Ray Brown (pictured left) wrote “Gravy Waltz,” with a lyric by comedian and talk show host Steve Allen. Allen recorded the piece on piano and got extensive airplay with it in the early 1960s. Jazz listeners, however, tend to think of Oscar Peterson’s version as the definitive recording. Peterson recorded it for Verve in 1962 […]
I'm convinced that one of these years, singer Nancy Wilson will become a Kennedy Center Honoree. Her artful ability to pull jazz into the pop realm and the peerless way in which she proved that pop was open to African-American... Related Stories Sassy and Ronnell Bright
Dr. Lonnie Smith, Evolution (Blue Note) The venerable organist’s doctorate is a figment, but his musicianship and ability to mold combos of any size into formidable units are even more real than when he moved from piano to organ in the 1950s. In this return to the Blue Note label after nearly half a century, […]
A few weeks ago, I posted on an appearance by Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Harry James' appearance on WGN-TV in 1964 and '65. Back then, WGN aired a series of shows that featured Swing-era big bands. Most of these... Related Stories West Coast Jazz: Early Sounds Chris Connor: Live with Kenton June Christy: Interlude, 1957
This weekend, let's slip on the Julie London holiday album that never was. As most readers know, London remains one of my favorite female vocalists. She had a captivating, cool singing style that never felt forced. Her satiny delivery, taste... Related Stories 21 New CD Discoveries Julie London: A Good Cry Julie London's Holiday Album
The NOLA Players, Christmastime in New Orleans (Verve/Aim Higher) A cross-generational and cross-racial gathering of Crescent City jazz veterans generates spirited versions of traditional Christmas music. Some of the players are well...Show More Summary
Window shopping at YouTube yesterday, I came across nine fun seasonal clips that I thought I'd share with you. Have a wonderful holiday weekend one and all... Here's a clever mash of the James Bond Theme and Carol of the...
There are jazz albums I can't stop listening to once I put them on. It's an emotional thing. My soul won't let me do it. The quality of the art is so overwhelmingly beautiful that removing the album would shatter... Related Stories Mulligan, Brubeck & Desmond Al + Zoot: Happy Over Hoagy More From Zoot's Tribute: '86
The Dean Martin Show first aired on NBC in 1965 and lasted nine seasons, until 1974. Martin's rugged good looks, enveloping manner, swinging vocals and self-deprecating sense of humor tapped into the psyche of the American adult viewer in the...
Joshua Redman And Brad Mehldau, Nearness (Nonesuch) They forged their empathy when Mehldau was the pianist in saxophonist Redman’s quartet in the mid-1990s. In encounters over the years since, they have honed their rapport to a remarkable degree. These duo recordings from six cities on their 2011 European tour find them knitting together improvisational lines […]
During the two decades that followed the end of World War II in 1945, independent record labels flourished. Many of these micro labels succeeded by specializing in specific types of music that the more bland-minded giants—RCA, Columbia and Decca—largely ignored....
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when I was in my early teens and just starting to listen to jazz, the soul-jazz albums I dug most were on Prestige and produced by Bob Porter (above). These included Leon... Related Stories Jimmy McGriff: Late 1969 Brother Jack Meets the Boss
Chet Baker became famous as a trumpeter, not a composer. Still, when he was with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet he wrote a tune that attracts musicians more than sixty years later. “Freeway” has clever rhythmic aspects and undemanding harmonies, and in the recording Baker played like the wind. His solo was remarkable for its fleetness, […]
With only a week to go until Christmas, there's still time to treat yourself or music-loving family members and friends to my new book, Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hit That Changed Rock, R&B and...
During the 2015 Christmas season, Rifftides brought you a program of holiday music by the late pianist Jack Brownlow. We have been asked if we would play it again. Yes, with pleasure. Jack Brownlow (1923-2007), known to his friends as Bruno, was a constant correspondent. Over the years, he stayed in touch by letter, postcard, […]
In 1964 and '65, there were a series of telecasts taped in color and black-and-white at Chicago's WGN-TV featuring Swing-era big bands playing short sets for dancers. The TV segments were then broadcast to reach older viewers. Here are sterling... Related Stories Count Basie: Europe, 1972 + '76 Count Basie: Europe, 1972 Count Basie: High Voltage
One of the finest pure-jazz male vocalists in the LP era was David Allyn. He easily was among the hippest uptempo singers and one of the most heartbreaking balladeers. It's hard not to snap your fingers when David launches into... Related Stories David Allyn: When Love Comes
It’s the end of the century. Welcome to the Dancing music in the C20. We started out on this journey by looking at the first dance records in 1900, when records were made out of shellac and played on gramophones. In 1999, the record is still the default delivery mechanism for dance music, but only […]
Gabriel by Roy Davis Jnr. is one of Goldie’s all time favourite records. Gabriel came from a more amorphous scene than jungle. Later in the decade, some people would call this sound plus 8 or speed garage, and finally UK garage. Roy Davis Jr – Gabriel The early tunes that inspired that sound, though, were […]
Each December since 2008, I've selected a different album for the JazzWax Vintage Holiday Album Hall of Fame. I established this modest institution largely out of frustration. I love holiday music, but so few albums are perfect. For an album...