June 24, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: June 24 to June 30

June 24
  • Bandleader/pianist George Gruntz born 1932 in Basel, Switzerland.
  • Arranger Manny Albam born 1922 in Samana, Dominican Republic.
  • Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin records Back From The Gig, with trumpeter Woody Shaw, 1968.
June 25
  • Composer Bill Russo born 1928 in Chicago, IL.
  • Drummer/pianist Joe Chambers born 1942 in Stoneacre, VA.
  • The Bill Evans Trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian record At The Village Vanguard, 1961.
June 26
  • Thelonious Monk records “Epistrophy” with a band that includes both Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane, 1957.
  • Drummer Joey Baron born 1955 in Richmond, VA.
  • Bassist/educator Reggie Workman born 1937 in Philadelphia, PA.
June 27
  • Benny Carter records his Songbooks, Vol. 1 and 2, 1995.
  • Pianist Mal Waldron records The Quest with saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Booker Ervin, 1961.
  • Pianist Elmo Hope born 1923 in New York, NY.
June 28
  • Louis Armstrong records “West End Blues,” 1928.
  • Bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini born 1904 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Joe Smith born 1902 in Ripley, OH.
June 29
  • Trombonist Julian Priester born 1935 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist/arranger Ralph Burns born 1922 in Newton, MA.
  • Orchestra U.S.A. records Benny Golson’s “A Portrait of Coleman Hawkins,” 1964.
June 30
  • The Cannonball Adderley Quintet plays at the Newport Jazz Festival, 1960.
  • Pianist/composer Andrew Hill born 1937 in Chicago, IL.
  • Duke Ellington records Ellington Uptown, 1952.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

June 19, 2011

New Dog, Old Tricks

I just enjoyed an evening of mellow jazz at the San Francisco Jazz Festival with the duo of Roy Hargrove and Cedar Walton. Trumpeter Hargrove, 41, has experimented with a lot of different sounds during his career, including funk and hip hop, but tonight he sounded like the traditionalist. On both trumpet and flugelhorn, he generally stuck to a quiet but incredibly warm sound and the set of quiet jazz tunes. He stands still when he plays, legs slightly apart, mostly leaning back when he blows. But the tone that he generated has a classic grace to it - very appealing to the ear. He ought to consider more singing as well - his whispery solo turn on "Never Let Me Go" was riveting.

Walton, 77, also has a quiet manner while addressing the piano, but he was up to his old tricks. He played with the famous Benny Golson-Art Farmer Jazztet in the late 1950s before moving on to The Jazz Messengers in the 1960s. A hard bop pianist, he's always had an angular approach to both harmony and rhythm. He's still got it as evidenced tonight, but he holds it all together with his own sense of the blues.

A piano-trumpet duo is certainly an uncommon jazz grouping, but these two jazz greats made some wonderful music together.

June 17, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: June 17 to June 23

June 17
  • Soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet records “When a Soprano Meets a Piano” with Martial Solal, 1957.
  • Clarinetist Tony Scott born 1921 in Morristown, NJ.
  • The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra records Central Park North, 1969.
June 18
  • Drummer/bandleader Ray McKinley born 1910 in Fort Worth, TX.
  • 1956 Metronome All Stars, including bassist Charles Mingus, trumpeter Thad Jones, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, and drummer Art Blakey, records.
  • Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath records A New Face with pianist Tommy Flanagan, 1985.
June 19
  • Vocalist Dave Lambert born 1917 in Boston, MA.
  • Pianist John Hicks records Impressions of Mary Lou (Williams), 1998.
  • Vocalist Carmen McCrae records “If Love Were All,” 1957.
June 20
  • Pianist Bill Evans is featured on the recording of George Russell’s “All About Rosie,” 1957.
  • Saxophonist/bass clarinetist Eric Dolphy born 1928 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Saxophonist Benny Carter records “Waltzing The Blues,” 1936.
June 21
  • Pianist Eric Reed born 1970 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Pianist Les McCann records Swiss Movement at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1969.
  • Troy Floyd And His Plaza Hotel Orchestra record “Dreamland Blues,” 1929.
June 22
  • Drummer Ben Pollack born 1903 in Chicago, IL.
  • Percussionist Ray Mantilla born 1934 in New York, NY.
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records “Blue 7,” 1956.
June 23
  • Composer George Russell born 1923 in Cincinnati, OH.
  • Saxophonist/flutist Sahib Shihab born 1925 in Savannah, GA.
  • Just Jazz with Red Norvo records “Body and Soul,” 1947.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

June 10, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: June 10 to June 16

June 10
  • Bassist Charnett Moffett born 1967 in New York, NY.
  • Pianist Erroll Garner records “Frankie and Johnny,” 1947, with bassist Red Callender and drummer Hal ‘Doc’ West.
  • Trombonist Dicky Wells born 1907 in Centerville, TN.
June 11
  • Pianist Fats Waller records “I Ain’t Got Nobody” piano solo, 1937.
  • Pianists George Shearing, John Lewis, and Dave McKenna record A Tribute to Bill Evans, 1981.
  • Drummer Shelly Manne born 1920 in New York, NY.
June 12
  • Pianist/composer Chick Corea born 1941 in Chelsea, MA.
  • Pianist Geri Allen born 1957 in Pontiac, MI.
  • Tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon records “Bikini,” 1947.
June 13
  • Trumpeter Doc Cheatham born 1905 in Nashville, TN.
  • Louis Armstrong and The Mills Brothers record “The Song Is Ended,” 1938.
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie records “A Night in Tunisia” with Boyd Raeburn’s band, 1944.
June 14
  • Bassist John Simmons born 1918 in Haskell, OK.
  • Bandleader/drummer Chick Webb makes his first recording, “Dog Bottom,” as a bandleader, 1929.
  • Vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson records Components with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, 1965.
June 15
  • Pianist Jaki Byard born 1922 in Worcester, MA.
  • Pianist Erroll Garner born 1921 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Jimmie Lunceford’s band records Sy Oliver’s “For Dancers Only,” 1937.
June 16
  • Saxophonist Lucky Thompson born 1924 in Columbia, SC.
  • Pianist Albert Dailey born 1939 in Baltimore, MD.
  • Trumpeter Tom Harrell born 1946 in Urbana, IL.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

June 5, 2011

Jazz News: Pianist Ray Bryant Has Died

Ray Bryant, a pianist adept at playing jazz and the blues, died on Thursday at the age of 79. The New York Times published his obituary.

Ray Bryant, Jazz Pianist, Dies at 79
By Nate Chinen

Ray Bryant, a jazz pianist whose sensitivity and easy authority made him a busy accompanist and a successful solo artist, beginning in the mid-1950s, died on Thursday. He was 79. More...

June 3, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: June 3 to June 9

June 3
  • Joe Henderson records Page One, 1963.
  • Trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III born 1937 in New York, NY.
  • Trumpeter Ted Curson born 1935 in Philadelphia, PA.
June 4
  • Saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton born 1945 in Chicago, IL.
  • Saxophonist/composer Oliver Nelson born 1932 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera born 1948 in Havana, Cuba.
June 5
  • Pianist Misha Mengelberg born 1935 in Kiev, Ukraine.
  • Duke Ellington records “Bakiff,” featuring violinist Ray Nance, 1941.
  • Pianist/composer Stanley Cowell records “Blues for the Viet Cong,” 1969.
June 6
  • Guitarist Grant Green born 1931 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Pianist Monty Alexander born 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Pianist/bandleader Count Basie records “Doggin’ Around,” 1938.
June 7
  • Guitarist Tal Farlow born 1921 in Greensboro, NC.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records solo album in Paris, 1954.
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis records Nefertiti with his quintet (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams), 1967.
June 8
  • Soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet records “Summertime,” 1939.
  • Trombonist Bill Watrous born 1939 in Middletown, CT.
  • Avant-garde composer John Cage and bandleader/keyboardist Sun Ra record together at Coney Island, 1986.
June 9
  • Don Byas and Slam Stewart record “I Got Rhythm,” 1945.
  • Pianist Kenny Barron born 1943 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Guitarist Les Paul born 1915 in Waukesha, WI.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

June 1, 2011

Jazz Poetry - "Thelonious Sphere Monk"

Thelonious Sphere Monk by Bill Corbett

Cold, the day you leave
you can use that hat.
Ahh Monk, the station fades
as the suburbs begin
you bent the notes right
they will not lose their ring.
I see your shuffle dance
up from the 5 Spot piano
and hear you, wordless, sing.

--From Boston Vermont (Zoland Books, 2000)

Note: William Corbett, born 1942, is an American poet, essayist, teacher, and editor who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. Self-acknowledged influences on his work include jazz, Imagist poet William Carlos Williams, and classical Chinese poets. One can hear all these influences in this poem. He has taught writing at Harvard and MIT and is an editor for a small poetry publisher called Pressed Wafer.