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Interview: André De Shields

last weekMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

If André De Shields' name is unknown to you, you probably will know him best as the Wiz in the Broadway version of The Wiz in 1975. Since then, André has appeared many TV and Broadway shows. Today, I interview...

Magnificent Unease

We’ve been sitting on Heroin in Tahiti’s wonderful Sun and Violence for a while, but what more appropriate time write this post than over an Easter weekend bathed in sun and drenched in the blood of Christ Yharnam. Superdavoli is the album’s full blooded exploration of the nexus between the Spaghetti Western and Giallo — because when your […]

Billie Holiday At 100

last weekMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

Today is Billie Holiday’s 100th birthday. Rarely has the centenary of a jazz artist received as much notice. There have been tributes galore, special television and radio reports and long articles in major publications. This Rifftides remembrance of Holiday is confined to a short period of her early career in which she extended with a […]

The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis

The following is an excerpt from "Chapter 13: Opening Night at the Village Vanguard" of The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis by Chris Smith (University of North Texas Press, 2014). In November of 1965, Thad and Mel quickly put together a list of the musicians they want...

Charlie Parker -- Now's the Time: Part 2-5

Introduction The life and times of a minor jazz legend are recounted through his narrated memories. In this fictional treatment of jazz music in the mid-to-late 20th century, issues of race, creativity, addiction and, ultimately, redemption, are explored. With a title taken from the immortal {{m: Ch...

Charlie Parker -- Alto Saxophone

Of the many members of the saxophone family, the alto and tenor have emerged as its most prominent siblings. From the mid-1920s onward, many big band alto saxophonists have filled a dual role, best personified by the multi-talented m: Benny Carter, serving as the lead voice in the saxopho...

Max Roach Meets the Backbeat

last weekMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

Modern jazz survived and flourished in the 1950s largely because many gifted artists didn't sell out. Imagine what would have happened if Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans decided to open music stores or take...

Other Places: Sloane On McRae

last weekMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

On her blog, Carol Sloane (pictured above) observes the birthday of Carmen McRae (1920-1994), the woman she calls her, “girl friend, confidant and Sister Singer Superior.” The two singers had a long, rare, honest, sometimes tempestuous friendship that lasted until Carmen’s death. For Ms. Sloane, the friendship continues. Her remembrance incorporates video of McRae in […]

Atlas Maior -- Checking in from Global Outposts

m: Atlas Maior Palindrome Self Produced 2014 Open the package for Atlas Maior's debut CD and here's the first line you read: "Palindrome was completely improvised and recorded live with no overdubs." How you respond to these words will greatly shape how you respond to this music. A mains...

Charlie Parker -- Now's the Time: Part 1-5

Introduction The life and times of a minor jazz legend are recounted through his narrated memories. In this fictional treatment of jazz music in the mid-to-late 20th century, issues of race, creativity, addiction and, ultimately, redemption, are explored. With a title taken from the immortal {{m: Ch...

Miles Davis -- 1959: The Most Creative Year in Jazz

1959 was arguably the most creative year in all of jazz history. Bird had already passed away, and this year would see the passings of Lester Young and Billie Holiday. Musically speaking, when we read jazz history texts or see the labels among the many diverse styles of jazz (i.e "Free Jazz," "Modal...

Listening Tip: Mays, Stamm And The WDR In Cologne

last weekMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

Pianist Bill Mays and trumpeter-flugelhornist Marvin Stamm are just back from a European tour. One of their trip’s highlights was a March 20 concert in Cologne, Germany, with the formidable WDR Big Band. The theme was New York State Of Mind, with compositions by Mays, Stamm, George Gershwin, Billy Joel and Duke Ellington, among others. […]

Ed Bickert: Canada's Secret

last weekMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

Canadian jazz artists don't get enough respect. American fans swoon over Belgians (Bobby Jaspar), French (Martial Solal), British (Tubby Hayes) and even Argentines (Gato Barbieri). But when it comes to Canada, many jazz fans yawn, viewing them as doppelgängers at...

Run angels, fucking run

On these streets you learn the value of a piece of gristle and being fleet of foot. Our tribe is a flinty army. Our beasts are carnivorous and roam free. Our children bare their tiny fangs to outsiders. Motherfuckers don’t come down here where the streetlights sound like the swarming hums and clinks of infinite […]

Chris Smith: At The Intersection Of Scholarship, Performance and Pedagogy

In the introduction to his book Jazz Matters (University Of California Press, 2010), David Ake writes about bringing "together the practical side of making jazz, the pedagogical side of teaching it, and the academic side of writing about it." (p. 12) "Nothing but good," Ake adds, "can come if we inc...

Various Artists -- A Deadly Sin: Gluttony

Many years ago, I committed the deadly sin of musical gluttony. I'm Pavlov's dog for a good box set. I love Springsteen's Tracks. I can listen over and over to all 5 CDs in the Brubeck For All Time box set. (Which isn't really a box set. It's just five previously released CDs crammed into a box. I l...

Julia Hulsmann Quartet w/ Theo Bleckmann -- Julia HA1/4lsmann Quartet w/ Theo Bleckmann: A Clear Midnight - Weill and America

Given enough time, things in life often come around full circle. Julia HA1/4lsmann's three recordings for Munich's ACT label were all vocal affairs, where the German pianist's core trio--with bassist m: Marc Muellbauer and drummer m: Heinrich KA bberling--were joined by singers...

It all went a bit Jacob’s Ladder: Our take on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

We still have vivid memories of the first moments after logging-off the lurid killing fields of Hotline Miami. If we tried to reconnect to the physical world around us too quickly, it didn’t go well. It was as if we hadn’t decompressed properly after scuba diving in an abyssal depth inhabited by monsters that were […]

10 CD Discoveries of the Month

last weekMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

Great jazz albums remain hard to come by, but an increasing number are leaving me impressed. It seems more care is going into their production with the explicit purpose of hooking and holding listeners. Wow, what a novel concept. Here...

Gerry Mulligan At Brecon

last weekMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

Gerry Mulligan would have been 88 years old today. Until a year or so before his death in 1996, Mulligan was playing and writing at the top of his game. To remember him, let’s listen to one of the classic compositions played by his quartet at the Brecon, Wales, Jazz Festival in 1991. Here’s Mulligan’s […]

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