Top 50 JAzz Blog

Monday, June 26, 2017

George Russell on the DuPlex

The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour took a look at the work of this important composer/arranger/pianist on 6.22.17. Russell should be given his due as an important formulator of the modal concept in jazz,   adopted by so many musicians in the 50's and 60's. He was also a very early adopter of electronic instruments and synthesizer in jazz.



Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra with Chano Pozo "Cubana Be Cumana Bop" 1947 on RCA Victor

Buddy DeFranco "A Bird in Igor's Yard" 1949 on Capital-Buddy DeFranco (clarinet), Al Cohn (tenor sax), Gene DiNovi (piano), Bernie Glow, Paul Cohen, Jimmy Pupa, Jack Eagle (trumpets), Ollie Wilson, Earl Swope, Bart Varsalona (trombones), Lee Konitz, Frank Socolow (alto saxes), Gerry Sanfino (tenor sax), Serge Chaloff (baritone sax), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Irv Kluger (drums), possibly Jimmy Raney (guitar). Composed by George Russell.

Artie Shaw & His Orchestra "Similau"  1950

George Russell Sextet "Concerto for Billy the Kid" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor-Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusick (alto), Bill Evans (piano), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Paul Motian (drums), George Russell (arrange)

George Russell Sextet "Fellow Delegates" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor Teddy Kotick -b, Osie johnson-drums

George Russell Sextet "Ezzthetic" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor

"Manhattan" from "New York, N Y"1959  on Decca-George Russell - arranger, conductor' tpts-Art Farmer - Doc Severinson Ernie Royal Joe Wilder Joe Ferrante; tbpne Bob Brookmeyer Frank Rehak Tom Mitchell Jimmy Cleveland Hal McKusick - alto saxophones Phil Woods - tenor saxophone John Coltrane -Al Cohn Benny Golson -Sol Schlinger - baritone saxophone, bass saxophone Gene Allen - baritone saxophone Bill Evans - piano Barry Galbraith - guitar George Duvivier - bass Milt Hinton - bass Charlie Persip - drums Max Roach - drums Don Lamond - drums Al Epstein - bongos Jon Hendricks - vocals, narration

"Waltz from Outer Space" from "Jazz in the Space Age" 1960 on Decca= -George Russell: arranger, conductor;trumpet Ernie RoyalAl Kiger Marky Markowitz:tbn Frank Rehak: David Baker:Bob Brookmeyer: Jimmy Buffington: french horn Hal McKusick: alto, Dave Young: tenor, Sol Schlinger: baritone Bill Evans: piano Paul Bley: piano Barry Galbraith: guitar Howard Collins: guitar Milt Hinton: bass Don Lamond: drums Charlie Persip: drums

George Russell "The Lydiot" from "Jazz in the Space Age" 1960 on Decca

George Russell Sextet "Round Midnight" from "Ezzthetics"1961 on Riverside George Russell - piano, arranger  Don Ellis - trumpet Dave Baker - trombone Eric Dolphy - alto sax and bass clarinet Steve Swallow - bass Joe Hunt - drums

George Russell Sextet "Nardis" from "Ezzthetics" 1961 on Riverside

"The Stratus Seekers" from "The Stratus Seekers" 1962 on Riverside Stratus Seekers  -George Russell: piano, arranger, conductor Don Ellis: trumpet David Baker: trombone Paul Plummer:tenor John Pierce: alto Steve Swallow: bass Joe Hunt: drums

"Pan Daddy" from "The Stratus Seekers" 1962 on Riverside
"Othello Ballet Suite" from "Othello Ballet Suite" 1968) on Riverside- recorded November 3, 1967 at the studios of Radio Sweden in Stockholm; Alto–Arne Domnerus Drums–Jon Christensen; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tenor– Bernt Rosengren and Jan Garbarek Trumpet – Rolf Eriksson

George Russell's Living Time Orchestra "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature" from "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature" 1969 on Flying Dutchman-Jan Garbarek: tenor, Manfred Schoof: tot,Terje Rypdal:  guitar, Jon Christensen: drums, Red Mitchell: bass, George Russell: piano

Lisen to the Silence- live album by George Russell originally recorded in 1971. Text Credits:"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown, "The Mark" by Maurice Nicoll, "Duino Elegies" by Rainer Maria Rilke. George Russell-timpani, arranger Stanton Davis-tpt,Jan Garbarek - tenor sax,Terje Rypdal-electric guitar,Webster Lewis - organ, Bobo Stenson-electric piano,Bjørnar Andresen- fender bass, Arild Andersen-acoustic bass Jon Christensen -percussion, Chorus of the Conservatory of Music in Oslo, Norway George Russell "Event 1" "Event II" from "Listen to the
"Event III" from "Listen to the Silence" 1971) on Concept Records

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ra Kalam Bob Moses on the DuPlex

Ra Kalam Bob Moses, my guest on the DuPlex of 6-15.17 has been playing drums, percussion and other instruments professionally since the mid-1960's. He has played with a long lost of top tier-and boundary-pushing-musicians and he continues to push those boundaries. He had a lot of interesting things to say about the music and the people, including Mingus, Rahsaan, Coryell, and guitarist-composer Tisziji Muñoz who is Ra Kalam's spiritual guide.



Love Animals "Wholly Moses" from "Love Animals"1967 on Ra-Kalam Records

Love Animal "Dancing Bears" from "Love Animals" 1967 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Bittersuite in the Ozone" from "Bittersuite in the Ozone" 1973 on Amulet Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Ghosts and Spirits" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Sun shower" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Radiating Heart Grace" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Universal Folk Song" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Love Everlasting" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Sacred Secret" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Explode, Reform and Move On" from "The Illuminated Heart" 2007 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Skyward Home (Leaving the Body Behind - Ascension Into Pure Spirit)" from "The Illuminated Heart 2007 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra kalam Bob Moses Grege Burk "Radiant Heart Blossom" from "We Are One  2012 on Ra-Kalam Records

Tisziji Munoz "No Self, No Thought, No Mind (feat. Dave Liebman)" from "Scream of Ensoundment (feat. Dave Liebman)" 2017 on MRI

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive

No surprise that filmmakers want to feature trumpet players in their films. After all, we are a complicated, sometimes volatile and, ahem, sexy cohort. I've written here about the odd character-illogical bent that movies show toward the species, but in this post, I'll restrict myself to analyzing how well filmmakers pull off the act of shooting a character playing the trumpet or cornet.

Let me note that, technically, no one is actually playing for the soundtrack while scenes are being shot. Music is almost never recorded live on a soundstage, but is recorded in an audio studio and mimed during the shoot (I did this myself as a member of a polka band in the as-yet unreleased Jack Black film The Polka King). That's the only way to be able to isolate any dialogue in the scene and it gives many more editing options. So, even if someone knows how to play, in a feature film, they always have to try and synch with pre-existing audio.

Let's start with the one scene I know of featuring a woman. In The Jerk, Bernadette Peters does an excellent miming job. Before she plays, she lightly licks her lip in a very natural way. Then, she actually fingers the right notes on the valves for a melody in the trumpet key of Aflat. Her embouchure is a little too loosy-goosy and the dubbing is very close, but not exact. She looks like an example of someone who is comfortable with the trumpet and maybe even knows how to play, but is not playing it here.

Jack Lord of Hawaii 5-O fame is in Play It Glissando, an episode of Route 66. Just from the awkwardness of the title (you can play _a_ glissando, but you can't play _it_ glissando), you can see the writers are trying to get hip but can't quite get there. I find that a lot in Route 66, but I love them for trying. Lord is cast in the Chet Baker mold and has the basic look right, but, as in most miming attempts, he's trying too hard to look the tortured soul. He's too stressed, too tense. Also, there's no variation in his chops; no indication that he's actually playing high or low, loud or soft. The director is smart enough to have only one shot where you can see him fiddling with the valves and that's a quick long shot.

Whether or not Richard Gere in-Cotton Club plays the cornet himself is a subject of online debate. The most convincing story I read says he did; not live, of course, but that with Warren Vache's help, he pre-recorded his parts. The scene where Gere's character really plays is not online, but in this clip he does a good job; right stance, overall physical look, amount of tension, fingering the valves properly. Flirting with Diane Lane does break his concentration. I get that.

Denzel Washington in Mo Better Blues does a very credible job. It helps that he is photographed in dim light-makes it hard to see his chops. They put him in the classic Miles pose-hunched over, with little movement. Spike is smart enough to give him a simple riff to play in close up and to pull back in the brief time the solo gets more complicated. Also, they know when the horn should have a harmon mute-and when it's open, for the solo.

Jack Klugman in a Twilight Zone episode called A Passage for Trumpet was not well coached. Here I speak not of his playing (although that too) but what he does when he goes to pawn his trumpet. Watch at :48.

Did you see what he did? First, he slammed his mouthpiece into the receiver-a sure way to get the thing stuck. Then, he actually, put the whole mouthpiece in his mouth. Never happens.

Ok, nuff o that.

I had reservations about other aspects of Miles Ahead, but no question that Don Cheadle was serious about learning how to play and to do a good job synching to the soundtrack. Sorry I don't have a longer clip, but this clip should show how invested he was in getting it right. Keyon Harrold does the real playing.

Jack Just-the-facts-maam Webb, a big jazz fan, made Pete Kelly's Blues. The thing that made Jack's miming work credible is his intrinsic wooden-ness, which actually keeps him from engaging in the St Vitus dance that so many actors are subject to in miming a trumpeter. His valve work is not bad.

In Clint Eastwood's film Bird, Michael Zelniker does a pretty good Red Rodney, at least in terms of fingering. He does not get the embouchure. Red had fairly Dizzy-like puffy cheeks.

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to be Blue does some things right. His general physical deportment and playing posture is right, but his embouchure is wrong and he also raises his shoulders and gears up a little too much for a breath. Careful video study of Chet would have shown that. As is the norm, his fingering for ballads is good and breaks down somewhat at higher tempos. Kevin Turcotte does the actual playing.

Probably the progenitor of the self-destructive trumpet player was Kirk Douglas in Young Man With a Horn, a film I talk about here. Kirk's performance varies, depending on how fast the music is. There are no clips up of him when he plays jazz, but here, apart from the usual excess physical movement, he does a credible job with a ballad (trumpet actually played by Harry James):

In A Man Called Adam, Sammy Davis Jr. takes on the part of yet another messed up trumpeter. I was a little disappointed in Sammy's miming attempts here, as he was a consummate musician who, I believe, actually played some trumpet. This just means that, although his embouchure is convincing, he didn't take the time to know what cornettist Nat Adderly was actually putting down and there's a lot of random fingering going on. He does a great job of carrying out one of a trumpet player's great fantasies: smashing up his horn on stage.

Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity has quite a challenge: to make Manny Klein's trumpet playing look like it came from a bugle. Of course, a bugle has no valves, so even though impossible to do, it's much simpler to mime. We only see him play in profile, so rating his chops is hard, but he has the correct look of a trumpet player who's had too much to drink, but has enough energy left to show off for 16 bars before he passes out.

Red Nichols and His Five Pennies has Danny Kaye taking the title role. Much of the musical slack is taken up by Louis Armstrong and Danny does a lot of singing (unlike Red himself). He comes onstage about halfway through the clip. Before that, you get to hear Pops. When he is playing, Danny is in long shot, with appropriately masking lighting, so not much pressure for cornet verisimilitude. Adequate, I guess.

SHORT TAKES/ ODDITIES  This post would take an eternity to load if I embedded all these, so I just provide the links where you can find the clips.

Amazing. At 29:15, Sugar Ray Robinson ("Biff") gets a lecture on the use of mutes in the TV series Land of the Giants(!) Later, Sugar and the actor play a duet on Give Me The Simple Life. "I hate to call a man a liar, but that's not the first mute I've seen." At the end, the actor has to charm a snake with his trumpet, using a few well-chosen minor scales. Now yer talkin'. BTW, writer Richard Shapiro's first writing credit is a script for Route 66.
Forrest Whittaker, in the production Lush Life does have the length of the phrases down, so that he starts and stops playing phrases at the right time;  points for studiousness. But, he also suffers from the same unnecessary rocking/excess motion that he had when he played Bird in Eastwood's movie. Some playing after opening credits and at 8:00:

Burt Young plays another self-destructive trumpet player in Uncle Joe Shannon. Instead of showing us the tension in his chops needed to hit all those Maynard Ferguson high notes, Burt is in constant motion. Between that and the director shooting into lights and constantly moving the camera, attention is pretty much successfully diverted from how little effort Burt put into knowing anything about the music.

Thanks to FB friend Marty Krystall for reminding me about this, He wrote: "I worked on camera in a few shots with Kurt Russell in Swing Shift, with Goldie Hawn. Kurt studied the trumpet with Zep Misner for two months, and I heard him warming up on the set. He had a very nice, controlled sound. He was a natural trumpet man. I don't know if some of his playing ended up in the film or just his side-lining, but he could play." 

Bryant Weeks sits in for Bix in Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend (Tod Pletcher is playing). Full credit to Weeks for knowing the music well enough to make the fingering look good. It is weird that he brings his fingers up so high, as if each valve needed the pressure of a tuba valve to go down. The actors all do a good job and music director Bob Wilbur makes sure there are no anachronisms and missteps.

For Love or Country; The Arturo Sandoval Story features Andy Garcia as Sandoval, who, of course, is actually playing. Garcia does a very good job, although we might note that since Arturo's valves are almost in perpetual motion, it makes miming fast sections easier than in solos that are less moto perpetuo.

In Blues in the Night, Jack Carson does a credible job. Plus, there's a certain fascination in watching an entire group of actors pretend to play jazz.

One of the most ridiculous efforts and certainly the most vertigo-inducing, Mickey Rourke in Passion Play:

In Memories of Me Billy Crystal plays trumpet and, albeit with too much head movement, does a credible job.

Dingo, a little known film with Colin Friels as the trumpet player(Chuck Findlay playing). I give Friels an B- for his mime job, but worth noting is the fact that this is the only film I ever saw with POV shots of the valves; as if seen through the player's eyes-or nose.

Nice little trumpet scene from The Black Glove with ok miming by Alex Nicol of nice playing by Kenny Baker (I think)

Playing two big band trumpet players, Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith vie for the affections of Goddard in Second Chorus.  Fred does kind of a ragged job with the fingering, while Burgess is a little more precise with fingering but apt to twist himself up into some odd contortions. Bobby Hackett and Billy Butterfield are the real players.

In The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai, Peter Weller, who apparently actually plays trumpet, pulls out a pocket trumpet during a nightclub scene. I'll give it a mention just because, well how often do you see a pocket trumpet in a feature film?

The Salton Sea has Val Kilmer (Terrence Blanchard playing) and the little I've seen on Youtube is disappointing; no effort to synch his valve work with the music and a laughable embouchure. Goo-ily romanticized bilge.

Dennis Leary in The Secret Life of Dentists does a credible job. They keep him in medium-long shot with low lighting. That helps.

Unfortunately, I could find find no clips of Robert Wagner playing trumpet in All the Fine Young Cannibals, no trace of Syncopation by William Dieterle, 1942, that has Jackie Cooper as a jazz trumpet player and could not find clips of Antonio Banderas playing in Mambo Kings

There are many more scenes that could be analyzed, especially in episodic television, but I have evaluated my own level of obsessiveness and feel that things have gone far enough; at least for the moment. I'd ask any readers who can cue us in to other examples to leave a comment here rather than responding on Facebook, although I'm happy if you do that as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Harvey Diamond and Lennie Tristano on the DuPlex

Pianist and teacher Harvey Diamond guested on the show on 6.8.17.  The show is notable for the music we heard from Harvey and Lennie Tristano and because of the insights Harvey shared about Tristano (possibly the only eminence grise in jazz), with whom he studied for ten years.



Harvey Diamond Trio "I Hear A Rhapsody" from "Harvey Diamond Trio" 2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "It's You or No one" from "Harvey Diamond Trio"2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "Sylvia's Dream" from "Harvey Diamond Trio"  2015

Harvey Diamond "Don't You Know I Care" Live  2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "Tenor Madness" from "Harvey Diamond Trio" 2015

Harvey Diamond "Sophisticated Lady" from "Unreleased"2017

Lennie Tristano Trio "Blue Boy"  1947 on Mercury

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh "Smog Eyes" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh "Ear Conditioning" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano Sextette "Wow" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano "Blame me" from "Live at Birdland" 1949 on Jazz

Lennie Tristano "All The Things You Are" from "Chicago April 1951" 1951 on Uptown

Lennie Tristano "Descent into the Maelstrom" 1953 Private recording

Lennie Tristano "Line Up" from "Lennie Tristano" (Jazz, 1956) on Atlantic

Lennie Tristano "Requiem" from "Lennie Tristano" (Jazz, 1956) on Atlantic

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh/Henry Grimes. "Continuity" from "Continuity" 1958 on Jazz Records