All Rise: Jason Moran’s New Fats Waller Tribute & Reinvention
Pianist-composer-conceptualist Jason Moran is consistently full of surprises as were his mentors Jaki Byard and Andrew Hill. His newest album “All Rise” is a tribute to and reinvention of the music of Fats Waller. It’s at once reverential and forward-thinking. It began as a theatre piece with dancers, but the audio-only format doesn’t detract from its impact.
Steve Coleman, composer, saxophonist and co-founder of M-Base and the not-for-profit carrying forward those ideas and sounds, has been named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow. In this clip, he explains his roots and what he’s been striving to do. Read what the MacArthur Foundation says about Steve Coleman here. Our congratulations.
Stereophile Assesses Mosaic’s New Louis Armstrong Box Set
Read this review of Mosaic’s box set Columbia and RCA Victor Live Recordings of Louis Armstrong and the All Stars by Robert Baird in Stereophile. His assessment of the set’s music is quite worthwhile, with excerpts from conversations with our Scott Wenzel about the production and some observations about sound quality, as you’d expect from this audiophile publication. Don’t have your set yet? Go here to listen to samples and order. And to order your vinyl box set of the Newport 1956 and 1958 sets from this collection, go here.
Lester Bowie, Malachi Favors, Don Moye: The Art Ensemble of Chicago Interviewed
An intriguing pair of WKCR interviews by Ted Panken with members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, both including an expansive and candid Lester Bowie. It’s startling to realize that by 1994, when the first of these interviews took place, with Bowie and Malachi Favors, the Art Ensemble was about to observe its 30th anniversary: by then, a lot had transpired in the Great Black Music that crossed their paths. Yet with all the vivid recollections of the great musicians that came into their respective fields of vision, they decisively articulate the urges to pursue something more – next steps musically and culturally — that compelled them to join forces during the 1960s.
1959 was a watershed year for influential albums at the Columbia label. In addition to landmark recordings by Miles Davis (Kind Of Blue), Dave Brubeck (Take Five) and Charles Mingus (Mingus Ah Um), Michael Babatunde Olatunji gave America its first real taste of African music with Drums Of Passion, which featured both African and American black artists in an authentic and influential album.
It’s great to rediscover this remarkable if modest documentary of Jackie McLean by Ken Levis. Levis tells this amazing musician’s story in Jackie’s own words. For those who never had the honor of knowing this man, Jackie’s commitment, intelligence, work ethic and humor shine though. This captures him during his transition from New York City to Hartford, Connecticut and from performing artist to educator.
Sam Rivers once told me that he tried to get Miles to play free when he was with his quintet in 1964. Chick Corea later told me that he and Dave Holland were trying to force Miles into free improvisation in 1969 and ’70. Sam found it ironic that Miles would later feel entitled to to do free improvisation once the beat under him was rooted in funk. This is Miles in 1973, when all that groundwork emerged in this music.
Bud Shank and Clare Fischer were among the second wave of jazz artists, after Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, to delve deeply into Brazilian music. On this clip from the local LA TV show Frankly Jazz, they perform a samba version of Erroll Garner’s Misty. Shank’s warm, wonderful alto saxophone sound is in the grand melodic tradition of Johnny Hodges.
Somewhat inexplicably, this Robert Krulwich feature appeared as a science feature on NPR, but as he points out, a genius “in the zone,” playing at a level of is or her own, is no mystery to basketball players or musical greats. Here, documentarian Bruno Monsaingeon captures Glenn Gould in the zone, working out the opening Sinfonia of J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2 for keyboard. Watching Gould here, I think of another brilliant and frequent inhabitant of the zone, Thelonious Monk — although Monk didn’t need assistance from Bach for his flights. Whether or not you agree, you don’t need to think of what you see here, or what you see in Monk’s video footage, as a science lesson. I, for one, prefer to simply marvel.
We’ve had no shortage of interesting Archie Shepp interviews in the Daily Jazz Gazette, but here’s another. This man has seen so much, and has so much to say about what’s compelling and important in music and society, and in this interview by Phil Freeman, he’s again in vintage form. His recollections of Coltrane and the Impulse Records years are priceless; even his story of what his mother told him is worth thinking about.
A later edition of Shorty Rogers’ Jazz Giants with Mel Lewis driving the band is featured on this 1962 episode of Frankly Jazz, the local Los Angeles program. I’m Gonna Go Fishing is an Ellington tune, with lyrics by Peggy Lee, that became very popular at the time, because of recorded versions by Gerry Mulligan, Rogers, Mel Torme and Annie Ross.
Marc Myers’ loving tribute to the underrated pianist Horace Parlan begins with his ubiquitous 1960 trio and runs beautifully through highlights of his career. There is a great 2000 video of Horace playing solo piano and talking about his life. The only detraction is a plug for the European “public domain” bootleg set of seven of his Blue Note albums from the early sixties, which cheats artists and labels and steals digital transfers and copyrighted art and photographs. Even in death, these musicians are getting ripped off.
The Royal Roost is the stuff of legends. The club, located on Broadway at 47th Street, was home to the giants of modern jazz. Miles Davis’s “Birth Of The Cool” band played its only gigs there. Charlie Parker was a frequent attraction, and thanks to many radio broadcasts, a wealth of his live music there has been made available through Savoy Records among other labels. This blog features 12 excellent examples from February and March 1949.