Wed, 30 April 2014
When a guitarist decides to record an album’s worth of the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, he had better bring his “A” game. The great Brazilian composer/performer is a towering figure in 20th century jazz, and it seems like everyone worth his or her salt has taken a crack at his deep catalogue of melodious tunes.
The good news is that Les Sabler’s Jobim Tribute, has recognized that the most important ingredient to a great recording of Jobim’s music was to capture the soulful passion inherent in the author’s touching melodies and sensually exotic rhythms. Exclusively playing nylon string acoustic guitar, Sabler creates great intimacy, and takes us deep into tunes both familiar and obscure.
Produced, arranged and performed in acoustic jazz settings, Sabler was accompanied by keyboardist Clay Perry (Julio Iglesias), acoustic bassist Byron House (Robert Plant’s Band of Joy), Brazilian drummer-percussionist Celso Alberti (Flora Purim, Stevie Winwood) and the late percussionist Joe Lala (CSNY, Bee Gees). Allon Sams scripted string arrangements as did Grammy-nominated arranger Tom Zink, who orchestrated a 4-piece string section that recalls the work of Jobim’s long-time collaborator Claus Ogerman without copying them, adding more colors to Sabler’s sonic palette.
Jobim Tribute is Sabler’s seventh album. The Montreal native who studied music at Canada’s Concordia University and at the University of Miami, has created a catalogue of finely-crafted contemporary jazz recordings that summited sales and airplay charts in the U.S. and Canada while garnering award nominations, No. 1 most-played Canadian artist airplay honors and international acclaim.
Podcast 424 is our conversation about how he came to record Jobim’s material, whether he considers himself a singer-guitarist or a guitarist-singer, and his plans for taking the CD on the road. Musical selections from the CD include Les' versions of "Corcovado", "Por Causa de Voce", "Bonita" and "Chega de Saudade."
Direct download: Podcast_424_-_A_Conversation_with_Les_Sabler_about_Jobim.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 10:00am EST
Tue, 29 April 2014
Osaka, Japan has been selected to serve as the 2014 Global Host City for International Jazz Day tomorrow. This year’s celebration will kick off with a daylong series of jazz education programs, including performances, roundtable discussions, master classes, instrumental workshops and more conducted by world-renowned jazz musicians and educators at the Osaka School of Music. The evening All-Star Global Concert at the famed outdoor Osaka Castle Park will feature performances by the 2014 All-Star Global Concert will feature internationally renowned artists including pianists: Toshiko Akiyoshi, Kris Bowers, John Beasley, Herbie Hancock and Makoto Ozone; vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jonathan Butler, Roberta Gambarini, Lalah Hathaway, Gregory Porter, Oumou Sangaré and Dionne Warwick; trumpeters Theo Croker, Roy Hargrove, Claudio Roditi and Terumasa Hino; bassists James Genus, Marcus Miller and Esperanza Spalding; drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, T.S.Monk, Shuichi Hidano and the Taiko Masters; percussionists Pete Escovedo and Sheila E.; saxophonists Kenny Garrett, Courtney Pine, Troy Roberts, Wayne Shorter and Lew Tabackin; trombonist Steve Turre; guitarists Chris Thomas King, Earl Klugh, John Scofield and Joe Louis Walker.
As in 2013, the Global Concert will be streamed live worldwide via the UNESCO, U.S. Department of State, and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz websites. Individuals and organizations the world over are invited to screen the concert live or organize their own unique event in honor of International Jazz Day. Over 100 countries have been confirmed already; see what activities will be happening near you by visiting the 2014 events page. You can see the webcast at the following starting times:
New York: 6am | London: 11am | Istanbul: 1pm | Tokyo: 7pm | Sydney: 8pm
The webcast will be available on demand within 4 hours of the original start time.
Category:general -- posted at: 1:05pm EST
Fri, 25 April 2014
When so many think of the late, great Chet Baker, they think of a life cut short by abuse of drugs and violent encounters. Even in the documentary film Let’s Get Lost, there seems little to like about the great trumpet player and singer. We’re often left wondering how anyone tolerated his seemed excesses and lack of control and trust. Artt Frank, a drummer who played with and knew Baker well has written a poignant memoir of the west coast jazz scene of the late 1960s. Known for his friendship and musical collaboration with Baker, Frank provides jazz lovers with an intimate portrait of what are considered “the missing years” in Baker’s career – the period shortly after a brutal beating left the trumpeter unable to play, and ending with his well-received return to the concert stage.
Frank is an unabashed Baker admirer, and makes it clear in our interview that he still listens to Baker’s music every day. He brings that enthusiasm to Chet Baker: The Missing Years, A Memoir and is not afraid to paint a more positive – indeed loving – portrait of a troubled but ultimately talented musician. He makes it clear Baker was no saint – rather, we see him as a troubled angel who thanks to the help and persistence of a friend got himself a second (or was it third? Fourth?) chance at playing music professionally.
Podcast 423 is my conversation with Artt, and features Baker musical selections that include:
Chet Baker - "Vehicle" from Blood, Chet and Tears. Chet on the comeback trail playing jazz-rock tunes from the lkes of Santana, The Beatles, The Archies (!) and this Ides of March burner. The album was much maligned when it came out, but has improved with age.
Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker - "Margarine" from The Carnegie Hall Concert. Creed Taylor from CTI brought electric players together with the two old friends for a memorable evening. The band is Mulligan on baritone, Baker on trumpet, Ed Byrne on trombone, Ron Carter on bass, Dave Samuels on vibes, Bob James on keyboards, John Scofield on guitar and Harvey Mason on drums.
Chet Baker - "I Can't Get Started" from Chet Baker Sings Again. A small group setting in 1986 showcases Baker's voice and trumpet, matching him with Michael Graillier on piano, Ricardo Del Fra on bass and John Engels on drums.
Chet Baker Quartet - "Old Friends" from Burnin' at Backstreet. A 1974 club date with Frank joining his friend on drums, backed by Mike Formanek on bass and Drew Salperto on piano.
Chet Baker - "I Waited For You" from The Incredible Chet Baker Plays and Sings. Art picked this as one of two Baker recordings (the other was "If You Could See Me Now") that he felt showed the true spirit and artistry of the man. It's a ballad, for sure, from 1977 sessions in Milan that features Chet on trumpet, Lucio Terzano on bass, Giancarlo Pillot on drums, Jacques Pelzer on flute and soprano sax, Bruce Thomas on piano and Gianni Basso on tenor sax.
Direct download: Podcast_423-_A_Conversation_with_Artt_Frank_about_Chet_Baker.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 11:00am EST
Wed, 23 April 2014
As an English major at Clark University (Class of '77) I spent many a fond moment with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Virginia Vaughan discussing the Immortal Bard, William Shakespeare. Although Shakespeare's birthdate is unknown, it is traditionally celebrated on April 23, St. George's Day. He was born 450 years ago today.
And whither, you might ask, does this great writer intersect with Jazz? Look no further than the 1964 album by Cleo Laine, Shakespeare and All That Jazz, arranged and written for her by her husband, Sir John Dankworth. Dankworth adapted sonnets and portions of the plays to create an artistically satisfying work. Many of the tunes are written by Dankworth, but he also picks from the Ellington-Strayhorn canon for "My Love is as a Fever (Sonnet 147)" a portion of the suite they composed entitled Such Sweet Thunder. Of particular interest are the tracks which feature Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, including this adaption from "Twelfth Night", "If Music Be the Food of Love".
For those interested in an updated take on this album, check out Christina Drapkin's version.
Sun, 20 April 2014
The song of the day is Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade", performed by Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine and released on their 1957 album Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine Sing the Best of Irving Berlin. Although Vaughan had made many recordings with Eckstine, this was their only album together.
Writing a song about celebrating a Christian holiday was not an anomaly for the Jewish composer Berlin. Born in 1888 into a Russian Jewish family who came to New York City to escape religious persecution when he was five years old, Irving Berlin quickly shed his religious roots and fell in love with America. He became an American citizen when he was 29. "Patriotism was Irving Berlin's true religion," writes biographer Laurence Bergreen in As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin (1990).
Irving Berlin was "not a religious person," according to his daughter Mary Ellin. Relating the story of Irving's marriage to Ellin Mackay in 1926, whose devout father had a deep reluctance to welcome a "lower-class" Jew into the wealthy Catholic family.
Once they had children, Mrs. Berlin did try to keep up a minimal appearance of religious tradition. Mary Ellin writes that her unbelieving parents "had their first bad fight when my mother suggested raising me as a Catholic . . . ."
The Berlins had three daughters. "Both our parents," Mary Ellin recalls, "would pass down to their children the moral and ethical values common to all great religions; give us a sense of what was right and what was wrong; raise us not to be good Jews or good Catholics or good whatever else you might care to cite, but to be good (or try to be) human beings. . . . When we grew up, she said, we would be free to choose--if we knew what was best for us, the religion of our husband. . . . It wouldn't quite work out, when we 'grew up,' as my mother hoped. All three of us would share our father's agnosticism and sidestep our husband's faiths."
The man who wrote "White Christmas" actually hated Christmas. "Many years later," Mary Ellin writes, "when Christmas was celebrated irregularly in my parents' house, if at all, my mother said, almost casually, 'Oh, you know, I hated Christmas, we both hated Christmas. We only did it for you children.' "
Christmas, for Irving Berlin, was not a religious holiday: it was an American holiday. He simply needed a melody in 1940 for a show called Holiday Inn, an escapist "American way of life" musical (when all hell was breaking loose in Europe) which called for a song for each holiday. The words to "White Christmas" are not about the birth of a savior-god: they are about winter, the real reason for the season.
Read more about Irving Berlin, religion and patriotism here.
Fri, 18 April 2014
In keeping with the theme of presenting spirituals perforemd by jazz artists for this week, here is "Crucifixion", a traditional spiritual with 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, 17 April 2014
The fine blog Any Major Dude with Half a Heart (dig that Steely Dan reference) has always gone deep into the crates for goodies, usually of the soul variety. Today, celebrated as Holy Thursday by Catholics around the world, he has a real winner. Visit his page for David Axelrod's "Holy Thursday". As he says on his blog:
Well, it is Holy Thursday, and while this orchestral jazz track might not feed your pieties, it should at least get your toes tapping. That does not mean that the title is irreverent. Axelrod, son of a leftist activist who grew up in a predominantly black neighbourhood, wrote and recorded several musical works referencing religion. In 1971 he arranged a jazz-rock interpretation of Handel’s Messiah and in 1993 he titled a work on the Holocaust a “requiem”. I have read that Holy Thursday also featured in Grand Theft Auto V, a game I’ve never played but the soundtracks of which seem quite excellent.
Axelrod has had a massive influence on jazz, in particular fusion. He produced legends such as Lou Rawls and Cannonball Adderley (including his big hit Mercy, Mercy, Mercy), as well as avant gardists The Electric Prunes.
For another posting I did on this tune, click here.
Category:general -- posted at: 11:00am EST
Wed, 16 April 2014
The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue new postage stamps and a souvenir card to celebrate International Jazz Day on April 30,2014. The stamps, featuring three mini-sheets of twelve stamps, were designed by Sergio Baradat (United Nations).
In 2011 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed 30 April as “International Jazz Day”. Each year, this international day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about the art of jazz, its roots, its future and its impact. This international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, respect for human rights and human dignity, eradicating discrimination, promoting freedom of expression, fostering gender equality, and reinforcing the role of youth for social chang
Mr. Baradat, the artist of the stamp series had the following to say about the designs:
“This was a wonderful project to work on. I approached it as a multi-faceted piece of art where each stamp is a collage onto itself, in tandem with the other pieces to create one large composition. I was inspired by the abstraction that is Jazz; I wanted to give the designs atmosphere and a sense of sound through colour. Along the way, I listened to old favourites: Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Duke Ellington and a host of others from the 1920’s through 1950’s”.
International Jazz Day events, which are organized by UNESCO and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, highlight the historic influence that the genre has had in connecting people and igniting social change. Osaka, Japan has been selected to serve as the 2014 Global Host City. Concerts, conferences and discussions about jazz and its principles will be ongoing throughout the day across the globe, as well as local community events, such as schools, clubs, town squares and village centres.
For more information about International Jazz Day, please visit www.jazzday.com or www.unesco.org/jazzday.For information about purchasing International Jazz Day stamps and other products available through UNPA, please visit www.unstamps.org.
Wed, 16 April 2014
Congratulations to the winners of the 18th annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards for Music and Recording, listed here. Professional Journalist Members of the JJA (including yours truly) made open nominations in a first selection round; those who received the most nominations advanced to the final ballot.
Winners of the 2014 JJA Jazz Awards for Journalism and Media will be announced at the JJA Jazz Awards Party on June 11, 2014 at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. This ticketed event is open to the public. Get tickets
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21am EST
Tue, 15 April 2014
The 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers will be celebrated as usual throughout baseball today with ceremonies from Yankee Stadium to Vero Beach, Fla.
The main event will be staged in the Bronx prior to an Interleague game tonight between the Cubs and the Yankees. Robinson's wife, Rachel, daughter Sharon, Commissioner Bud Selig and members of the Steinbrenner family are scheduled to be in attendance. Robinson's "legacy lives on," Rachel Robinson said about her husband, who passed away at just 53 in 1972.
Robinson jogged out to play first base at Ebbets Field against the Boston Braves that day in 1947, shattering Major League Baseball's decades-old color barrier, and the sport was irrevocably changed forever.
In 1997, under Selig's direction (one of the few things he has done as Commissioenr that is worth noting), Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute. With the retirement of Yankees epic closer Mariano Rivera at the end of last season, this is the first time the No. 42 is no longer active anywhere in baseball, and it never again will be. Rivera was among the active players wearing the number who were grandfathered in when Selig retired the famous numeral, and he wore it proudly his entire career. All uniformed personnel will again wear that number for the 15 Major League games scheduled throughout the nation tonight.
By far the best know song honoring Robinson is Buddy Johnson's classic, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?" Johnson submitted this sheet music for copyright in June, 1949. In August of that year, his recording of the song (Decca 24675) hit its peak position on the charts at number 13. Today many baseball fans are familiar with Count Basie's recording on the Victor label (Victor 20-3514), featuring vocalist "Taps" Miller. This recording, made in the Victor studios in New York City on July 13, 1949, has become synonymous with the song itself.
Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?
And when he swung his bat,
Satchel Paige is mellow,
Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?
Did you see Jackie Robinson hit that ball?
Yes, yes, Jackie's real gone.
Category:general -- posted at: 10:16am EST