Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Nine to six

I thought the Jim Cifelli New York Nonet CD "Tunnel Vision" was one of the better bigger band disks I'd heard in awhile when I bought it last year. I would compare it favorably with Joe Lovano's nonet CDs "52nd Street Themes" and "On This Day...At the Vanguard."

A trumpeter, flugelhornist, composer and arranger, Cifelli isn't as well known as Lovano, but he should be better known. Case in point his latest disk, "Groove Station," in which he moves easily from his post bop-oriented nonet to a funky, groovy soul jazz-leaning sextet that's more "Vibes from the Tribe" than "Birth of the Cool." Guitarist Dave Phelps and keyboardist Will Boulware do good work. "Old School" would be a good song to play those people who claim fusion never works. Both thumbs up.

Monday, May 30, 2005

The good Kenny G

"Pursuance: The Music of John Coltrane" and "Standards of Language" are a good Kenny Garrett twofer, the former with more playing on the outside and the latter more inside, albeit it not entirely by any means.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

emusic is jazzy

Kenny Garrett, who was fantastic himself, had a great group of younger players with him when I saw them at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis in February, which prompted me to look up the drummer Ronald Bruner, which led me to the CD "Young Jazz Giants," which makes me sorry these kids, as far as I can determine, have never recorded together again.

I actually downloaded the CD from emusic, a legal digital music service that I don't think gets enough attention and one with an extensive jazz collection, new and classic. Acceptable prices and sound quality with no copy protection. Check it out.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Latin on the side

Some of the best jazz being done today is Latin jazz and sometimes I worry that too much of the best jazz being done today is Latin jazz. Don't get me wrong, I love it, but I don't want to hear jazz become dominated by the Latin sound anymore than I'd like jazz to be dominated by the New Orleans sound, bebop, etc. Jazz is a music of diversity and should always be so.

Which is why I am enamored of Miguel Zenon's "Jibaro," which is based on, but not dominated by, traditional music of his native Puerto Rico. Somewhere, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, craftsmen at complimenting their music with Latin sounds, are saying, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about."

Guy's got major chops on the 'phone and big-time composition skills, too. Luis Perdomo on piano, Antonio Sanchez on drums and Hans Glawischnig on bass are memorable in the bargain. CD-of-the-year material.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Billie at her best

So I already said "Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection" is THE Lady Day set to get and, on second listen, after boffo renditions of "Strange Fruit," "Fine and Mellow" and "God Bless the Child" have rolled across my ears in succession I'm saying if you don't own this I'm sorry for you.

No bum's rush here

Bassist Steve Swallow has been an early, and later, ground breaker in free-oriented jazz (I mentioned some of his disks with Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley recently) and he continues to be on "L'histoire du Clochard: The Bum's Tale."

This CD of seven compositions by Swallow is one of the better meldings of traditional jazz, free jazz and classical music forms I've heard. It has an out-of-the-ordinary mix of instruments with Swallow on electric bass and a tenor sax (co-leader Ohad Talmor, who's outstanding), trumpet, clarinet, trombone and violin. It sounds like New Orleans in places, jazzy chamber music in others and here and there reminds me of Bill Frisell's "Unspeakable" and of "Sketches of Spain." Heady music that gets more interesting each time I listen.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dust my Broom

"No Problem" is a good Sonny Rollins and Bobby Broom CD with Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and Tony Williams on drums as well. It's a fun session, almost ballad free and no real long Sonny solos but some OK shorter runs and nice ensemble playing. The only real drawback is the 36:33 total run time.

Not a classic, but I say you gotta love it whenever Mr. Rollins takes a Dolly Parton tune and has his way with it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Deep blue fun

I caught guitarist Bobby Broom last month with Sonny Rollins at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, where Broom, who used to play with Mr. Rollins regularly, normally plies his trade.

He does that, among other places, in Chicago's Deep Blue Organ Trio with B-3 man Chris Foreman and Greg Rockingham on drums. If I said their CD "Deep Blue Bruise" reminded me of Jack McDuff and George Benson I wouldn't be too far off. It's a blues-inflected romp through some standards like "Willow Weep for Me" and a few unusual selections like "Rasberry Beret." You'll want to dance to it. Organ jazz is alive and well, thank goodness.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Kansas City here I come

Off to see my friend David Dewar get his doctoral hood at the University of Kansas, followed by drinking. I've got "Band Box Shuffle," two CDs of Bennie Moten recordings, "The Best of Early Basie" (there's some even earlier Count in the Moten collection since he started with Moten's band) and Lester Young "The Kansas City Sessions" lined up for the trip, among other things. Oops, better get some Bird in there. I'll go with "Confirmation: The Best of the Verve Years."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Free Jimmy

When you think of the advent of freely improvised jazz, you probably think of Coltrane, Ornette Coleman of course, Pharoah Sanders and Albert Ayler, among others. Less likely to come to mind is Jimmy Giuffre, but the former big band clarinetist really was a free jazz pioneer.

"Free Fall," a CD reissue of the third album cut by his trio with bassist Steve Swallow and pianist Paul Bley, is a good example with a mix of improvisations by all three, Giuffre and Swallow in a duo and Giuffre alone ranging in length from two to 10 minutes. These guys broke up not long after, when they made 35 cents each at a gig.

Thankfully, they got back together 30 years later and did "Fly Away Little Bird," another good CD that shows they haven't stopped exploring. Giuffre even sings for the first time ever on the disk and while he's not exactly Louis Armstrong, it's a logical extension of Armstrong's singing in the same way that deftly executed instrumental free jazz is a logical extension of traditional instrumental jazz.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ultimate Billie

I adore Billie Holiday and if you don't this planet isn't big enough for both of us and you have to get off. See ya.

Just kidding. But if you're someone who's been waiting for just the right Lady Day collection to come along before taking the plunge, the wait is over. "Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection" surveys her career on two CDs with excellent selections and excellently restored sound, plus a packed DVD of related material including rare film footage and a radio interview by, get this, a young Mike Wallace. Just a fantastic package, even at $40. (Be smart. Wait for a Border's e-mail coupon like me.)

The DVD also has film of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, whom Holiday credited as prime influences on her singing. The Bessie Smith entry is, in essence, an early music video. Fascinating.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Charlie flying

Columbia released a giant Charlie Christian box set a couple years ago, too big for me. But I like "Solo Flight," a two-CD set that has Christian with Benny Goodman, almost entirely in small groups, and playing early bebop at Minton's. Some of the sidemen include Lionel Hampton and Gene Krupa (staples in Goodman's small groups), Count Basie, Lester Young, Monk, Don Byas and Dizzy Gillespie. The sound isn't perfect, but you can hear the music fine and I kind of enjoy the atmosphere created by the crowd noise in the background.

Guitar man

Interesting story about a new book on Charlie Christian set to come out this summer. Sounds like a definitive look at the seminal jazz guitarist, the first really to cut a swath on the electric guitar, although not the first jazz electric guitarist.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Swedish jazz team

I was in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize ceremony (nah, I didn't win, again, but I had to write about some guys who did) when I went to the Jazz Club Fasching to hear George Russell conduct a Swedish big band playing his compositions.

Unfortunately, George got snowed in and couldn't make it over. But the band played his stuff anyway, and very well I might add, and the experience hooked me on saxophonist Lennart Aberg, the band's leader, and pianist Bobo Stenson, a couple big hitters in Swedish jazz. "Bobo Stenson/Lennart Aberg," a duo disk released in 2003, is a good way to get a dose of both. I also like Aberg and Stenson with Don Cherry on "Dona Nostra."

And Apple is out of business

My buddy Carl Abernathy points out yet another jazz is dying column over at Cahl's Juke Joint.

Personally, I think the column's author has missed more than one point. Jazz musicians, except for a few big hitters at any given time, have almost always had to labor to make a decent living. The big band era, when there were plenty of jobs to fill, might have been the one exception.

Still, I'd venture to say there's more good jazz being produced by young players (and some older ones) now than at any time since the early 1960s, certainly more than at any time in the past 25 years. (All those jazz musicians who had to become jazz educators to eat have had an impact, and that's a good thing.)

There's also significant demand for jazz, and lots of clubs, all over Europe and in places like Japan, so I wouldn't focus on the U.S market alone. It may have started as America's music, but it's the world's now.

Moreover, the industry sells about $11 billion worth of music total in the U.S. annually (USA Today). That's $330 million in jazz sales at 3 percent of the market. You should be able to support a whole lot of musicians on that, if they're getting the money they deserve. Which is the real issue.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Afterlife band just got better

A belated so long to Stan Levey, who died last month but for some reason only made the New York Times today. I've been listening to Levey drumming all weekend on my Bird binge. He played behind Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in their primes and was even Parker's roommate for awhile. There's a documentary on Levey's life I'd like to see.

The one in Stockholm

When I had the good folks at Cadence send me "The Music of Ernie Krivda" and the "Henry Grimes Trio Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival," my jazz CD of the year so far, I also had them send along "SURD, Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe," which, while it may sound like it's down almost any American street, is actually in Stockholm, the one in Sweden.

Haven't been there. Have been to Jazz Club Fasching in Stockholm and I can tell you from the experience the Swedes take their jazz seriously. No surprise then that David Stackenas, guitar, Fredrik Nordstrom, saxes, Filip Augustson, bass, and Thomas Stronen, drums, who make up SURD, put on a really fine display of free-oriented improvisational jazz with a touch of fusion here and there. A disk I'm certainly happy to have.

Bird still lives

In the movie "Pulp Fiction" there's this scene where the Uma Thurman character snorts, I assume, some really good cocaine in the women's bathroom at a restaurant and exclaims: "I said God damn!"

Now this is not the most comfortable movie scene to be relating in a discussion of Charlie Parker CDs, for obvious reasons, but it came to mind when, after my Louis Armstrong jag last week, I went on a Bird binge and did the first two disks of the "Complete Savoy Live Performances: Sept. 29, 1947-Oct. 25, 1950," both disks of "The Legendary Dial Masters" and "Charlie Parker with Strings, The Master Takes." Because more than once as I was listening, I thought: "I said God damn!"

If you don't get it, you need to listen for that sax, isolate it and pay attention to what the man does. It's simply amazing, which is why the guy's a legend, and these are three good and varied collections on which to hear it. For a one-set alternative, try "Yardbird Suite."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Full Cleveland

Frankly, I don't remember how "The Music of Ernie Krivda" got on my to-buy list, but a few weeks ago I decided to run it down, which took me to the Cadence Web site, where I finally found and bought it.

I'm glad I did. Great music, playing and composing, he wrote all the songs, from a tenor saxophonist who deserves much wider recognition than his Cleveland home base. The CD is essentially adventurous hard bop with a big band sound despite coming from a "mere" sextet. The young trumpet, piano, bass and drums players, some Krivda's students, he has with him are great and so is the older guitarist Bob Fraser, another Cleveland jazz vet. This rates with anything I've heard lately. "Frankie's on the Floor," dedicated to dancing legend Frankie Manning, is toe-tappin' goodness and "A Winter's Waltz" is balladry at its best.

This crow is good

I put my nose in the air when my buddy Carl Abernathy, like me a B-3 fanatic, told me to get Dr. Lonnie Smith's "Boogaloo to Beck," then bought it for me when I dragged my feet. I mean how good could covers of songs by a rock guy I don't like, and who they make fun of on "The Simpsons," be?

Oops, turns out good enough that I'm in mild shock at just how good it is. You get David "Fathead" Newman on sax, too.

Also, I think Dr. Lonnie is actually getting better with age. I liked him in "Live at the Club Mozambique" (1970), but he's even more smokin' on "Boogaloo..." (2003) and "Too Damn Hot" (2004).

I'm all for them

I picked up the second Joe Lovano and Hank Jones CD "Joyous Encounter" today and I may have to rethink not buying the first one, "I'm All for You." These guys really do play well together.

I avoided CD No. 1 because most reviews characterized it as all ballads and while I like a good ballad on occasion I tend not to get great value out of all-ballad CDs. Even Coltrane's "Ballads" sits for a long time between listenings.

When Lovano and Jones, with George Mraz on bass and Paul Motian drumming, started with a very ballady sounding "Autumn in New York," I got worried. But they picked it up midway through the song and they keep it fairly lively for much of the rest of the disk save for a couple lovely ballad side trips, such as "A Child is Born." Lovano's playing is near avant-garde in places and there are snatches where he reminds me of Archie Shepp. Hank Jones should bottle and sell whatever it is that allows a guy who will be 87 in July to keep playing with as much power as he shows on Coltrane's "Crescent."

Decisions, decisions

I wonder how how this guy with a massive old blues and jazz record collection decides what to listen to every day.

In the future, some reporter will be writing a story like this about my friend Carl Abernathy and his CD collection, heh, heh, heh.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Genius in brief

Another thought I had on the listening-to-Louis jag this week. I often tell people it's much harder to write a short story than a long one, or rather to write an accurate, literate short story. Now mind you, I love long improvisational flights of jazz soloing. (See "Chasin' the Trane" on Coltrane's "Live at the Village Vanguard," or pretty much anything by Sonny Rollins from the early 1950s to present). But Mr. Armstrong could get a powerful lot into short hops barely lasting a couple minutes, if that.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Joe knows

Here's a good interview with Joe Lovano, who talks about playing with Hank Jones, among other things. Their new CD is on my buy list.

Fog horn Siren

The Rev. Satchmo could sing, too. No, I don't mean like Ella, or my operatically trained friend Carol Dewar, or even Norah Jones. But he sure knew how to use that gravelly voice to make you feel something, like Springsteen, who ain't much of a singer either, or John Prine, or a couple of my personal favorites, Harry Chapin and Tom Waits.

Keep a light on

This has been Louis Armstrong week. Don't know why. Just decided to listen to Disk 1 of the Columbia Legacy "The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings" on Tuesday and ended up listening to all four disks. (There's a good one-disk highlights CD if you don't want to spring for the boxed set, although I highly recommend going all the way.) Then it was on to "The Great Summit-The Master Takes" with Mr. Armstrong and the Duke and "The Best of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong," which are like cheesecake, so rich it almost overloads the senses. (No calories or upset stomach from the CDs, however.) Finished with "Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy" this morning, an essential for any semi serious jazz collection.

Listening to the Hots in particular, I was struck by how greatly the licks and improvisational technique on display then (1925-29) would underpin so much of the jazz played after, right down to today, in the same way I hear the roots of rock in Robert Johnson or, later, Chuck Berry.

I also was moved to recall something Wynton Marsalis says in Ken Burns "Jazz," and whatever you think of those two I think this is absolutely true: Beyond his mastery of music and of his instrument, Louis Armstrong had an otherworldly light in his playing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Blue jazz

I listened to Steve Slagle's "Alto Blue," which I bought awhile back, this afternoon ... and then listened to it again. It's a set of seven blues (four by Slagle and also pieces by Mingus and Lee Morgan) done by Slagle on alto sax, trumpeter Ryan Kisor, Scott Colley on bass and Gene Jackson on drums. Not a piano to be found. There's an eighth song, a ballad "Detour Ahead" that Slagle heard on a Billie Holiday record and on which he switches to flute in a trumpetless trio.

If you were trying to explain the central role the blues plays in jazz, this CD would be a good device. It's also a good example of complex improvising from a relatively simple base, yet another jazz staple. I like it a lot.

Boycott CD Baby

I've suggested CD Baby as a place for hard-to-find titles from small-label artists but I am no longer doing business with the Web store and urge you to do the same.

I was browsing the titles CD Baby offers recently, looking to make another purchase, and came across disks from the Racist Redneck Rebels and Johnny Rebel. These CDs are typically sold at neo-nazi and white supremacist Web sites. The RRR CD cover includes a picture of a black man being lynched with a hooded klansman looming behind him. I will not even repeat the disgusting song titles.

I raised the issue with CD Baby and was told that, although they find the CDs abhorrent, they feel obligated to offer them since the idea of CD Baby is to be a place where any musician can sell her or his CDs. I also was told that CD Baby contributes more money than it could ever make from the sale of the disks to the NAACP in recompense.

I applaud CD Baby for the latter but it doesn't solve the problem. Perhaps the only thing I believe in absolutely is freedom of speech. I think the only proper remedy for bad speech is more speech. I would never advocate silencing the people who make these CDs despite their shocking ignorance. However, my belief in free speech doesn't require me to put their disks on my stereo, crank up the volume, open my windows and share it with the neighborhood. Likewise, CD Baby's philosophy doesn't, in my view, mandate that it offer the CDs for sale. The people who make these disks have an outlet to sell them, at the aforementioned racist sites. CD Baby doesn't need to provide them another outlet and one which may even lend them a slight air of legitimacy.

I made these points in a follow-up e-mail and have heard nothing further from CD Baby in more than a week and the CDs are still for sale, hence this post. I think the folks at CD Baby are well meaning but badly misguided and I am sorry to have to be an ex-customer.

Hot as...

I was crushed when B-3 legend Jimmy Smith died this winter, but at least we've got another Hammond-playing Smith, Dr. Lonnie, still working, and well I might add. The turbaned one's latest CD "Too Damn Hot" is, in fact, hot, hot, hot. Buy it. It takes a little of the sting out of Jimmy passing.


I'm a B-3 fanatic, I admit it. (To heck with you snobs who look down your noses at organ jazz.) My current favorite player is Tony Monaco, whom I caught playing at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, after he put down a bowl of pasta at the bar while I was putting down a couple beers.

His lastest CD "Fiery Blues" is a must-have for Hammond lovers. Also check out his date with vibraphone player Steve Yeager leading, "New Groove Blues." You don't see too many B-3 and vibes sessions and I'd like more, at least from these two guys.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Get well listening

Shouldn't be surprised that "Get Well Soon" from Bob Brookmeyer's New Art Orchestra makes me think of Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band, one of my all-time favorites. Brookmeyer was a member of, and did most of the arranging for, the Mulligan group.

"Get Well Soon" has the same kind of rollicking and intricate tunes with a bigger sound, as befits a bigger band, and more solo diversity since there's no giant like Mulligan to dominate. (Brookmeyer mostly conducts.) My only reservation: I couldn't find this in anything but expensive SACD format, at least at Border's, which may be fine if you have an SACD player but equates to price gouging for the majority of buyers. With Dave Holland's big-band efforts, this is the best of the genre currently.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Bad Plus post

Here's what I think is different about the Bad Plus, which on the face of it is simply another jazz piano trio, piano, bass, drums. 1) They play avant-garde jazz with a rock sensibility. Put another way, they play like a combination of Monk and Hendrix if Monk and Hendrix had gone through that machine in the Fly and been mixed together. 2) They have classical musician skills and they employ classical tools in their playing. Before I went to hear them play Friday night, I listened to Mozart's string quartet in in C major "Dissonance." Just happenstance, but the parallel was illuminating. 3) While they're obviously playing compositionally, they are, as is essential to jazz music in my opinion, also obviously improvising. But they're doing it in a group context. There isn't much soloing per se, and essentially none of the call and response that characterizes jazz soloing traditionally, even in a lot of free jazz. They seem to improvise together in a manner that almost appears telepathic, and while I would not go that far I would say that their solos are symbiotic. Simply put, they do group solos, as oxymoronic as that concept is.

Others have done some of these things. I think the combination, and the emphasis on group soling, is what makes the Bad Plus different.

Except for Bill Frisell, whom Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson credited at the concert Friday night as an inspiration. Frisell's "Unspeakable" band, which included what could be a traditional rock or jazz combo, that is a lead guitar, bass and drums, plus a violin, viola and cello, did all of the above, with somewhat more individual soloing and a lot more of the extensive inventing off base melodies that endears Sonny Rollins to me, which is probably why Bill Frisell rules in my mind as well.

Sorry Scott

I will write more about the Bad Plus and Bill Frisell, hopefully tomorrow. Meanwhile, I apologize to Scott Hamilton for ever thinking of him as a lightweight. Now, having heard him live in London, and heard his CD "Live in London," twice, I think he's one fine post-bop tenorist.

Also, here's an interesting reflection on the Modern Jazz Quartet from Stanley Crouch in the wake of the passing of Percy Heath, last surviving member of the group.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Check's in the mail

Detailed concert report will have to wait. I've got to head to Indianapolis for a "business meeting."

Let's just say for now I find the Bad Plus and Bill Frisell and his "Unspeakable" band, which did separate hour and a half shows, intellectually stimulating listening. I don't think they're an odd juxtaposition either. The Bad Plus obviously has derived some of what it does from Frisell and I see both as representative of a new, in its sum if not its parts, kind of jazz.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Unspeakable Badness

Off to hear Bill Frisell and his "Unspeakable" band AND the Bad Plus at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, which should make for an interesting evening. Report to come.


Looking around for CDs by Royce Campbell, the guitarist I heard with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and whose CD "Pitapat" I later bought, led me to Philadelphia-based B-3 player Eddie Landsberg. Campbell plays guitar on Landsberg's "Them That Swingeth," a toe-tappin' goody worth getting.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Master workers

I had the good fortune of hearing the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra play its Count Basie Centennial tribute show last fall and I have been picking up CDs since by some of the players. Guitarist Royce Campbell didn't get to stand out much in a big band setting but I was seated close enough to enjoy his sound, which is somewhere between Herb Ellis and Pat Martino. His CD "Pitapat" puts him in a trio with a bassist and drummer so you can hear him, and you'll be glad you can.

Trumpeter Tom Williams got to solo more prominently and I was impressed enough to buy "Introducing Tom Williams," a nice straight-ahead Jazz Messenger-like disk with Javon Jackson on sax and Kenny Barron playing piano.

My favorite acquisition is probably "Heart & Soul: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael" from the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, a project involving trombonist Brent Wallarab, who helps lead and does a lot of the arranging for the Smithsonian band. Great music, excellent playing and some fine singing by crooner Everett Greene of Indianapolis, who filled the Joe Williams role in the Basie tribute. (He even looks kind of like Joe Williams.) The B-W band plays regularly at the Jazz Kitchen in Indy, a nice venue I've mentioned before.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Game smart

I haven't been feeling as intellectually robust lately. Probably because I need to spend more time playing "Unreal Tournament" and less time working and blogging. I know, I'll buy a PlayStation Portable. And take it off my taxes. Medicinal expense.

Taste of Italy

I've been to European jazz venues in Paris, London and Stockholm and now I want to go to this place in Rome. Listen to jazz. Eat Italian. Can't beat that.

Along with the Scandinavian countries, I think Italy produces some of the best jazz from Europe. If you want to hear for yourself, I'd suggest trumpeter Paolo Fresu, I like his CD "Angel;" Francesco Branciamore's "Perfect Quartet;" and the Gianluigi Trovesi Ottetto's "Fugace," which has some nifty playing with "West End Blues" as an underlying inspiration.

Approach with sense of humor

This site on hating clowns got a mention in the Wall Street Journal today. I myself don't hate clowns, but I admit they give me the creeps. I think it stems from the whole John Waye Gacy thing. I do hate mimes. Just kidding.

So long Benny Bailey

Trumpeter Benny Bailey died in Amsterdam in April and nobody much noticed until yesterday, which I think is sad, sad, sad. If he hadn't expatriated to Europe long ago, this guy would be as well known and well thought of as, say, Clark Terry. I've had his "Big Brass" CD in my hands several times and should have bought it.

Of course, I have him on the Les McCann and Eddie Harris classic "Swiss Movement," which should be known as the Les McCann, Eddie Harris and Benny Bailey classic. The Phil Woods disk "Rights of Swing" and Billy Mitchell's "De Lawd's Blues" are a couple other places to hear him.

Keep up with the Joneses

I like these individual efforts from the Jones brothers:

Hank, "Hank Jones Quartet" with Bobby Jaspar on flute. An underrated CD. The only drawback is that it's too short.

Thad, "Thad Jones" a.k.a "The Fabulous Thad Jones" with Hank along on piano for part of the affair and Mingus on bass all the way through, as well as Kenny Clarke and Max Roach sharing drum duties. This is a classic that should be in any semi serious jazz collection.

Elvin, "The Truth." From the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, live at the Blue Note in 1999, with Michael Brecker as a guest. Elvin was 72 at the time, and still kickin' butt.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Lennie and Warne

Warne Marsh in the '50s was testing the limits of saxophone playing in ways that bring to mind the avant-garde and Lennie Tristano, with Marsh and Lee Konitz along for the ride, presaged free jazz way back in 1949. You can hear both on the recent reissue of the compilation "Intuition," which I got for $11.99, along with plenty of bopish and hard bopish goodness. Worth every penny and then some.

The blue necessities

If you're putting together a little collection of Delta and country blues you want something by my man David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and "Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings" and Mississippi John Hurt's "Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings" are essentials. But don't leave out Yazoo's "The Best of Blind Willie McTell." I think I like Mr. McTell most of the four. Great guitar playing and interesting singing with engaging lyrics and a sense of humor.

For a release by a current blues artist that fits the same description see "Legacy" by Guy Davis.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Stanley on Sonny

Stanley Crouch talks about his new article on Sonny Rollins, which is in the May 9 New Yorker, now on my buy list. I'm generally down with his CD suggestions, but I'd add "Sonny Rollins Plus Four," "Freedom Suite," "East Broadway Run Down," "Sonny Rollins +3" and "This Is What I Do."

The brothers Heath

Percy Heath, bassist and last surviving member of the Modern Jazz Quartet, who died last week, also was a member of one of the best family combos in jazz history with brothers Jimmy on saxophone and Albert "Tootie" on drums. They're right up there with the Jones family (Hank, piano, Thad, trumpet, and Elvin, drums) in my book.

I also think Jimmy Heath deserves more props than he gets for his work outside the family. "On the Trail" and "Really Big!," which have him in small and large group settings respectively, are fine places to start appreciating him.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

That's sextet

In the wake of Percy Heath's passing, I pulled "The Modern Jazz Sextet" off the shelf this morning and wondered why I don't play it more often. John Lewis on piano and Heath on bass, no vibes, Skeeter Best on guitar and Charlie Persip on drums with Dizzy and Sonny Stitt in a Norman Granz-induced session. A mix of energetic and elegant jazz and soulful blues, especially on "Blues for Bird."