Tue, 26 April 2011
You are invited to participate in an online silent auction to raise money for the victims of
If you do not wish to bid on an item but would like to make a donation to help the victims of these tragic events, please click on this link: Donate to Japan
Category:general -- posted at: 12:33pm EDT
Fri, 22 April 2011
Karrin Allyson is one of my favorite singers. She has the uncanny ability to choose from among the myriad of songs available to her and make selections that produce albums that are greater than the sum of their songs. Rather than simply pick from the Great American Songbook, she has devoted whole albums to songs by Brazilian and French writers, an album of blues, and a reinterpretation of the music from John Coltrane’s Ballads album. Along with possessing a knock-out voice, she is an accomplished pianist and lyric writer. She is, in short, the whole package.
He latest CD, ‘Round , has an after hours vibe to it, courtesy of sparse arrangements, smoky vocals, and some outstanding horn work by guest Bob Sheppard. The CD will be released on May 2, and Karrin is touring to support the release, including an appearance as part of the Blue Note Jazz Benefit for
I spoke with Karrin as she readied herself for the performance, rehearsing in her
Karrin Allyson – “Turn Out the Stars” from ‘Round . A rarely performed vocal version of a song closely associated with late pianist Bill Evans. The band on this track, and the rest of the album includes Ms. Allyson on keyboards (piano and Electric
Karrin Allyson – “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” from ‘Round . Karrin finally found an arrangement of this classic tune that she felt worked for her, picking and choosing the verses to include. A moving take on a standard.
Karrin Allyson – Title Track from ‘Round . It’s hard to believe it took her this long to record this Thelonious Monk song, after singing it on stage off and on for years. Perhaps the most moving of all the CD tracks, at the suggestion of guitarist Fleemon, it’s a duet between her and bassist Howard. The mood is late night, with a tinge of melancholy.
Bob Sheppard – “Fast Company” from Close Your Eyes. “Shepp” certainly keeps some fast company, being the sax player of choice for artists from Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. His latest solo CD has him backed up buy a who’s who of (mostly West Coast) jazz session musicians, including Antonio Sanchez on drums, Alan Pasqua and John Beasley on piano & organ, Larry Koonse on guitar, Alex Sipiagen on trumpet & flugelhorn, Gabe Noel on bass and Walter Rodriguez on percussion. Bob is currently on tour in
Direct download: Podcast_215_-_A_Conversation_with_Karrin_Allyson.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02pm EDT
Fri, 22 April 2011
In keeping with the theme of presenting spirituals perforemd by jazz artists for this week, here is "Crucifixion", a traditioanl spiritual wiht a copyright credited to its arranger, Jester Hairston.
Hairston (1901-2000) was a prolific composer and arranger of African-American music. In addiiton to dozens of arrangments still in use today, he composed what is now considered a Christmas standard, "Mary's Boy Child" in 1956. Seven years later, he penned the universally known "Amen" for Sidney Poitier's film "Lilies of the Valley". That song has gone on to be recorded by hundred of artists, most notably the Impressions in 1964. It's worth pointing out that an up-tempo version of the song, "Amen, Brother" by the Winstons in 1969 had six seconds of its drum solo sampled as what is referred to as the "Amen Break", a sample credited with launching the drum and bass movement, and included in rock, hip-hop and soul tracks for several decades.
Click here to listen to David Murray's version of the venerable tune, from the 1988 Spirituals album. Murray recorded this pensive, rather straight ahead (for Murray) version with a quartet including Murray on sax, Dave Burrell on piano, Fred Hopkins on bass, and Ralph Peterson, Jr. on drums.
Thu, 21 April 2011
Fifty years ago tonight, Miles Davis brought a quintet into the Blackhawk club in San Francsico, California for two weekend dates. Seven sets later, the shows were history, but thankfully both Friday night and Saturday night shows were recorded, and eventually released on separate, then a combined, album.
1961 was a transitional year for Miles. John Coltrane was gone from the First Great Quintet, a band leader now in his own right. He still had the sensational rhythm section of Jimmy Cobb on drums, Paul "Mr. P.C." Chambers on bass and Wynton Kelly on piano. What he needed was a solid sax player to replace Trane.
For these gigs, it was Hank Mobley who got the call. The three sets played on April 21 showed Miles reaching into his catalogue for favorite covers like "If I Were a Bell", originals like "Fran-Dance" and "Walkin'" and budding classics liek Sonny Rollins' "Oleo". Mobley was up to the task, providing the bluesy sound that would make his Blue Note releases so popular. More Hard Bop than perhaps any previous player in Miles' bands, his read on various tracks - check out "Walkin'" was dead on.
Despite his fine playing, these were the only recordings of note Mobley ever made with Miles. Davis tried George Coleman in the sax chair for a time, and eventually stole Wayne Shorter away from Art Blakey to begin putting together the Second Great Quintet.
Thu, 21 April 2011
Why post something myself when I can share a perfect posting for today from one of the better music blogs around, the revamped scratchynoise. It's a must visit site almost very day of the week,
He posted David Axelrod's "Holy Thursday" , a track from Songs of Experience, a slice of psychedlic jazz circa 1968. If you're not familar with Axelroad's solo work, you probably know him as the producer of the widely praised "Mercy Mercy Mercy" by Cannonball Addlerly, with whom he worked for years. Otehr production credits of note include Harold Land's The Fox, and releases from David McCallum, the Electric Prunes (!) and Nat Adderly.
Crate differs from around the world sample his work regularly in hip-hop tunes (he's a fixture on the Blue Break Beats series), and even the video game industry has put his songs in their soundtracks(Grand Theft Auto IV). "Holy Thursday" samples appear in a number of songs, including Apache's "Tonto", Artifacts' "C'mon wit Da Git Down", Beatnuts'"Hit Me with That", Black Sheep's "Without a Doubt" and InI's"Think Twice".
Thu, 21 April 2011
Our annual Spiritual Music Podcast features music from faiths from across the world (or in Sun Ra’s case, across the universe). I hope you’ll find something moving in the various songs I’ve selected, including music from:
Jonas Hellborg – “Be! And All Became” from The Word.
Johnny Griffin Orchestra – “Meditation” from The Big Soul Band
Youssou N'Dour – “Allah” from Egypt.
Alice Coltrane – Title Song from Transcendence
Avashai Cohen – “Shalom Aleichem” from Sensitive Hours. The title of the song is in Hebrew, and comes from a Sabbath prayer, which is roughly translated as “Shalom (Peace) upon you, O ministering angels, angels of the Exalted One--from the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.”
Sun Ra – “Enlightenment” from Unity.
John Pattitucci – “Love Eternal” from Songs, Stories & Spirituals.
Leon Gardner – “Be There” from Spiritual Jazz.
Oscar Peterson – “He Has Risen” from The Easter Suite.
Mon, 18 April 2011
Christian Holy Week includes the Jewish holiday of Passover this year, so this week will feature jazz music of a spiritual nature. As the first Seder is tonight, celebrating the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of the prophet Moses, I've gone into the category of music that was called "Negro Spirituals" when I was in school, and picked "Go Down Moses"
Versions of the song seem to go back to 1862, when it was called "Oh! Let My People Go (The Song of the Contrabands)". The openign verse was published by the Jubilee Singers in 1872. It's easy to see the coded message in the lyrics - "Israel" in the lyrics stands in for African-Americans oppressed by slavery and recism, and "Egypt" as their oppressors. The seminal recording of the song is likely Paul Robeson's version from 1958, which became a rallying cry for those fighting for civil rights in the American South.
Click here to listen to Louis Armstrong's version of the spiritual, taken from his Louis and the Good Book album. Armstrong recorded the song in February 1959 with Sy Oliver's Orchestra. Armstrong had jsut finished his popular Porgy & Bess album with Ella Fitzgerald, and entered the studio to record a series of spirituals and religious-tinged music. Among those in the band were Trummy Young on trombone, Hank D'Amico and Nicky Tagg on clarinet, Billy Kyle on piano and Barrett Deems on drums.
In Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong biographer Terry Teachout quotes an outspoken Armstrong as being a great friend of the Jewish people, who he felt gave him a break in his youth when his fellow African-Americans would not. He wore a Star of David around his neck for most of his life.
Wed, 13 April 2011
Boston jazz legend, Fred Taylor, will be Steve Schwartz’s Special Guest on “Jazz on WGBH with Steve Schwartz,” WGBH 89.7 FM, Friday April 15 from 8:00 PM to 12:00 Midnight.
Category:general -- posted at: 2:45pm EDT
Tue, 12 April 2011
Violinist Billy Bang, noted for forging his own way on his instrument, died on April 11. According to an associate, he had been suffering from lung cancer. Bang was 63.
Born in Mobile, Alabama as William Vincent Walker, Bang was raised in the Bronx and began playing the violin at a very young age. He was allegedly given the nickname "Billy Bang" in homage to a cartoon character.
After a traumatizing period of service in the military in Viet Nam (click here to listen to a track from his album Vietnam Reflections, "Waltz of the Water Puppets"), Bang set out to be a musician. He eschewed the fusion route taken by jazz violinists such as Jean-Luc Ponty, and instead headed for the avant-garde scene. Heplayed briefly with the Sun Ra Arkestra and in 1977, inspired by the approach of the World Saxophone Quartet, he formed the New York String Trio with John Lindberg and James Emery, with whom he would play regularly for many years. Bang also developed his own career as a solo artist and bandleader. Over the next three decades, Bang would collaborate with many of the greats of the improvising jazz scene, including William Parker, Hamiett Bluiett, Don Cherry, David Murray and many others. He recorded over 30 albums including many for the Canadian Justin Time label.
Sun, 10 April 2011
Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis had so much fun with their previous collaboration; they decided to come back for more. Two Men With the Blues, recorded in concert at the Allen Room at Lincoln Center in 2007 was a wonderful give and take between two bona fide legends, as members from both of their bands (particularly Willie’s harmonica player Mickey Raphael) worked their respective magic on jazz tunes like “Basin Street Blues “ and country classics like Nelson’s “Night Life”. Two year later, they reunited to present a salute to their mutual idol, Ray Charles.
Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles also recorded in concert, brings Norah Jones along to make a happy threesome. Both Nelson and Ms. Jones recorded duets with Brother Ray on his final album, the Grammy winning Genius Loves Company. Now the two singers dip into the Charles songbook for what is being called “a song cycle about the ups and downs of love”.
Marsalis has wisely chosen to rearrange the familiar tunes in subtle ways; “Unchain My Heart” has a Latin feel, “Hit the Road, Jack” a gospel swing. “Cryin’ Time” has a New Orleans-style ending. The band cooks or purrs, with saxophonist Walter Blanding the star of the show, particularly when he lets loose on “Unchain My Heart”.
Nelson is more than up to the task when he is called upon to sing the blues on “Losing Hard”, and his quavering tenor works well on the ballads. Norah Jones is not really up to his standards, but on the title track (which she once sang with Charles) she shows that when she gets the right material and arrangement, she can shine. On "Makin' Whoopee", she seems a bit out of her league.
I should quickly point out that as much fun as this all is – and it is a blast at times – there are better jazz tributes to Charles, most recently by John Scofield. Other than Marsalis’ muted trumpet solos and Blanding’s runs, there isn’t much in the way of improvisation here, but rather a formal resetting of memorable tunes. And that ain’t bad; it just ain’t as jazzy as it could be.
Wynton is a busy boy these days. In additional to his duties at Lincoln Center, and as a performer, he will launch a two-year performance and lecture series at Harvard on April 28, with an appearance at Sanders Theatre. His lecture/performance on April 28 is titled "Music as Metaphor" and will feature Ali Jackson (drums), Dan Nimmer (piano), Walter Blanding Jr. (tenor sax), Carlos Henriquez (bass), James Chirillo (guitar and banjo) and Mark O'Connor (violin). The following day, Marsalis will teach a master class to high school musicians at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
Tickets for Marsalis' lecture performance at Sanders Theatre will be free of charge, and will become available for the Harvard community on Tuesday, April 12, and to the general public on Thursday, April 14. Information on obtaining tickets can be found at http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/boxoffice/. <http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/boxoffice/> <http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/boxoffice/> .