Archive | January, 2011

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (751-760)

29 Jan

Here is another 10 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.

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 751 through 760.

751. Soul Sauce – Cal Tjader (PolyGram, 1964) CLICK HERE TO BUY

752. Afro-Cuban – Kenny Dorham (Blue Note, 1955) CLICK HERE TO BUY

753. Something Different – Dexter Gordon (SteepleChase, 1975) CLICK HERE TO BUY

754. Alive! – Coleman Hawkins (Verve, 1962) CLICK HERE TO BUY

755. Concierto – Jim Hall (Columbia/Legacy, 1975) CLICK HERE TO BUY

756. Written in the Stars – Bill Charlap (Blue Note, 2000) CLICK HERE TO BUY

757. Songbook – Gerry Mulligan (Blue Note, 1957) CLICK HERE TO BUY

758. City Gates – George Adams (King, 1983) CLICK HERE TO BUY

759. Far Cry – Eric Dolphy (Prestige Records, 1960) CLICK HERE TO BUY

760. Life Between the Exit Signs – Keith Jarrett (Rhino, 1967) CLICK HERE TO BUY

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die – The First 750

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (741-750)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (731-740)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (721-730)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (711-720)

1,000 Jazz Albums You Should Hear Before You Die (701-710)

Jacky Terrasson Trio's masterful live performance at KPLU

27 Jan

In a stunning three-song set on Jan. 18, Jacky Terrasson left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

This studio session marks the first visit from pianist, Jacky Terrasson, to the KPLU/Jazz24 studios.  We hope it’s the first of many.

In a stunning three-song set, Jacky left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

AUDIO

With bassist Ben Williams (winner of the annual Thelonious Monk International Competition in 2009) and mind-reading drummer, Jamire Willams, Terrasson took interviewer, Abe Beeson, and a small studio audience on a musical journey that was fueled by amazing improvisational invention, beautiful melodies and uncanny ensemble playing.

The trio began with a driving medley of Body & Soul, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Michael Jackson’s Beat It, and then switched gears for Terrasson’s lovely ballad, My Church (which seemed to contain light echoes of other songs, such as Moon River and Many Rivers To Cross).  They ended the set with Jacky’s ethereal arrangement of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile.

If jazz has the power to paint pictures in the mind, the Jacky Terrasson Trio seems intent on painting masterpieces.

Jacky Terrasson Trio’s masterful live performance at KPLU

27 Jan

In a stunning three-song set on Jan. 18, Jacky Terrasson left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

This studio session marks the first visit from pianist, Jacky Terrasson, to the KPLU/Jazz24 studios.  We hope it’s the first of many.

In a stunning three-song set, Jacky left no doubt that his group is one of the most exciting piano trios in jazz today.

AUDIO

With bassist Ben Williams (winner of the annual Thelonious Monk International Competition in 2009) and mind-reading drummer, Jamire Willams, Terrasson took interviewer, Abe Beeson, and a small studio audience on a musical journey that was fueled by amazing improvisational invention, beautiful melodies and uncanny ensemble playing.

The trio began with a driving medley of Body & Soul, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Michael Jackson’s Beat It, and then switched gears for Terrasson’s lovely ballad, My Church (which seemed to contain light echoes of other songs, such as Moon River and Many Rivers To Cross).  They ended the set with Jacky’s ethereal arrangement of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile.

If jazz has the power to paint pictures in the mind, the Jacky Terrasson Trio seems intent on painting masterpieces.

Five songs that give the blues a modern-day makeover

25 Jan

Time to feature another great conversation between KPLU’s Morning Edition Host Kirsten Kendrick and producer Nick Morrison. Today they take a look at blues musicians putting a modern day twist to their recordings.

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Mississippi blues master R.L. Burnside matches up with rapper Lyrics Born for a new take on the genre, a melding of modern and classic styles. zzazazz / Flickr

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I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of the blues before I started working here at KPLU. I didn’t know much about the music. But that changed when I started listening to the blues songs we play. I discovered I really like the blues and the bare-bones, gritty nature of it. So, why mess that up with a fancy remix, right? Wrong.

There is a new trend of techno-blues out there and I have to say I am fascinated by it. I hope you will be too.

I learned about blues musicians delving into the world of remixing and sampling from KPLU’s Nick Morrison. He and I do occasional interviews about music and the blues is Nick’s favorite kind of music. He’s enjoyed seeing it evolve from acoustic blues, to electric blues, to rock blues.

He was particularly interested in finding out how the newest studio technology has impacted the blues. It’s the topic of the latest monthly list Nick wrote for NPR’s music website.

1. Little Axe – Ride On – The Wolf That House Built

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Little Axe is the brainchild of singer-guitarist Skip MacDonald and producer Adrian Sherwood. MacDonald was part of the original studio rhythm section for Sugarhill Records, and can be heard on early rap recordings by the likes of Grandmaster Flash and The Sugarhill Gang. Little Axe created a template for reimagining and remixing the blues. “Ride On” features samples of Leadbelly’s “Ride On” from his Library of Congress recordings and also weaves in some Howlin’ Wolf.

2. R.L. Burnside (featuring Lyrics Born) – Someday Baby – A Bothered Mind

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“Someday Baby” has been recorded several times since it was first laid down by Sleepy John Estes in 1935. In this version, Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside enlists the services of rapper Lyrics Born to turn this classic blues into an exercise in call-and-response between yesterday and today.

3. Tangle Eye – Work Song – Alan Lomax’s Southern Journey Remixed

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Scott Billington and Steve Reynolds are musicians and producers who collaborate as Tangle Eye. They had the delightful idea of adding instrumentation, rhythm tracks and samples to some of the a cappella field recordings made by folklorist Alan Lomax in the 1940s and ‘50s. “Work Song” is their remix of a song called “Rosie” (hear the song) sung by a prison work gang led by a man named C.B. “88” Cook.

4. Slo Leak – Drunk – When the Clock Strikes 12

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Slo Leak is guitarist, producer and vocalist Danny Kortchmar and guitarist-vocalist Charlie Karp. Kortchmar spent years in the L.A. rock scene, where he worked with artists such as Jackson Browne and Carole King, but he evidently always had one foot in the blues. Since the late 1990s, Slo Leak has been successfully applying modern studio techniques to blues and R&B. “Drunk” was originally performed by Joe Liggins and The Honeydrippers, a popular jump-blues band in the 1940s and ‘50s. Kortchmar and Karp sample some of that original recording and drag a few other surprises into the performance.

5. Euphoria – Back Against the Wall – Precious Time

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This takes elements of the blues all the way into the world of electronica, as performed by the group Euphoria. The sound of Ken Ramm’s slide guitar and Howard Levy’s harmonica evolved out of a long blues tradition. Grafting those sounds onto a dance beat is an experiment, just as it was an experiment the first time a blues guitarist slid the neck of a broken bottle up the fretboard of an acoustic guitar, just to see what it would sound like.

In-Studio with Martin Taylor and Pearl Django

24 Jan

Martin Taylor is widely considered to be one of today’s finest solo jazz guitarists. While still in his early 20’s, he was introduced to the world’s jazz audience as the guitarist with Stephane Grappelli, a gypsy-jazz violinist and co-founder (along with Django Reinhardt) of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, but Martin’s familiarity with gypsy music goes all the way back to his childhood in Scotland.

As you’ll hear in this interview, Taylor’s father was descended from Romany (gypsy) stock so Martin grew up surrounded by gypsy music and traditions. On a recent visit to Seattle, Martin teamed up with Pearl Django, the Northwest’s premier gypsy jazz quintet, for a few nightclub gigs and a visit to the KPLU/Jazz 24 studios. Taylor was obviously enjoying taking a trip back to his gypsy-jazz roots and the members of Pearl Django were thrilled to accompany him.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE PERFORMANCE

Happy Thursday from Robin Lloyd

20 Jan

Here are some fun videos from KPLU’s Midday Jazz Host Robin Lloyd. Have a great Thursday, and be sure to tune in to and hear Robin today from noon-3 PST!

Otis Redding, Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott, and Steve Turre playing shells with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra

Four Years Since Brecker

13 Jan

Four years ago today we lost a truly remarkable musician and a very special man. 15-time Grammy winner Michael Brecker passed away January 13, 2007 after a difficult myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a cancer of the blood marrow. Brecker was one of the most talented tenor saxophonists of the last 30 years, and the most influential since Wayne Shorter.

Here are a few videos of  Michael:

A Look at the End of Smooth Jazz Radio in Seattle

8 Jan

As many people now know, smooth jazz radio station 98.9 KWJZ recently changed formats, abandoning their smooth ways for what is now called Click 98.9, featuring what is being referred to as “modern music.”

For a variety of reasons, this might not be all that surprising. Smooth jazz radio stations around the country have been disappearing, and KWJZ was one of the few remaining. 98.9 was running on a skeleton staff, ratings were down, and many believed that a programming change might be right around the corner.

Additionally, two other factors were likely at play. The age of the average listener to KWJZ was getting older, which has a tendency to frighten away those who are purchasing advertising spots. While it might seem like Seattle has plenty of “modern music” stations already, those stations carry a younger demographic that businesses are much more comfortable spending advertising dollars on. No advertising dollars, no commercial radio station.

Also, KWJZ was a station owned by Sandusky, which also owns Warm 106.9 and Movin’ 92.5 in the Seattle area. Who did KWJZ compete with the most for listeners? Warm 106.9 and Movin’ 92.5. Having two stations fighting over the same listeners is a challenge, but having three stations fighting for the same listeners makes virtually no sense (which I’m sure is the conclusion Sandusky also came to).

What does surprise me however is the reaction that came from this change. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that virtually every radio station has loyal listeners, but listener loyalty is not exactly what I am referring to.

Let us start with the place I first heard about the programming change: The Big Blog from seattlepi.com, which highlights Seattle news, arts, and culture.

The title of the blog (from author Amy Rolph) starts with “No more jazz for Seattle?”. The opening paragraph described KWJZ as “the region’s long standing jazz station.”

With all due respect to KWJZ and the blog author, those two lines, to be polite, are misleading to say the least. Without letting my pride as a KPLU jazz host get in the way too much, I will remind everyone that KPLU broadcasts 100 hours of jazz every week, has been doing so for 25 years (versus the 19 that KWJZ was broadcasting smooth jazz), and can be heard clearly on a variety of signals as far north as Canada. And that is not to suggest that KPLU is the only station in the region that offers jazz.

But what is even more surprising to me is the reader responses, not only to the blog post but to other articles written about the change as well.

Generally speaking, there seems to be two primary sides in the responses. One side suggests that they will miss this programming and the station that they loved, and that Seattle is now void of a station that can offer this specific type of music and programming. Programming that many suggest as their source for jazz.

On the other side, you find many who might define themselves as “jazz purists.” More or less, these folks are happy to see the station go. Referring to smooth jazz as “Elevator” or “Dentist Office” music, many of these people make mention of being offended that anyone could even qualify this music as a sub-genre of jazz at all.

To be honest, after reading the articles and the reader responses, I took some time to think about how to best address this topic. For me, someone who would do everything I could to avoid listening to anything even resembling smooth jazz (or what I thought smooth jazz was), I would close my eyes, say the words “smooth jazz” in my head, and a big picture of Kenny G would appear (with his hair taking up most of the vision). Artists like Kenny G were the bread and butter of smooth jazz radio stations and record albums for many years. With that in mind, I tend to side with those who define this music as “instrumental pop” versus some form of jazz.

But then, a few weeks before Christmas, I was walking through the Tacoma Mall and saw a big advertisement banner for KWJZ. On it there were photos suggesting their primary artists: Norah Jones, Michael Buble, and John Legend.

No synthesizers. No soprano saxes. All vocalists. Three “crossover” artists. Legend is an R & B star. Buble is doing his best to be the Frank Sinatra of today. And Norah Jones, who seemingly can do whatever she wants, has still managed to avoid involving any sounds of “smooth jazz” in the George Winston sense of the phrase.

Vocalists were incorporated into smooth jazz programming in the 90’s as part of a reinvention of their programming, and it seemed to work until the early 2000’s. At that point it appears the smooth jazz radio stations needed another reinvention in order to keep listeners around and to attract new listeners, but it doesn’t appear that reinvention happened.

In talking to several colleagues who have been in the industry far longer than I have, there are a couple common thoughts that I can pretty much qualify as true.

First, jazz is very much alive and well in Seattle. In addition to KPLU and other stations that continue to successfully program jazz, top jazz artists continue to make Seattle a destination point while on tour at a variety of Seattle jazz clubs and other venues.

Second, no matter what you define “smooth jazz” as, or if it is even jazz at all, is far less important than whether or not the music is actually enjoyable. That is what music is supposed to be – enjoyable. I find it just as wrong to criticize Spyro Gyra or The Yellowjackets for defining themselves as “jazz” as I do when someone tells me that I have to enjoy some obscure live 30-minute Coltrane solo because it is “important” rather than “enjoyable.”

Will I ever own a Kenny G album? No. Do I think that it is more appropriate to define what is called “smooth jazz” as instrumental pop rather than a form of jazz? Yes. But if YOU enjoy the stuff, then good for you. I’m glad that you are listening to music that you personally find enjoyable, versus feeling like you are supposed to for one reason or another.

And for everyone out there that feels like they have lost jazz because KWJZ went away, perhaps you could give KPLU a listen. Jazz is indeed still alive in Seattle.

One 2011 Work Week in the Books – From Robin Lloyd

8 Jan

KPLU Midday Jazz host Robin Lloyd wanted to share this with you:

In celebration of making it through the first work week of 2011, here are some video tributes from Blue Plate Special and Mid Day Jazz:

And just for fun…

Abe Beeson's Top 100 Jazz Songs

4 Jan

As you know, KPLU is currently asking our listeners to help us rank the Top 100 Jazz Songs of all time. You can vote for your Top 5 at this very website!

http://www.kplunews.org/post/jazz-100-one-hundred-quintessential-jazz-songs

In case you’re struggling to remember your favorites, I’ve put together a list of my Top 100, in a very loose order (Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” is my #1!) to remind you of great songs that I hope will find their way onto a few ballots.

So peruse, discuss, frown, laugh, feel free to comment… and vote today!

1) “’Round Midnight” THELONIOUS MONK

“Take Five” DAVE BRUBECK

“All Blues” MILES DAVIS

“St. Thomas” SONNY ROLLINS

“My Funny Valentine” CHET BAKER

“Take the ‘A’ Train” DUKE ELLINGTON

“God Bless the Child” BILLIE HOLIDAY

“Lush Life” JOHNNY HARTMAN/JOHN COLTRANE

“Summertime” MILES DAVIS

10) “Stolen Moments” OLIVER NELSON

“Chitlins Con Carne” KENNY BURRELL

“Sugar” STANLEY TURRENTINE

“Birdland” WEATHER REPORT

“Spain” CHICK COREA/RETURN TO FOREVER

“Parker’s Mood” CHARLIE PARKER

“Love Supreme Pt 1: Acknowledgement” JOHN COLTRANE

“Waltz for Debby” BILL EVANS

“Chealsea Bridge” BEN WEBSTER

“April in Paris” COUNT BASIE

20) “Moanin’” ART BLAKEY/JAZZ MESSENGERS

“Work Song” NAT ADDERLEY

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” CANNONBALL ADDERLEY

“Oye Como Va” TITO PUENTE

“Four on Six” WES MONTGOMERY

“Midnight Special” JIMMY SMITH

“Girl from Ipanema” STAN GETZ/JOAO & ASTRUD GILBERTO

“A Child is Born” THAD JONES/MEL LEWIS ORCHESTRA

“St. Louis Blues” ART TATUM

“Central Park West” JOHN COLTRANE

30) “I’m in the Mood for Love” JAMES MOODY

“Jump, Jive & Wail” LOUIS PRIMA

“Sing, Sing, Sing” BENNY GOODMAN

“Song for My Father” HORACE SILVER

“Let’s Get Lost” CHET BAKER

“My Baby Just Cares for Me” NINA SIMONE

“Body and Soul” SARAH VAUGHAN

“Sweet Georgia Brown” ANITA O’DAY

“Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” E. FITZGERALD/L. ARMSTRONG

“The ‘In’ Crowd” RAMSEY LEWIS

40) “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” VINCE GUARALDI

“Hit the Road Jack” RAY CHARLES

“Seven Steps to Heaven” MILES DAVIS

“The Sidewinder” LEE MORGAN

“Infant Eyes” WAYNE SHORTER

“Watermelon Man” HERBIE HANCOCK

“Salt Peanuts” DIZZY GILLESPIE

“Flying Home” LIONEL HAMPTON/BENNY GOODMAN

“Bouncing with Bud” BUD POWELL

“Your Mind Is On Vacation” MOSE ALLISON

50) “Canadian Sunset” GENE AMMONS

“It Don’t Mean a Thing…” D.ELLINGTON/L.ARMSTRONG

“Lester Leaps In” COUNT BASIE/LESTER YOUNG

“Everyday I Have the Blues” JOE WILLIAMS/COUNT BASIE

“Mood Indigo” DUKE ELLINGTON

“Straight, No Chaser” THELONIOUS MONK

“Fever” PEGGY LEE

“Joy Spring” CLIFFORD BROWN/MAX ROACH

“Minnie the Moocher” CAB CALLOWAY

“Georgia on My Mind” RAY CHARLES

60) “Haitian Fight Song” CHARLES MINGUS

“Misty” ERROLL GARNER

“Route 66” NAT ‘KING’ COLE

“My Favorite Things” JOHN COLTRANE

“Someday My Prince Will Come” MILES DAVIS

“Cold Duck Time” LES McCANN/EDDIE HARRIS

“Very Early” BILL EVANS

“Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” ELLA FITZGERALD

“Night Train” JIMMY FORREST

“Senor Blues” HORACE SILVER

70) “The Peacocks” STAN GETZ/JIMMY ROWLES

“A Night in Tunisia” DIZZY GILLESPIE

“Twisted” JONI MITCHELL

“Cantaloupe Island” HERBIE HANCOCK

“Listen Here” EDDIE HARRIS

“Misterioso” THELONIOUS MONK

“Tuxedo Junction” ERSKINE HAWKINS ORCHESTRA

“You Go To My Head” BILLIE HOLIDAY

“Poinciana” AHMAD JAMAL

“Killer Joe” THE JAZZTET

80) “Blues in the Night” QUINCY JONES

“Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” LOUIS JORDAN

“Doodlin’” HORACE SILVER

“What’s Your Story, Morning Glory?” MARY LOU WILLIAMS

“Java Jive” MANHATTAN TRANSFER

“Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” CHARLES MINGUS

“Django” MODERN JAZZ QUARTET

“Bernie’s Tune” GERRY MULLIGAN/CHET BAKER

“Bloomdido” CHARLIE PARKER

“The Summer Knows” PHIL WOODS

90) “I Could Have Danced All Night” OSCAR PETERSON

“Bohemia After Dark” OSCAR PETTIFORD

“I’ll See You in My Dreams” DJANGO REINHARDT

“Afro Blue” MONGO SANTAMARIA

“I Loves You Porgy” NINA SIMONE

“One for My Baby” FRANK SINATRA

“Tea for Two” ART TATUM

“Soul Bird (Tin Tin Deo)” CAL TJADER

“Lover Man” SARAH VAUGHAN

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” FATS WALLER

100) “This Can’t Be Love” DINAH WASHINGTON

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