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Ethel Ennis Sings for Losers

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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

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 […]

Arch Martin: New Jazz From K.C.

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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),...        

Bill, Benny and Jimmy

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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...        

Chet Baker: La Voce

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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  

Recent Listening In Brief: Mitchell, Zeitlin, Cole

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

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 […]

Videos: Kenny Drew Jr.

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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...        

Sonny Rollins: Copenhagen, 1968

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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  

Joe Fields, 1929-2017

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

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 […]

McCoy Tyner: Ballads & Blues

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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...        

Jazz from Gallery 41....2017 JazzWeek Awards Nominee

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

Bob Lark and Phil Woods

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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)  

Previewing The Ystad Festival

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

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, […]

Saturday mixtape: Female timelords?

Surely that will never catch on… XXJFG Mixtape – Doctorin’ the Tardis

Penny, Bill and Ada Lee

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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...        

Pears, Satie And A Phil Woods Story

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

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 […]

Videos: Back Women Cross Over

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

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  

The Harry South Songbook

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

Harry South is virtually unknown in the States today, but in the U.K. and throughout much of Europe, he was a highly regarded English jazz pianist, composer and arranger. South began his career in the early 1950s and remained active...        

A Bit Of Moscow Music

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : Rifftides

Our occasional Rifftides Russian correspondent, Svetlana Ilicheva, writes that one of her favorite listening spots in Moscow is the Zhurfac café. Not far from the Kropotkinskaya metro stop on Gogol Boulevard, the Zhurfac is in a neighborhood of major cultural interest because of the State Art Museum named for writer and national icon Alexander Pushkin […]

Videos: Jackie & Roy

2 months agoMusic / Jazz : JazzWax

One of the hippest female jazz singers of the late 1940s and beyond was Jackie Cain. Jackie had an upbeat wholesomeness and sly sensibility that seemed to come naturally. When Jackie met pianist Roy Kral in Charlie Ventura's bop band...        

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