The Birka Jazz Archive is a treasure trove of record jackets from all eras of jazz. American releases are grouped by label (for example, Columbia, Blue Note, Atlantic, etc.) with, in some case, further sub-categorization by designers or visual artists (such as the amazing David Stone Martin). European releases are sorted by country (France, Sweden, Germany, etc.) and it all adds up to a fabulous online resource for jazz fans and graphic design fans alike.
Joe Morello was the drummer for the Dave Brubeck Quartet. His skill and style in odd time signatures was something to behold and emulate. His approach to Brubeck's music was often the first study, for many young drummers, in how to interact with odd meters as well as with soloing and stick control. He was a jazz legend in the percussion world.
Dr. Charles Limb put jazz musicians and freestyle rappers in an fMRI machine and asked them to improvise/freestyle. [more inside]
Invisible Oranges is a blog devoted to heavy metal. The term “invisible oranges” describes the clutching gesture you make when the mighty force of metal flows through you. [more inside]
Exactly 50 years ago today, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Nelson recorded his seminal album The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Featuring Eric Dolphy, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Roy Haynes, and Freddie Hubbard, the Impulse album is often cited as among the great recordings in early 1960s jazz, and the tune Stolen Moments in particular has become a standard.
Bid 'Em In. An animated video to accompany the late, great Oscar Brown Jr.'s song "Bid 'Em In." via [more inside]
Exactly ninety years ago today jazz saxophonist Wardell Gray was born. While never a household name, among enthusiasts Gray is remembered as a gifted bebop soloist with a relaxed style and warm tone. Here he is playing Taking a Chance on Love (1952), Blue Lou (1948?), A Sinner Kissed An Angel (1950), One for Prez (1946), The Squirrel, & w/Dexter Gordon on The Chase (1952; Gray takes the 2nd solo). [more inside]
He began his musical career as Georgia Tom, playing barrelhouse piano in one of Al Capone’s Chicago speakeasies... [more inside]
Barney Wilen, the rest of your life : "The life and times of Barney Wilen, the legendary jazz musician who at age 18 was already playing with Miles Davis, and whom many called the “greatest European saxophonist.” Exiled to Zanzibar in the 70s, hero of Loustal's cult comic strip, The Blue Note, Wilen was as famous for his brilliant appearances as for his inexplicable disappearances. This film essay reconstitutes his rich, mysterious life even as it attempts to distinguish the man from the myth." (French, subtitled, 54 min) Barney Wilen & Bud Powell - Autumn In New York :: Cannes Film Festival 1958 :: The Shadow of Your Smile :: Recado :: Mary Moor - Pretty Day
Where can you see jazz1 shows,2 doo-wop performances,3 a vaudevillian dance act,4 found object5 percussion duos,6 opera concerts,7 international and intergalactic folk music gigs,8 and a pink gorilla playing the bass9? All for $2.25? [more inside]
September 2010 marked 20 years of Ninja Tune, the independent label formed by the duo known as Coldcut. Starting with an album by the duo that they released under a different group name, the small UK label has since spiraled out to include three separate imprints (plus an artist-specific mini-label), with an extensive collection of singles, EPs and albums from an ever-growing list of artists. More history in words, music and video awaiting inside... [more inside]
If you were to ask me "What is the most artistic drum solo you've ever heard?", I'd say "You mean the one with the most exquisite sense of dynamics? One that doesn't bludgeon you over the head, but instead pulls you in with its subtlety and restraint? Where masterful technique is purely at the service of musicality? That best conveys a musical vision and a deep understanding of the interrelationships of percussive timbre and tone that make up that remarkable instrument we call the drum set?" You'd say "Yeah." I'd say this. [more inside]
The Washboard Serenaders (or was it the Washboard Rhythm Kings?) had one of the best, if not the best, fake trumpet players who ever walked the earth. 'Course, their washboard player weren't no slouch, neither. [more inside]
It is simultaneously unlike, and above, every other record. ... Because perhaps it tells us what a trivial pursuit music really is, and at the same time how indispensable to a meaningful existence it in fact is. ... No one, least of all Carla Bley, has subsequently come even within an orbit’s distance of its achievements. ... It is, in the most literal of senses, untouchable. - Marcello Carlin
Sounds from Tomorrow's World: Sun Ra and the Chicago Years, 1946-1961 is an exhibition drawn from the collections of the University of Chicago's Chicago Jazz Archive.
The great jazz photographer Herman Leonard is dead at 87. Leonard took photos of some of the best, including Art Tatum, Dizzie Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie "The Bird" Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis -- to name a few. He led an interesting life, which included losing thousands of prints (though not, fortunately, the safeguarded negatives) to Hurricane Katrina. Here are a few of his shots. Previously on Metafilter.
Not just a singer, but a songwriter. Not just an actress, but an activist. Abbey Lincoln helped to push the expectations that the jazz loving public had of jazz vocalists beyond the stereotype of sexy chanteuse delivering someone else's lyrics. From sexy and sultry (as in this clip from "The Girl Can't Help It") to quirky and passionate to elegant and expressive, Ms. Lincoln was a true original in every sense of the word. [more inside]
NPR is streaming the sets from the Newport Jazz Festival. Highlights include Dave Douglas' Brass Ecstasy, Marshall Allen with Joe Morris and Matthew Shipp, Ken Vandermark's Powerhouse Sound, and Rez Abbasi.
Mid-week pick-me-up, straight outta Japan: Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, live in 2009 at the annual North Sea Jazz Festival. If those live clips are a bit noisy, check out Pop Korn, My Foolish Heart~Crazy on Earth~, and My Foolish Heart ~Foolish in Mind~. And for a cool-down, try Welsh producer Doc Daneeka's bassy slowed down house version of Pop Korn (image source: Fotos+Mono, from the Chilean artist Relleno De Mono). [more inside]
Between 1938 and 1948, William P. Gottlieb wrote about and photographed the jazz world. In 1995, the Library of Congress acquired his collection of approximately 1500 photographs covering more than 250 jazz musicians. While discussed here seven years ago, not mentioned at that time was the fact that Mr. Gottlieb agreed to transfer his copyrights into the public domain 15 years after acquisition. Fast forward to 2010, and you will find that the Library has added high resolution TIFFs download links to the image pages (click on the thumbnail images to get to the TIFF download links). A few pictures to whet your appetite: Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Les Paul, Django Reinhardt, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong.
Harry Beckett RIP Jamaican born trumpeter and flugelhornist Harry Beckett was one of the most hard working and adaptable players in UK jazz, playing with everyone from Chris McGregor to Jack Bruce. He's heard to great effect on this too, which is probably where I first heard him. He wasn't averse to spot of free improvisation either. He'll be much missed.
"Young Bert Stern was already one of the leading fashion photographers of the 1950's when he resolved to shoot his first film before he was thirty. He made it, with two years to spare. The result, Jazz on a Summer's Day, is a luminously breezy film that brings the rich color palette of Vogue or Harper's Bazaar of those years into the world of the documentary cinema." [more inside]
Fred Anderson was a monster on the tenor sax. Fred Anderson was one of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and his "home court," the Velvet Lounge, remains a place for Chicago creative musicians to find welcoming audience. Fred died June 24 in Chicago. A wake will take place from 5 to 6 PM this Tuesday (June 29) at Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel, 7838 S. Cottage Grove, followed immediately by Anderson’s Going Home service. [more inside]
The New England Jazz History Database is an active and growing library of materials focused on the preservation and education of the History of Jazz in New England. [more inside]
Harlem Yodel. The Dandridge Sisters and the Cats and the Fiddle teach us how the yodel is done above 110th Street. [more inside]
Wendell Logan, founder of the Jazz Studies program at the Oberlin Conservatory, has passed away. [more inside]
The New Yorker discusses Duke Ellington’s music and race in America, via Harvey G. Cohen's new book, Duke Ellington's America (excerpt). Music clips to accompany the articles inside the fold. (via Follow Me Here) [more inside]
Performances [MLYT] from the 2010 Old-Time Piano Championship in Peoria. Featuring early March, Cakewalk, Ragtime, Boogie, Stride, Blues, Novelty, Jazz, Classical, and popular song styles from before 1930.
I stopped there, in a sort of awe. here's the new Choir teacher, (way too flamboyant for a small town in the 70's and fired the next year), sitting in his office with an ES175 and a small amp just wailing some kind of jazz I had never heard, I played guitar, but was still on a CSNY diet. He just sits up, looks at me, and says... "What!? You telling me never heard of Joe Pass?" [more inside]
Some people use farm tractors for work. Others use them for play. Olle Hemmingson uses his as a musical accompaniment. [via; Previously.]
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World
You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]
"To ignore this trespass is to agree that NOTHING any musician has attempted to do with their life in music has any intrinsic value - and I refuse to do that." Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, whose new album Orchestrion came out in January (see him discuss it here), ranted about smooth jazz legend Kenny G, claiming that his overdubbed performance of What A Wonderful World defiled the memory of Louis Armstrong. (Via Aaron Cohen at Kottke.org)
Renowned pianist Hank Jones, whose sixty year career in jazz saw him perform with scores of legendary musicians, has passed away at the age of 91, and was practicing up to the very end. [more inside]
Showing Off is a series of videos, audio clips and articles in which noted music journalist and Frankie Goes to Hollywood mastermind Paul Morley explores various facets of music. Each month has a theme, [warning: most links have autoplaying video] Michael Jackson, Kraftwerk, classical music, disco, The Beatles, folk music, The X Factor, the Noughties, the next big thing, UK hip hop, jazz, and dance. Here is some of what's on offer: MeFi faves Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip on hip hop, These New Puritans' Jack Barnett, Johnny Marr on folk (parts 1, 2), but isn't all just interviews, there are also a lot of performances, e.g. Michael Nyman and David McAlmont, Badly Drawn Boy, Susanna Wallumrød covers Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak, and Cornershop cover Norwegian Wood.
We've had a post on bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding previously, but perhaps we could do with an update. Last year she played at the White House for Stevie Wonder's Gershwin Prize concert and again for the Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word (previously). In December she performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and, according to wikipedia, her February 6 performance on Austin Cty Limits (PBS [US only?], with Madeleine Peyroux) made her the most-searched person, and the second-most-searched item on Google the next day. [more inside]
John McLaughlin plays "Cherokee" backed up by the Carson-era Tonight Show Band (SLYT guitar porn) [more inside]
In the loosely related fields of planetary science and apocalyptic fiction, the phrase “minimum orbit intersection distance,” or MOID, describes the closest point of contact between the paths of two orbiting objects. Most vividly invoked whenever an asteroid encroaches on our corner of the solar system, that bit of jargon also has its aesthetic uses. Consider the coordinates of Neil Young and Miles Davis on the evenings of March 6 and 7, 1970, at the juncture of East Sixth Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.Mapping the intersections of Miles Davis and Neil Young.
Back in the 1920s, when Warren "Baby" Dodds was busy inventing jazz drumming in the company of pioneers like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, to "give the drummer some" usually never meant more than a couple of bars fill every now and again. Fortunately, though, come 1946, when Dodds was already an older man but still in fine playing form, someone had the wherewithal to record this seminal percussion stylist in a series of extended drum solos, displaying his exuberant rhythmic stylings as well as his lending of superbly playful swing to the the rudiments. But let's jump back to the 20's again, and hear drummer Dodds, with the aforementioned King Oliver, take what's gotta be the killingest slide whistle solo in all of jazz history. [more inside]
Often dismissed as a failed experiment, this oddity from Arthur Penn is a constantly surprising and enigmatic classic. Two years ahead of Bonnie and Clyde, this New Hollywood prototype is ragged and frantic, a skewed but thrilling attempt to rewrite established narrative form. [more inside]
Music and the Brain The Library of Congress' Music and the Brain podcasts offer lectures and conversations about new research at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and music. Sufi rituals, Wednesday is Indigo Blue (synaesthesia), Your Brain on Jazz, The Music of Language and the Language of Music, and more.
Herbie Hancock delivers a TED Talk. Not much talking, plenty of jamming. Marcus Miller and Harvey Mason accompany Hancock. Check out the monster Watermelon Man that starts around fourteen minutes in.
Jerry Jazz Musician is "a website devoted to jazz and American civilization." Individual pages have been linked a few times on MeFi, but it's high time this terrific site got its own post. Anyone interested in jazz (or blues, or any of the related topics they frequently cover, like Ralph Ellison or Romare Bearden) should bookmark it pronto. A sample, more or less at random: the life and photography of Milt Hinton. (Via The Daily Growler, itself an excellent source for informed and passionate discussion of music, NYC, and life in general; the linked post finishes with a tribute to that fine pianist Terry Pollard.)
The Jazz Loft Project - From 1957 to 1965, celebrated photojournalist W. Eugene Smith made 4,000 hours of surreptitious recordings and took 40,000 photographs in a loft in Manhattan's wholesale flower district where Roland Kirk, Thelonius Monk, Hall Overton, Charles Mingus and other jazz greats jammed until dawn. Archived in the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the project is now accessible via a book, a traveling exhibit, a 10-part Jazz Loft series on WNYC, NPR's Jazz Loft Project Sights & Sounds, and an interview with JLP author Sam Stephenson, which includes some images from the book. Via a Grain Edit post, which also has some great images. [more inside]