In 1961, trumpeter Buck Clayton was in Belgium on tour with his All Stars—Emmett Berry trumpet, Earle Warren alto sax, Buddy Tate tenor sax, Sir Charles Thompson piano, Gene Ramey bass and Oliver Jackson drums.
In 1962, Nancy Wilson was still being positioned by Capitol Records as a jazz-pop singer. In the years after she signed with the label in 1959, her first five albums were examples of this hybrid: Like in Love, with Willie Smith on alto sax, Something Wonderful (1960) with Ben Webster on tenor sax, The Swingin's Mutual (1961) with the George Shearing Quintet, Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley (1962) and Hello Young Lovers (1962). Nancy's pure pop breakout would come in 1963, with Broadway, My Way.
Richard Williams on a pungent life of the jazz saxophonist, told from a black perspective. Anyone intending to write a proper biography of Charlie Parker must eventually get to grips with the nature of genius itself. Very late in this, the first of two long-awaited volumes on the life of the great modern jazzsaxophonist, Stanley Crouch comes close to the matter during a conversation with William "Biddy" Fleet, an obscure guitarist with whom Parker shared experiments in music after his arrival in New York in 1938, while still in his teens and groping his way towards his own style and a new conception of what jazz might become. "The thing I loved about Bird (Parker)," Fleet tells the author, "is this: he wasn't one of those who's got to write something down, go home, study on it, and the next time we meet, we'll try it out. Anything anyone did that Bird liked, when he found out what it was, he'd do it right away. Instantly. Only once on everything."
LOTS of great jazz birthdays today: South Africa's Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Cuba's Bebo Valdes, Detroit's Yusef Lateef and Detroit's other big birthday reedman, Kenny Garrett. Garrett is a jazz saxophonist. He was born in Detroit, MI in 1960. His father was a tenor saxophonist. Kenny's career took off when he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1978, then led by Duke's son, Mercer Ellington. Three years later he played in the Mel Lewis Orchestra (playing the music of Thad Jones) and also the Dannie Richmond Quartet (focusing on Charles Mingus's music).
Ginger Baker is not a rock drummer. His words, not mine. In today's Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the paper), I profile Ginger, who as a founding member of Cream in 1966, revolutionized rock drumming with lengthy,...
Kneebody is an interesting band that skirts the borders of jazz and indie rock, somewhat akin to the Chicago band Tortoise. The band consists of Adam Benjamin on keyboards, Shane Endsley on trumpet, Kaveh Rastegar on bass, Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone and Nate Wood drums. The music is textured and finely nuanced, like on "Trite" which makes a good impression with buzzing fender rhodes piano and bubbling bass and drums providing ample support for the horns.
It’s not unusual for jazz artists to have a late-career renaissance, even one that – Claude Monet-style – demands a reassessment of everything that went before. The pianist Ahmad Jamal, now 83, is currently on such a roll: his previous album, Blue Moon, was followed by a Barbican concert earlier this year that led to widespread accusations of genius. Indeed, Jamal was greeted as perhaps the greatest jazz musician left alive, which is rich, because highbrow critics have been dissing him as too showbiz since the 1950s. Needless to say, he was great then, and he’s still great now. Saturday Morning closely echoes Blue Moon, using the same band and a repertoire that allows Jamal to demonstrate his orchestral approach to the piano and inimitable sense of swing.
This book celebrates the public emergence of an extraordinary visual and audio archive that was initiated by Ian Bruce Huntley in Cape Town fifty years ago. Electric Jive is very happy to announce that a limited edition print run of 500 copies is now at the printers. The book is expected to be available towards the end of November.
Covering the period 1964 - 1974, the Ian Bruce Huntley archive opens a window to a little known era of South African music history, documenting an ‘underground’ jazz scene that persisted in creative defiance of all that grand apartheid threw at it. In addition to 120 historical images, 56 hours of live recordings from many of the photographed performances are indexed in this book and will become available for free download through Electric Jive.
Singer-songwriter Allen Toussaint has written dozens of hit songs. Many have what I call the Allen Toussaint bounce—a jumping New Orleans feel that's part blues and part zydeco.
His hits include Mother in Law, Southern Nights, Whipped Cream, Get Out of My Life Woman, Working in the Colemine, What Do You Want the Girl to Do?, Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley and many more. [Photo above of Allen Toussaint in his old New Orleans neighborhood by Rush Jagoe for The Wall Street Journal]
In today's Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the paper), I interview Allen on his childhood home in the Gert Town section of New Orleans and how he came to play piano with such a distinctive sound.
Terry Teachout’s biography of Duke Ellington, coming out in October, makes the long list of 10 finalists for the prize. The longlist of 10 titles was announced today, the third of four daily categories the National Book Foundation has been releasing in a daily awareness campaign this week. Poetry and young people’s literature finalists came out earlier this week, and the fiction longlist will be announced Thursday.
'My cousin told me I wouldn't be able to pull it off,' he says.
Growing up in New Orleans, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews always wanted to be a part of the Meters, the city’s pioneering funk band. So when he reunited the collective for his new album, Say That to Say This, it was a historic moment for him and the Crescent City – but an idea that needed a lot of convincing.
"[My cousin] told me I wouldn’t be able to pull it off because they haven’t gotten together in 30-something years," Shorty tells Rolling Stone. "I called each member, and each one had a little moment of silence when I told them what my idea was. At that moment, I was iffy about whether it was going to work out or not."
The original Meters line-up of Art and Cyril Neville, Ziggy Modeliste and George Porter Jr. hadn’t recorded in the studio together since 1977's New Directions. On Shorty's new record, they contributed to an updated version of a song off that album, "Be My Lady." Shorty's revamped version sounds similar, though it's far more succinct.
Although this mini-Meters reunion was for another artist, they fell back into their old routine rather easily. "You never know [what will happen] when you go into a room with players after being away from recording," Meters' bassist George Porter Jr. says. "From where I was setting it was like we had never stopped doing this. After all, these guys are pros. There was no mystery what we were there to do and everyone came to give Troy what he needed and wanted and that was what happened."
There have been all-saxophone bands (Bob Prince), all-trombone bands (Urbie Green) and all-trumpet bands (Pete Rugolo). Into this tradition of flooding the zone for fans who passionately love the sound of a specific instrument is flutist Ali Ryerson.
His airy, effortless style, with its emphasis on lightly accompanied right-hand melody, was a key element in the transition from swing to bebop, and many modern jazz pianists took Wilson\'s approach as their starting point.
All About Jazz is celebrating June Christy's birthday today!
June was born as Shirley Luster on November 20, 1925 at the Memorial Hospital in Springfield, Illinois and was raised from the age of three in Decatur, Illinois; and from the beginning always wanted to sing. She was singing with local bands when she was just 13, and later with society bands around Chicago, the big city 150 miles from Springfield, using the name Sharon Leslie. None of her family knew anything about music...
WASHINGTON, DC-- The first time I ever heard of Blues Alley in Washington, DC, was as a performer with the Al Dowe Quintet. Dowe, a Pittsburgh trombonist/bandleader, had performed there and often spoke favorably of the world-famous jazz club.
Thirty years later, on a recent Tuesday night, I finally visited Blues Alley.
The club is quite quaint and holds just about 120 people, comfortably.
On this warm September evening, I caught the first of two shows featuring locally- acclaimed keyboardist, Kevin Toney, formerly of The Blackbyrds.
The club's menu also provided an unexpected Pittsburgh flavor, including several menu items named for legendary Pittsburgh musicians such as Stanley Turrentine's crab cakes; Phyllis Hyman's stuffed shrimp and Ahmad Jamal's pasta with pesto.
Pepper Adams was one of hard bop\'s most significant baritone saxophonists. His dark, hearty tone on the horn and driving rhythmic sense provided the antithesis to the lighter, floating (and consequently more popular) styles of Gerry Mulligan.
Oscar Castro-Neves, a Brazilian guitarist who was instrumental in the development of that country’s bossa nova style, died in Los Angeles on Sept. 27. He was 73 and the cause was cancer. Castro-Neves had lived permanently in the United States since 1971.
In the following two sections, I compare the late Jimmy Ponder's recording and performance experiences so to explore processes outside of artistic creation that shape albums. Ponder, like many other creative artists, has faced recording both as an extension of their creative life and a means to make a living. At the center of this dichotomy is the widely addressed conflict of economic and creative interests, a concept central to most discussions concerning musician integrity and creative authenticity. In producing a viable commodity, Ponder has faced the task of communicating his musical voice, or creating an original and meaningful musical experience, within the constraints of commercial interests. Ultimately, recording becomes an important element in shaping one's musical identity because it is more widely consumed than live performance and hence more widely representative of one's playing abilities. However, I hope to show that commercial recordings subject musicians to different creative processes and hence form creative identities apart from those developed in live performances.
Miles Davis is one of the most influential jazz artists of all time. As one of the pioneers of bebop and leaders of fusing electronic and rock sounds with jazz, the Illinois-born trumpeter was well aware of his musical impact.
In today's Wall Street Journal (go here or please buy the paper), I interview Ahmad Jamal on the 55th anniversary of But Not for Me entering Billboard's best-selling albums chart in September 1958. The album would go on to appear on the chart for 107 weeks and revolutionize the sound of the jazz trio and how the piano, bass and drums interact.
I first met Jimmy when he was teaching at a jazz camp for high school students in Pittsburgh. I was 15, recently turned on toWes Montgomery, and trying to make sense of the music. Ponder was the first guitarist I had heard in person who embodied the music. He poured himself through the instrument. The sound of his thumb on the Gibson Super 400 was rich, warm, lyrical, and immediate. It was as if he had a quartet in the palm of his hand.
Stanley Crouch discusses “Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker,” his book about Parker’s early life and social world.
Since the early ’80s, the writer Stanley Crouch has been gathering information and writing a biography of the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker; in jazz circles through the last generation, the book has become almost mythic. Suddenly it’s real: “Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker,” the first part of a projected two-volume project, describing Parker’s life and social world to the age 20, will be published next week by HarperCollins.
Music is so pervasive that I wonder that we ever hear any of it. For this post, I am even ignoring the phenomenon of everyone-wearing-earbuds-all-the-time. But when we tell ourselves we are listen...I would ask JAZZ LIVES readers, whenever they can, to actually do the unfamiliar: to take a recording that they believe they know well and sit down and listen intently to it as if they had never heard it before.