Tag Archives: john coltrane

“Now in Stores” XIV

6 Aug

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Bouncer by Cedar Walton (Half Note Records, July 19, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

NEA Jazz Master Cedar Walton has enjoyed an up-tempo career, which never seems to slow down. As a composer, Cedar is one of the finest in jazz whose works have been widely recorded with many now being recognized as jazz standards. For his latest HighNote recording, Walton returns to his favored quintet format with poll-winning trombonist Steve Turre adding his luxurious, velvet tone to Vincent Herring’s saxophone sound.

2. Dawn of Goodbye by Dominick Farinacci (Entertainment One Music, July 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Following the acclaim that greeted his first album for eOne Lovers, Tales & Dances the young trumpet genius Dominick Farinacci returns with a new set of tunes that reveals new dimensions and nuances in his emerging, individual blend of instrumental fire and ice. Doms first album was a lush, orchestirated affair but on Twilight Blue, he is fronting a smaller, more swinging and agile ensemble that navigates standards and originals with equal finesse.
The buzz on Farinacci has been building in core jazz circles for two years. His club appearances in Los Angeles and New York have been well-attended by tastemakers such as Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, and Wynton Marsalis, who has served as a mentor to Dominick since Doms days at Juilliard. And award-winning jazz blogger/journalist Doug Ramsey has been an influential champion at his website, Rifftides.
Now, the jazz world prepares for a new taste of the Farinacci magic: melodic, colorful, and always in the groove. This album may be called Twilight Blue, but its kaleidoscopic vibe shines through all the time.

3. The Unissued Seattle Broadcast by John Coltrane (Rare Live Recordings, June 14, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Import-only live archive release from the Jazz legend. On September 30, 1965, John Coltrane took his new group to The Penthouse, in Seattle, to make a professional recording during that engagement which would later be issued on Impulse as Live In Seattle. That same day, the group was broadcast over the radio and the music was taped by an amateur fan. All preserved music from this broadcast, which doesn’t duplicate a single note of the aforementioned album, is presented on this release. Among its highlights are a long version of an untitled original tune, and Trane’s final version of Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Lush Life’, which only appears in his discography on two other occasions.

4. The Gathering by Diane Schuur (Vanguard Records, June 7, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Two-time Grammy® Award winner and one of contemporary jazz’s leading vocalists, Diane Schuur, has signed with Vanguard Records. She will be releasing her label debut, The Gathering, on June 7th. With a distinguished career that spans nearly three decades, Schuur’s new album is unique in both material and style, and features special guests Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler, Larry Carlton and Kirk Whalum. The Gathering is a collection of 10 classic country songs, mostly written during the golden era of the 1960s, and is the first time Schuur has featured this genre of music. On selections like Willie Nelson’s “Healing Hands of Time,” Roger Miller’s “When Two Worlds Collide,” Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” and Tammy Wynette’s “Til I Can Make It on My Own,” Schuur’s great vocal versatility shines through.

5. Family Fugue by Bucky & John Pizzarelli (Abors Records, July 12, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Pure Pizzarelli magic at its finest! A special Benny Goodman salute by Bucky and John Pizzarelli, recorded live at Tanglewood with Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Larry Fuller on piano, and Tony Tedesco on drums.

 

 

“Now in Stores” XIII

“Now in Stores” XII

“Now in Stores” XI

“Now in Stores” X

“Now In Stores” IX

“Now In Stores” VIII

“Now In Stores” VII

Now in Stores (Late May, June, and July)

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

“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)

"Now in Stores" XIV

6 Aug

Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:

1. Bouncer by Cedar Walton (Half Note Records, July 19, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

NEA Jazz Master Cedar Walton has enjoyed an up-tempo career, which never seems to slow down. As a composer, Cedar is one of the finest in jazz whose works have been widely recorded with many now being recognized as jazz standards. For his latest HighNote recording, Walton returns to his favored quintet format with poll-winning trombonist Steve Turre adding his luxurious, velvet tone to Vincent Herring’s saxophone sound.

2. Dawn of Goodbye by Dominick Farinacci (Entertainment One Music, July 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Following the acclaim that greeted his first album for eOne Lovers, Tales & Dances the young trumpet genius Dominick Farinacci returns with a new set of tunes that reveals new dimensions and nuances in his emerging, individual blend of instrumental fire and ice. Doms first album was a lush, orchestirated affair but on Twilight Blue, he is fronting a smaller, more swinging and agile ensemble that navigates standards and originals with equal finesse.
The buzz on Farinacci has been building in core jazz circles for two years. His club appearances in Los Angeles and New York have been well-attended by tastemakers such as Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, and Wynton Marsalis, who has served as a mentor to Dominick since Doms days at Juilliard. And award-winning jazz blogger/journalist Doug Ramsey has been an influential champion at his website, Rifftides.
Now, the jazz world prepares for a new taste of the Farinacci magic: melodic, colorful, and always in the groove. This album may be called Twilight Blue, but its kaleidoscopic vibe shines through all the time.

3. The Unissued Seattle Broadcast by John Coltrane (Rare Live Recordings, June 14, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Import-only live archive release from the Jazz legend. On September 30, 1965, John Coltrane took his new group to The Penthouse, in Seattle, to make a professional recording during that engagement which would later be issued on Impulse as Live In Seattle. That same day, the group was broadcast over the radio and the music was taped by an amateur fan. All preserved music from this broadcast, which doesn’t duplicate a single note of the aforementioned album, is presented on this release. Among its highlights are a long version of an untitled original tune, and Trane’s final version of Billy Strayhorn’s ‘Lush Life’, which only appears in his discography on two other occasions.

4. The Gathering by Diane Schuur (Vanguard Records, June 7, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Two-time Grammy® Award winner and one of contemporary jazz’s leading vocalists, Diane Schuur, has signed with Vanguard Records. She will be releasing her label debut, The Gathering, on June 7th. With a distinguished career that spans nearly three decades, Schuur’s new album is unique in both material and style, and features special guests Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler, Larry Carlton and Kirk Whalum. The Gathering is a collection of 10 classic country songs, mostly written during the golden era of the 1960s, and is the first time Schuur has featured this genre of music. On selections like Willie Nelson’s “Healing Hands of Time,” Roger Miller’s “When Two Worlds Collide,” Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” and Tammy Wynette’s “Til I Can Make It on My Own,” Schuur’s great vocal versatility shines through.

5. Family Fugue by Bucky & John Pizzarelli (Abors Records, July 12, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Pure Pizzarelli magic at its finest! A special Benny Goodman salute by Bucky and John Pizzarelli, recorded live at Tanglewood with Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Larry Fuller on piano, and Tony Tedesco on drums.

 

 

“Now in Stores” XIII

“Now in Stores” XII

“Now in Stores” XI

“Now in Stores” X

“Now In Stores” IX

“Now In Stores” VIII

“Now In Stores” VII

Now in Stores (Late May, June, and July)

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

“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)

John Coltrane Home listed as endangered historic place

15 Jun

I originally read about this on jazzblog.ca. The U.S. National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization recently listed the home of John Coltrane as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The website also offers the opportunity to text $10 to help save the places on the list. From the NHTP:

One of the most acclaimed and widely imitated American jazz artists, saxophonist John Coltrane was a beloved performer, a devoted mentor and a revolutionary trendsetter. Despite his success, Coltrane lived in a modest 1952 ranch-style house in the Dix Hills section of Huntington, N.Y. Coltrane and his wife Alice purchased the one and a half story brick house at 247 Candlewood Path in 1964, and shortly after they moved in, their first son was born. Determined to spend time with his young family, Coltrane curtailed his tour schedule and worked at home, turning the basement into a recording and rehearsal studio and converting a guest room into a composition space where he would write his iconic masterpiece, ”A Love Supreme.” In 1967, just three years after moving into the home, Coltrane died at 40. Alice Coltrane, a much-admired jazz musician in her own right, continued to live in the home with her four children before moving to California in 1973.

In 2003, when the house was threatened with demolition and redevelopment, Dix Hills resident and jazz fan Steve Fulgoni rallied the community to save the Coltrane Home. In December of 2005, after nearly two years of negotiation, the town purchased the property, establishing the land around the house as parkland. The house was then transferred to the Friends of the John Coltrane Home, an organization formed by Steve Fulgoni and the Coltrane family. The group, which hopes to restore and interpret the site as an education center, has partially stabilized the vacant house, but does not have the resources necessary to perform much needed mold remediation, repair and conservation.

Click here to see a slideshow of photos of Coltrane’s home.

1959 – 50 Years Ago and Still the Best Year in Jazz

25 May

50 years ago certainly told some sad stories in jazz, including the death of Billie Holiday and Lester Young. But 1959 still appears to be the year that produced some of the most influential albums in jazz history. Here is a list of the best from 1959 (and thanks to Robin Lloyd for the list, and pointing out their similar anniversary).

1. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

kind of blueThe most legendary album in jazz history easily takes the top spot on this list. The original album still sells 5,000 copies a week. A two-CD “Legacy Edition” version of this album was released celebrating the 50th anniversary, including alternate takes, false starts, and a 17-minute live version of So What.


2. Time Out – Dave Brubeck

time outThe album that left the 4/4 time signature behind, was the first jazz album to have a single (Take Five) that sold one million copies. Sony will release its own 50th Anniversary edition of Time Out this Tuesday, featuring three discs. Disc one will feature a newly remastered edition of the original. Disc two is a 30-minute DVD interview with Dave Brubeck talking about the making of Time Out, with never before seen footage, and Disc three is a compilation of recently discovered tapes at the Newport Jazz Festival from 1961, 1963, and 1964.

3. Giant Steps – John Coltrane

giant stepsAnother great album where every song became a jazz standard. The album features two different trios, with bassist Paul Chambers being the only member to participate in both. Constant chord changes and wonderful improvisation made this a classic.

4. Mingus Ah Um – Charles Mingus

mingusAs mentioned earlier, the great Lester Young died in 1959, and Mingus Ah Um is highlighted with a wonderful tribute to Young called Good Bye Pork Pie Hat. Columbia has also released a two disc “Legacy Edition” of this album this year, featuring unedited versions of tunes that were shortened for the original version, as well as some great outtakes.

5. The Shape of Jazz to Come – Ornette Coleman

shape of jazzReleased exactly 50 years ago last Friday, The Shape of Jazz to Come basically said “forget about the rules, just let me play”. That might sound sloppy (the description, not the music), but Coleman might have just looked at things differently than those before him. He always heard a melody, and managed to create great jazz with freedom that didn’t sound chaotic.

John Coltrane and the Debate Over His Best

25 Apr

Every time I make the mistake of suggesting that one of John Coltrane’s albums is his best, no matter which album I choose, I am usually informed that I am crazy and I have no idea what I’m talking about. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve heard more debate over a particular artist or group and what their best album might be than Coltrane (with the exception perhaps being The Beatles).

If I suggest the best is Blue Train, I am told “no way, it is A Love Supreme“. If I spend the next two weeks listen to and analyzing A Love Supreme, and then concede that A Love Supreme is in fact the best, someone else tells me that the best is John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. You get the idea.

So which one is it? Rather than me offering my personal opinion on which album is Coltrane’s best, I will offer up a handful of albums by Coltrane, and ask you to decide with your responses and a poll. Which one do you think is Coltrane’s best?

Giant Steps

giant-steps1Highlighted by the title track and Naima, we get to hear Coltrane tear through this album with legendary improvisation. It is clear on this album the influence that working on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue had on him.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

hartmanOne of two albums that Coltrane released following heavy early ’60’s criticism that Coltrane had gone off the jazz deep end. If there were still doubters that felt Coltrane couldn’t play music slowly and sweetly, this release should have done away with those doubts. Hartman’s voice is a wonderful pairing with Coltrane’s sax.

A Love Supreme

love-supremeThis album remains one of the best selling jazz albums of all time. It also remains Coltrane’s definitive spiritual release. It boasts one of the greatest rhythm sections of all time (McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones) playing at their finest.

Ballads

balladsThis was Coltrane’s first response to critics who said he couldn’t play, or had abandonded the slow, sweet stuff. Not only did he prove that he could, but he rose to be considered one of the best player of ballads in jazz history.

Blue Train

blue-trainWhile I might have said that  I wasn’t going to offer my opinion, I must say that Blue Train over the course of time has regularly risen to the top of my list. Maybe not as flashy as some of his other albums, but this one really connects with me, and as far as I am concerned, is the best Blue Note release ever (read up on my Top 10 Blue Note recordings here).

My Favorite Things

favorite-thingsMy Favorite Things strikes me as Giant Steps on steroids…and with a soprano sax. The songs and solos are longer and more complex, offering a wonderful intensity.

Let us know which album you think is best with your comments, and take our poll below.

Jazz Modernized

8 Mar

When you have an art form that has existed for well over one hundred years, with roots to that art form going back even farther than that, you undoubtedly end up placing many different interpretations of that art form all under the same umbrella. There may be no better example of that than jazz. Because of the freedom and progression of jazz, a musician could conceivably call anything jazz if they find some ground to justify it on.

Jazz can be broken down by eras, styles, and about a dozen or so other fields. Debates and arguments happen over which era or style is the best, or what really made jazz what it is. And it seems that as time goes on, many artists try to offer their own performance of a traditional tune with as much respect to the original as possible, write new music, or completely transform old recordings into something completely different, with the vaguest hint of the original.

It is the latter that has my attention today. There are some musicians who are doing a wonderful job creating new modern works, or offering new looks at older compositions. Trumpeter Russell Gunn might be a perfect example of that. His original recordings, and his covers of older recordings both offer the same thing: personality. And not just personality in general, they offer his personality. You can hear one of his recordings, and whether its an original or not, it always has a little attitude and a little bite. It becomes very Russell Gunn.

Some vocalists have taken to putting lyrics to old instrumental tunes, and some have made it work. It took guts for Norah Jones to put lyrics to the Duke Ellington tune Melancholia, but she did, called it Don’t Miss You At All, and the end result was wonderful. On the flip side, you won’t see me banging down any doors to get to the Manhattan Transfer vocal interpretation of the Weather Report hit Birdland.

One of the things that stirred these thoughts more vividly recently was hearing more and more songs “remixed”, and hearing them everywhere. Not so much the radio, but in department stores and elevators. These “recordings” are classic songs chopped up by a DJ, who with the help of a couple turntables (used for scratching, not playing) and a $99 music software program turn it into something you could easily hear at a techno music club. The only resemblance the final product bears to the original is one or two lines that Sarah Vaughan or Nina Simone sang that didn’t hit the DJ’s cutting room floor. The rest is purely electronically produced, almost always with a trance-like robotic drum beat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent hours in dance clubs that featured music produced entirely with electronics. And as a modern day employee of a radio station, there is no more reel-to-reel editing, thank goodness, as everything is done quicker and easier on computers.

But when do we hit the point where we realize, in some ways, that the wonderful modern technology we have in front of us might be a tool that robs us of personality? Is it bad that someone tries to recreate Nobody’s Fault But Mine with one or two lines from the original, plus a recycled drum beat and a heavy bass line, all at five times the original tempo? The majority of the lyrics and anything resembling a solo are completely gone. Maybe it isn’t bad, but it can be unnerving at the very least when someone hears it and assumes it to be the original.

I’m not some old stick in the mud that has anything against modern technology. In fact, it is quite the opposite. But to me, there comes a point where you simply rob music of its originality and personality. And it was that personality that got us all interested in the first place. One might have seen Coltrane in concert and spoke of his 45 minute solo, or heard a recording by Ella Fitzgerald and mentioned how “you could even hear the piano bench Ellis Larkins creak as he rocked in the background, while she sang that heartbreaking tune”.

Give me personality any day, especially when it comes to music…especially when it comes to jazz. Give me something interesting and creative to listen to, and leave the computer and the canned drum beat at home.

Blue Note Records Turns 70…and My Top 10 Blue Note Jazz Recordings

2 Mar

blue-note-resizedThis year blue Note Records turned 70 years old. While many other record labels have come and gone over 70 years, Blue Note has not only managed to stay in business, but to continue to turn a profit and avoid having to cut down on their artist roster. In recent years, this is due in large part to their online download sales and some successful crossover artists including Norah Jones and Al Green.

Below is my list of my top 10 favorite Blue Note jazz recordings. As with all of my lists, this list simply offers my own personal favorites, and I truly encourage you to mention yours as well! Enjoy.

10. Birth of the Cool – Miles Davis – 1949

birth-of-cool The oldest recording on the list, but a great chance to hear Miles in the early stages of what would lead to super stardom.

9. Moanin’ – Art Blakey – 1958

moanin One of the finest examples of why Blakey was not only a great musician, but a great band leader and mentor to those who he recorded with.

8. Consummation – Thad Jones – 1970

consummation This album is not only one of the greatest big band albums ever, but features what might be the sweetest, most beautiful ballads ever with A Child is Born.

7. Song For My Father – Horace Silver – 1964

song-for-my-father I played in a small group once where our director made our pianist listen to this album over and over until our pianist “finally got it”. Silver was one of the best at playing with his group, rather than just playing.

6. Maiden Voyage – Herbie Hancock – 1965

maiden-voyage When you listen to the title track, it might seem simple in structure. But only Herbie and his hand-picked group could make it sound so perfect.

5. The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan – 1963

sidewinder There is not likely a musician who I wish could have had more time to produce more recordings than Lee Morgan. Losing him at age 33 was a tragedy, but what he did produce withstands the test of time.

4. In Pursuit of the 27th Man – Horace Silver – 1970

in-pursuit-of-27th1 An album that brought energy into the 70’s, as well as the young Brecker Brothers. Enjoyable the whole way through.

3. Empyrean Isles – Herbie Hancock – 1964

empyrian-isles This album hosts what is probably one of the most recognizable jazz tunes, even if you aren’t a jazz fan. Once again, Hancock gets together the perfect cast for these memorable recordings.

2. Ready For Freddie – Freddie Hubbard – 1961

ready-for-freddie I could listen to Freddie solo on Birdlike for hours. Whether playing fast or slow, high or low, Hubbard could always keep his solos imaginative and interesting.

1. Blue Train – John Coltrane – 1957

blue-train The first Coltrane album I ever owned, and years later it still gets heavy rotation on my personal playlist. One of the finest recordings in the history of jazz.

Building a Dream Big Band Part III: The Sax Section

26 Oct

As I mentioned in the previous “Building a Dream Big Band” posts, I am piecing together, section by section, my ideal big band. The band will be 21 pieces, with 5 trumpets, 4 trombones, 5 saxes, guitar, bass, drums, piano, a male and female singer, and a bandleader. So far, I’ve listed my trumpet section, while I employed former KPLU Grooveyard host Troy Oppie to construct the trombone section. Both blogs are complete with videos of each musician performing live. So far, here is how the band looks:

Trumpets:

Lead: Arturo Sandoval

2nd Chair: Wynton Marsalis

Third Chair: Freddie Hubbard

Fourth Chair: Miles Davis

Fifth Chair: Thad Jones

Trombones:

Lead: Bob Burgess

Second Chair: Frank Rosilino

Third Chair: Al Grey

Bass Trombone: Bill Hughes

Now its time to turn to the saxophones. You might find a few surprises in this section, and probably some horn players you would expect to see. I encourage your thoughts on how you might see your dream sax section differently, and let me know what you think of the video on each musician!

The Sax Section:

First Alto: Charlie Parker

Is an explanation necessary? There has yet to be an alto player in my mind that has even come close to touching Bird on any level. His solos and sound would be and are entertaining in any era. His death might be the greatest tragedy in jazz.

Watch Charlie Parker play Hot House:

Second Alto: Cannonball Adderley

I was this close to picking Coleman Hawkins for this chair, but Cannonball just edged him out. Besides being incredibly diverse, Cannonball’s specialty in this band is bringing what he might best be known for: a happy sound.

Watch Cannonball Adderley play Brother John:

First Tenor: Michael Brecker

How dare I seat Brecker above Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and Branford Marsalis? Because this is my band, and because I cannot remember a time where I heard Brecker solo and didn’t have my mind completely blown. You might find that James Brown, James Taylor, John Lennon, Aerosmith, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Elton John and about 200 other musicians from all genres who contracted Brecker will agree with me.

Watch Michael Brecker play Some Skunk Funk:

Second Tenor: John Coltrane

Brecker has Coltrane to thank for so much. Most importantly, his imagination, and his ability to make improvisation exciting. The two tenors in this band provide an ultimate wall of sound.

Watch John Coltrane play Impressions:

Baritone Sax: Cecil Payne

Maybe the least famous musician of the group, but that’s the life of a baritone sax player. Cecil was always entertaining, and maybe the best baritone player of the late 40’s to the early 60’s.

Watch Cecil Payne play at Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday:

Again, let me know what you think of the band so far. All of the horns are in place, with the rhythm section, singers, and bandleader to go. The rhythm section is next!

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