Archive | July, 2009

Random Flip Through the Quincy Jones “Quictionary” #2

31 Jul

quincy jonesOn quincyjones.com, Quincy has what he calls a Quictionary – described as “a glossary of people, places and things associated with Quincy.” We all know that Q has had a busy career, but there are a variety of things that you may have never known about him, or projects he was related to until you saw it on the Quictionary. Periodically I will pull a random entry from the Quictionary and post it. Here are a few randomly pulled entries:

B

Bremerton, Washington – The Seattle suburb that Quincy moved to at the age of 10 with his father, brother and step-mother. It was there he discovered his love of music.

I

Institute for Black American Music (IBAM) – An institution that Quincy helped found to aid in the creation of a national library of African-American art and music.

P

Peggy Lipton – Quincy’s third wife and the mother of Kidada and Rashida Jones. Lipton, an actress best known of her role on the Mod Squad and later Twin Peaks, was married to Quincy from 1974 to 1990. Peggy first met Quincy in 1968 on a trip on Sidney Poitier’s yacht to the Bahamas.

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (21-40)

30 Jul

Here are the next twenty.

Try to remember that there is no ranking system here, and just because you might not see your favorite jazz album yet, doesn’t mean it won’t show up.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite that the list might remind you of that is collecting dust on your shelf. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with week one, and in no particular order, albums 21 through 40.

21. consummationConsummation – Thad Jones-Mel Lewis (Blue Note, 1970)

22. dr. john plays mac rebennackDr. John Plays Mac Rebennack – Dr. John (Clean Cuts, 1981)

23. earfoodEarfood – Roy Hargrove (Universal Jazz, 2008)

24. saxophone colossusSaxophone Colossus – Sonny Rollins (Prestige/OJC, 1956)

25. time outTime Out – The Dave Brubeck Quartet (Columbia/Legacy, 1959)

26. an evening with herbie hancock and chick corea in concertAn Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea: In Concert – Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea (Columbia, 1992, 1978 recording)

27. mingusMingus – Joni Mitchell (Asylum, 1979)

28. lady sings the bluesLady Sings the Blues – Billie Holiday (Verve, 1956)

29. ellington at newportEllington at Newport – Duke Ellington (Columbia, 1956)

30. sketches of spainSketches of Spain – Miles Davis (Columbia, 1959)

31. freedom in the grooveFreedom in the Groove – Joshua Redman (Warner Bros., 1996)

32. water from an ancient wellWater From an Ancient Well – Abdullah Ibrahim (Tiptoe, 1985)

33. live at carnegie hallLive at Carnegie Hall (1938) – Benny Goodman (Columbia, 1938)

34. mercy, mercy, mercyMercy, Mercy, Mercy Live at “The Club” – Cannonball Adderley Quintet (EMI, 1966)

35. big trainBig Train – Wynton Marsalis (Columbia, 1999)

36. gettin' to itGettin’ To It – Christian McBride (Verve, 1994)

37. the inflated tearThe Inflated Tear – Rahsaan Roland Kirk (Atlantic, 1967)

38. john coltrane and johnny hartmanJohn Coltrane and Johnny Hartman – John Coltrane with Johnny Hartman (Impulse!, 1963)

39. flowFlow – Terrance Blanchard (Blue Note, 2005)

40. the gene harris trio plus oneThe Gene Harris Trio Plus One – Gene Harris (Concord Jazz, 1985)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (1-20)

Album Review: Double-Booked by Robert Glasper

29 Jul

Double-Booked by Robert Glasper

Release Date: August 25, 2009, Blue Note

robert glasperThe title of pianist Robert Glasper’s new album is a play on words in a couple of ways. The first is a reference to the album splitting time between Glasper’s two bands: his trio and The Robert Glasper Experiment. The second reference to the title, whether it be true or not, is revealed in the opening seconds of the first track. Trumpeter Terrance Blanchard is heard leaving Glasper a voicemail, suggesting that there is a rumor going around that Glaspar booked his “Experiment” band to play at one club, while his trio was scheduled to play at Blanchard’s new club on the exact same night.

Admittedly, Glasper’s previous release In My Element, while demonstrating a wonderful talent, did not personally leave me waiting in great anticipation for this new release. Double-Booked, however, is ultimately enjoyable from the opening track to the final note.

With Double-Booked, Robert Glasper is destined to put himself on the top of the list of young, hip jazz pianists (alongside Eldar and Taylor Eigsti). What gets him to be a part of this list is not simply talent, but the ability to demonstrate a wonderful creativity in different settings. Double-Booked not only shows versatility, but the ability to have a well-rounded understanding of what sounds will be leading edge, in either a acoustic trio or a more intense, hip sounding edgy “Experiment”.

The first six tracks are from the Robert Glasper Trio. I will say that if you like the opening track, No Worries, then you will like the rest of the acoustic set. I don’t say that because they all sound the same, because they don’t. I say that because the set list was well thought out with seamless transitions. The Thelonious Monk tune, Think of One, is also a highlight of the acoustic set, closing it out. It has become popular as of late for musicians to make their own recording of this tune, but Glasper makes it his own without sounding like he is trying too hard to recreate it.

The second half of the album begins with a second voicemail left by ?uestlove, the drummer for The Roots (and no, that is not a misspelling, his professional name is spelled ?-u-e-s-t-l-o-v-e, sometimes spelled Questlove). The message suggest the reverse of Blanchard’s message, suggesting that he heard the trio was already booked, but that Glasper should bring The Experiment for a jam session with Mos Def and company.

This is a lead in to The Experiment’s half of the album, which takes an edgier look at things, mixing jazz with a hip-hop attitude. Rapper Mos Def is immediately heard rapping on the second half, almost as a suggestion to the listener that this kind of hip attitude is exactly what the listener would be getting into for the next six tracks.

Sax, vocoder, turntables, electric bass, and Rhodes all make themselves entirely audible during The Experiment’s portion of the album, which is just as entertaining, well produced and performed as the first half. Vocalist Bilal adds a nice touch to the final two tracks, All Matter and Open Mind.

Double-Booked should dwarf the success that In My Element had. For those who still fear the mixing of hip-hop sounds with jazz – give it a good listen. This is how it is done right. And if that combination still scares you, stick to the first half of the album. Double-Booked, in one way or another, takes care of every listener.

Anita O'Day: Life of a Jazz Singer

24 Jul

When you talk about the greatest jazz singers ever, you always mention the Big Three: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. No surprises. From there, though, where do you go? Let me suggest Anita O’Day.

Her first appearances with the bands of Gene Krupa, Woody Herman & Stan Kenton shattered the standard image of a female jazz singer as demure and beautiful. Though she was a knockout, she was “one of the guys” – a musician’s singer – able to scat incredibly fast lines as well as break down ballad standards like Charlie Parker. Her time with drummer Krupa, especially, developed her rhythmic and melodic improvising abilities to the point where she was bored with these bands and struck out to sing with small groups who could keep up with her.

Unlike many jazz singers, she found more success with jazz audiences than popular music fans, releasing almost 20 records for Verve in the 50’s & 60’s that established Anita as one of the most talented singers of the day. Sadly, Anita O’Day wouldn’t be scared away from another jazz staple, heroin addiction. Amazingly, after 15 years she managed to kick and had a successful comeback, mostly appearing in Japan. At age 86, Anita recorded one last album, appropriately titled Indestructable, and was earning a new audience rightfully impressed by the amazing stories of her life.

Now, the documentary finished just before her death – Anita O’Day: Life of a Jazz Singer – is out on DVD. I caught this film in the theater last Spring with a very small crowd, and I hope more people will see this movie and get a better idea of the amazing talents of this often overlooked jazz superstar. For me, this is how jazz movies should be made – it focuses on her developing skills as a singer, her love of jazz rhythms and improvisation, and her personality – surely one of the most interesting characters in a world full of them.

I just watched the DVD again this week and I’ll probably buy my own copy soon, and I highly recommend it to all fans of jazz, singers, and musicians of all stripes. Terry Gross’ interview with Anita from 1987 can be heard here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106968810

and here’s the documentary trailer:

Anita O’Day: Life of a Jazz Singer

24 Jul

When you talk about the greatest jazz singers ever, you always mention the Big Three: Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. No surprises. From there, though, where do you go? Let me suggest Anita O’Day.

Her first appearances with the bands of Gene Krupa, Woody Herman & Stan Kenton shattered the standard image of a female jazz singer as demure and beautiful. Though she was a knockout, she was “one of the guys” – a musician’s singer – able to scat incredibly fast lines as well as break down ballad standards like Charlie Parker. Her time with drummer Krupa, especially, developed her rhythmic and melodic improvising abilities to the point where she was bored with these bands and struck out to sing with small groups who could keep up with her.

Unlike many jazz singers, she found more success with jazz audiences than popular music fans, releasing almost 20 records for Verve in the 50’s & 60’s that established Anita as one of the most talented singers of the day. Sadly, Anita O’Day wouldn’t be scared away from another jazz staple, heroin addiction. Amazingly, after 15 years she managed to kick and had a successful comeback, mostly appearing in Japan. At age 86, Anita recorded one last album, appropriately titled Indestructable, and was earning a new audience rightfully impressed by the amazing stories of her life.

Now, the documentary finished just before her death – Anita O’Day: Life of a Jazz Singer – is out on DVD. I caught this film in the theater last Spring with a very small crowd, and I hope more people will see this movie and get a better idea of the amazing talents of this often overlooked jazz superstar. For me, this is how jazz movies should be made – it focuses on her developing skills as a singer, her love of jazz rhythms and improvisation, and her personality – surely one of the most interesting characters in a world full of them.

I just watched the DVD again this week and I’ll probably buy my own copy soon, and I highly recommend it to all fans of jazz, singers, and musicians of all stripes. Terry Gross’ interview with Anita from 1987 can be heard here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106968810

and here’s the documentary trailer:

Random Flip Through the Quincy Jones "Quictionary" #1

22 Jul

quincy jonesOn quincyjones.com, Quincy has what he calls a Quictionary – described as “a glossary of people, places and things associated with Quincy.”

We all know that Q has had a busy career, but there are a variety of things that you may have never known about him, or projects he was related to until you saw it on the Quictionary.

Periodically I will pull a random entry from the Quictionary and post it. Here are a few randomly pulled entries:

O

Olympics – The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad appointed Quincy Jones as an Artistic Adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

R

Ray Charles – Quincy’s boyhood friend from Seattle.  The pair met when Quincy was 14 and Ray was 16.  Their relationship was featured in the 2004 Charles bio pic Ray, with Larenz Tate taking on the role as Quincy.  Quincy arranged and conducted on four Charles’ albums, 1956’s The Great Ray Charles, 1959’s The Genius of Ray Charles, 1960’s Genius + Soul = Jazz, and 1972’s A Message from the People. Charles was also featured on “We Are the World.”

I

In Cold Blood – Quincy received a nomination for Best Original Score for his music in this movie in 1968.  This was his second nomination for an Academy Award that year.

Random Flip Through the Quincy Jones “Quictionary” #1

22 Jul

quincy jonesOn quincyjones.com, Quincy has what he calls a Quictionary – described as “a glossary of people, places and things associated with Quincy.”

We all know that Q has had a busy career, but there are a variety of things that you may have never known about him, or projects he was related to until you saw it on the Quictionary.

Periodically I will pull a random entry from the Quictionary and post it. Here are a few randomly pulled entries:

O

Olympics – The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad appointed Quincy Jones as an Artistic Adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

R

Ray Charles – Quincy’s boyhood friend from Seattle.  The pair met when Quincy was 14 and Ray was 16.  Their relationship was featured in the 2004 Charles bio pic Ray, with Larenz Tate taking on the role as Quincy.  Quincy arranged and conducted on four Charles’ albums, 1956’s The Great Ray Charles, 1959’s The Genius of Ray Charles, 1960’s Genius + Soul = Jazz, and 1972’s A Message from the People. Charles was also featured on “We Are the World.”

I

In Cold Blood – Quincy received a nomination for Best Original Score for his music in this movie in 1968.  This was his second nomination for an Academy Award that year.

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (1-20)

21 Jul

I’ve decided to start a weekly list of jazz albums, twenty at a time, that should be heard before you die.

Every week I will offer up twenty more, in no particular order and with no ranking system or common theme (other than jazz of course).

Hopefully these lists will inspire you to seek some of these albums out that perhaps you haven’t heard before, or revisit an old favorite that the list might remind you of that is collecting dust on your shelf. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with week one, and in no particular order, albums one through twenty.

1. standard time vol. 1Standard Time Volume 1 – Wynton Marsalis (Columbia, 1986)

2. moaninMoanin’ – Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, 1958)

3. live in parisLive in Paris – Diana Krall (Verve, 2002)

4. heavy weatherHeavy Weather – Weather Report (Columbia/Legacy, 1977)

5. prime timePrime Time – Count Basie and His Orchestra (Pablo, 1977)

6. big swing faceBig Swing Face – Buddy Rich (Pacific Jazz, 1967)

7. the danish radio big band plays thad jonesThe Danish Radio Big Band Plays Thad Jones – Danish Radio Big Band (Marco Polo, 1997)

8. kind of blueKind of Blue – Miles Davis (Columbia/Legacy, 1959)

9. live in timeLive in Time – The Mingus Big Band (Dreyfus, 1996)

10. ready for freddieReady for Freddie – Freddie Hubbard (Blue Note, 1961)

11. i'm with the bandI’m with the Band – Tierney Sutton (Telarc, 2005)

12. re-imaginationRe-Imagination – Eldar (Sony, 2007)

13. light as a featherLight as a Feather – Chick Corea and Return to Forever (Polydor, 1972)

14. in pursuit of the 27th manIn Pursuit of the 27th Man – Horace Silver (Blue Note, 1970)

15. ella and louisElla and Louis – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (Verve, 1956)

16. to a finland stationTo a Finland Station – Dizzy Gillespie and Arturo Sandoval (Fantasy/OJC, 1982)

17. my favorite thingsMy Favorite Things – John Coltrane (Atlantic, 1960)

18. the new boogalooThe New Boogaloo – Marcus Printup (Nagel-Heyer, 2002)

19. don't try this at homeDon’t Try This at Home – Michael Brecker (Impulse!, 1988)

20. maiden voyageMaiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock (Blue Note, 1965)

The beginning of a very long road, but I hope you can share your thoughts, and maybe find yourself a new CD to pick up!

Review of the KPLU Jazz Cruise with The Thomas Marriott Quartet

14 Jul

Getting the bad news out of the way right off the bat, the weather was less than spectacular.

OK, now that we have that out of the way…

I’m not sure why, but I always wonder how musicians are going to handle settings that have the possibility of removing them from their comfort zone. Being on a boat, where people are talking, moving around, the waves causing the occasional rocking…will that throw the band off of their game? Will removing musicians from a club into an entirely different setting change the whole dynamic of the show?

Not in this case. The first of three KPLU Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruises featured Thomas Marriott and his quartet, and again, aside from overcast skies and the occasional rain, it was a success.

I know the quartet to be talented, but what I found more impressive was the ability the band had to continually own the attention of the audience in a setting like this. Generally speaking it can’t be all that easy. Any band has an easy possibility of simply becoming background music for an audience that could become far more interested in the wonderful brunch or the scenery on all sides of the boat. And there is a social element too, where a musician could become frustrated that conversation is constantly happening while they play.

But in this case, Marriott and his group never presented a song that allowed the audience to forget that they were the highlight of this three hour cruise around beautiful Elliott Bay. As each song passed, the band never lost the attention of the listeners, and they never became background music.

And why would they? The Thomas Marriott Quartet presented creative arrangements performed by a band made up of some of Seattle’s finest musicians. Marriott in particular seems to be getting better all the time. Switching between trumpet and flugelhorn, Thomas boasts a warm tone blended with excellent improvisation that never seemed to repeat itself.

As the emcee of the cruise (not to mention an employee of the organization presenting it), the clouds and rain immediately set in fear that people would have a bad time. It was more than wonderful to watch The Thomas Marriott Quartet completely draw all of the attention to their wonderful performance and allow the audience to forget about any dark skies.

Below are some photos from the cruise. If you missed it, be sure to catch the next Jazz Brunch Cruise with Pearl Django on July 26th. Details at www.kplu.org.

Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-018

Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-002

Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-020Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-023

Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-024Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-029Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-036Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-047Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-049Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-051Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-052Jazz-cruise-7-12-09-056

Jazzoids Go to Summer Camp

5 Jul

Ever since the series of American Pie movies came out, band camp has been stereotyped as a place for musically talented geeks to fiddle on their instruments, march around, and then return from band camp with stories that no one else cared to hear.

Band camp has changed…well, at least one “band camp”.

medeski martin and woodMedeski, Martin and Wood recently accepted applications to the Second Annual Camp MMW, running from August 4th through August 9th. This is not your everyday camp, as you can probably already guess.

For starters, you are at camp with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. I’m sure that being said, we have already taken any music camp up about twelve notches. The camp takes place at the Full Moon Resort, the foreground to 80,000 acres of New York State’s stunning Catskill Mountain wilderness.

The camp is all about musical exploration, growth, and interaction. This is not some camp where a well known band puts their name on it and shows up for an end of the week concert. On the contrary, MMW is intensely hands on. As the website for the camp boasts, I could be a trumpet player working on mastering rhythm with drummer Billy Martin, a guitarist studying melody with keyboardist John Medeski, or a pianist that wants to develop my groove with bassist Chris Wood.

Discovery is the theme of the camp, where all musicians are put in positions to break out of their comfort zones and bad habits, and explore a creative side of themselves that they have yet to meet.

There are some aspects of Camp MMW that resemble a traditional summer camp in some ways. All accommodations are shared, and sharing living quarters with someone you know is discouraged as it may hinder the creative process. There is a dining hall (complete with all-organic meals), swimming, bonfires, and even a dance party. And of course, there will be performances from MMW as well as jam sessions to participate in.

The application process, however, is slightly different than the average camp you might like to attend. The group selected to attend is not large, and in order to be considered applicants must submit two samples of music in Mp3 format only (one sample of applicants playing original music on their instrument with no accompaniment), alongside a non-refundable $50 application fee.

If you are one of the few who is accepted, the cost of the camp for the five days will run you $2000. Clearly going to camp with the big boys doesn’t come cheap.

Certainly there are musicians who I might favor more than Medeski, Martin, and Wood. But after thinking about it, there might not be a more interesting and fun trio to have head up a camp like this. For musicians looking to grow and become more creative, heading to camp with these three extremely creative musicians could be just the ticket. And feel free to come back and tell me all about it.

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