October 30, 2011

Respect for the Masters

Two recent dates at the San Francisco Jazz Festival (SFJAZZ) show that the jazz tradition continues to thrive and change with the times. On October 10th, pianist Benny Green paid a  birthday tribute to the music of Thelonious Monk with a concert called “Monk’s Dream: 50 Years Fresh.” He was joined by the regular members of his trio, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums, along with a guest saxophonist, the venerable Donald Harrison.

They played tunes from the aforementioned 1963 Monk album, Monk’s Dream, such as “Five Spot Blues,” “Bye-Ya,” and the title tune, as well as other music from the master. Green, who looks considerable younger than his 48 years, is a talented and engaging pianist, bring bop and stride sensibilities to his playing. He has played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and in Betty Carter’s band. All the band members seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves while playing Monk’s music, and they showed that his quirky music can be played afresh without falling into mere imitation.

A week ago, October 23rd, I saw a master in the flesh, guitarist Jim Hall, who is now 80 and still going strong. Hall has been active on the jazz scene since the mid-1950s, playing with the likes of Chico Hamilton, Jimmy Giuffre, Sony Rollins, Paul Desmond, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster, Lee Konitz, and on and on. He has recorded over 30 albums as a leader and almost as many as a sideman.

His current group includes Greg Osby on saxophone, Steve LaSpina on bass, and Terry Clarke on drums, and all contributed significantly to the evening of standards, originals, and free-floating improvisations. Hall, sitting on a folding chair, sits hunched over his Gibson - the guitar almost seems to have replaced the mid-section of his body - and he shakes out baby powder on his fingers between songs. But he still produces a beautiful, rounded sound from his guitar and seems to have lost little in dexterity. Hall is a quiet presence on the stage but the music he produces is magical.

October 29, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 28 to November 3

October 28
  • Guitarist Philip Catherine born 1942 in London, England.
  • Trombonist Bill Harris born 1916 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Composer/arranger Chico O’Farrill born 1921 in Havana, Cuba.
October 29
  • Alto saxophonist Charlie Parker records “Embraceable You,” 1947.
  • Tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims born 1925 in Inglewood, CA.
  • Composer/arranger/trumpeter Neal Hefti born 1922 in Hastings, NE.
October 30
  • Percussionist/bandleader Poncho Sanchez born 1951 in Laredo, TX.
  • Count Basie records “What’s Your Number?” featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young, 1940.
  • Trumpeter Clifford Brown born 1930 in Wilmington, DE.
October 31
  • Actress/singer Ethel Waters born 1896 in Chester, PA.
  • Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin born 1930 in Denison, TX.
  • Tenor saxophonist Illinois Jacquet born 1922 in Boussard, LA.
November 1
  • Pianist Roger Kellaway born 1939 in Newton, MA.
  • Basssist/composer Charles Mingus records Mingus Dynasty with a group including Jimmy Knepper, Booker Ervin, and Roland Hanna, 1959.
  • Alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson born 1926 in Badin, NC.
November 2
  • Trumpeter Bunny Berigan born 1908 in Hilbert, WI.
  • Alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges records Billy Strayhorn’s “Daydream,” 1940.
  • Saxophonist/clarinetist/bandleader Phil Woods born 1931 in Springfield, MA.
November 3
  • Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins records A Night at the Village Vanguard, 1957, with drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Wilbur Ware.
  • Bassist Henry Grimes born 1935 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Pianist Fats Waller records “Your Feet’s Too Big,” 1940.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 22, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 21 to October 27

October 21
  • Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie born 1917 in Cheraw, SC.
  • In 1946, Billy Strayhorn begins rehearsing his and Duke Ellington’s only Broadway show, Beggar’s Holiday, which closed after only four months.
  • Tenor saxophonist Don Byas born 1912 in Muskogee, OK.
October 22
  • Pianist/composer Clare Fischer born 1928 in Durand, MI.
  • Count Basie records The Atomic Basie, 1957, featuring arrangements by Neal Hefti.
  • Sam Morgan’s Jazz Band records “Bogalousa Strut” in New Orleans, 1927.
October 23
  • Alto saxophonist Sonny Criss born 1927 in Memphis, TN.
  • Composer/arranger Gary McFarland born 1933 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • The Brass Ensemble of the Jazz and Classical Music Society records J.J. Johnson’s “Jazz Suite for Brass,” featuring trumpeters Miles Davis and Bernie Glow, 1956.
October 24
  • Jazz historian Dan Morgenstern born 1929 in Munich, Germany.
  • Bassist Wendell Marshall born 1920 in St. Louis, MO.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “Well, You Needn’t” at his first trio session with bassist Gene Ramey and drummer Art Blakey, 1947.
October 25
  • Saxophonist/composer Jimmy Heath born 1926 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Trombonist Robin Eubanks born 1955 in Philadelphia, PA.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “The Way You Look Tonight” with Sonny Rollins, 1954.
October 26
  • Tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh born 1927 in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Bandleader/saxophonist Charlie Barnet born 1913 in New York, NY.
  • C. Luckyeth ‘Luckey’ Roberts records an unissued session for Columbia, 1916.
October 27
  • Pianist/composer George Wallington born 1924 in Palmero, Sicily, Italy.
  • Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy records The Straight Horn of Steve Lacy, with drummer Roy Haynes, 1960.
  • Clarinetist Benny Goodman records “Texas Tea Party” featuring trombonist/vocalist Jack Teagarden, 1933.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 14, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 14 to October 20

October 14
  • Tenor saxophonist Ben Webster and pianist Joe Zawinul record together, with trumpeter Thad Jones, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, 1963.
  • Trumpeter Dusko Goykovich born 1931 in Jajce, Yugoslavia.
  • Duke Ellington records “Tootin’ Through the Roof,” featuring cornetist Rex Stewart and trumpeter Cootie Williams, 1939.
October 15
  • Nat King Cole’s short-lived television show has Jazz at the Philharmonic as his guest, and Cole plays in a rare jazz appearance with Stan Getz and Coleman Hawkins, 1957.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk makes his first recordings as a leader, 1947.
  • Trumpeter Al Killian born 1916 in Birmingham, AL.
October 16
  • Saxophonist/arranger/composer Benny Carter records “Lonesome Nights” and “Symphony in Riffs,” 1933.
  • Trombonist Ray Anderson born 1952 in Chicago, IL.
  • Trumpeter Roy Hargrove born 1969 in Waco, TX.
October 17
  • Trombonist Jimmy Harrison born 1900 in Louisville, KY.
  • Two guitarists born - Barney Kessel 1923 in Muskogee, OK, and Howard Alden 1958 in Newport Beach, CA.
  • J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding record their first album as co-leaders at Birdland, 1954.
October 18
  • Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis born 1961 in New Orleans, LA.
  • Pianist/composer James P. Johnson records "Carolina Shout," 1921.
  • Tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine records “Jubilee Shouts,” 1962.
October 19
  • Trombonist Jack Jenney records his classic version of “Stardust” with his own big band, 1939.
  • Clarinetist Eddie Daniels born 1941 in New York, NY.
  • Clarinetist Alphonse Picou born 1878 in New Orleans, LA.
October 20
  • Saxophonist Eddie Harris born 1936 in Chicago, IL.
  • Pianist/composer Jelly Roll Morton born 1890 in New Orleans, LA. 
  • Vocalist Ethel Waters records “Dinah,” 1925.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz

October 7, 2011

This Week in Jazz History: October 7 to October 13

October 7
  • Louis Armstrong records his first session with Fletcher Henderson’s band, 1924.
  • Drummer Jo Jones born 1911 in Chicago, IL.
  • Organist Larry Young born 1940 in Newark, NJ.
October 8
  • Baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams born 1930 in Highland Park, MI.
  • Drummer J .C. Heard born 1917 in Dayton, OH.
  • Lennie Tristano records first trio sides (Out on a Limb), 1946, with Clyde Lombardi and Billy Bauer.
October 9
  • Reedman/composer Yusef Lateef born 1920 in Chattanooga, TN, and records Gong, 1957.
  • Alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett born 1960 in Detroit, MI.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk records “Ba-lue-Bolivar-Ba-lues-are,” with bassist Oscar Pettiford, drummer Max Roach, and saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Ernie Henry, 1956.
October 10
  • Trumpeter Harry "Sweets" Edison born 1915 in Columbus, OH.
  • Billie Holiday stages a 1956 comeback concert at Carnegie Hall (it also became an album) with a band that includes Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins.
  • Pianist/composer Thelonious Monk born 1917 in Rocky Mount, NC.
October 11
  • Drummer/bandleader Art Blakey born 1919 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Trumpeter Lester Bowie born 1941 in Frederick, MD.
  • Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins records “Body and Soul,” 1939, an advanced improvisation that became a hit.
October 12
  • Drummer Tubby Hall born 1895 in Sellers, LA.
  • Bassist/composer Charles Mingus records The Complete Town Hall Concert, 1962.
  • Alto saxophonist James Moody records “I’m in The Mood for Love,” 1949, which later becomes a hit as “Moody’s Mood” for vocalist Eddie Jefferson.
October 13
  • Bassist Ray Brown born 1926 in Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Pianist Art Tatum born 1909 in Toledo, OH.
  • Saxophonist Lee Konitz born 1927 in Chicago, IL.

Source: Smithsonian Jazz