Saturday, April 30, 2005
Friday, April 29, 2005
Now, William Parker is not only a good human being, he's, to me anyway, the modern incarnation of Charles Mingus as a skilled bassist and, more importantly, one of the best group leaders going. (See "Mayor of Punkville" and "O'Neal's Porch" for two very good, and quite varied, examples.)
Trouble is, you often don't get to hear a lot of William Parker playing when he's leading a sizable group and that's a shame. Which is one reason I enjoy his recent release "Luc's Lantern," a trio with the excellent pianist Eri Yamamoto and drummer Michael Thompson. Parker's readily apparent on this and it's a pleasure to hear so much of him. The CD is also a little less "outside" than a lot of his stuff, so it's approachable for you free jazz agnostics. Definitely worth buying and you get the good feeling that comes with supporting a nice guy, too.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
I had been looking for this CD since reading a review in a British jazz magazine last year and found it at Ray’s Jazz on my trip to London in March. If you can find it, buy it. I predict you will be amazed by the big sound these guys make, floored by their improvisational chops and thoroughly entertained. As a bagpipe fan and a jazz fan, "Danny Boy" gives me goose bumps.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Later: OK, Honeyboy isn't playing the guitar as well as, say, Sonny Rollins played the sax in Chicago Friday night. Then again, did I mention that the guy will be 90 in June. It's amazing he's playing the guitar at all, plus singing.
Good Honeyboy Edwards CDs: "I've Been Around" and "Mississippi Delta Bluesman."
And that’s how I feel about Wallace Roney’s recent CD "Prototype," which is imitative of the great '60s quintet and electric period (I hear a "In a Silent Way" and "Tutu" on this in snatches) of Miles Davis. It's a pretty good imitation, in fact. (Roney, after all, once served as stand-in for the great one.)
Which happens to make it an enjoyable listen. Worth buying. Also, you critics should get off Wallace Roney's case about sounding just like Miles Davis. He doesn't, any more than Nicholas Meyer writes just like Sir Arthur. Sounding like Miles isn't an insult anyway, man.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Because she was blind and deaf.
Lots of realistic spins on old, bad jokes that maybe will give some of the people who still tell these things pause for thought, although I doubt it. (And calling them "jokes" was a stretch, if not plain stupid, in the first place.)
Sunday, April 24, 2005
This was done as part of a jazz promotion project last year by folks at the University of Illinois and in the community. Thanks to my friend Carl Abernathy for sending along the link.
I knew Mr. Zamora as a student at Purdue University, where he took a job after living here, and Carl and I just saw him at the Sonny Rollins concert in Chicago Friday night. He's still playing. If you're ever in West Lafayette when his band is at the Knickerbocker Saloon downtown, which claims to be the oldest bar in Indiana, do yourself a favor and catch him. If Tony hadn't decided to make his career doing good things for students, I think he'd have made a notable one as a full-time jazz musician.
Even if you’re not a semi serious jazz collector, it’s a good time hearing what they make of "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing."
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Sonny Rollins may be showing his age a bit, he'll be 75 in September, but the guy still has it big time. At his concert in Chicago Friday night the old man improvised for the better part of a half hour on his song "St. Thomas," or perhaps "Don't Stop the Carnival," or, heck, maybe even "Salvador." The point is, I've heard him play four times in person now and never heard anything like this, on a recording either, although the stuff on "G-Man" is an approximation. Simply amazing.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Thursday, April 21, 2005
And my pick for most underrated Sonny Rollins CD as Sonny week builds toward his concert in Chicago Friday night (I am so excited): "Nucleus." Mr. Rollins gets funky.
If that weren't enough, David Murray, saxophone god (plus bass clarinet on part of this), and Hamid Drake, "widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in improvised music" to quote allmusic, round out the ensemble. It will be hard to beat for my album of the year. I was actually sad when it ended. Thank goodness CDs are supposed to last 50 years, which is probably longer than I will.
I caught him with Oscar Peterson at the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago last summer and remember being just as excited to hear him play as O.P. Their trio date with Joe Pass, "Peterson/Pass/Pedersen: The Trio," originally from Pablo, is a great CD.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
In preparation, I am listening to some of the lesser-knowns in my insanely large Sonny Rollins CD collection. Check out "Alternatives" from Bluebird. Make sure it's the one that starts with "Four" and ends with "Jungoso" and offers two takes of each song, except for the latter, which is paired with "Bluesongo." Don't worry, the repeat takes are radically different from each other, a great way to hear why he's the king of the improvisers in my opinion. This also is Sonny Rollins playing free jazz while still remaining Sonny Rollins, a neat trick.
"Moving Out" and "The Sound of Sonny" are from 1954 and 1957 respectively, pre-dating free, so they're more straight ahead but still improvisational candy stores to a big kid like me. Plus you get Monk, Sonny Clark, Elmo Hope, Kenny Dorham, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey on the side, among others.
Here’s a BBC review. I don’t buy that any of it sounds like music for television ads. Not American TV anyway.
Monday, April 18, 2005
And what if somebody steals your iPod? Have they stolen your personality? Even creepier.
I'm selling my iPods. Just kidding.
That said, I really like what the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (read Wynton Marsalis, leader, arranger, trumpeter) have done in recasting Coltrane’s masterwork for a fairly conventional, and I say “fairly” because there’s a lot of advanced playing on this, big band. Proves one thing, Coltrane knew all about swinging, even in a piece that at face value wouldn’t seem to have much to do with the concept.
I’ve read a review or two that characterized it as sacriligious to play with “A Love Supreme.” I don’t agree. Come on fellas, remaking standards in your own image is a chief ingredient in the essence of jazz.
Some nice playing on the LCJO version by Scotsman Joe Temperley, who’s currently my favorite baritone sax player. See “Concerto for Joe” if you want more.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
If you don't have the original, get this one. The sound is improved and there are five more tracks, including a fine version of "Impressions." If you have the original, consider a trade, especially if you like Wes Montgomery. And who doesn't?
For example, David's dissertation is about the American colonial period, incidently around the time he started working on it.
Just kidding Dewar. I am extremely proud of you.
Check out the picture of David and Carol Dewar with Steve Bohner, brother of our friend Bob, at our annual Labor Day get-together, the International Othersports Festival.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
The Jazz Kitchen is a good place to hear (and sometimes see) big hitters. Good food, too. My buddy Carl Abernathy and I caught Kenny Garrett there earlier this year, from the front row no less, and I saw Tony Monaco by myself last month.
Get there before 7 p.m. for an 8 p.m. show to have a shot at a table if you’re not in the B.O.P. Club, which gives you preferred seating, among other things.
Friday, April 15, 2005
At its best, the CD reminds me of Pink Martini, a group I've been raving about for years. But why not buy "Sympathique" and "Hang on Little Tomato" and get the real thing? On the other hand, "Attraction" is pretty hoppin' and it makes good driving music.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
I had this on my to-buy list for awhile and picked it up with a coupon recently. It’s a different look at the divine Mr. M., whose playing is a lot more, I want to say borrowing a phrase, sweet and low down on this December 1986 date, at which time he was a mere kid of 25. I hear the stuff that attracted Art Blakey to a greater extent than I do in his current work.
Look, I love what he’s done to promote jazz and to spread the word to kids in particular. I think he’s a great band leader, a superior trumpeter and a super composer and arranger. I believe he gets too much abuse from fans of the jazz avant-garde, and I say it as one of them. But his recent CDs have been, well, uninteresting, at least to me. I’d like to hear more of the fire I get from, say, “Skain’s Domain” on “Blues Alley,” a CD set I recommend highly.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
“Don’t Stop the Carnival,” while not as good overall in my opinion, is must have because of the improvisation on “Autumn Nocturne.” Spine tingling.
Monday, April 11, 2005
If you like Tina, try Bubba. James “Bubba” Brooks, the more rhythm and bluesy of the tenor-playing Brooks brothers, has a fun, groovin’ outing with B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.”
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Joe Lovano says Stillman's future "is so bright it's almost blinding" and the CD shows why. Pianist Russ Lossing, bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Hirschfield are good, too. A disk very much worth getting.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
His playing is somewhere between Jaki Byard and Cecil Taylor, more structured than the latter, with the more obvious classical overtones common to a lot of European jazz artists. But I think he could hold his own in a stride cutting contest as well.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Case in point George Duvivier's playing on the Herbie Nichols date "Love, Gloom, Cash, Love," another Rhino reissue. You want this CD in any event because Nichols is a fantastic, and underappreciated, piano player comparable to Bud Powell or Bobby Timmons. Danny Richmond, drummer of choice for Charles Mingus, completes the trio.
So if I were going to appoint a U.S. ambassador the the U.N. I'd want to make sure it was somebody like John Bolton, an avowed U.N. opponent. Say what? My sentiments exactly.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
I hear this in "From Valley to Valley," a CD from the Die Like a Dog Quartet (great name) including Parker, reedist Peter Brotzmann and, in this case, trumpeter Roy Campbell, which Carl gave me. Listen and I think you would agree Parker is the guy holding this very free session together. Good disk by the way, as long as you have an open mind.
I was in Paris a week and went to jazz every night and got turned on to a couple new (to me) artists in the process, including the guitarist Mike Stern and Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, who's a little bit Miles, a little Dave Douglas and mostly himself. He mixes in some interesting electronic effects. I saw him at Duc du Lombards, another nice Paris jazz club, and bought his CD "Angel," which I like.
I received e-mail from the Olympia recently saying Mr. Rollins is playing there next May. I'm there.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Byron Morris and his sextet Unity do for "Inch Worm" what Coltrane did for "My Favorite Things" on Unity’s CD "Y2K," complete with some joyful pseudo scat by the singer and percussionist Imani. This is fun, foot-tapping hard bop with a strong Latin groove in places, thanks in part to pianist Hilton Ruiz. "Wheel Within a Wheel" is about as good as it gets.
When I bought the disk from a Web store, Byron Morris sent me a thank-you e-mail. He’s got a fan here.
The Sonny Rollins “A Night at the Village Vanguard” two-CD set and Joe Lovano’s “Trio Fascination” with Dave Holland and the late Elvin Jones are two other pianoless sax trios I recommend highly.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
And they should have celebrated. Illinois had a great season and won more games and went farther than any team in 100 years of pretty good basketball history. Credit classy Coach Bruce Weber, who spent 18 years as an assistant at Purdue under Gene Keady, and his staff, two thirds of whom also coached at Purdue, with finally getting one of those frequently talented Illini teams to play the passing game and play defense like Boilermakers.
“Gone Clear” is a nice Manu Dibango sampler. The tune "Doctor Bird" on it always makes me smile. They sometimes categorize Manu in World Music at record stores.
Monday, April 04, 2005
David Sanchez strikes me that way on “Coral,” an expansive piece of orchestral jazz I’d class with Bob Belden’s “Black Dahlia,” a five-star CD of the year in Downbeat in 2001 that’s on my list of things to take to the desert island.
This is not jazz you listen to in a smoky club with people clinking glasses and chatting in the background. More like sitting in a nice, smoke-free music hall, quietly and dressed to the nines. But it’s sophisticated, powerful stuff.
The piece talks about the shoddy work some of these companies do and the need to monitor them, which is all well and good. But I'm wondering why it doesn't question the idea of sinking hundreds of millions of dollars, projected to become billions, into private tutoring firms instead of public schools, one of the foundation stones of our country.
I saw Mike Stern in Paris last year at New Morning, a marvelous place to hear jazz in a bustling international neighborhood. He chatted up fans and signed CDs between sets and just seemed to be a really nice guy. Who also happens to have played with Miles Davis.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Marsh is, justifiably, better known than Christlieb from his association with Lennie Tristano. But Christlieb was the tenorman in another notable band for years -- the Tonight Show orchestra. He’s also played with Tom Waits, notably on the very jazzy “Nighthawks at the Diner,” a personal favorite. His is a swinging power tone, I think in the manner of “Lockjaw” Davis, and it contrasts well with Marsh’s more subtle playing. Lou Levy is swingin' on the piano, too. Word is “Apogee” was one of the few great straight-ahead jazz records of the '70s. I don’t know about that, but it’s well worth getting.
Oh, and did I mention it’s Joe Williams singing and Ben Webster blowing. Nuff said.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
I agree that "Tutu" is probably the best of the '80s stuff and that "Aura" is underrated. Personally, I kind of like "Doo Bop."
Friday, April 01, 2005
I may have to pick it up because it has six more cuts, 11 in all, than the old CD version I own, including one of “Impressions” that sounded cool in the radio report.
The aural contrasts when guys and gals take the same song and make it their own endear jazz to me, among other things. I’d like to hear Montgomery and Coltrane doing “Impressions” back to back.
I recommend Kahn’s books “Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece” and “A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album.” Good reads and good insight into how these two classics were birthed.