1980s pop music hasbeen + swing big band = OMIGOD NO MAKE IT STOP.
Destination: Out, an astounding mp3 blog devoted to mostly out-of-print free jazz and improv records, has been linked a few times on Ask, but never gotten the main-page exposure it deserves. Until now. The editors' selections are always interesting and written about well, and they're ready to go to the mat for the music. (The interview with Marsalis by the Bad Plus to which that's a response is also well worth reading.) But the real impetus for this post is only tangentially related to jazz: recently they got saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa to do a guest post on Indian (mostly Carnatic) music, and it won't be long before the links expire. Fall to! [more inside]
As jazz fans know, fifty years ago on March 2, 1959, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb met at the Columbia 30th Street Studios in NYC for the first session of Miles new album, Kind of Blue. (Link goes to the 50th anniversary collector's box set edition page at amazon.) It was the touchstone for many other future recordings bearing its mighty influence and it fostered several high profile careers, and a new modal sound for jazz. Kind of Blue went on to be certified platinum, selling 4 million records, the most ever for a jazz album. Bill Evans had left the band in late 1958, but was called back by Miles for the sessions, which included his new pianist Wynton Kelly on one track only, Freddie Freeloader. The tunes they did that day, "So What", "Blue in Green" (written by Evans, though credited to Miles) and "Freeloader" all became standards as did "All Blues" from the April session. Documentaries and entire books have been written on this one album alone. The phenomenon lives on. (previously on AskMeFi, but just on Trane and Miles.)
Lafayette Gilchrist is one of my favorite piano players. Featured on a Down Beat cover a few months ago (with Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran), he has released a half-dozen or so albums with his group, New Volcanoes, and he's the regular piano player in saxophonist David Murray's quartet. His playing and composition styles are informed by funk, go-go and hip-hop. And he's from Baltimore. Of course, you might also know him from his appearance on the soundtrack to The Wire.
29 year old Hiromi Uehara first mesmerized the jazz community with her 2003 Telarc debut, Another Mind. 4 albums later she continues to astonish and inspire. On February 3rd, she released the album Duet, a collaboration with Chick Corea, having first played with Corea at age 17. A graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Hiromi tours relentlessly with her crack band. I defy your jaw not to drop at their performances here, here, and here. [more inside]
Estranged father and son Chucho and Bebo Valdés, both pioneers of Cuban jazz, sat down and immediately played a duet after years of being apart. This recording of their reunion beautifully captures the range of emotions that could only be expressed without words.
"A wildly flamboyant funk diva with few equals even three decades after her debut, Betty Davis combined the gritty emotional realism of Tina Turner, the futurist fashion sense of David Bowie, and the trendsetting flair of Miles Davis, her husband for a year. ... she turned Miles on to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone (providing the spark that led to his musical reinvention on In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew), then proved her own talents with a trio of sizzling mid-'70s solo LPs." - All Music Guide (many links nsfw-ish)
Leave Me Alone! a jazz opera by Harvey Pekar (libretto) and Dan Plonsey (music) will have its world premiere on January 31, 2009 at Oberlin College, presented in cooperation with Real Time Opera. The performance will also be streamed live. [more inside]
Plays Monk Live at Intersection for the Arts. A terrific video and audio performance of Plays Monk recorded by BayTaper, an excellent one man multimedia operation recording the San Francisco area jazz & creative music scene. (previously)
At Sammy's at 2016 Main, on September 8, a historic jam session occurred, an impromptu reunion of many of the city of New Orleans's finest musicians. Each player who walked in the door was much more than a mere musician that night -- they were an affirmation of life. Not only did their attendance indicate that they had survived the storm, but their collective presence also indicated that their music would survive, too.The New Birth Brass Band (and friends) tears it the hell up in downtown Houston post-Katrina. The whole show is great, but if you're short on time, parts one and three are especially smoking.
In 1972 Lady Sings the Blues was released. Ostensibly a biopic about the life of Billie Holiday, it was a travesty of made up history and glaring ommissions. In response to that release a symposium was held on Lady Day's life and work which included storytelling from Artie Shaw (about hiring her in 1938) and Carmen McRae (about her drug life). The CBC recently put together an excellent podcast with these stories and some interview tape from Billie Holiday herself.
Neal Hefti, trumpet player, arranger, big band leader and composer for film & televison, has died. This may be his most loved work.
The iconic photographer William Claxton has died at the age of 80. His unforgettable shots of Miles Davis, Steve McQueen,Chet Baker (the book of his Baker photos here), Bob Dylan, Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Bill Evans, Lenny Bruce, Frank Sinatra and so many others are legend. His books "Jazz Life" and "Photographic Memory" are great collections, but his official site is probably the best way to appreciate the amazing legacy of work he left behind.
Last month, a wonderful documentary entitled simply Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer debuted in NYC and LA and was very warmly received. It tells the story of a singer regarded by many jazz fans to be among the greatest who ever lived (her strikingly modern small-group recordings from the 1950s attest to a singer whose talent grew far beyond her Big Band days), and who, despite living an incredibly self-destructive life, lived and performed well into her 80's. Here's Anita from her famous 1958 Newport performance, and here are some other notable clips: Honeysuckle Rose, Let Me Off Uptown (w/Gene Krupa and feat. Roy Eldridge; a huge hit in 1941), Love for Sale, and more from the film here.
Trumpet Kings is a blog dedicated to videos of trumpeteers, mostly jazz but there are a few classical ones. On the companion youtube channel there are 184 videos. These are some of my favorite things: Wynton Marsalis - Riot, Dizzy Gillespie - trumpet battle, Maynard Ferguson - Round Midnight, Louis Armstrong - C'est Si Bon, Miles Davis - No Blues, Ray Anthony - Harlem Nocturne, Booker Little - Minor Mode Blues, Ingrid Jensen - Foxy Trot and Sergei Nakariakov - Bach's Air.
Who you are is what you listen to: Prof. Adrian North of Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University recently published results of what the Beeb calls "the largest study of its kind" linking music listening habits to personality characteristics. His breakthrough conclusions? Heavy metal listeners, contrary to public perception, are not a "suicidally depressed" or a "danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things." [more inside]
The Guardian has compiled a list of their top fifty arts videos, the majority being from either rare or obscure sources and uploaded onto YouTube.
A cool tale about second graders at P.S. 178 in Queens falling in love with John Coltrane, and raising funds to help restore the house in nearby Dix Hills [previously on mefi] where the saxophonist (and saint?) composed his spiritual masterpiece A Love Supreme [last four links go to Youtube].
In July of 1961, the bass genius Scott LaFaro, perished in a fiery car crash after visiting family and friends in upstate NY, just ten days after doing the last gigs he would ever do with the great Bill Evans's trio (which became the legendary live recordings from the Vanguard) . He was only 24 years old. But he was also developing as a fine writer as well, as this Evans trio track - a mystical ballad in 9/4, shows. [more inside]
(Follow-upFilter) It's rare that jazz videos venture beyond filming live performances. This makes the exceptions all the more notable. Animation seems the medium of choice: from George Griffin's 1988 paper collage for Charlie Parker's "Ko Ko" to Len Lye's swinging The Lambeth Walk (1939), or (stretching musical definitions just a bit) his 1958 masterpiece "Free Radicals". More recent jazz seems to fit just as well: witness Lung's psychotic piece for Ladyscraper's "Thou Art Fucking Dead". [more inside]
September 14, 1998 "the Tan Canary" passes away. He started out as a gospel singer but went on to perform blues, soul, county, and jazz. In 1968 he covered the country standard "Release Me" and it became a hit. His audience grew, but stardom outside of his home in New Orleans was not to be his. [more inside]
The brass quintet Canadian Brass is both venerable--it's been around 38 years--and prolific--its discography is as long as your arm. While they often play classical arrangements, they also mix in jazz and blues, along with a complement of showmanship and humor. (Also, they play Flight of the Bumblebee on the tuba.) [Mouseover for titles.]
The swingin' sounds of Spider-Man! After years of searching, Kliph Nesteroff found original reels of the incidental music to the classic Ralph Bakshi Spider-Man cartoon, and has included most of the masters in his podcast. [more inside]
Trying To Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon Who is Jack Sheldon? You may remember him as Merv Griffin's comedic trumpet-wielding sidekick, or the indelible voice on School House Rock (etc.), but musicians know him as a jazz giant. Unlike his close friend and collaborator, Chet Baker, Jack Sheldon survived the demons of drugs, alcohol and unspeakable personal tragedy...
A documentary film by Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre. (multiple YT clips in description; official site contains Flash audio)
A documentary film by Penny Peyser and Doug McIntyre. (multiple YT clips in description; official site contains Flash audio)
In the 1930-40s there was an interracial, all woman swing band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. They are not exactly forgotten. There is a book, a movie, a black history month public radio special and a tribute album devoted to them. Ladies and gentleman: the International Sweethearts of Rhythm (YouTube). More audio files here. Photo 1, 2 [more inside]
When people think of Soviet culture in the Stalin era, jazz usually isn't the first music to come to mind. But it was there, and some of it was pretty good, whether adapting Western standards, partying with a Russian twist, or just being adventurous. If that's a little too old-school for you, try some Soviet funk.
Rufus Harley is generally best known for being a Jazz Bagpipe player. He promoted peace and an appreciation of the United States. A native of Philadelphia, he gave out replicas of the liberty bell to famous celebrities including Bill Cosby. A documentary of his life, which includes an extended interview of Rufus in his home, was recently released: Pipes of Peace [Trailer]. [more inside]
Claire and Merna Bagelman, better known as The Barry Sisters. Every Sunday from 1938 to 1955 on WHN in New York, they mashed Swing with Yiddish Folk as the main attraction on the radio program Yiddish Melodies in Swing.[via] "We take a tune that's sweet and low, and we rock it solid and make it gold." They are indeed a Hebrew National Kosher Classic. More Yiddish music webceptacles. [more inside]
Phil Schaap has hosted a jazz program for the past twenty-seven years on WKCR, Columbia University’s radio station with unapologetic passion and a depth of familiarity that comes, in part, from the personal relationships he had with the musicians themselves.
Here's a wonderful, brief clip of the great tenor saxophonist Ben Webster (wiki) and the great drummer Papa Jo Jones (wiki). Both men were marvels: here's a little illustration from 1957 of what made Jones so great, and here's Ben (accompanied by pianist Teddy Wilson[wiki]) late in life, milking the ballad "Old Folks" for so much feeling that one literally sees tears running down his face. [more inside]
Humphrey Lyttelton has died. Musician, cartoonist, journalist and chairman of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
In LA, a 63 (70!)-piece orchestra blends the styles of Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington with hip-hop, European classical music, and free jazz. Spend some time with the dAKAH Orchestra and it's founder Geoff "Double G" Gallegos.
Brother from Another Planet (Pts. 2, 3, and 4) is a documentary about Sun Ra and his Arkestra(s) on YT. It features interviews with Archie Shepp, Amiri Baraka, John Sinclair, and several members of the Arkestra as well as several live clips and scenes from the 1974 movie Space is the Place. (previously) [more inside]
Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
Regarding the 'Creole Beethoven' Wardell Quezergue, composer, arranger, big band leader, master of Second Line funk, who brought us Earl King's Trick Bag, the Dixie Cups' Iko Iko and Chapel of Love, King FLoyd's Groove Me, Baby, Jean Knight's Mr. Big Stuff to name but a few--not to mention A Creole Mass--and who, later in life, survived Katrina, to become, among other things of late, according to Home of the Groove's Quezergue Onstage and Behind The Scenes, a street performer in the French Quarter. His is a name that ought not be forgotten. [more inside]
Atomic Platters :: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security
Fred Rogers wrote two hundred songs during his career. Here are fourteen of them, accompanied by the amazing Johnny Costa.
Robert Wyatt is not dead. In fact, he recently released a new album titled Comicopera. [more inside]
Its animated-type opening credits set the tone - and when, soon after, Jonas Mekas stumbles in, explaining his version of the butterfly-wing theory, you know this is a different kind of rock-movie. Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel's 1990 music film "Step Across the Border" matches 35mm black&white cinema direct to several seasons of poly-instrumentalist Fred Frith's round-the-globe improvisational jams (with the likes of Joey Baron, Iva Bitová, Arto Lindsay, John Zorn and others). A big-wig at Cahiers du Cinema has it in his top-ten - now you can watch this masterpiece of visual jazz online (or do yourself a favour and get the DVD). (Thanks to Vincent Moon for the heads-up.)
Borrah Minevitch & His Harmonica Rascals - Harmonica Specialty and Rascal Bill McBride's vocal turn on Always In My Heart are excerpts from Borrah Minevitch & His Harmonica School--a wmv video file of a Vitaphone Short which with no surprise we find at Vitaphone Shorts, a subsection of Dr. Macro's High Quality Movie Scans--which was first brought to our attention by the noble crunchland, albeit at another and now defunct URL, let it be noted. . [more inside]
Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. He plays the banjo, but he isn't just some hick. He enjoys Chicks, jamming with friends, wide open spaces and fights.
Esperanza Spalding first picked up the bass at fifteen. In the few years since, she has proven herself a master. She is now the youngest faculty member ever at Berklee and a rising star in the jazz scene. She is currently touring with another young and talented jazz gem, Gretchen Parlato.