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