Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The rhythm section is nice as well, Andy LaVerne on piano, Steve LaSpina on bass and Matt Wilson (becoming one of those guys I use as a sign that a disk I'm thinking of buying is probably worthwhile) on drums. They tend not to venture as far as Schneider, which is OK because I think it helps anchor what the saxophonist does and makes this an approachable CD for anyone from jazz neocons to avant-garde acolytes and that's saying something. LaVerne contributes a couple compositions. I really liked "Portrait of Dorian Mode." It almost sounds like it has Chinese music underlying it.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Not a lot of jazz on this stunning CD, but there is quite a bit of the old timey, country blues I like, and a bunch of other stuff, and if you appreciate music in general I think it would be hard not to be a little amazed by it overall.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
From my ear's perspective, the wallet can go lightly. "Hitman" sounds like Coltrane with the Jazz Messengers, and '60s Coltrane at that, which is an interesting mix. (I still hear Sonny Rollins and David Murray in Kullhammar's playing as well.) The whole group is good. Of the two Torbjörns, Gulz, the bassist, really sets the pace (see "The Rise and Fall of Sour T") and Zetterberg, the pianist, is an ear-catching second soloist who's McCoy Tynerish. And yes, I think there's a bit of Art Blakey in drummer Jonas Holgersson, although he probably appreciates the saxophonist's modernist, avant-garde leanings in a way Blakey wouldn't have. Kullhammar, not yet 28, wrote all the songs except for one and even the exception's a Swedish production, so I don't hear a bunch of tunes I've heard several times before. I'd really like to see these guys live.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I'm not sure it's the same house, doesn't look like it, although it could have been retrofitted over the years since Davis was born at 5 a.m. May 26, 1926. The family moved down the Mississippi to East St. Louis the next year in any event.
Monday, May 22, 2006
What I found especially interesting was Coleman Hawkins' facilitation of bebop by showing that small group concert, versus dance, jazz could be lucrative for black musicians, as well as by his incorporation of bop into his own music. I can hear it in "Bean and the Boys," Prestige, which has Hawkins in three octets and a quartet including Monk and modernists like Fats Navarro, Max Roach, J.J. Johnson, and Hank Jones, among others. The first set, he's transitioning from big band swing. The second and third, he's bopping, man. On the final set, from 1959, he's adapted soul jazz. But he's always Coleman Hawkins. It's hard to mistake that Hawkins sound, indelibly etched in my mind from "Body and Soul." In addition, all except seven of the 22 tracks on "Coleman Hawkins 1945" from the French Classics Records label are by Hawkins small groups with McGhee and much of the music is bop leaning. Personally, I think Hawk is talkin' trash to Charlie Parker on "Rifftide" and "Stuffy."
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Some people don't like Stanley Crouch and consider him a neocon didact, but I could listen to Crouch and Nat Hentoff talk jazz all day. I certainly have an interest in the academic and musicological aspects of jazz. However, after the music itself, with its wonderful diversity and oft-wondrous instrumental manipulation, I think I am most attracted by the personalities who pepper its history (he said as he works his way through Brian Priestley's "Chasin' the Bird: The Life and Legacy of Charlie Parker"). You learn plenty from reading them, but Crouch and Hentoff tend to be people focused as well so I get a good story, too. Says Crouch is working on a biography of Parker, which I will surely buy.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I feel a little bit like that listening to "Four Hundred Saturdays" from Smalls Records, the second CD from the late Frank Hewitt I've purchased recently, this one in a quintet with two saxophonists as opposed to a trio setting. The guy is simply one of the finer jazz pianists I've heard and the sax, bass and drums work on this from Chris Byars (tenor), Mike Mullins (alto), Ari Roland and Jimmy Lovelace are outstanding to boot. Four songs, recorded live (and well), all clocking in near 15 minutes, with lots of stellar improvising. Their version of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" is fantastic. I don't think Monk ever played it. But you can get an idea of what he'd of sounded like listening to Hewitt.
I enjoyed Luke Kaven's liner notes excoriating the music industry for ignoring Hewitt when he was alive, and I'm glad Kaven and Smalls went so far as to create a record label to make sure he's finally heard by me and other folks. He should be.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I created, in effect, my own Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington Web radio stations. They don't actually play only Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. They play some, and a lot of other stuff like Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington. It's a pretty diverse mix, including some fairly obscure stuff. You can thumbs up or thumbs down things to refine what you get. There also are links explaining why you're getting a song, which helps in the refining process, and links to buy songs from iTunes and CDs from Amazon as well. Nicely done.
In addition to Carter, McBride's other special guest was Fred Wesley. I had no idea who Fred Wesley was before the concert. After, I found out he was trombonist of choice and musical director for James Brown. So you know he had no problem contributing plenty of funky licks. In fact, Mr. Wesley, older gentleman and the only guy in a suit though he was, kept right up with the youngsters, including DJ Logic. (McBride joked that Logic was probably the first "turntablist" to play Orchestra Hall, and I imagine that's right.)
I'd like to know more about Christian McBride's bass, which had the dings and dents of a bad boxer's face and looked like it had about 50 layers of shellac covering it. Something tells me it's a classic. He made it sound like it anyway. Dude played a mean electric bass guitar in the bargain. Geoffrey Keezer on piano and electronic keyboards and Terreon Gully, who's from East St. Louis, on drums also were great. Gully is just an impressively skilled drummer, powerful but capable of being subtle, too. I was reading a review Sunday that called him one of the most promising drummers to emerge in a decade.
You could see where Christian McBride was headed on his own CD "A Family Affair" and on "The Philadelphia Experiment," Ropeadope Records, which I gave another listen over the weekend and should pull out more often, because frankly everything on it is good. The duet McBride and pianist Uri Caine do of Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" is priceless. McBride's doing his own thing, but some of it also reminds me of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, Weather Report and, of course, Miles Davis' electric music. I liked him before I went to the concert, but I came away a fan. "Live at Tonic," Ropeadope, his most recent CD, captures the kind of stuff that happened at Orchestra Hall pretty well.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I think he still is still getting together his usual things, and that's one reason he's so darn interesting at 75. The guy has never stopped searching musically. New CD due June 30 and I can't wait. Plus, yesterday I ordered my ticket to his concert here in September and I can't wait for that either.
Monday, May 15, 2006
This CD, a mix of Williams compositions and songs Hicks composed in her honor, really shows what an accomplished and versatile pianist he was; sure, he could play blues, stride, bebop, hard bop, but he would have been right at home in a concert hall or a church (and sometimes was in the case of the latter as I understand it).
I bought the disk Friday, after Hicks, a favorite of mine, passed on last week and because I admire the music and life story of Mary Lou Williams. Hicks did a series of these tributes to great jazz pianists and composers. I have the Earl Hines one as well, and like it a lot. I should probably pick up the Kenny Clark, Erroll Garner and Billy Strayhorn sets because the music on the first two is excellent and they're outstanding showcases for Hicks, whom I'm going to miss. All but the Hines CD are available on emusic.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
The funk you say, try "Honky Tonk" and "What I Say" and catch that Michael Henderson bass and those Jack DeJohnette drums. Gary Bartz sounds like he's auditioning for the J.B.'s or maybe the Family Stone.
What MC Hammer said.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Two enjoyable CDs from Christian McBride as I head out to hear the
bassist and band at Chicago's Orchestra Hall this evening. "Gettin' to
It," Verve, modern hard bop with Joshua Redman on sax, trumpeter Roy
Hargrove and trombonist Steve Turre along. McBride's solo "Night Train"
is precious. Some great playing from Redman. "A Family Affair," Verve,
McBride makes jazz with the funk, R&B and soul forms he listened to
growing up in Philly. If disco had sounded like this it might not be a
thing I'm trying to forget. Charles Craig on electric piano and
saxophonist Tim Warfield are memorable. Some interludes are almost
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Looking today, I see I've mentioned Hicks a half dozen times since I started this jazz journal last year, with James Carter, Chico Freeman, and Jimmy Ponder as well as Bang. I really liked a duet CD featuring Hicks and bassist Richard Davis (who's kind of like the Hicks of the bass). I also enjoyed seeing him dueting live with Frank Morgan in LA last year.
Hicks, who died yesterday, led many of his own sessions, too. I'm partial to "Fatha's Day: An Earl Hines Songbook" from High Note. He may not have been a big name outside of the circle of musicians he played with so well, but I think the guy was an unsung jazz giant.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Cool passage from the liner notes of "Charlie Parker: A Studio Chronicle 1940-1948," an English JSP Records compilation I got today, which starts with Parker in Jay McShann's Orchestra (if Basie is Leonardo and Charlie Parker is Michelangelo, Jay McShann can be Botticelli or maybe Brunelleschi). Some people hear bebop in the 1941 version of "Hootie Blues" on this. I hear Charlie Parker ascendent in "The Jumpin' Blues" and "My Heart Tells Me," among other places. Great sound restoration for the most part. I'm really excited about this boxed set, a bargain at $25.98 for the five CDs on Amazon. The four recordings of the Kansas City Band, Parker in a trio with guitar and drums, from 1941 are an especially interesting way to hear where he stands at this point. The version of "Body and Soul" isn't Coleman Hawkins, but it sure points the way to Parker's later sound. He's in New York with the Tiny Grimes Quintet by the end of the first disk and showing the stuff that got everybody so excited.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
On the road home from Lawrence, Kansas, and a visit with my great
friends the Dewars. Billboard-festooned, porn-store laced Interstate 70
through Missouri is one ugly stretch of road, but hey, at least it's
long. Glad I had Tab Benoit's "Fever for the Bayou," Telarc, to help me
get across. Excellent driving music. Also, "Whiskey is My Habit, Good
Women is All I Crave: The Best of Leroy Carr," Columbia, is perfect
starting-out music for a cloudy, hungover Sunday morning with an
eight-hour drive in the offing. Don't bother with the Music Outlet at
Warrenton, Mo., unless you're a big old-time country music fan or you
really love Elvis Christmas music. The jazz and blues pickings are slim.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
The title track is, in fact, a sweet ballad while the unmuted up-tempo approach to "If I Were a Bell," a Miles favorite, is an interesting contrast to Davis' renditions. Pianists Göran Lindberg and Claes Croona are quite good on this. (Check out "Just Squeeze Me" and "Evelyn".) I'd like to hear more of saxophonist Nils Sandström, who mostly comps but has a nice Coltrane-like tone. Listened to the CD after a busy day writing the first draft of a work project on human research subjects and it made me feel better.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The "City of Glass" suite and the other compositions are large-ensemble music that I would call jazz. Not everyone would agree, certainly not on "City of Glass," although stuff like "Thermopylae" is pretty clearly jazz, albeit not the traditional variety heard from big bands, even most modern big bands. Scott Yanow on allmusic characterizes it as futuristic when it was recorded and still futuristic today and I guess that's about as good a way of putting it as any.
Abstract but structured also describes it, not free and yet employing free jazz elements like dissonance, tension and release, odd juxtapositions and surprising twists and turns which are, upon examination, quite logical. I think it's jazz, because of the soloing and the improvisation I believe I hear, among other things. But it also borrows from classical music, particularly modern impressionistic classical music. Stan Kenton was into bold, powerful music and Graettinger surely provided it. The cuts on this disk aren't so much swinging as imposing.
There are loads of big names in jazz among the small army of musicians Kenton employed for these recordings, Lee Konitz, Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Maynard Ferguson, Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Shelly Manne and Stan Levey among them. Some, like tenorman Bob Cooper, show their versatility by playing instruments you don't normally hear on a jazz recording. Cooper plays oboe and English horn besides his sax. The instrumental mix overall is diverse and interesting with cellos, bassoon, bass trombone and more. To me, it's important and fascinating music that any semi serious jazz fan needs to try, probably more than once to really appreciate it.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Second, if you're going to play avant-garde jazz, you should get Hamid Drake to do the drumming. William Parker on bass helps, too, and Assif Tshar on bass clarinet, as well as tenor sax, adds some interesting texture.