Monday, February 20, 2017

Phil Sims Live on the DuPlex

Phil Sims was my guest on the 2.16.17 DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, 90.3 FM. Phil is a fabulous trombonist, composer and arranger active on the very happening Buffalo jazz scene. He had some great stories about life on the road with the Dorsey Band and writing for and conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic  He played live and I joined him on Au Privave.

LISTEN HERE

PLAYLIST

Tommy Dorsey- "Well Git It" V Disc, 1943

JJ Johnson‬ "Time After Time"  1954 on Blue Note;

PHIL PLAYS LIVE: "Pennies From Heaven"

Carl Fontana "This is Always" from "The Great Fontana" 1987 on Uptown

Lawrence Brown w. Duke Ellington, "Blue Cellophane" 1945, on Circle

PHIL AND STEVE PLAY LIVE: "Au Privave"

Buffalo Brass "Song For Alexa" from ""It's Time"" 1988 on Mark Records

Bill Watrous and Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, "Spain" 1974 on Columbia

Buffalo Brass "Take The A Train" from "It's Time" 1988 on Mark Records

Buffalo Brass "I Got It Bad" from "It's Time" 1988 on Mark Records

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Music and Talk w. Kordalewski and Naidoo

On 2/2/17, the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, welcomed guests pianist/bandleader/arranger John Kordalewski and Kesivan Naidoo, drummer from South Africa. Kordalewski is the founder of the Makanda Project, which performs world premieres of music by Makanda Ken McIntyre. Naidoo was a first-call drummer in South Africa, now making it happen in the U.S. Both have interesting stories to tell-including how Ken McIntyre became Makanda Ken McIntyre-and brought great music to play.
 
                          
LISTEN HERE

Playlist 

The Gorgeous Ones, The Makanda Project. Private Recording
Mellifluous, Stone Blues. Prestige Records
Tafattala, from "Skyjack' Werkstatt Records
Struttin', The Makanda Project. Private Recording
 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Boston and Beyond

The DuPlex on 1/19/17 welcomed back Boston jazz historian Dick Vacca.  For this "Boston and Beyond" show,  Dick brought in material that illustrated the early work of a number of Boston artists and how that work evolved (BTW, Dick's blog has an interesting salute to Nat Hentoff). Check out the playlist, then:

LISTEN HERE
Playlist
Makanda Ken McIntyre “Smax” Stone Blues (Prestige New Jazz 1960)

Hal Galper “Blues Theme” Single (Private recording 1962)

Hal Galper “Villainesque” Windows (Steeplechase 1975)

Bill Berry “Till You” Shortcake (Concord Jazz 1978)

Bill Berry “That Old Devil Moon” Jazz & Swinging Percussion (Directional Sound 1961)

Toshiko Akiyoshi, Charlie Mariano “The Village” Single (youtube 2007)

Toshiko Akiyoshi, Charlie Mariano “I’m a Fool to Want You” Deep in a Dream (Enja 2001)

Carol Sloane “In a Sentimental Mood" Live at 30th Street (Columbia 1962)

Carol Sloane “Deep Purple" I Never Went Away (High Note 2001)

James Williams “My One and Only Love” Everything I Love (Concord Jazz 1979)

George Wein “Exactly Like You” Single (youtube 1985)

Joe Gordon “A Song for Richard” Lookin’ Good! (‪Contemporary‬ 1961)

Teddi King “Oh, You Crazy Moon” Nat Pierce Orchestra 1948-1950 (Zim Records 1950)

Teddi King “How Long Has This Been Going On” This Is New: Teddi King Sings Ira Gershwin (Inner city 1978)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Eulogy For My Mother

My mother, Marcia Provizer, died on December 24, at the age of 93. We are very grateful that her end came quickly. 

Taking a time out from the usual musical motifs, I am posting my eulogy to her, delivered on Tuesday, December 27, at the Levine Chapels in Brookline.
With the death of a beloved parent like Marcia, all the ambivalences we have of how the universe operates rise to the surface. We think: Is this really how it works: One day you rise up and the next, you're struck down. What game is this, in which no matter what role you play-king, queen, bishop- you are, in the end, just a pawn.

And yet, some people-and Marcia was one-some people have the natural gift of playing the game un-self-consciously, selflessly yet passionately.  This, despite being a woman who was forced to mourn so many early deaths: her dear husband in his 40's, her parents in their 50's. Her close friends Evelyn and Bill and others, well before their time.

Despite these losses, this was a woman who continued to have the capacity to experience joy; to laugh and to celebrate life. Why?  How could this be? It was because she had the capacity to GENERATE joy. To generate laughter, to lift up people from their sorrows and show them they were worth loving.

She was musical and a talented writer, but with people, she was a genius.

As Marlene said, we joked that no one could "work a room" like her, but when she worked a room, it was not to bring attention to herself, but to bring other people into the energy of the party; to let them know they were seen and cared for.

How many life stories was she able to evoke from people within the first 10 minutes after she met them? How much loyalty and love did she engender from the hundreds of seniors that she took on trips, standing at the front of the bus for hours, telling jokes and making the passage of time a pleasure for Her people? How was she able to make me feel right and justified in pursuing my own passions despite how harebrained they really were?

And now she is gone. She had been leaving for some time. And, as so many others have, I went through the hard process of becoming more the parent as she became more the child. Yet, despite the falls and hospitalizations, the increasing lack of mobility and what must have been some very disorienting delusions, she still retained that magical capacity to emanate joy.

In the last couple of months, in her final home at NewBridge, she grew much more quiet. She ate little and was not the voluble person she once was. But when I went there the day she died, everyone hugged me and told me what a sweet and lovely woman she was. They had all experienced the magic of her gift despite how diminished she was. And I said, boy you should have seen her in her prime.

She lived a long life and her longevity is a consolation to us, but there is a hole in our hearts that can't be filled.

What comforts me now and I hope it does you is this: Although we now say goodbye to the physical presence of Marcia Yoffee Provizer, we will never say goodbye to her spirit.

Amen



Friday, December 23, 2016

Milestone

This blog has had over 500,000 hits since its inception. Brilliant Corners was started by Chris Rich, who first posted on 7.18.09. I took over on 3.28.10. I'd like to thank everyone who visits the page-even the Russian hackers, who seem to have boosted the number lately. I welcome all feedback, suggestions, brickbats and kudos.

Holiday Head-Spinner












Have a jazz/R&B/funk/soul/gospel trip through the holidays on the 
Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG, 12.22.2016.
LISTEN HERE
 

PLAYLIST
 
Paul Bley "Santa Clause Is Comin' to Town" (1953), on Debut
 

Dave McKenna "Jingle Bells" from "Christmas Party-Holiday Piano Spiked With Swing" (1997), on Concord
 

Ray Charles "Winter Wonderland" from "Spirit of Christmas" (1956) on MGM
 

Charlie Parker "White Christmas" from "Live at Royal Roost" (1948) on Savoy
 

Charles Brown "Christmas in Heaven" from "Christmas in Heaven" (1965) on Jewel Records
 

Eyal Vilner Big Band "Sevivon" from "Hanukkah - EP" (2016) on Eyal Vilner Big Band

Joe Pass "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from "Joe Pass - Six String Santa" (1992) on LaserLight Digital ‎


Louis Armstrong "Twas the Night before Christmas" (1971) on Continental


Amos Milburn "Let's Make Christmas Merry, Baby"(1948) on Aladdin
 

Frank Sinatra "Let It Snow" from "Christmas Songs" (1948), on Columbia
 

Joseph Spence "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" from "Living On The Hallelujah Side" (1980) on Rounder
 

The Soul Saints Orchestra "Santa's Got A Bag Of Soul" (1994) on Hot Pie and Candy records
 

Charles Brown "Merry Christmas Baby" from "Cool Christmas Blues" (1984), on Bullseye Blues

Fats Domino "Jingle Bells" from "Christmas is a Special Day" (2006), on Cap
 

Otis Redding "White Christmas" (1967) on Atco
 

The Blind Boys Of Alabama "Last Month Of The Year" from "Go Tell it on the Mountain" (2008), on Real World
 

Clarence Carter "Back Door Santa"  (1968) on Atlantic

Vince Guaraldi "Christmas Time Is Here" from "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965) on Fantasy


Funk Machine "Soul Santa" (1973) on Creative Funk


Ella Fitzgerald "The Christmas Song" from "A Swinging Christmas" (1960) on Verve
 

John Coltrane Quartet "Greensleeves" from "Africa Brass" (1961) on Impulse
 

Chet Baker "Joy To The World" from "A Christmas Jazz Album" (1997) on Dinemec Jazz
 

Duke Pearson "Wassail Song" from "Merry Old Soul" (1965) on Blue Note
 

Wynton Marsalis "We Three Kings" from "Crescent City Christmas Card" (1989) on Columbia  

Louis Armstrong "Cool Yule" from "Louis Armstrong With The Commanders" (1953), on Decca
 

Fats Waller "Swingin' Them Jingle Bells" (1936) on Victor
 

Dianne Reeves "Christmas Waltz" from "Christmas Time is Here" (2004) on Blue Note
 

Ray Charles "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" from "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (2009), on Concord

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jazz Oddities: A Maven's Quiz; Answers Revealed

1) Who recorded with both Ma Rainey and Pearl Bailey?
Hot Lips Page

2) Who recorded with both Johnny Dunn in 1922 and Coltrane in '61?
Garvin Bushell

3) Who recorded with both the '27 Goldkette band and '47 Thornhill?
Danny Polo

4) Who played with both James Reese Europe and Dizzy?
Russell Smith
5) Who recorded with both Bix and Monk?
Pee Wee Russell
6) Who played with both Kid Rena and Sir Charles Thompson?
Danny Barker
7) Who recorded with Henry Busse, Louis Jordan and Louis Armstrong?
Bing Crosby
8) What sax player played with both Miles Davis & Blood, Sweat and Tears?
Joe Henderson
9) Who played himself in the movies Screaming Mimi and Ocean's 11?
Red Norvo
10) Who Played with both the Symphony Orchestra of Los Angeles and Joe Venuti?
Arthur Schutt

11) Who recorded with WIlbur Sweatman and Charles Mingus?
Ellington

12) Who played with Keppard in the Original Creole Orch and recorded with Bird & Martial Solal? Bechet

13) Who played with Lu Waters & Capt. Beefheart?
 Del Simmons

Fred Katz: Jazz Cellist, Composer, Arranger

The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.15.16 on WZBC.ORG featured Fred Katz (1919–2013), who may have been the most accomplished cellist jazz has seen. After studying under Pablo Casals and performing with several symphony orchestras, Katz made the move to jazz, performing with drummer Chico Hamilton and leading many groups himself. Katz also did film scores, including a bunch for Roger Corman-A Bucket of Blood and The Wasp Woman.


His solos and his compositions are an interesting hybrid of "inside" jazz, classical techniques and harmonic experimentation.

Check the program out HERE

PLAYLIST

Feelin the Blues, from "Fred katz and His Jammers" Fred Katz (cel) / Don Fagerquist (tp) // Gene Estes (vb) / Leroy Vinnegar (b) /  Lenny McBrowne (d) / Johnny Pisano (gtr), (1959) on Decca

"Elegy" from "Fred katz and His Jammers"-Fred Katz (cel) / Don Fagerquist (tp) /Gene Estes (vb) / Leroy Vinnegar (b) / Frank Butler (d) / / Johnny Pisano (gtr), (1959) on Decca


Chico Hamilton quintet "Jonalah" from "Sweet Smell of Success" reedist/flutist Paul Horn, bassist Carson Smith, cellist Fred Katz, guitarist John Pisano‬ ‪(1957) on Decca‬

"I Remember Clifford" from "Carmen McCrae For Cool Ones" ,Fred Katz - arranger, conductor, cello, Buddy Collette - flute, alto saxophone, (1958) on Decca

"Old Paint" from "Folk Songs for Far Out Folk" Gene Estes, vibes - Billy Bean, guitar - Johnny T. Williams, piano - Mel Pollen, bass - Jerry Williams, drums, (1958) on Warner Brothers

"Pluck It" from "Zen"-Fred Katz, cello - Chico Hamilton, drums & tympani - Paul Horn, alto flute & clarinet - John Pisano, guitar - Carson Smith, bass, (Jazz, 1957) on Pacific Jazz

"Science Fiction," 45 rpm record- Fred Katz Quintet With Ensemble, Paul Horn (flute, clarinet, alto sax, piccolo) Fred Katz (cello) John Pisano (guitar) Carson Smith (bass) Chico Hamilton (drums) (1955) on Pacific Jazz

"Take the A Train/Perdito" Chico Hamilton Quintet from "Ellington Suite" Alto Saxophone, Flute – Paul Horn, Bass – Carson Smith Cello – Fred Katz Drums – Chico Hamilton Guitar – Jim Hall, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Buddy Collette, (1958) on World Pacific

"Stella By Starlight" from "Fred Katz Trio at the Strollers" Fred Katz (cello), Jim Hall (guitar), Carson Smith (bass), (1955) on World Pacific

"Junk Man" Ken Nordine and the Fred Katz Group from "Son of Word Jazz" Bass – Harold Gaylor, Cello – Fred Katz, Drums – Red Holt, Guitar – John Pisano, Narrator,– Ken Nordine, (1958) on Dot

"4-5-6" from "4-5-6 Trio" Fred Katz Trio Fred Katz (cello) Johnny Pisano (guitar) Hal Gaylor (bass), (Jazz, 1958) on Decca

"Wax and Wane" from "The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby"-Dorothy Ashby - harp, koto, vocals, Stu Katz - vibraphone, Fred Katz - kalimba, Unidentified Orch.(1970) on Cadet

"Tea For Two" from "The Original Chico Hamilton Quintet at the Strollers"-Buddy Collette (clarinet), Fred Katz (cello), Jim Hall (guitar), Carson Smith (bass), Chico Hamilton (drums), (1955) on World Pacific

Friday, December 9, 2016

Lee Morgan Ballads

Trumpeter Lee Morgan was a bravura player on up-tempo tunes, but also a master at medium-slow and ballad tempi. The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.8.16 on WZBC presented a small sample of this beautiful work.

LISTEN HERE

Lee Morgan "You Go To My Head" from "The Gigolo" 1966 Blue Note, Lee Morgan (tp), Wayne Shorter (ts), Harold Mabern, Jr (p), Bob Cranshaw (b), Billy Higgins (d)

Lee Morgan "All the Way" from "All the Way" 1958 Sunset-Lee Morgan (tp) Sonny Clark (p) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d)

Lee Morgan "I'll Never Be The Same" from "Sonic Boom" (Jazz, 1967) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan-t; David "Fathead" Newman, George Coleman (tenors); Julian Prester (tr); Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern (piano); Ron Carter, Walter Booker (bass); Billy Higgins, Mickey Roker (drums).

Lee Morgan "Flamingo" from "The Sermon!" (Jazz, 1958) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan, Jimmy Smith (org), Kenny Burrell(g), Art Blakey(d)

Lee Morgan "I Remember Clifford" from "Lee Morgan" 1957) on Blue Note-Lee Morgan,Benny Golson-ten,Gigi Gryce-alto, flute, Wynton Kelly-p, Paul Chambers-bass Charlie Persip - drums

Lee Morgan "Ceora" from "Cornbread" (Jazz, 1965) on Blue Note-Herbie Hancock(p), Billy Higgins(d),  Jackie McLean(as), Hank Mobley(ts) and Larry Ridley-bass

Lee Morgan "I Remember Clifford", from "Lee Morgan Vol. 3," 1957-Lee Morgan,Benny Golson-ten, Gigi Gryce-alto, flute, Wynton Kelly-p, Paul Chambers-bass Charlie Persip - drums


Lee Morgan "I'm Old Fashioned" from "Blue Train" (Jazz, 1958) on Blue Note-John Coltrane(ts) Lee Morgan(tp) Curtis Fuller(tb) Kenny Drew(p) Paul Chambers(b) Philly Joe Jones(ds)

Lee Morgan, "Twilight Mist"-from "Tom Cat" Blue Note, 1964, Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Jackie McLean, McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw – bass, Art Blakey – drums

Friday, December 2, 2016

Browsing the 1927 Victor Catalogue

On the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 12.1.16 I played a variety of music offered by the Victor record company in 1927-jazz, jug band, blues, country, tango.


LISTEN HERE
All tunes are from 1927, recorded for Victor.

‪Duke Ellington - "East St Louis Toodle-oo"
‪Dixieland Jug Blowers - "Don't Give all the Lard Away!"
Benny Moten's Kansas City Orchestra - "Moten Stomp"
‪Orquesta Tipica Victor - "Tandas" 
‪Julius Daniels - "Ninety-Nine Year Blues"
‪Ben Pollack & His Orch. - "Waitin' For Katie"‬
‪Bobbie Leecan's Need-More Band "Washboard Cut Out"
‪Jelly Roll Morton Trio w.  Johnny Dodds & Baby Dodds‬-"Wolverine Blues"
‪Jean Goldkette and His Orchestra feat. Bix Beiderbecke - "Slow River"
‪Coon-Sanders Nighthawks - "Sluefoot"
‪Elizabeth Smith  w. Rex Stewart-cornet‬ "Police done tore my Playhouse Down"
‪Ross de Luxe Syncopaters- "Believe Me, Dear"
‪Clifford Hayes' Louisville Stompers "Blue Guitar Stomp"
‪Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter "Beale Street Blues"
Jimmie Rodgers - "Blue Yodel"
Louis Dumaine's Jazzola Eight ‬-"Red Onion Drag"
‪Fletcher Henderson "Variety Stomp"

Thursday, October 6, 2016

10 Ballads (Almost) No One Sings

Most of the best ballads are covered endlessly, but somehow, a few beauties have managed to slip the noose and have not been ground into dust by endless repetition.

I realize a post like this is like a person giving away a person's favorite secret swimming hole, but I know my elite and discreet readership can keep a secret.

I have ordered them from what I think are the most to the least recorded.













The song itself is sandwiched in between very non-ballad sounds and starts about 4:00 in






Friday, July 15, 2016

Jukebox Jazz

Jazz tunes that I think were made for the jukebox, on the Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, 7/14/2016, 5-7 PM. i give you a little bit of jukebox history (you'll be surprised to learn when the first coin-operated music player was invented) and then it's off to the juke joint.




 LISTEN HERE

 James Moody "I'm In the Mood For Love" from "I'm In the Mood For Love" 1949 on Prestige
 Count Basie "One Oclock Jump" 1937 on Decca
 Count Basie & His Orchestra "April In Paris" 1955 on Clef
 Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra "Song Of India"1937 on Victor
 Charles Mingus "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" 1959 on Atlantic
 Sarah Vaughn w. Clifford Brown "Lullaby of Birdland" 1954 on Emarcy
 The Jazztet "Killer Joe" 1960) on Argo
 Nat King Cole "Route 66" from "Soundie"
 Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five "What's the Use of Getting Sober" 1942 on Decca
 Gene Ammons Quartet "Hittin' the Jug" 1960 on Prestige
 John Coltrane "My Favorite Things"1960 on Atlantic
 Duke Ellington & His Orchestra "in a Mellow Tone"1940 on Victor
 Eddie Harris "Exodus" 1961 on Vee Jay
 Glenn Miller & His Orchestra "Elmer's Tune" 1939 on Bluebird
 Herbie Mann "Comin' Home Baby"1962 on Atlantic
 Bobby Timmons "Dis Heah (This Here)" 1960 on Riverside
 Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd "Desafinado" 1962 on Verve
 Ray Charles "One Mint Julep" 1961 on Impulse
 Jimmy Smith "Walk on the Wild Side" 1962 on Verve
 Lionel Hampton "Red Top" 1959 on Audio Fidelity
 Mongo Santamaria "Watermelon Man"1963 on Battie
 Lee Morgan "Sidewinder"1963 on Blue Note
 Ramsay Lewis Trio "The In Crowd" 1965 on ARGO
 Harry James "Ciribiribin" 1939 on Brunswick
 Cannonball Adderley "Mercy Mercy Mercy" 1966 on Capital
 Toots Thielemans "Bluesette" 1962 on ABC Paramount
 Ray Charles "What'd I Say" 1961 on ABC Paramount

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mingus on Radio-1946 to 1954


Mingus-Part I, Duplex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC.ORG. Program aired on 6.30.2016.

LISTEN HERE

PLAYLIST

Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, Mingus Fingus-Teddy Buckner, Wendell Culley, Duke Garrette, Leo Shepherd, Snooky Young (trumpet) Andrew Penn, James Robinson, Britt Woodman, Jimmy Wormick (trombone) Jackie Kelso (clarinet, alto sax) Ben Kynard, Bobby Plater (alto sax) Morris Lane, John Sparrow (tenor sax) Charlie Fowlkes (baritone sax) Lionel Hampton (vibes) Milt Buckner (piano) Billy Mackel (guitar) Joe Comfort, Charles Mingus (bass) Earl Walker (drums). Hollywood, CA, November 10, 1947

Boppin in Boston Baron Mingus And His Rhythm; probably Vern Carlson (trumpet) probably Britt Woodman (trombone) unknown (tenor sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, vocals) unknown (drums)  possibly Wilbert Baranco (vocals -2)

Illinois Jacquet And His All Stars-Bottom's Up Russell Jacquet (trumpet) John Brown (alto sax) Illinois Jacquet (tenor sax) Arthur Dennis (baritone sax) Bill Doggett (piano) Ulysses Livingston (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Al Wichard (drums) Hollywood, CA, circa mid August, 1945

Wilbert Baranco And His Rhythm Bombardiers-Weepin Willie; Karl George, Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee, Snooky Young (trumpet) Ralph Bledsoe, Henry Coker, Vic Dickenson, George Washington (trombone) Marvin Johnson, Willie Smith (alto sax) Freddie Simon, Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Gene Porter (baritone sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano, vocals) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Earl Watkins (drums), 1946

Ivie Anderson & her all stars - The Voot is Here to Stay-Karl George (trumpet) Willie Smith (alto sax) Gene Porter (tenor sax) Buddy Collette (baritone sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano, arranger) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Booker Hart (drums) Ivie Anderson (vocals)
Los Angeles, CA, January, 1946

Charles Mingus And His Orchestra-Shuffle Bass Boogie; Karl George, John Plonsky (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Jewel Grant, Willie Smith (alto sax) Gene Porter, Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Wilbert Baranco (piano) Buddy Harper (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Lee Young (drums) Claude Trenier (vocals -1,2,4)Los Angeles, CA, early 1946

Baron Mingus Presents His Symphonic Airs-Story of Love; Vern Carlson, Miles Davis (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Boots Mussulli (alto sax) Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Buddy Collette (tenor sax, flute) Herb Carol (baritone sax) Buzz Wheeler (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, cello) Warren Thompson (drums), Hollywood, 1946

Pipe Dream (Weird Nightmare) Baron Mingus And His Octet; Karl George (trumpet) Henry Coker (trombone) Marshall Royal (clarinet, alto sax) Willie Smith (alto sax) Lucky Thompson (tenor sax) Lady Will Carr (piano) Irving Ashby (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Lee Young (drums), 1946

Charles Mingus - Inspiration-John Anderson, Buddy Childers, Hobart Dotson, Eddie Preston (trumpet) Jimmy Knepper, Marty Smith, Britt Woodman (trombone) Eric Dolphy (alto sax, flute, clarinet) Jewel Grant, Art Pepper (alto sax, clarinet) Herb Caro (tenor sax, clarinet) William Green (tenor sax, clarinet, flute) Gene Porter (baritone sax, clarinet) Russ Freeman (piano) Red Callender, Charles Mingus (bass) Roy Porter (drums) Johnny Berger (percussion) and others
Hollywood, CA, 1949

Red Norvo Trio--Move, September Song, This Can't Be Love; Red Norvo (vibes) Tal Farlow (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Los Angeles, 1950

Miles Davis Sextet-Lady Bird; Miles Davis (trumpet) Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Big Nick Nicholas (tenor sax) Billy Taylor (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Blakey (drums), Live Birdland, 1951

Charles Mingus Nonet-Blue Tide; Ernie Royal (trumpet) Willie Dennis (trombone) Eddie Caine (alto sax, flute) Teo Macero (tenor sax, clarinet) Danny Bank (baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello) John Lewis (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, arranger) Kenny Clarke (drums) Janet Thurlow (vocals -3,6,7) Paul Bley (conductor) Spaulding Givens equal Nadi Qamar (arranger) NYC, October 28, 1953

The Gordons With Hank Jones Trio-Bebopper; Hank Jones (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) Honey Gordon (vocals -2/6) George Gordon Jr., George Gordon, Richard Gordon vocals NYC, 953

Billy Taylor Trio-Bass-Ically; Billy Taylor (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Taylor (drums) NYC, summer 1953

Miles Davis Quartet - Smooch; Miles Davis (trumpet) Charles Mingus (piano) Percy Heath (bass) Max Roach (drums) WOR Studios, NYC, May 19, 1953

Charlie Parker and His Orchestra - In the Still of the Night; Junior Collins (French horn) Al Block (flute) Tommy Mace (oboe) Manny Thaler (bassoon) Hal McKusick (clarinet) Charlie Parker (alto sax) Tony Aless (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) The Dave Lambert Singers: including Annie Ross (vocals) Dave Lambert (vocals, arranger) Gil Evans (arranger, conductor)
Fulton Recording, NYC, May 25, 1953

Dizzy Gillespie Quartet; Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet, vocals) Bud Powell (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Max Roach (drums) "Birdland", NYC???, circa late May, 1953

Charles Mingus Nonet-Pink Topsy; Ernie Royal (trumpet) Willie Dennis (trombone) Eddie Caine (alto sax, flute) Teo Macero (tenor sax, clarinet) Danny Bank (baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello) John Lewis (piano) Charles Mingus (bass, arranger) Kenny Clarke (drums) Janet Thurlow (vocals -3,6,7) Paul Bley (conductor) Spaulding Givens equal Nadi Qamar (arranger), NYC, 1953

Paul Bley Trio-Zootcase; Paul Bley (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Art Blakey (drums) NYC, 1953

Ada Moore-The Man I Love; John LaPorta (alto sax, clarinet) Wally Cirillo (piano) Tal Farlow (guitar) Oscar Pettiford (bass) Osie Johnson (drums) Ada Moore (vocals) Alonzo Levister, Charles Mingus (arranger) NYC, June 27, 1954

Thad Jones Quintet-Elusive; Thad Jones (trumpet) Frank Wess (tenor sax, flute)Hank Jones (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) Hackensack, NJ, 1954

J J Johnson & Kai Winding Quintet - Lament J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding (trombone) Billy Bauer (guitar) Charles Mingus (bass) Kenny Clarke (drums) Hackensack, NJ, August 24, 1954

Charles Mingus Sextet-Purple Heart; John LaPorta (clarinet, alto sax) Teo Macero (tenor, baritone sax) George Barrow (baritone, tenor sax) Mal Waldron (piano) Charles Mingus (bass) Rudy Nichols (drums) NYC, October 31, 1954

Charles Mingus Sextet-Minor Intrusion; Thad Jones (trumpet -1/4,7) John LaPorta (clarinet, alto sax) Teo Macero (tenor, baritone sax) Jackson Wiley (cello -1/4) Charles Mingus (bass, piano) Clem DeRosa (drums, tambourine) NYC, December, 1954

Hazel Scott w/Charles Mingus and Rudy Nichols. "A Foggy Day" on YouTube, unknown date

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to Listen to Jazz; a Q&A


In How to Listen to Jazz, Ted Gioia has tasked himself with writing a book that asks people to drop their musical prejudices and open up their ears. The challenge in writing a book like is to find a middle path between, as Gioia says, "those who pretend that music is objective science and those who insist it is "subjective whimsy…" For my money, he has succeeded; talking about the nuts and bolts of melody, harmony and rhythm in a clear, comprehensible, knowing way, while finding myriad ways to communicate the joy ("jouissance") in the music.

Ted was kind enough to respond to some questions I sent him.

One of the foundations of the book is that there are standards that are inherent in the music. Talk about the process of teasing these out.
If you want to grasp the dangers of imposing external standards on the music, just look at the long, sad history of warring camps in the jazz world. In the 1940s, traditional jazz musicians complained about bop because it didn’t sound like Louis Armstrong.  And modernists dismissed traditionalists who didn’t know the bop licks. A few years later, a similar battle erupted over the merits of West Coast jazz versus East Coast jazz. This was followed by protracted controversies over free jazz, fusion, the new traditionalists of the 1980s, etc.—indeed almost every new style led to diatribes and confrontations, and a strange situation in which listeners were told they had to choose between the combatants.

Finally, the jazz wars seem to have ended. Okay, we have a few skirmishes on the border—I saw an exchange of fire a few days ago on the Kamasi Washington front—but this is all child’s play compared with the full-scale battles of days gone by. And I will be the first to celebrate the cessation of hostilities. Let’s enjoy the peace dividend.

But there’s a larger lesson at stake here. Different genres and subgenres bring with them their own standards, and make different demands on us. My enjoyment of the music—and my understanding of it—have been enhanced by trying to live up to these demands.  Our response to the music comes with a responsibility—two words that derive from the same etymological root. And part of that responsibility is to enter into the distinctive worldview and templates that come embedded into the music.

Why was it important for you to bring in your own experience in learning how to play this music?
This book is more autobiographical than anything I’ve ever written. I felt that the best way to teach readers how to listen to jazz is to share the path by which I learned to listen deeply to the music. Between the ages of 15 and 25, I spent around 10,000 hours at the piano, and many more hours studying the performances of the best musicians I could find, in person or on record. My subsequent work as a music critic and historian is built on this foundation.

What did I learn from that apprenticeship? Sad to say, I learned to appreciate the greatness of the masters through my own mistakes, and through all the slow, hard work I put into gaining fluency with the basic building blocks of the music. I struggled and fought my way through every aspect of jazz, from how to start and end a phrase to how to how to create rhythmic misdirection and float over the beat. I really didn’t possess a mature grasp of jazz until I was in my late twenties and, in retrospect, I’ve often wished I had been a more precocious learner, or had had access to skilled teachers. I really taught myself, and a day at a time. It’s no exaggeration to say that I had to invent my own pedagogy. But this slow path brought some advantages—I developed analytical and methodological tools that have proven invaluable in helping me conceptualize and articulate what’s going on in the music. I draw on these hard-won learnings in How to Listen to Jazz, and I feel that I have dealt with a number of key issues in a way that hasn’t been done in other books on the subject. 

Can you flesh out this quote a bit: "We can tell that we are encountering a real work of art by the degree to which it resists [your emphasis] our subjectivity."
Some people will tell you that our responses to music are purely subjective. But everything I’ve learned about music runs counter to that claim. My previous book on love songs describes in great specificity quasi-universal qualities in music that cut across cultural and individual differences. The same is true in my books on work songs and healing music. Music critics and historians ignore these factors at their own risk. They undermine their work to the extent that they believe they can impose their whims or ideologies on the music. 

In the course of reading jazz and blues history, I've never encountered your interesting points that statistics used to track diseases can also tell us about the spread of jazz and that looking at African-American farming plots can help trace the genesis of the blues. Why do you suppose more of this cross-discipline work hasn't been done-or have I simply missed it?
I learned these analytical techniques through sheer happenstance. In my early twenties I studied the diffusion of innovations at Stanford Business School. My professors had no intention of teaching me skills I could use in writing music history books, but I later saw how these predictive models could answer key questions in my research into early blues or traditional love songs.

By the way, my readers would probably be surprised by how much my analysis of music has been enhanced by studying microeconomics, game theory, statistics, business strategy and other issues outside the typical purview of music critics. This is true of both my writings on music history but also my writings and talks on the current music industry.

I love that you call those who deconstruct and recombine musical memes "the gene splicers of jazz." Why did you choose that metaphor rather than alluding to the idea of "influences"?
The notion of influence tends to promote linear and static thinking. But when we apply the metaphor of DNA and genetics to our discussions of musical evolution, we can grasp the dynamic and complex nature of these processes with more insight.

Take for example, saxophonist Lester Young. A static lineage model would tell you that he was a major influence on Stan Getz and a handful of other postwar saxophonists. End of story. But a better way of understanding his impact is to look at how his expansion of a ‘cool’ vocabulary, with its emphasis on melodicism and understatement, entered into the global music DNA—and could be adapted by anyone seeking a certain kind of aesthetic experience. Once you view Lester Young in that way, you start hearing how he shaped movie soundtracks, bossa nova, pop music, a cappella vocal arrangements, even classical works such as John Adams’ recent sax concerto. You understand Young better by viewing his innovations—which were essentially genetic mutations in the sphere of music—in this wider context.

You have a definite brief against "global entertainment corporations." Tell us why and what you think might be done to ameliorate their negative influence.
I listened to more than one thousand new releases last year, and I am on track to do the same this year. I cast a very wide net in my listening—I check out all music genres, and though I pay attention to highly-promoted commercial releases from the major labels, I also listen closely to little-known projects from small indie labels and self-produced albums.

This is a large investment of time, but it gives me valuable insights into the priorities of the global entertainment corporations. I can see what they are choosing to promote, and compare it against the projects they turn down or ignore.

And what do I learn from this? My conclusions are depressing ones. First let me share the good news: there is more outstanding music recorded today than at any point in history. But here’s the bad news: it’s harder to find than ever before. The big entertainment corporations are doing a terrible job of scouting talent, nurturing it, and giving it a platform to reach a large audience. There’s a crisis in the music business. And this isn’t just my personal opinion—just look at sales figures and financial statements, or talk to the talented musicians who are trying to build careers in this environment. 

Why are labels making such bad decisions? We can speculate on the causes. I would love to give an ear test to folks making decisions at the major labels. How skilled are they at actually hearing what’s happening on a recording, and grasping what the musicians are doing? And then I’d like to give them a polygraph test to see which is more important to them, promoting artistry or making money? And, then, I’d like to have a test to gauge their degree of commitment to musical values, and their courage in pushing against the groupthink and conformity of the huge corporations that employ them. Finally, I would like to compare these results against those of the visionary label execs from today and the past—people like John Hammond or Manfred Eicher or George Martin. I have a hunch we would find some answers to our questions, no?

Do you have a specific idea who the audience will be for this book?  Do you hope it will work its way into the educational market?
I’ve been blessed with great readers. I hear from them all the time—especially in the last few years, with the rise of social media and worldwide connectivity. And I learn from them too.

Many of my readers are musicians, some of them absolute masters of their instruments. Others played in bands in the past and have transitioned to other careers, yet still have big ears and trained sensibilities. Some have never had musical training, but care deeply about the music. This very smart audience keeps me honest. I have them in mind while I write, and that helps me avoid glib and facile treatment of the subjects at hand.

I try to write in such a way that every one of these readers is served by the book. My goal with How to Listen to Jazz was a simple one, but also challenging: I wanted to provide an entry point into jazz for newcomers, but do it in such a way that even a very knowledgeable fan would find something useful or insightful on every page. I’ll leave it to others to judge whether I live up to that goal.

This reader says he does.


Friday, May 6, 2016

"Early Guitar" Radio Show

Lonnie Johnson
A quick look at the early great jazz guitar players, aired on the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 5.5.16.
Check out the playlist and give a listen.

LISTEN HERE (Sorry for the minor hum, audible at a low level when I speak, not during the music))

Sam Moore "Chain Gang Blues" 1921 on Okeh

Lonnie Johnson "Four Hands are Better Than Two" 1927 on Okeh

Eddie Lang "Add a Little Wiggle" 1928 on Okeh

The Chocolate Dandies "Paducah" 1928 on Okeh

Frank Trumbauer & His Orchestra "I'm Coming Virginia" 1927 on Okeh

Lonnie Johnson and Blind Willie Dunn "Deep Minor Rhythm Stomp" 1929 on Okeh

King Nawahi's Hawaiians "Hawaiian Capers" 1929 on Columbia

Eddie Edinborough & His New Orleans Wild Cats "Brown Baby" 1933 on Columbia

The Five Cousins "I've Got the Word on a String" 1933 on ARC Test

Candy and Coco "Kingfish Blues" 1934 on Vocalion

Dick McDonough "Honeysuckle Rose"1934 on Test recording

Frank Trumbaier & His Orchestra "S'Wonderful" 1936 on Brunswick

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys "White Heat" 1937 on Vocalion

Katy Grey and her Wampus Cats "Baton Rouge Rag" 1937 on Vocalion

Jon Sodja's Swingtette "Limehouse Blues" 1937 on Varsity

Kansas City Five "Love Me or Leave Me" 1938 on Commodore

Benny Goodman and His Sextet "Wholly Cats" 1940 on Columbia


Slim Gaillard And His Flat-Foot-Floogie-Boys "Palm Springs Jump" 1942 on Columbia

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jimmy Knepper--Storyteller

In an interview, Charles McPherson talks about the influence Charlie Parker had on trombonist Jimmy Knepper. I nod internal agreement, but also think: Knepper found musical pathways that are not available to any other instrument. To me, he was among the most expressive trombonists; one who used tremendous technique in service of the music, not in service of the technique.

Knepper was quoted as saying ''in a lot of ways, [jazz is] just shallow, superficial and pyrotechnical.''  Maybe that's why it was so important to him to prove that jazz could be played that was not shallow, superficial and pyrotechnical for its own sake.

Piling on the ironies, although Knepper sounded great in any setting, I believe he was most expressive in the musical context provided by the man who assaulted him and almost ended his career: Charles Mingus. Mingus' music gave a kind of scope that freed Knepper. The stops, starts, changes of tempo and mood, freedom to explore less "refined" tonal directions, provided a dramatic stage on which Knepper thrived. 

Yet, in 1981, Knepper told Downbeat: ''It was very depressing to think that I'm linked with this guy for the rest of my life." 

I have no problem with the contradictory nature of all this. It gives the lie to the easy assumptions that people make about personality and art.

Before getting to Mingus music, let's start with Knepper in a more straight-ahead context, Here he is in a 1957 release, A Swinging Introduction from September 1957 with Knepper (tb), Gene Quill (as), Evans (p), Teddy Kotick (b) and Dannie Richmond (d). The tone is there-a good deal of vibrato; harmonically it's squarely in the bop idiom, but with some unusual interval leaps and a subtly dramatic quality.



Here he is in his first Mingus recording, Tijuana Moods, recorded the same year-1957. He responds well to this rhythmic environment, which is both more demanding and looser. He also begins to explore the trombone's tonal palette.


Here's Jimmy on Gentleman's Agreement (1983) with Danny RIchmond, drums, George Adams, tenor sax, High Lawson, piano. Mike RIchmond, bass. Knepper 's statement is solid and contains almost all the elements we find in the Mingus context. Still...


In this final tune, the title track from Tonight At Noon (1961), It sounds as if Knepper has completely internalized the resonance of this Mingus group. Everything he plays sounds like it comes from a complete emotional commitment.


Thanks, Jimmy.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Influence," Prince & Some Jazz Guys

There's been an enormous response to the death of Prince. An internet search leads me to think that he's been eulogized in every major media outlet in the U.S. and many abroad. Consistently, the emphasis is on his musical genius and his influence on popular culture. A common riff is that "pop music will never be the same," but details of what this means are sketchy.

The interplay between persona/projection/charisma and the music itself is always complicated. In the case of Prince, the music is both collaborator and counter-foil to the gender ambiguity of his look and style, the contrast between his stage presence and his reclusiveness and the tension between his Jehovah's Witness-straightness and his sexual explicitness.

These kinds of tensions were present in the work and very public lives of Ray Charles, James Brown and Michael Jackson. However, the cultural impact of these three resides more completely on the bedrock of their music. Prince is reckoned to have done everything supremely well; everything being the key word. Time will tell us if his eclecticism begat something musically new and reproduce-able, or if his influence will ultimately derive from his persona.

In the case of jazz, media saturation has always been quantum levels lower, especially for black musicians, and the paradigms I describe above were unlikely to play out as publicly. Still, there are parallels to be seen in jazz careers. Below are five important figures in jazz and brief descriptions of how I think the personal and the musical interacted to determine the scope and area of their influence.


W.C. Handy: His compositions, chiefly St. Louis Blues and Memphis Blues, were widely performed; he organized an orchestra that hovered between ragtime and jazz and he did have some influence within the world of popular music. However, his organizing and entrepreneurial skills brought him much wider cultural renown, to the point where he is widely known as "Father of the blues;" a phrase that both overstates and misplaces his musical importance.

Jelly Roll Morton: His work in the 1920's as pianist, composer, arranger and synthesizer of influences marks him as musically influential in jazz. However, his "re-discovery" and narration of jazz history through the Library of Congress recordings-inaccurate or not-broadened his influence into the larger cultural sphere. His gold teeth, braggadocio and pimp-style also played a part in keeping his name elevated above other contributors, like James P. Johnson.


King Oliver: A trumpet player who was influential musically in the late 19-teens to mid 1920's. You might liken him to Sidney Bechet in that respect, but unlike Bechet-a strong, sometimes volatile character who carried on for many years-Oliver's health issues, a lack of personal charisma and business naivete greatly shortened his career. Oliver's wider cultural impact has been largely relegated to "the man who brought Louis Armstrong to Chicago."


Duke Ellington: His work remains a perennial influence in jazz (not a word he cared for), but he has achieved wider cultural renown. Aside from songs and jazz compositions for his orchestra, he wrote film, television and sacred music and was compared with America's best "classical" composers. His persona is relevant. Ellington seemed perfectly comfortable performing for the rabble and for royalty and his elegant and somewhat enigmatic personal style had a lot to do with bringing him wider cultural acclaim.


Charlie Parker: The co-creator of Bop presents an interesting case. The jazz community acknowledges him as arguably its most influential musician. During his life, he was acknowledged by members of the wider cultural, non-jazz elite as an artist of the highest calibre. Yet, while his name took on a meme-like character ("Bird lives" graffiti) and many in the non-jazz community may say they have heard his name, the trappings of wide cultural renown aren't there. What do I mean? Streets, schools and scholarships very rarely if ever, carry his name. Chic chefs, fashion trend setters, politicians, advertisers and mainstream media seldom, if ever, refer to him as a cultural touchstone. Had his drug use not been so widely known, his place in the wider culture would probably be very different.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Miles Ahead


Writer-director-producer Don Cheadle took this gig seriously. The cinematography, costuming and editing of the film are strong and Cheadle's performance throughout is impeccable. He completely inhabits the persona of the "late Miles." Also to his credit, Cheadle lets the relationship between Miles' musical genius and being an utter bastard play out, without resorting to childhood flashbacks or other filmic devices meant to lead us to psychological "insights." 

The first part of "Miles Ahead" gives hope that with the charismatic, controversial genius Miles Davis at the center of the movie, and so well portrayed, there will be enough inherent drama without the film resorting to cinematic cliches. But, while there are moving and satisfying scenes throughout, melodrama starts to creep in and the length of time devoted to car chases and trumped-up plot devices vitiates much of the original promise. The power of the performances of Cheadle and Emavatzy Corinealdi, who portrays Frances Davis, become subsumed in a dense layer of sub-plots that, in the end, don't add up to much. 

Here's the jazz snob portion of our review: I didn't like the fact that Miles-in-the-film says he rescued Trane from walking the bar. Trane was years away from that. I also don't like that they had Miles playing what looked to me like a sliver-plated Bach trumpet. Someone can tell me if I'm wrong and that it was a Besson Brevete. To his credit, Cheadle mostly did a good miming job and seemed to actually play "Fran-Dance" in one scene.

The scene with Miles and Gil Evans in the studio made Evans completely passive and Miles the creative presence. By all accounts, Miles was a good collaborator and they didn't need to overcompensate like that. In fact, the white characters were invariably shmucks and or thieves when, as noted above, Miles collaborated well with musicians of any race. After taking heat-in real life-for having the white Bill Evans in his band, Miles said:"I don't care if a dude is purple with green breath as long as he can swing." Having Miles say that in this film would have been inimical to its racial approach. You don't have to overdraw the difference between racist thug cops and Teo Macero and Gil Evans, but you can have more balance than this movie does.

Maybe filmmakers are right in thinking there's not enough drama in the jazz life to sustain an audience's attention for 90 minutes; maybe the exigencies of the form mean they do have to cook the books. If life was fair (hah!), critics would be forced to say what they would put in the film instead of car chases and one-dimensional foils. Ok. How about filling that time by having the audience sit in the theatre with nothing on the screen, just listening to the music of Miles Davis (and this from a guy who's a member of SAG). Ay, caramba; quelle idee.