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.

August 19, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: August 19 to August 25

August 19
  • Pianist Jimmy Rowles born 1918 in Spokane, WA.
  • Arranger Lyle “Spud” Murphy born Salt Lake City, 1908.
  • Trombonist/composer/arranger Eddie Durham born 1906 in San Marcos, TX.
August 20
  • Drummer Milford Graves born 1941 in New York, NY.
  • Guitarist Jimmy Raney born 1927 in Louisville, KY.
  • Trombonist Frank Rosolino born 1926 in Detroit, MI.
August 21
  • Pianist/bandleader Count Basie born 1904 in Red Bank, NJ.
  • Flugelhornist Art Farmer born 1928 in Council Bluffs, IA.
  • Drummer Leon Parker born 1965 in White Plains, NY.
August 22
  • Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight” is recorded for the first time by trumpeter Cootie Williams’ big band, 1944.
  • Bassist Malachi Favors born 1937 in Chicago, IL.
  • Count Basie records “Jumpin’ At the Woodside,” 1938.
August 23
  • Pianist Martial Solal born 1927 in Algiers, North Africa.
  • Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane records Traneing In with Red Garland’s trio, 1957.
  • Pianist McCoy Tyner records Expansions with trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonists Gary Bartz and Wayne Shorter, 1968.
August 24
  • Vibraphonist Milt Jackson records “Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” with pianist John Lewis, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Kenny Clarke, 1951.
  • Alto saxophonist Buster Smith born 1904 in Ennis, TX.
  • Drummer Buddy Rich records This One’s for Basie, 1956.
August 25
  • Tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate records Meets Dollar Brand, 1977.
  • Saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter born 1933 in Newark, NJ.
  • Organist Jimmy Smith records The Sermon, 1957, with trumpeter Lee Morgan and guitarist Kenny Burrell.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

August 13, 2011

Wayne Shorter Quartet - "Joy Rider" (2010)

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

August 12, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: August 12 to August 18

August 12
  • Pianist Wynton Kelly records Kelly Great, with trumpeter Lee Morgan, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, 1960.
  • Drummer Tony Williams records Spring with the tenor saxophonists Sam Rivers and Wayne Shorter, 1965.
  • Guitarist Pat Metheny born 1954 in Lee’s Summit, MO.
August 13
  • Pianist George Shearing born 1919 in London, England.
  • Pianist Mulgrew Miller born 1955 in Greenwood, MS.
  • Baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan records with Thelonious Monk, 1957.
August 14
  • Violinist Stuff Smith born 1909 in Portsmouth, OH.
  • Pianist/vibraphonist Eddie Costa born 1930 in Atlas, PA.
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis records first session as a leader, with Charlie Parker on tenor saxophone, 1947.
August 15
  • Bassist Sam Jones records Right Down Front, 1962.
  • Composer Bill Russo records A Recital in New American Music, 1951.
  • Pianist Oscar Peterson born 1925 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
August 16
  • Three pianists born - Bill Evans, 1929 in Plainfield, NJ; Mal Waldron, 1925 in New York, NY; and Carl Perkins, 1928 in Indianapolis, IN.
  • Vocalist Al Hibbler born 1915 in Tyro, MS.
  • Vibraphonist Lionel Hampton records “Drum Stomp,” 1937.
August 17
  • Pianist/composer Duke Pearson born 1932 in Atlanta, GA.
  • Bassist George Duvivier born 1920 in New York, NY.
  • Pianist Paul Bley records Floater with bassist Steve Swallow ansd drummer Pete LaRoca, 1962.
August 18
  • Trumpeter Miles Davis records Gil Evans’ arrangements of Porgy and Bess, 1958.
  • Drummer Don Lamond born 1920 in Oklahoma City, OK.
  • Fletcher Henderson’s band records Coleman Hawkins’ “Queer Notions,” 1933.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

August 5, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: August 5 to August 11

August 5
  • Percussionist Airto Moreira born 1941 in Itaiopolis, Brazil.
  • Trumpeter Frankie Newton and bassist John Kirby record “Emperor Jones” with Charlie Barnet, 1937.
  • Pianist/bandleader Luis Russell born 1902 in Careening Clay, Panama.
August 6
  • Trombonist Vic Dickenson born 1906 in Xenia, OH.
  • Vocalist Abbey Lincoln born 1930 in Chicago, IL.
  • Bassist Charlie Haden born 1937 in Shenandoah, IA.
August 7
  • Pianist Thelonious Monk records Live at the Five Spot, 1958.
  • Guitarist George Van Eps born 1913 in Plainfield, NJ.
  • Multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk born 1936 in Columbus, OH.
August 8
  • Trombonist Urbie Green born 1926 in Mobile, AL.
  • Vocalist Sarah Vaughan records “Nobody Else But Me” with Benny Carter, 1962.
  • Saxophonist/composer/bandleader Benny Carter born 1907 in New York, NY.
August 9
  • Count Basie records “Time Out” and “Topsy,” 1938.
  • Drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette born 1942 in Chicago, IL.
  • Jazz historian/critic Martin Williams born 1924 in Richmond, VA.
August 10
  • Pianist/bandleader Claude Thornhill born 1909 in Terre Haute, IN.
  • Vocalist Mamie Smith records “Crazy Blues,” 1920, the first hit record to establish the blues.
  • Tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp records Four for Trane, 1966.
August 11
  • Pianist Jess Stacy born 1904 in Bird’s Point, MO.
  • Alto saxophonist/clarinetist Russell Procope born 1908 in New York, NY.
  • Clarinetist/bandleader Benny Goodman records Fletcher Henderson’s arrangement of Fats Waller’s “Stealin’ Apples,” 1939.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

August 3, 2011

Art Farmer - "Some Time Ago" (1964)

Art Farmer on flugel horn, Jim Hall on guitar, Steve Swallow on bass, and Walter Perkins on drums.