This a completely wild series, worthy in research and cultural interest to Ken Burns’s work. This series of brief webcasts deals with a large chunk of unique jazz history that occurred right in New York’s backyard, namely Montreal, a bi-lingual city with varied cultures, a great culinary tradition and the distinct advantage to not being subject to the lunacy of prohibition in the ‘20s and early ‘30s.
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Moanin’ in Brussels, 1958
This clip, which I believe is from a Brussels concert issued on DVD by Jazz Icons, is the November-December 1958 tour by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers. The band was new and had just finished recording the Blue Note album that introduced Bobby Timmons’ Moanin’ and several classic Benny Golson compositions. Golson only stayed with the band for three months and was replaced by Hank Mobley and finally Wayne Shorter. But here is an early live version of Moanin’ before it was a hit.
Michael Agovino catches up with the various activities coming up during the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records in 2014. Among the highlights will be Wayne Shorter’s second album for the new Blue Note, which will feature three extended pieces performed by his quartet and chanber orchestra.
If Woody Shaw was underrecorded during his crucial years as a bandleader, the trove of live tapes that have surfaced have filled some of that vacuum. Check out this live version of On Green Dolphin Street and listen to how Victor Lewis’s drums are so powerful and driving, but also utterly melodic and graceful. When I was producing Woody’s group, I used to sit next to Victor’s drums and hear the band through his vantage point. Some of the most memorable times of my life in terms of live music.
Fred Ho, Musical Master of Afro-Asian Futurism, Faces his Next Big Fight
Fred Ho — baritone saxophonist, composer, vociferous battler against oppression, both from society and within — has been a bold, provocative voice from the ramparts for a generation of Asian-American progressives seeking to take down cultural, political and economic barriers — to “turn pain into power.” Now, as he tells us in this NPR profile, Fred Ho faces one of his toughest battles.
At some point, anybody whose ever been part of a big band whether it be a high school dance band or a professional unit, has played a chart by Sammy Nestico. He’s one of the great arrangers of the post-Swing Era and his charts for Count Basie during the 1960s are classics.
I got an interesting piece from Bob Belden of his band Animation with Tim Hagan, which explores a lot of late ’60s-early ’70s fusion repertoire like this version of “Bitches Brew”. The rest of the band is Scott Kinsey-synthesizer, Matt Garrison-electric bass, Guy Licata-drums, DJ Logic-turntables. This 2006 Merkin Hall concert was recorded multi-track by the BBC and this You Tube posting comes from Belden’s video with a unique mix that is better explained by Bob: “The multi-track was remixed for a revolutionary headphone mixing concept called 3d60 developed by the late Mike Brady of London. I took the single camera video from the Merkin Hall concert and matched the audio and the result is ‘surround’ in the ambient sense. The technical term is called Binaural Mixing. Its a simple stereo track that has been ‘tricked’ into thinking it has more than a left/ right perspective.
The Blue Note Covers of Reid Miles: His Eye for Space
Blue Note moved to 47 West 63rd Street, above the Empire Hotel, in July 1957 and stayed there until 1961, when it moved two blocks downtown to the same block that housed Atlantic and Roulette. This blog post pays tribute to that address, with some of the great Reid Miles covers that he created for the label with a bold and outrageous use of space (not something you can really do with the scaled-down CD covers). Miles was a design genius in so many ways and his use of space (like any great jazz soloist) was a key attribute.
We have all had odd jobs at one time or another, and writer Chris Albertson is no exception. Here in his excellent Stomp-Off blog post, Chris recalls quite a unique gig he had back in 1962. His employer? Benny Goodman!
Branford Marsalis spent the day with us at Mosaic just as he was given the gig to be the band leader of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was a joy to be with and we spoke about Armstrong, Monk, his father’s 78s and life touring with the Grateful Dead. His views on Lester Young are spot on as recalled in an interview which will hopefully, through proper funding, be presented in a documentary produced by Henry Ferrini.
Aram Avakian may not be as well known as his record producer brother George, but he was a brilliant photographer who captured many of Columbia Records’ finest artists. His daughter Alexandra is a gifted photographer in her own right and recently she relayed in the New York Times blog some memories of her father.
I found the question raised in this Guardian article troubling: that somehow, because the saxophone conveys human qualities, perhaps even in the course of reflecting a personal voice, its sound could be construed as “ugly.” And that the piano, because its sound is at least mechanically removed from a human voice, is neutral, and therefore more suited to classical music.
In the musical world, jazz or classical, what is wrong with bringing a human voice to music, even if the surface sonic result is not neutral or pleasantly creamy? In the classical world, putting Stravinsky or Bartok (and his voluminous piano music) and a host of “contemporary” composers aside, was that really what Mozart, or Beethoven, had in mind? Too bad Billie Holiday and Maria Callas aren’t around today to address that question. At least we can listen to Archie Shepp.
This Jerry Jazz Musician column explores the history of My Funny Valentine, using Will Friedwald’s Stardust Memories: The Biography of Twelve Of America’s Most Popular Songs as its primary reference. It is fascinating how many standards that we take for granted, as always having been there, were late starters which found currency years after they were introduced. This gem is one of them.