Archive | May, 2010

Journalism, Privacy, and the Memory of Hank Jones

30 May

A journalist visits the room of recently deceased jazz legend Hank Jones.

Did he cross the line by writing about it?

What do you think?

Red Norvo Goes Crazy – With Benny Goodman

26 May

You’ve got to watch this one. I’ve heard this was actually a regular bit that Red and Benny Goodman did, but I still thought it was great. Thanks to Troy Oppie for passing this along.

The Song Is Called Gotta Be this Or That
Featuring Benny Goodman On Clarinet And Vocal, Hank Jones On Piano, Red Norvo On Vibraphone, Bucky Pizzareilli On Guitar, Slam Stewart On Bass, Grady Tate On Drums, Zoot Sims and Al Klink On Saxophones, Bobby Hackett, Bernie Previn On Trumpets.

Big Mama and Buddy

24 May

Blues fans—check this one out. Big Mama Thornton singing Hound Dog, with Buddy Guy.

To the Vocalists

24 May

It seems that recently I have been presented with an onslaught of male jazz singers that seem to be…well…confused and moody.

Everyone who likes vocal music likes it for their own particular reasons. Obviously having a good voice and the ability to sing in tune is a nice start. And be it a male or female singer, I enjoy an uptempo vocal tune that shows a little fun or a little attitude, and a ballad that makes its best attempt to tug at the heartstrings.

As far as the female singers go – keep up the good work. I’m happy hearing Dianne Reeves and Roberta Gambarini swing, Maria Muldaur and Ernestine Anderson lay down the law and tell it like it is, and hear Diana Krall and Tierney Sutton sing great versions of ballads like A Case of You and Two For the Road.

I feel like when I am listening to them, their personalities and talents are reflected in the music they are choosing to sing.

But lately, I feel like the guys are letting me down a bit. There are exceptions, of course. Ever since his 2004 recording Twentysomething, I’ve been impressed with what British vocalist Jamie Cullum has been doing.  Cullum, maybe more than anyone that could qualify as a jazz vocalist, reflects his personality in his music. You listen to one Jamie Cullum album, and you feel like you know what you are in for if you were to head out for a night on the town with him. His voice and attitude match his lyrics and music, and it makes sense.

He has attitude. But this attitude doesn’t confuse you, the way I am confused by what other male vocalists of today are trying to convey. It is as if they are so confused about how to express their personality through their voice, that it has just got them feeling mopey, lethargic, and overly contemplative, and that’s how it sounds. Some great male vocalists sang sad songs (Johnny Hartman, for example), but these sad songs had purpose. A girl left them. The dog ran away. We can all relate to that kind of sadness and the voice that is expressing it to us.

But no song is going to tug at your heartstrings, or make you smile or dance, if it doesn’t make sense to you. A song will never matter, no matter how pretty the strings or horns sound in the background, if there is no way for the listener to relate, or in many cases, even understand what the singer is trying to say. And if the singer cannot communicate, be it via the lyrics, emotion, or both, it just doesn’t work.

Just for Fun – Dizzy with The Electric Mayhem

23 May

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (621-640)

22 May

Here is another 20 to add to the list.

Remember that there is no ranking system here, and if you don’t see your favorite jazz album yet, it 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. And as always, we want your thoughts on any or all of these albums. Either way, let’s get started with this week, and in no particular order, albums 621 through 640.

621. Tour de Force – Earl Hines (1201 Music, 1972)

622. Mule – Major Holley (Black & Blue, 1977)

623. 1975: The Duets – Dave Brubeck (Verve, 1975)

624. Maniac’s Ball (compilation) – The Casa Loma Orchestra (Hep, 1931-1937 recording dates, 1996 compilation date)

625. Prayer Meetin’ – Jimmy Smith (Blue Note, 1963)

626. Black Byrd – Donald Byrd (Blue Note, 1973)

627. You Had Better Listen – The Jimmy Owens/Kenny Barron Quintet (Collectibles Records, 1968)

628. Ascension – John Coltrane (Impulse!, 1965)

629. Body and Soul – Ray Nance (Mighty Quinn, 1969)

630. In a Mellow Tone – Coleman Hawkins (Prestige/OJC, 1960)

631. Chic Boom: Live at the Jazz Showcase – Cecil Payne (Delmark, 2001)

632. West Side Story – Stan Kenton (Blue Note, 1961)

633. Plays Charles Mingus – Dannie Richmond (Timeless, 1980)

634. Crazy and Mixed Up – Sarah Vaughan (JVC XRCD, 1982)

635. Jelly Roll (compilation) – Jelly Roll Morton (Challenge Records, 1923-1926 recording dates)

636. Yesterday You Said Tomorrow – Christian Scott (Concord Records, 2010)

637. Outback – Joe Farrell (King Japan, 1971)

638. Jazz in Paris: Exodus – Slide Hampton (Verve, 1962)

639. Asia Minor – Dizzy Reece (New Jazz/OJC, 1962)

640. The Jaki Byard Experience – Jaki Byard (Prestige/OJC, 1968)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – (601-620)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 500

“Now in Stores” – 5/16/2010 to 5/22/2010

21 May

Each Friday, I will post five new jazz albums that were released over the past week that are worth giving a listen to.

Here are this weeks five, released between May 16th and May 22nd, 2010.

1. Swingin’ with Sinatra by Beegie Adair (Green Hill, 5/18/2010)

A Tribute to the music of Frank Sinatra.

2. Precipice by Denny Zeitlin (Sunny Side Records, 5/18/2010)

Denny Zeitlin on this album:While I love playing with other musicians, there is something wonderfully limitless and challenging about being onstage or in the studio by myself. In many ways, this is my most intensely personal musical statement, and goes back to my earliest musical roots. I hope to be open and fully present, drawing on the worlds of jazz, classical, funk, and avant garde, and allowing the music to go where it wants. When the audience shares this openness, we enter a merger state where magic can really happen, and I believe the concert on this CD provides a special example.

3. Royal Toast by The Claudia Quintet (Cuneiform, 5/18/2010)

“Royal Toast” is the fifth release by this sensational ‘jazz and beyond’ ensemble, led by twice Grammy-nominated drummer/composer John Hollenbeck and featuring Drew Gress (bass), Matt Moran (vibes), Ted Reichman (accordion), Gary Versace (keyboards) and Chris Speed (tenor sax, clarinet). The Claudia Quintet’s visibility could not be greater: The band perform at high profile venues, place very high on CMJ’s listings of most played jazz albums with each release and gather huge press interest. This is the band’s first album in four years and will be eagerly received by their many fans.

4. Reverse Thread by Regina Carter (E1 Music, 5/18/2010)

One of the most beloved artists of her generation, preeminent violinist Regina Carter has achieved another landmark in a creative history that has yielded both artistic and commercial triumphs. Her newest release, Reverse Thread, starts with exquisite traditional African music and infuses it with contemporary jazz and Afropop energy. The results are uplifting, stirring, and joyful. Regina’s Reverse Thread Band adds virtuoso Yacouba Sissoko on kora – the West African harp traditionally played by village storytellers–to her longstanding rhythm section. Sissoko’s beautiful instrumental voicings were brought into the mix to help recreate the spirit of passing stories from generation to generation. The collaboration–unlike anything previously heard–is a haunting and beautiful compliment to Regina’s sumptuously seductive violin. Through her best-selling, Grammy-nominated albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations, Regina has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. She has repeatedly toured throughout the world, and was the first jazz artist and African American to play Niccolo Paganini’s famed Guarneri “Cannon” violin. She has been featured with several symphony orchestras and performed with pop artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, and Mary J. Blige. With Reverse Thread, Regina takes another giant step forward. In an era of cookie cutter jazz albums that do little to excite the imagination of music lovers, it’s a brilliant, colorful, and lively exploration whose seductive charms are infallible.

5. Monster Returns! by Quartet of Happiness (Creative Nation Music, 5/10/2010)

The Monster Returns is the latest recording from the Boston-based theatrical jazz group, Quartet of Happiness. Known for its unusual combination of performance art, irreverent humor, story telling and educational elements, this innovative ensemble engages audiences of all ages with its ability to accentuate the fun aspects of jazz without sacrificing any of its innate creativity. The Monster Returns features musical game pieces, satirical looks at music history and TV talent shows, a sing-along about New Jersey and various other comic vignettes, all infused with modern jazz and a high level of musicality.

“Now in Stores” – 5/2/2010 to 5/8/2010

Now in Stores” – 4/25/2010 to 5/1/2010

“Now in Stores” – 4/18/2010 t0 4/24/2010

“Now In Stores” – 5 Noteworthy Jazz Albums Released this Week (4/11/2010-4/17/10)

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