Donald Fagen loves jazz. Since 1972, his songs co-written with Steely Dan co-founder Walter Becker have been laced with jazz references and chord voicings. The same goes for Donald's four solo albums. Jazz greats such as Wayne Shorter, Phil Woods... Related Stories Steely Dan: Deacon Blues
It's unclear why Bobby Hutcherson's The Kicker wasn't released by Blue Note until 1999, despite being recorded in 1963. The album is flawless as far as I can tell. It swings, it's engaging, the musicians on the session were spectacular... Related Stories Doc: Blue Note Records Lee Morgan: The Rajah Joe Henderson: Mirror, Mirror
It is impossible to review even a smattering of the dozens of albums that land in the Rifftides mailbox. With the Sweden trip looming, time allows for mentions of a few relatively recent releases that have caught the staff’s attention. Maryanne de Prophetis, Tell A Star (ENNArecords) In this collection of her compositions, Ms. […]
When the 10-inch pop vinyl album expanded to 12 inches in the mid-1950s, the glory days of the vocalist began and lasted until roughly 1965. There were the A-list recording artists such as Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald,... Related Stories Video: Bobby Jaspar, 1957
The discotheque of Babel contains an infinite set of records made from all possible permutations of cool sounds – mellow marimbas and fuzzy basslines, tropical percussions and phased drums, Pacific Highway sunrise guitar solos and synthesisers made of fireworks. The overwhelming majority of the results are pleasant enough. If you are lucky they will improve […]
In 1959, trombonist Arch Martin recorded a superb album for Zephyr Records, a Hollywood label that specialized in jazz and was distributed by GNP. The album was New Jazz From Kansas City and featured Arch Martin (tb), Dick Busey (ts),...
In The Wall Street Journal this week, my monthly "Anatomy of a Song" column looked at Alice Cooper's Eighteen, a potent hard-rock single in 1970 about teenage uncertainty and self-doubt (go here). The song became the band's first hit just...
My favorite tracks of Chet Baker singing aren't in English. They're in Italian, and they were recorded in Rome in 1962 with the Ennio Morricone Orchestra. Yes, that Ennio Morricone (above), the composer of music for The Good, the Bad... Related Stories Chet Baker: Cold Trumpet Phil Urso and Carl Saunders New Year's Day Recordings
Roscoe Mitchell, Bells For The South Side (ECM) If you have followed Mitchell’s searching music over the past 50 years, Bells For The South Side will reassure you that the septuagenarian composer, saxophonist and tireless avant-garde inspiration continues to innovate. Mitchell’s music makes demands on listeners—and rewards them for their attention. This is not a […]
Kenny Drew Jr. lived under too many shadows. A superb pianist, he died in 2014, and his passing, like his piano, went almost unnoticed. Here's my obit. Drew Jr. was the son of the masterful bebop pianist Kenny Drew. How...
On February 19, 1968, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins was in Copenhagen at the Cafe Montmartre, the city's most historic jazz club. Sonny was in fantatic form and backed by a stunning trio—pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and drummer... Related Stories Sonny Rollins: Cafe Montmartre, 1968 Benny Golson: Germany, 1993
On July 12 we lost Joe Fields. During his long career Fields was the guiding spirit of record labels committed to unalloyed jazz. He started the Cobblestone label and later changed its name to Muse. Among the dozens of musicians he recorded on Muse over three decades were Woody Shaw, Houston Person, Grant Green and […]
Pianist McCoy Tyner is best known for being a member of the John Coltrane Quartet beginning in 1960. During those years, Tyner re-invented the piano as a highly percussive, stirring instrument that churned the waters for Coltrane's abstraction and spiritual...
Thrilled to say that Jazz from Gallery 41 and yours truly are among the nominees selected for 2017 JazzWeek Awards. (As published on July 13, 2017, by JazzWeek). Nominations have been tabulated for the 2017 JazzWeek Awards, which will be presented on August 10 in San Jose, California, at the JazzWeek Summit. Show More Summary
By my count, trumpeter and flugelhornist Bob Lark and alto saxophonist Phil Woods have recorded six albums together prior to Woods' death in 2015. Their final collaboration, Thick as Thieves, recorded in 2009 at Chicago's Jazz Showcase, was just released.... Related Stories Alto Summit: Four Saxes, 1968 Phil Woods: 1960 Phil Woods (1931-2015)
Before long, the Rifftides staff will be flying to Europe for the 2017 Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival. As always, the festival lineup will include prominent visiting American artists. Among them are tenor saxophonists Jerry Bergonzi and Joshua Redman, trumpeter Tim Hagans, drummer Al Foster and guitarist Al Di Meola. In addition, the Ystad artistic director, […]
Surely that will never catch on… XXJFG Mixtape – Doctorin’ the Tardis
For The Wall Street Journal this week, I interviewed documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (go here), who directed Dont Look Back, Monterey Pop, Ziggy Stardust, The War Room and many others, including Audition at RCA. Penny and I talked about his...
Today’s early morning cycling expedition took me past a magnificent pear orchard in the hills west of town. Here is the orchard… …and here are pears taking on color and that lovely pear shape. Apples are the principal cash crop in this area of Eastern Washington State, but in a good year pears do nicely […]
African-American women came into their own in the early 1960s as solo pop singers. Long pegged as jazz or R&B recording artists in the '50s or members of girl groups in the early '60s, African-American women began to cross over... Related Stories 7 Nancy Wilson Videos Clips Lena Horne and Gabor Szabo Videos: Aretha Franklin