audience rioted.) The group is a study in contrasts in playing style: Shorter stands almost motionless while playing sax and Davis looks almost as if he has fallen asleep at the keyboard. Morgan is much more animated on the trumpet and Blakey is in ecstasy at the drum set.

The playlist includes a couple of Benny Golson tunes - the oft-recorded classic “Blues March” and “Are You Real?” - along with a hectically paced “A Night in Tunisia,” the standard “Close Your Eyes,” and Lee Morgan’s “Goldie.” The standard was the highlight for me, with some wonderful solos from everyone. Merritt is the real surprise, playing some aggressive, rhythmic solos on the double bass. One wonders why he is not better known, but he seems to have recorded with The Jazz Messengers and others for a brief period from 1958 to about 1962 and then disappeared.

The visual quality of the film is nothing to write home about - very contrasty - but it is still a pleasure to watch and listen to this fine group play.

April 8, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: April 8 to April 14

April 8
  • Vocalist Carmen McRae born 1920 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Tom Harrell records Form with Joe Lovano, Dave Leibman and John Abercrombie 1990.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s big band records Benny Goldon’s "Stablemates," 1957.
 April 9
  • Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard records Hub Cap with saxophonist Jimmy Heath, 1961.
  • Tenor saxophonist Julian Dash born 1916 in Charleston, SC.
  • Arranger Gil Evans records New Bottle, Old Wine featuring alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, 1959.
 April 10
  • Saxophonist/arranger Fud Livingstone born 1906 in Charleston, SC.
  • Pianist Denny Zeitlin born 1938 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Count Basie’s band features tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on "Feedin’ The Bean," 1941.
 April 11
  • Trombonist Grachan Moncur III records his Echoes of Prayer with the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, 1974.
  • Guitarist Oscar Aleman records "I’m Beginning to See the Light" in Buenos Aires, 1946.
  • Cornetist Nick La Rocca born 1889 in New Orleans, LA.
 April 12
  • Pianist Herbie Hancock born 1940 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist Thelonious Monk records "I Should Care," 1957.
  • Clarinetist Johnny Dodds born 1892 in New Orleans, LA.
April 13
  • Trumpeter Bobby Hackett records his big band version of "Embraceable You," 1939.
  • Saxophonist Bud Freeman born 1906 in Chicago, IL. .
  • Pianist McCoy Tyner’s Trio records Infinity with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker.
 April 14
  • Trumpeter/composer Shorty Rogers born 1924 in Great Barrington, MA.
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records "Misterioso" with pianists Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver, 1957.
  • Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons born 1925 in Chicago, IL.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

April 6, 2011

Wayne Shorter Quartet - "All Blues" (2003)

Wayne Shorter on saxophones, Danilo Perez on piano, John Patitucci on double bass, and Brian Blade on drums.

April 1, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: April 1 to April 7

April 1
  • Saxophonist Harry Carney born 1910 in Boston, MA.
  • Trumpeter/bandleader Cootie Williams is the first to record a Thelonious Monk composition, "Epistrophy," 1942.
  • Saxophonist John Laporta born 1920 in Philadelphia, PA.
 April 2
  • Trumpeter Booker Little born 1938 in Memphis, TN.
  • Larry Coryell born 1943 in Galveston, TX.
  • Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, pianist Bud Powell, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Kenny Clarke record All The Things You Are in Essen, Germany, 1960.
 April 3
  • Composer/arranger Bill Finegan born 1917 in Newark, NJ.
  • Bassist Scott LaFaro born 1936 in Newark, NJ.
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker rehearses with Gene Roland’s Big Band, 1950. It is issued as The Band That Never Was.
 April 4
  • Bassist Gene Ramey born 1913 in Austin, TX.
  • Pianist Benny Green born 1963 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Booker Little records Out Front with Max Roach and Eric Dolphy in 1961.
 April 5
  • Saxophonist Stanley Turrentine born 1934 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Drummer Stan Levey born 1925 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton records "Sweethearts on Parade" featuring tenor saxophonist Chu Berry, 1939.
 April 6
  • Saxophonist/composer Gerry Mulligan born 1927 in New York, NY.
  • Saxophonist Charlie Rouse born 1924 in Washington, DC.
  • Cornetist King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band records "Dippermouth Blues" 1923.
 April 7
  • Vocalist Billie Holiday born 1915 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard born 1938 in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Conga player/bandleader Mongo Santamaria born 1922 in Havana, Cuba.
Source: Smithsonian Jazz