New Release: Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran
Charles Lloyd is one of those artists who seem to just get better and better with age (listen to 2010’s “Mirror”).. Just weeks away from his 75th birthday, Charles delivers a stunning, personal duet album with the remarkable Jason Moran on piano. They draw from Ellington and Strayhorn to Dylan and Brian Wilson to recent Lloyd originals include the five-part “Hagar Suite.’ Fresh, beautiful music.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
John Lewis: At Home with the Blues
John Lewis’s appearance on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz from the first season in 1979 fittingly starts with a wonderful piano blues. I remember being amazed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the mid ‘70s when Lewis unleashed a soulful set of piano blues. I had always associated him with the Modern Jazz Quartet and jazz interpretations of Bach’s music. But that typecasting came to a quick end that evening.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Mary Lou Williams; From Andy Kirk’s Clouds Of Joy to Ellington to Collaborations with Dizzy Gillespie; An Astonishing Career
If we are to make progress in modern music, or, if you prefer, jazz, we must be willing and able to open our minds to new ideas and developments.– Mary Lou Williams
From the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University (Newark campus) comes this digital exhibit of Mary Lou Williams. Under the direction of Project Archivist Annie Kuebler this collection is one of the largest and best maintained collections at the Institute and this visual tour draws on treasures from this collection. It also provides updates on the processing and use of the collection, guides researchers to recordings by Williams and to those who have played her music and details other major aspects of her career including her firm religious beliefs and humanitarian causes.
-Scott WenzelRead More
Sonny Payne: Ten Minutes Of Madness
There have been a select few of extraordinary drummers who knew how to drive a big band and make it ten times the sum of its parts. For me, no one drove a big band like Sonny Payne drove the Basie orchestra. He swung like hell, made every accent and every cue in the chart, threw in amazing, inspiring drum fills and was tossing and twirling stick the whole time. A truly brilliant madman behind the drums. Check out this ten-minute drum feature from a 1962 European concert.View Video
An Afternoon with Miles Davis: Observations On Billie Holiday
by Nat Hentoff The Jazz Review, Vol. 1, No. 2 (December 1958) (posted by http://jazzstudiesonline.org/ )
Miles lives in a relatively new building on Tenth Avenue near 57th Street. The largest area in his apartment is the living room. Like the other rooms, it is uncluttered. The furnishings have been carefully selected and are spare. Miles has a particular liking for “good wood” and explains thereby why his Down Beat plaques\u2014and even his Four Roses Award from the Randall’s Island “festival”\u2014are all displayed. He has a good piano and an adequate non-stereo record player.
The idea of the afternoon\u2014the first of a series of observations by Miles to be printed at regular intervals in this monthly\u2014was to play a variety of recordings for him and transcribe his reactions. This was not a blindfold test, for while I find those adventures in skeet shooting entertaining, I doubt if they serve much purpose except transitory titillation.
First was Billie Holiday’s 1937 / Must Have That Man with Wilson, Clayton, Goodman, Young , Green, Page and Jo Jones. “I love the way Billie sings,” Miles began. “She sings like Lester Young and Louis Armstrong play, but I don’t like all that’s going on behind her. All she needed was Lester and the rhythm. The piano was ad libbing while she was singing, which leads to conflict, and the guitar was too loud and had too much accent on every beat.”
Miles was asked whether he agreed with most of the writers on jazz that the Billie of 20 years ago was the “best” Billie and that she is now in decline. “I ‘d rather hear her now. She’s become much more mature.
Sometimes you can sing words every night for five years, and all of a sudden it dawns on you what the song means. I played My Funny Valentine for a long time\u2014and didn’t like it\u2014and all of a sudden it meant something. So with Billie, you know she’s not thinking now what she was in 1937, and she’s probably learned more about different things. And she still has control, probably more control now than then. No , I don’t think she’s in a decline.
” What I like about Billie is that she sings it just the way she hears it and that’s usually the way best suited for her. She has more feeling than Ella and more experience in living a certain way than Ella . Billie’s pretty wild, you know.
“She sings way behind the beat and then she brings it up\u2014hitting right on the beat. You can play behind the beat, but every once in a while you have to cut into the rhythm section on the beat and that keeps everybody together. Sinatra does it by accenting a word. A lot of singers try to sing like Billie, but just the act of playing behind the beat doesn’t make it sound soulful.View Video
Gil Evans and his Orchestra in Umbria
By day, in this video, Gil Evans and his musicians bask and stroll in the Umbrian sun in Perugia. At night, Evans and his band, with Howard Johnson, Billy Harper and Hannibal Marvin Peterson upfront, wail before the grand fountain in the Piazza at the Umbria Jazz Festival. Sweet. Or should we say, dolce?
-Nick MoyView Video
Joe Lovano on his latest: Us Five
Joe Lovano perennially seems to be working on something new. His latest: his Us Five band that grew out of two drummers, bassist Esperanza Spalding and now, guitarist Lionel Loueke. It’s easy to forget that Lovano has been at an elevated level of play for a long time. In this interview with Larry Bluemenfeld, Lovano gently recalls his early days with Paul Motian — a collaboration that spanned close to three decades.
-Nick MoyRead More
Andy and the Bey Sisters: Rare Footage
Andy Bey and sisters Salome and Geraldine worked together in the mid ’60s and recorded several albums for Prestige. They always seemed on the verge of success, but never quite got there. This unusual clip is from a 1964 Paris appearance. They perform Arnett Cobb’s “Smooth Sailing” with none other than Kenny Clarke on drums.
-Michael CuscunaView Video
Pat Martino: Back on Top of his Game
This Mainline Media News site features a story about the travails of Philadelphia’s own Pat Martino and retells the story of his 1980 brain surgery which left him with very little of his musical or personal memory. Pat and I had been neighbors in Philly in 1967 and became close friends. I was among the few people that he recognized during recovery, so he came to spend some time with me in New York. It was odd to speak of shared times, mutual friends and famous pieces of music and get so little recognition from a familiar face. Little by little, enough came back and, musically, Pat was back at the top of his game in no time.
-Michael CuscunaRead More
Buddy Tate Birthday: February 22, 1913br/Most Valuable Player- From Basie To Swingin’ Jams
Name any genre of jazz, any regional scene, any stylistic pocket and you’ll find a few recognized giants and a whole lot of exceptionally talented road warriors who contributed mightily to the music without proper historic or financial due. Buddy Tate, a masterful, hard swinging Texas tenor saxophonist, who logged five decades on the international jazz stage is a perfect example. Nic Jones’s essay for the Jazz Institute Of Chicago touches on some of his contributions.
-Michael CuscunaRead More