It’s been somewhat remiss of me not to include any old (pre 1950s) Jazz. Truth is, it’s an area I haven’t explored much - yet. This track comes from a CD accompanying R Crumb’s “Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country”, a charming little book of cartoon plates and potted biographies of early popular music pioneers. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sauVw5MooTc
Thimar has stood the test of time and is one of my all-time favourites. I bought it because - err - I liked the cover, and was fixated with the ECM record label at the time. The cover with grasses catching the evening sun, reminded me of Oreti Beach. But whatever my original reasons for buying it, it keeps on giving! I am mesmerised by the rich subtleties of Brahem’s Oud, Holland’s Double Bass, and Surman’s restrained Saxophone (and not present on this track!). This is serious, intelligent and sophisticated music.
In 2017, Brahem formed a Jazz quartet with Holland, Jack DeJohnette and Django Bates and released “Blue Maqams” - well worth checking out. www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNH201PVuOI
This track, in fact the whole album, summarised all that is good about rural England, and is (in my humble opinion) hugely underrated. On The Barley Mow you can imagine Constable’s Haywain bringing in the last of the hay in the lingering heat at end of a summer’s day, with the sun casting bronzed light and long shadows. It makes me nostalgic for England. And I live here. Perhaps the reason why this is overlooked is that, though heralding something vibrant and new for the UK home grown Jazz scene, it treads paths US Jazz travelled over 5 years earlier. You can hear glimpses in Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain (1960), Gil Evans’ Out of the Cool (1961), Horace Silver’s Song for My Father (1964).
The Whitefield Brothers are a German Funk / Groove outfit whose 2009 release of collaborations and plundered world sounds is eclectic and competent and at times Jazzy. They allegedly travelled the globe for 12 months collaborating with musicians from all four quarters, with clear influences from Ethiopia and Japan. For the past couple of days this song has buzzed around in my head, especially first thing on waking. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijdwPzYQvwU
Jazzuary 20th - Neneh Cherry & The Thing - Accordion (off The Cherry Thing, 2012) When the youthful Cherry sang “Buffalo Stance” on her 1988 album debut, it was all too easy to write it off as throw-away pop. But listening to it now, it’s a vibrant, sassy song that has worn well. The same mish-mash approach is present on The Cherry Thing, though her voice has a patina of booze and cigarettes. I almost picked a different version of the same MF Doom song for Jazzuary, only to realise later it was the same song. Fire! Orchestra - Enter Part 1 (off Enter, 2014). Both Fire! Orchestra and The Thing feature Swede Mats Gustafsson, so perhaps two renditions of the same obscure rap song is not such a co-incidence. Sublime chaos.
Jazzuary 19th - Wadada Leo Smith - New Orleans (off America’s National Parks, 2016) It’s with a little apprehension that I pick a 12 minute track off Wadada Leo Smith’s much praised 2016 album America’s National Parks. It’s a triumph - and brings what I most enjoy about Jazz - freedom, humanity and creativity. Smith’s free jazz trumpet wafts tantalising over a rich tapestry of piano-bass-cello-drums as he conjures up the essence of New Orleans.
Jazzuary 18th - Stan Getz and João Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema (off Getz/Gilberto, 1964) A favourite of Catherine and mine. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the BBC 4 documentary “The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil, Bossa Nova and the Beach” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr-RwMAY-Zk
Jazzuary 16th - Courtney Pine - Rules (featuring Omar) (off Black Notes from the Deep, 2017) Each new Pine’s release has become something of a jazz event, each one exploring a new and different angle. “Black Notes from the Deep” sees Pine pick up his Tenor Sax for the first time in a decade, and collaborate with singer Omar on the subject of being black and British today. The opening track Rules sets the tone if not the tempo for what makes an interesting recording. Music from the heart. www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkCKhYgTTsojazzmata
Jazzuary 15th - Troyka - The General (off Ornithophobia, 2015)
Jazzuary 14th - Nels Cline and Julian Lage - Racy (off Room, 2014)
Jazzuary 13th - Derek Bailey - N/JZ/BM (off Guitar, Drums ‘n Bass, 1997)
Jazzuary 12th - Colin Stetson - Judges (off New History Warfare, Volume 2, 2011)
This album has to be one of the weirdest I own. There is something wonderfully experimental going on. Saxophonist Colin Stetson performs solo, uses tape loops, but each track is recorded in one take, with no over-recording. Quite how me makes these noises is beyond me. It’s raw, pulsating, plaintive, impassioned in a way that touches me.
I’ve been a fan of Christian Scott for some time. He is widely considered to be at the vanguard of Black Music in the US, merging Jazz with Hip Hop and perhaps even Indian rhythms on this track. I lovely his ethereal flute playing. Ruler Rebel was one of three albums Scott released in 2017, later packaged together as one triple album “Diaspora” that was highly rated by the critics.
Jazzuary 4th - Afro-Cuban All Stars - Amor Verdadero (off A Toda Cuba Le Gusta, 1997) It all happened in a Suffolk converted barn, in May 2008. The chairs and table were moved aside, and this album was put on to play. Friends danced a Salsa along to it. It was a treat I shall never forget. www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOriR_y_Lyw
Jazzuary 3rd - Kenny Ball - Midnight in Moscow (off Barber Bilk and Ball, 2012) When we’re away from home, I set my iPad’s alarm to wake us up playing this track. Utter joy from the first breath. It’s hard not to move and dance to it. Snippets of the tune come to mind all day. Love this way of experiencing Jazz! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNdM7TlZs44
Jazzuary 2nd - Esbjörn Svensson Trio - Definition of a Dog (off Live in Hamburg, 2007) Wandering around Chania, Crete in October 2014, we ducked out of the rain into an arty jewelry shop. The owner was playing EST’s album ‘Live in Hamburg’. I was immediately lulled by the edgy groovy jazz. Then I recognised some of the tracks, though not this particular recording. I asked the owner, “Is that EST’s Live in Hamburg record?” to which he replied in the affirmative, and we had a brief chat about the album and our love of the band. It’s one of those moments when one feels a real connection with a complete stranger.
1st January 2018 For the last couple of years we have begun the year with a selection of recordings from our 'correspondent' Randomise who lives in the U.K. He calls these collections of tunes Jazzuary, read on ....
Welcome to Jazzuary 2018! This year I plan to select tracks that evoke a powerful emotion or bring back a specific memory for me - thus this is a deeply personal selection. I will try to include a few tracks from the past year, but also some older ones that appeal to me. Also anything that seems relevant for the particular day that may warrant an inclusion! You may find some of my selections challenging (for a better word) and possibly not “Jazz”. But we’ll get to that later. I have also tried to pick tracks that have not appeared in Jazzuary before (that is, in the past four years), a task that’s getting increasingly harder!
With the Clyde Valley Stompers in 1962. Jim plays banjo on Peter and the Wolf, a hit for the band.
With the Alex Welsh Jazz Band in 1971, If I Had a Talking Picture of You,
With Keith Smith's Band in 1996, Hello Dolly,
With Alan Vache's Swingtette in 2014, Blue Lou,
2nd August Here's ten provincial trad bands from Britain as promised:
The Old Fashioned Love Band (Midlands) Sugar www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o4koJPs7NM
Colin Kingswell's Jazz Bandits (Portsmouth) Lily of the Valley www.youtube.com/watch?v=-33L-CqZStE
The Merseyssippi Jaxx Band (Liverpool) Come on and Stomp, Stomp, Stomp www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7AAXQ5VaDA
Mick Gill's Imperial Jazz Band (Leicester) Ice Cream www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOqODc8SfqQ
Chris Blount's New Orleans Jazzmen (Kendal) Old Time Religion www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YBMIRPe50c
Phil Mason’s New Orleans All-Stars (Birmingham) I Can’t Escape from the Bute www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkzaGPl26Mc
30th June I mentioned a few months back that I would choose ten lesser-known British trad bands for your delectation. Here's my selection and their links. Here they are. In another couple of months I'll choose ten British provincial jazz bands.
The Saints Jazz Band I Wanna Girl Just Like the Girl that Married Dear Old Dad www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQbAnbPQfrY
Mike Daniel's Delta Jazz Band Aunt Hagar’s Blues www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5Vu2M0GmOA
The Sims-Wheeler Vintage Jazz Band Home www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBvYc5Iq2o&list=PLScGEbLi0AMmOzQjJIo9ZKLe0AspVL-er
Mickey Ashman's Ragtime Band Make Me a Pallet on the Floor www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H-eWuoRY5I
Monty Sunshine's Jazz Band Little Liza Jane www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF_FmbERd-k
Mike Cotton's Jazzmen Swing That Hammer www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeDHovf2xjE
Mick Mulligan's Magnolia Jazz Band Savoy Blues www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAwp27etK64
The Cy Laurie Jazz Band Sol Blues www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMucrFWTIho&list=PLsLyN_YbXSSUTXVfFlIQDg_Q8S-r0S8PO
The Christie Brothers Stompers Heebie Jeebies www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9JbFxKXNE4
George Webbs Dixielanders South www.youtube.com/watch?v=flmrrZNbi5Q
21st April We think of the North Koreans as regimented and rather soul-less. There's a lot of truth in that as this video clip of some youngsters playing guitars shows www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE7waNi5dc0
But they do play jazz in North Korea, even if it is somewhat stylised and over-rehearsed:
20th April I recently came across the deliciously talented jazz muso, singer and bass player, Esperanza Spalding. Catch her on this duet with the also talented Bobby McFerrin at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=17lpfvyWhhM
15th April A holiday without jazz is no holiday but we're back now and perhaps can be forgiven for feeling that someone has been putting a lot of Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen on youtube. There certainly seems to be more lately but then again maybe they were well hidden earlier. Here's one you might like called Thee Live Wires: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BjPWQj4Ur4
While looking for more of this band I came across the very talented Hungarian band with a similar name, the Storyville Jazz Band. They were formed in 1997 and are very popular in their own country. That won't be surprising when you hear them play Sweet Georgia Brown www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZcsEruP3H8
19th March For me it is a very sad day, Chuck Berry has died (although at 90 he had a very good innings). I missed him when I was growing up (got hooked on Donegan and Holly) and only discovered him relatively recently. He was an inspirational Rock 'n Roller and very influential. His songs were simple, with clever lyrics that he performed with a laid-back approach. I'll say no more as there are lots of accolades and memories on Youtube. I'll just add a couple of links: First Chuck Berry at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 and then a favourite clip of him performing You Never Can Tell. www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBAw-_oEW78
10th March I've had a query from someone asking who played baritone sax on the Heebie Jeebies recording by Alan Elsdon's band in my trad list below (6th March). I'm fairly sure it's John Barnes although he's not mentioned on the album label. He began his career playing clarinet in a New Orleans style but later moved on to sax in a more mainstream style. He played variously with Leo Sayer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Alex Welsh and Alan Elsdon. Hear him on baritone ..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJy0l0IjfDM
6th March We haven't been giving trad jazz much of a spin lately so I've chosen ten pieces that I really enjoy and hope you will too. These are all by well-known bands, at a later date I'll choose ten tracks by lesser-known bands.
Chris Barber: Everybody Loves My Baby
Acker Bilk I’m Going Home
Kenny Ball: I Still Love You All
Terry Lightfoot: Elephant Stomp
Ian Menzies (Clyde Valley Stompers): Salty Dog
Humphrey Lyttelton: Bad Penny Blues
Alan Elsdon: Heebie Jeebies
Bob Wallis (Storyville Jazzmen): Bellissima
Alex Welsh: Many make Up Your Mind
Ken Colyer: Cheek To Cheek
28th February Given that jazz is celebrating its centenary since the first jazz recording of Livery Stable Blues by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917 you might like to listen to a series of BBC Radio programmes called Jazzed Up: How Jazz Changed Britain. The first programme of the series can be found at the link;
And here's that original recording of Livery Stable Blues: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9chC3kBlDdQ
11th February They play jazz in Slovenia, at least the Balboa Ragtime Band do. This lively outfit are based in Ljubljana and edge, perhaps, towards Manouche music. Give them a spin for a bit of fun ......
9th February In a New Zealand crime novel I came across reference to our 'hero' dancing to the rhythm of Lyle Lovett and his song She's No Lady. Being curious I thought I'd check it out on YouTube. Lyle Lovett plays folky finger style but on this recording he is with his big band. It's very jazzy and attractive - here's the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o3m1FwhusY If you like this you might like another Lyle sings with his big band called I've Been to Memphis: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d5-v0XVXE8
Each January our correspondent in Britain, Randomise, puts together Jazzuary, a list of tracks that have taken his fancy over the previous year and that he would like to share with us. Here they are as they unfolded day-by-day through the month. We really have to thank Randomise for this mammoth effort. It sets a high standard for those who follow! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your expertise of such a wide range of jazz.
Jazzuary 31st - Art Tatum and Ben Webster - All The Things You are (off The Tatum Group Masterpieces,1956)
I’m filled with a pinch of sadness now that the end of Jazzuary is here. I always find wrapping up the hardest part, that one passing shot to tie up the loose ends. So let’s spend a moment to quietly thank those who made 2016 special, who helped us through the bad times, and who shared the good.
Here’s a track that is appropriately reflective and spotlights the talent of Tatum with a smooth bluesy accompaniment by Webster. The Tatum Group Masterpieces are well worth hunting down. Take a look at the indispensable reference library that is http://www.jazz-on-line.com. Say no more.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsZZkOgtMyI
Jazzuary 30th - Aziza - Walkin’ the Walk (off Aziza, 2016)
This new quartet, led by double-bass legend Dave Holland (and released on his own label) brings together US-based Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Eric Harland. It brims over with Latin, Caribbean and African influences with a contemporary air. www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGs9-s9tvb8
Jazzuary 29th - Lennie Tristano - C Minor Complex (off The New Tristano, 1961)
This is the most engaging track off a remarkable album of solo piano improvisations by Lennie Tristano. He is certainly very accomplished - why is he not better known today? He is on the road somewhere between is bebop and free-jazz, which may be difficult for some listeners, but exciting to others.Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX1s3OWXxZg
Jazzuary 28th - Huw V Williams - Skardu’s Missing (off Hon, 2016)
The contemporary UK Jazz scene is vibrant with young talent. Welsh bassist Huw Williams is accompanied by Laura Jurd and Elliot Galvin (who form the backbone of Dinosaur - see Jazzuary 26th) on this charming album.
Guardian Review by John Fordham, 3 March 2016
Huw V Williams, a young Welsh double bassist and composer, has written a collection of original jazz themes that would sound good played by almost anybody. In the hands of trumpeter Laura Jurd, pianist Elliot Galvin, tenor saxophonist Alam Nathoo and drummer Pete Ibbetson, however, they’re irresistible. Williams’ thinking often reflects the genre collisions of Chaos Collective stalwarts like Jurd and Galvin – such as the strutting Skardu’s Missing, with its from-the-hook lurchy mid-tempo Cuban dance vibe... It’ll be a strange oversight if this compositionally intrepid set doesn’t make the UK jazz end-of-year lists.
Hear it on BandCamp - https://huwvwilliams1.bandcamp.com/track/skardus-missing
Jazzuary 27th - Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids - Whispering Tenderness (off We Be All Africans, 2016)
My “World Eclectic” track for this year comes courtesy of UK’s The Wire Magazine. The Wire has been my musical companion for twenty years, leading me through the strange and bizarre and downright ugly side of contemporary experimental music. The vibrant, creative, anti-establishment rule-breaking ethos that characterised the spirit of early Jazz is often present in other genres these days more popular than Jazz. The Wire is my window on that world. Don’t worry though - I’m not going all Hip Hop and Rap on you. Virtuosity leads to Improvisation, and Improvisation leads to Jazz.
Listen to The Wire’s pick of the best releases of 2016 (if you dare.)
(Here, Gate and Roy Montgomery are New Zealanders. But it ain’t Jazz.)
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6UQAP1Xf08
Jazzuary 26th - Dinosaur - Primordial (off Together, As One, 2016)
Trumpeter Laura Jurd received the United Kingdom's Parliamentary Jazz Award for "Instrumentalist of the Year" in 2015, and is widely recognised on the UK scene for her improvisation and broad contribution to the genre. In Dinosaur she’s joined by keyboardist extraordinaire Elliot Galvin, Conor Chaplin (bass guitar) and Corrie Dick (drums) on this beautifully played and effortlessly confident collage of contemporary styles. A great debut album for the young band.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKPtpCbm4Qk
Jazzuary 25th - Mose Allison, Modest Proposal (off The Way of The World, 2010)
Mose Allison, idiosyncratic blues singer and Pianist, departed this mortal coil on 15 November 2016. I can’t say I’m a great fan, but being a fellow free thinker, I appreciate the speculative nature of this song, especially when voiced so late in his life.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGmIKTB54JU
Jazzuary 24th - Stan Getz - Summer Night (off Moments in Time, 1976 release 2016)
For the many Stan Getz fans I’ve picked a recent re-release for today. I have Getz/Gilberto The Best of Two Worlds, so this is fine companion, being recorded around the same time. I can’t do better than Matt Collar’s AllMusic review from the web:
Recorded the same week as Getz/Gilberto '76, Resonance Records' companion album, 2016's Moments in Time, captures saxophonist Stan Getz performing live at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in May 1976. To celebrate the release of Getz's reunion album with Brazilian singer/guitarist João Gilberto, 1976's The Best of Two Worlds, the saxophonist booked a week of shows at the Keystone backed by his quartet and featuring Gilberto. Whereas Getz/Gilberto '76 showcases the Gilberto performances, Moments in Time finds Getz appearing alone with his band, featuring pianist Joanne Brackeen, drummer Billy Hart, and bassist Clint Houston. Despite the wealth and fame he accumulated from his initial 1960s bossa nova albums, Getz remained a creatively restless, forward-thinking artist over the coming years. His band here, arguably one of his best of the period, also bore this forward-looking vision out with performances that straddled the line between lyrical intimacy and aggressive, extroverted improvisation. One can also see where Getz's taste was at the time based on his song choices, pulling together standards like "Summer Night" with more harmonically layered pieces like Wayne Shorter's languid and sultry "Infant Eyes" and the funky Kenny Wheeler composition "The Cry of the Wild Goose."
Jazzuary 23rd - Cannonball Adderley Quintet - Sack o’ Woe (off At the Lighthouse, 1960)
This live recording of the Cannonball Adderley Quintet frequently features in top hundred lists, but it was The Lighthouse being used as a location in the 2017 film “La La Land” that made me to hunt it out and give it a good listen. Adderley is in top form. Toe tapping heaven.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR3rm-4ZiFo
Jazzuary 22nd - The Kansas Smitty’s House Band - The Black Paddy (off Kansas Smitty’s, 2015)
Kansas Smitty’s House Band are a 7-piece (Piano, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Sax, Trumpet and Clarinet) from London. In fact they own and run a bar there, and play in it too, as well as around London. These guys are so much fun - fairly standard Kansas City style jazz - but played with a lot of ability and humour. We loved them when we heard them at the local Jazz Festival in March. We could have easily had another hour of this.Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMwMF_JzAZw
Jazzuary 21st - Larry Young - Trane of Thought (off Larry Young: In Paris - The ORTF Recordings, released 2016)
One of the much lauded “re-issues” of the year is a 1964/65 recording by US keyboardist Larry Young. You may know him from his masterpiece Blue Note session “Unity” (1965) with Joe Henderson, Elvin Jones and the teenage trumpeter Woody Shaw, (who appears here.) Or perhaps his work in The Tony Williams Lifetime band (with John McLaughlin) and later with Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana. Resonance Records, which specializes in finding historic often unheard recordings, worked with ORTF (the Office of French Radio and Television) archives to unearth these tapes not heard since their original broadcast fifty years ago. And a good thing too! Sadly, haven't found anywhere to stream this on-line but you can hear other tracks by Larry Young on YouTube.
Jazzuary 20th - Charlie Hayden - Song for Ché (off Liberation Music Orchestra, 1969)
There are many reasons why this track appears on my Jazzuary this year. If you haven’t ever seen it, take a look at Jazzwise Magazine’s “The 100 Jazz Albums That Shook The World” (another of what I call my essential lists). http://www.jazzwisemagazine.com/pages/jazz-album-reviews/11585-the-100-jazz-albums-that-shook-the-world
At number 90 on the list is “Liberation Music Orchestra”, which I only managed to track down this last year. The Liberation Music Orchestra revived in 2016 with a new album - maybe there is scope for politics in Jazz still. I hope so - it makes the world more interested (even if you don’t believe.) Gato Barbieri sadly passed away on 2 April 2016. “Song for Ché” is dedicated to my Chilean Rose Tarantula, given to me by my Dad and sister Amy during their UK visit in 1992.
90. Charlie Haden - Liberation Music Orchestra - Impulse!
Haden (b), Don Cherry, Michael Mantler (t), Roswell Rudd (tb), Bob Northern (Fr hn), Howard Johnson (tba), Perry Robinson (cl), Gato Barbieri, Dewey Redman (ts), Sam Brown (g), Carla Bley (p, arr), Paul Motian and Andrew Cyrille (d). Rec. 1969
Jazz and politics have always been entwined, but rarely in the music’s history have the links spelt out on record. The 1960s was a decade when that orthodoxy was reversed, with Charlie Haden’s debut album at the decade’s end being one of the most explicit endorsements of leftist sentiments to be found in the entire jazz world. Sentiments of any persuasion are no proof of quality, but the compositions – from Haden, Bley and Ornette Coleman, among others – are uniformly strong and the supporting cast fiercely inspired. For 40 minutes you could believe, if you wanted to. (KS)
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMDWVl11D_A
Jazzuary 19th - Horace Silver - Song for My Father (off Song for My Father, 1964)
I was a twinkle in my Father’s eye when this song was recorded by Blue Note sound engineer Rudy Van Gelder (who sadly died on 25 August this year). This album, and this track in particular, has an African feel to it, at time reminiscent of the work by Ethiopian Jazzman Mulatu Astaqué. Just love it.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWeXOm49kE0
Jazzuary 18th - John Surman - Jynjyg (off Westering Home, 1972 reissued in 2016)
I’m a huge fan of John Surman, the British alto saxophonist. He combines folk themes and electronic styles with his experimental free jazz to produce compositions that strong evoke the West Country landscape. All that follows in his discography is nascent here on “Westering Home” (which was reissued in 2016.) Listen out for the call of waders towards the end of this track. A bonus mark if you can tell what they’re supposed to be!
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHdtn9MPAL4
Jazzuary 17th - Cécile McLorin Salvant - Growlin’ Dan (off For One to Love, 2015)
This delightful Cab Calloway song is given the Salvant treatment. I hadn’t heard it before, but love the referees to “Minnie the Moocher”. She won Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for the album.Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUPQxLZmE8k
Jazzuary 16th - Vince Guaraldi - Charlie Brown Theme (off Jazz Impressions of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”, 1964)
Overlooked because it’s not serious jazz, the album’s sheer accessibility must have turned lots of people onto jazz. Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown work appeared again in the charts before Christmas, in various re-issue, some festively themed. Perhaps a perennial favourite.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ojk1dwbos
Jazzuary 15th - Snarky Puppy & Metropol Orkestra - Flight (off Sylva, 2015)
Their album won Snarky Puppy & Metropol Orkestra a 2016 Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in the Jazz category. This is pleasant enough, and if you like Funk/Jazz fusion or Jazz Orchestral music you’d be mighty pleased.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lflkj9CRTe0
Jazzuary 14th - Cecil Taylor - Bemsha Swing (off Jazz Advance, 1956)
Cecil Taylor’s debut album Jazz Advance must have sounded from another planet when it first came out. It rewrote the rule book and set in train Free Jazz a decade later. It may be hard to see what all the fuss is about today, but remember this was 1956, and just four years after Bemsha Swing was written. This track is played "cryptically and succinctly, the lines breaking up into jagged fragments and jutting chords".
Read more about this track on the excellent “50 Great Moments in Jazz” article that appeared in the UK’s Guardian newspaper a few years back -
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEIOQ7o_7-E
Jazzuary 13th - Ted Nash - Bemsha Swing (off Sidewalk Meeting, 2001)
This very underrated album from 2001 has a real street Jazz theme. And this version of Monk’s classic is super fun. And is that a tuba I hear?
Hear it on Spotify at - https://open.spotify.com/album/2uqLFdsnhNoTzNE8sZNhgt
Jazzuary 12th - Henry “Red” Allen - ‘SWonderful (off World on a String, 1957)
Henry “Red” Allen loomed large in the heyday of pre-war Jazz, acclaimed as the first to fully incorporate the innovations of Louis Armstrong. This recording (originally “Ride, Red, Ride in Hi-Fi” on LP) shows that he still had it in 1957, a gifted ability to adapt his style to what’s currently popular. Whether you call it “traditional” or “revivalist” is down to you. It sure swings!Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkbCsR7-8mM
Jazzuary 11th - Gregory Porter - French African Queen (off Take Me To The Alley, 2016)
Gregory Porter is popular with all my household, and we usually end up all singing along with the latest tune when it’s playing on the radio. This track has an rich African groove. Sometimes Porter veers towards the popular, but I like the instrumental pieces here a lot.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABd7aNUwylQ
Jazzuary 10th - Ella Fitzgerald - My One and Only (off Pure Ella, 1954)
Another jazz album in the best seller charts last year was “Pure Ella” - one I had yet to add to my own Jazz Library til now. The clarity of Ella’s vocals against the simplicity of solo piano accompaniment is beguiling.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MthwsgjOzS0
Jazzuary 9th - Pigfoot - Petite Fleur (off 21st Century Acid Trad, 2014)
There seems to be something horribly off-kilter here, until you realise it is played intentionally this way. I am not sure it adds much to Sidney Bechet’s classic, other than perhaps humour. But I’m all for that! I enjoy this whole album, with its anachronic saunter down the byways of Jazz. So much so that Catherine and I rushed to hear Pigfoot play on Sunday 20th March last year, Quarry Theatre, Bedford, as part of the Bedford Jazz Festival. We didn’t enjoy it. “Cup of sick” comes to mind. It was jarring and discordant to our sensitive ears. You can’t win ‘em all.
Jazzuary 8th - Miles Davis - So What (off Kind of Blue, 1959)
A perusal of US’s Billboard jazz chart earlier this year revealed that Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” was again in the top selling Jazz list. Not surprising perhaps - it unerringly comes in at the top spot whenever a new ‘Best Jazz Album Ever’ list is published. There is always a cohort of new jazz converts starting their Jazz Libraries, or those clambering on the resurgence of vinyl bandwagon. Let’s not debate the whys and wherefores of this - and just enjoy the tingles of the opening track “So What”.
Hear it on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylXk1LBvIqU
Jazzuary 7th - Empirical - Stay the Course (off Connection, 2016)
Empirical were one of the most exciting acts to play at the Bedford Jazz Festival in March 2016 - a young quartet featuring altosax, vibraphone, bass and drums. They looked great, they sounded great, they were great! They played tracks from their latest album (Connection) launched only the day before. Their style is influenced by 1960s hard-bop (strongly by Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy methinks) though sometimes also some very sensitive numbers too. I loved it.
Heard it on Cuniform Records - https://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/connection
Jazzuary 6th - Jasper Høiby - Collective Spaces (off Fellow Creatures, 2016)
The UK-based jazz trio Phronesis get a lot of plays in this house, and I try to see them at the Dankworth’s Stables, Wavendon, when I can. So I was excited when uber-talented bassist and lead Jasper Høiby put out his debut album this year. His new band brings together leading lights of the Brit-Jazz scene (Mark Lockheart on saxophones and Laura Jurd on trumpet/flugelhorn) with emerging talents (Will Barry on piano and Corrie Dick on drums). While the music is more diffuse than Phronesis, it gains significantly in terms of the subtlety, rhythmic and melodic invention.
Hear it on BandCamp - https://jasperhoiby.bandcamp.com/track/collective-spaces
Jazzuary 5th - Mary Halvorson - Aisha (off Meltframe, 2015) This American avant-garde jazz guitarist produced a solo album in 2015 which was much lauded by the critics. Reinterpreting classics is a hard thing to carry off on guitar alone, and apparently Halvorson continually reworked her arrangements until they were “right”. Her exciting version of McCoy Tyner’s "Aisha" is a stark contrast to yesterday’s Bobby Hutcherson’s sleepy rendition - her brief blasts on the effects pedal will certainly wake you up!
Hear it on BandCamp - https://maryhalvorson.bandcamp.com/track/aisha
Jazzuary 4th - Bobby Hutcherson - Aisha (off Wise One, 2009) I never have considered the vibes a serious jazz instrument, but the death of the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson on 15 August last year made me re-appraise my prejudices. His version of McCoy Tyner’s "Aisha" here is mellow and controlled. It’s almost a lullaby. Unlike … (you’ll have to wait 'til tomorrow!)
Hear it on YouTube - www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9BwoukzYC8
Jazzuary 3rd - Thad Jones, Mel Lewis Orchestra - Big Dipper (off All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recording at the Village Vanguard, released 2016)
Here’s something to get your soul moving. This is the first official release of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra in their Opening Night performance at the legendary Village Vanguard on February 7, 1966. Yes, that’s 50 years ago. It was performance that launched a tradition of successive Monday night appearances by the big band that lasted a whole twelve years and which continues today through the dedication of the band's musical heir, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Long may it continue. For a mini-documentary about the recording check out; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHDX4Ds5Kp0
Jazzuary 2nd - Christian McBride Trio - Cherokee (off Live at the Village Vanguard, 2015)
Christian McBride, the American jazz bassist, clocked up his fifth Grammy award in 2016 with Best Improvised Jazz Solo for this track. This up-tempo interpretation sure rattles along, and hopefully sets the pace for the coming year. www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4UbVHNvgys
Jazzuary 1st- Madeleine Peyroux - Dance Me To The End of Love (off Careless Love, 2004)
Madeleine Peyroux’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” is in my top-ten all-time most played songs - a jazzed up interpretation of a Leonard Cohen (who sadly passed away on 7th November, 2016) classic that is sublime. It seems a fitting way to start Jazzuary 2017: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqpOFQvMM1A
18th November Blues pianist and singer Mose Allison died on 15th November. Although Mose was not a sophisticated performer he attracted a lot of fans with his hybrid southern style of playing. He influenced British blues performer Georgia Fame who played at a couple of Christchurch Jazz and Blues Festivals in recent years. Enjoy Mose at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCpekvOkwNM
15th November Our British correspondent Randomise regularly checks the Guardian newspapers' Jazz column. The Guardian is one of the few UK dailies where jazz gets a mention. In the current issue at www.theguardian.com/music/2016/nov/11/john-thomson-london-jazz-festival-fast-show-cold-feet John Thomson includes his 10 favourite jazz tracks. Here they are and my one line comments on them, for what they're worth:
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Paul Anka He sounds much like Bobby Darin but doesn’t quite have his projection. Good to hear him approaching swing tunes.
Body and Soul – Tony Bennett/Amy Winehouse Given the reservations I have had for Tony Bennett this is a great recording. Amy Winehouse is a lost talent and this recording is wonderful.
Can’t Buy Me Love – Michael Bublé I like Bublé and sing his Sway. This song is all in its arrangement but I don’t think it does much for Bublé or Bublé does much for it.
Give Me the Night – George Benson I love early Benson when he was playing jazz. This track is just pleasant, rather formulaic and monotonous.
Matinee Idol – YellowJackets Mildly interesting if you like this sort of thing.
Westchester Lady – Bob James In the same vein. Mildly interesting. When you’ve heard one of these, you’ve heard them all.
Theme from Bullitt – Lalo Schifrin I loved the movie (all those years ago). Didn’t it include the song Windmills of Your Mind ? The film theme is a bit of a yawn.
Double Steal – Fuse One More of that funky, boring simplistic music.
Beat 70 – Pat Metheny Group I’m not a Methany fan. This was OK at least it had a theme and a tune which some of his other stuff doesn’t. Not really jazz as I define it.
Garden Party – Mezzoforte I’ve seen this band before on youtube. Who'd have thought jazz from Iceland could be so good. I don’t know why it appeals to me. Maybe ‘cos I’ve played alongside horn players and this band has them in abundance. It’s melodic and tight, well arranged.
29th October Here are a couple of other bands you might like: A Canadian quintet called The Cookers www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPoGhRVOdgE
And a French, sometimes quartet, sometimes quintet, La Rex : www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpeJGNblpmc
28th October Oh how the weeks fly by. I've just heard from Ange Newell that they're hoping to attract Wellington band The Jac to the Invercargill Arts Festival next year. They are a very tasteful octet from the Wellington Jazz School that originated as a rehearsal band for staff and students. They have recorded at least a couple of albums, their latest being The Green Hour. You can hear them at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqtIBZCQveE
28th September The late Roland Kirk has always intrigued me. I have an album or two by him and quite enjoy his multiple horn approach where he plays two or three reed instruments at the same time. The result is often a bit simplistic but he's an entertainer and tickles my fancy. Here he plays with McCoy Tyner and Stanley Clarke way back in 1975: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiI2ZHmxPPo
22nd September One of our readers reckoned there was some even better Lindy Hop at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp0HStBX_FA . I think technically it's a Charleston Lindy Hop cross but let's try it.
21st September I enjoy dancing to jazz, in a sort of Colyer stomp way, but was never fit or agile enough to do the Lindy Hop. How did they manage it? Think of the hours of practice needed? It leaves the rather trivial 'Dancing with the Stars' for dead. There are lots of clips of the Lindy Hop on youtube, most with good jazz accompaniment. Here we have the International Strictly Lindy Hop Jazz Championships from 2013. Music supplied by Jonathan Stout and his Campus Five. Enjoy! www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9xxeWRxSbA
18th September As you know, this website has on its Jazz Medley pages a number of quizzes for you to test your mettle. Judging by the number of people who watch quizzes on TV it is a popular pastime. Well, you might be interested to know that the Sandy Brown Jazz website has a very accessible monthly jazz quiz. You can check out the site at sandybrownjazz.co.uk This month's quiz asks you fifteen questions starting with 'Where?' The clues are based on song lyrics .....They suggest that you give yourself one extra point if you are able to identify the song from which these lines are taken: 'The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore The smile you are smiling you were smiling then ...'
14th September Not everyone in the jazz world would know of Mike Durham who died in March 2013. This is particularly so in the Antipodes because Mike Durham was English, living in Newcastle, where his fame was not as a musician – although he was an elegant trumpet player – but as a festival organiser. For more than two decades he ran the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival, and later, the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party. Mike and Patti Durham I love classic jazz and have featured clips from the Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Festival before on these pages. Here are a few more, first a tribute to the Festival then some videos saluting, respectively, trombonist Miff Mole, reed player Sidney Bechet and then the New Orleans Rhythm Kings (NORK):
13th September If you're a Grunhild Carling fan and not concerned about what she may or may not be on you might like to share these clips. We're all agreed that she has a lot of talent!
9th September We've featured the Carling Family on this page before but a friend send me a link of Gunhild Carling playing bagpipes that might tickle your fancy, as they say. I think she's gone downhill somewhat since she started appearing with her family at age 8 playing trombone but she has become a consummate entertainer with a wide range of talents including expertise on a variety of instruments and dancing prowess. One has to wonder, though, on this clip, what she was on! www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RbVuDuCYMY
2 September Charlie Parker and the bassoon might seem an unlikely combination but there are a few exponents of that instrument who play Bop. You might like to listen to the Alexandre Silverio Quartet. The leader plays plays bassoon, Martin Lazarov is on piano, Eduardo Guarinon drums and Igor Pimenta, bass. Here they are playing Charlie Parker's Donna Lee www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdj-Z-YWXhE
26th August Animals don't only enjoy jazz, well some of them, but a few even play or sing it. How about this very talented jazz singing pooch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpuoO5hqAqA
23rd August Don't ever think that it's just jazz aficionados like us who enjoy jazz. Lots of other people and even other species appreciate a good jazz tune - check it out: www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/lXKDu6cdXLI?rel=0 Thanks for the link Geoff.
22nd August I had brunch yesterday with old friends Debbie and Alastair Monteath. They were in town for a family gathering. Alastair reckons jazz is a hard row to hoe at the moment but is looking forward to a regular local gig in Central when a new restaurant opens. I thought you might like to share a short snippet of him playing at Les Alpes In Queenstown: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaD1ATG0lSg
21st August As you probably know the NZSO and the Rodger Fox Big Band will soon begin a nationwide tour and they don't forget our fair city. They will be in Invercargill on Friday 16th September. The concert is called Swing into Spring and they will perform new arrangements including Fanfare for the Common Man, The Meaning of the Blues and excerpts from West Side Story. Check out the NZSO promo at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLCFyJ1SNvI You might like a reminder of the sound of Rodger Fox and can hear him with his Wellington Big Band at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV75kIgTkYw
16th August Apparently there were three documentaries on Australian Jazz: The Melbourne Scene and the one mentioned yesterday was Part 1. I just had a look at Part 3. It features my favourite Melbourne trad jazz band of the 1960s, The Red Onion Jazz Band. This programme isn't just music with a slide show, although it includes that, but has video footage and interviews. If you like trad you'll enjoy this ..... www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fWgp2MS-h0
15 August I recently heard some jazz in Sydney and thought you might, if you're a big-band lover, enjoy listening to Alan Baylock's arrangment of Cold Duck Time for the Sydney Jazz Orchestra. www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGIeD1h1HeU
Of course, although there's good jazz to be heard in Sydney, the heart of early jazz in Australia was Melbourne. On youtube there is a programme called The Melbourne Sound: The First Forty Years. It includes selected tunes from mainly Melbourne musicians from 1947 to 1984 and features the Bell Band, Frank Johnson, The Southern Jazz group, Len and Bob Barnard, Ade Monsbourgh, Frank Traynor, Tom Baker, Neville Stribling, Graham Coyle and the Melbourne University Jazz Band. You can catch it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNf7j-2MvTE
3rd August One good thing about a rainy day is that one can sit at one's computer with a clear conscience and look at jazz videos. Someone I know was doing research on life in the 1920s and put me on to this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=684n8FO68LU The band sounds like the Coon-Sanders Night Hawks to me. Enjoy it and the video.
2nd August Roy Gardnerra (see 29th July) is not a musician but the proprietor, if that is the right word, of a website. Moreover it appears to be Russian. Gardnerra has collected a number of historic videos including music, jazz in particular. Women in Jazz is one of those but there are many more. He has classic clips of the Eddie Condon All-Stars, Charlie Barnet, Louis Armstrong, Lester Young/Billie Holiday, Stan Kenton, Count Basie and many more. One video called The Last of the Blue Devils features the musicians that later became the Benny Moten Orchestra that itself morphed into the Count Basie Orchestra. Check out Roy's collection at www.nasrato.ru/search/Roy+Gardnerra/CD8QAA
29th July Watching the Tori Freestone Trio on www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tori+freestone+trio got me thinking about women in jazz. How early on it was difficult for women to make a career in the genre unless they were a singer or a pianist. It was later in the 1930s and 40s that some women instrumentalists made a success, mostly playing in all girl big bands. There is a fine video story of Women in Jazz by Roy Gardnerra. Mary McPartland does the introductions on the first two parts and you can catch the documentary at www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLCcQvboXig&list=PL11C09FAB7BDA8AAA The final two parts are introduced by Carmen McCrea and deal mostly with vocalists.
26th July I find NZ jazz pianist Mike Nock and his Trio a bit of an acquired taste but he is featuring in the Dunedin Arts Festival later this year (30th Sep - 9th Oct) and so hopefully I'll be there. You can hear what the trio are sounding like these days from this performance at Jazzgroove, Sydney, where Nock plays every Tuesday. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd0LlxJqOvw
23rd July We heard Johnny Depp play guitar recently. Maybe it wasn't jazz but it got me thinking about other movie people who might like or play jazz. Of course Woody Allen came to mind. He plays clarinet often with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band at Cafe Carlyle in New York
Hear him solo on Shake That Thing at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDWMIy4t0g4
21st July Jazzy and inspiring, this trailer for the 2016 Paralympics from TV Channel 4 (you won't hear me complaining about my aches and pains again): www.youtube.com/watch?v=IocLkk3aYlk
20th July Maybe you knew Johnny Depp could play the guitar. If you didn't you might like to know he recorded some of the sound-track of the movie Chocolat. Give him a spin at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxEP_UrdJD0 or www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N9d9oz-SD8
18th July Mary Poppins is on in town this week and I thought it might be a good idea if we could find some jazz versions of the music from the show. Well, it's not a popular source for music of that genre but I did come up with a piece by Duke Ellington and another version of the the same song, Chim Chim Cheree, by Louis Armstrong. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw85vTyo7cA www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQ2axyzn9H0
13th July If you're feeling down and need cheering up. If all the bad news is getting you down, you might like to check out The Jive Aces from their salute to Louis Prima album. Give their Bring Me Sunshine a whirl at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXvJ8UquYoo&list=RDhTainjvzeoI&index=13 I guarantee you'll chuckle.
11th July In an article entitled 'Is Jazz Entering a New Golden Age' of the current International edition of the Guardian newspaper (8th July) it is argued that although Jazz has been sidelined for decades the genre is now back in the spotlight thanks to endorsements by some of music's biggest stars and the end of internal bickering. You can read the argument by checking out the link; www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jul/08/is-jazz-entering-a-new-golden-age Mind you, I'm not convinced that jazz has been sidelined, no more than classical music. Modern jazz, at least, is not a simplistic form of music and never appealed to the popular taste. Maybe in the very early days hot dance, blues and traditional jazz tickled the popular taste buds but due to its versatility, the option to explore deeper issues in the genre, its appeal was to more sophisticated musicians and listeners and that is where it has been ever since and avidly so.
9th July Randomise sent me an album by bassist Dave Holland and his Octet that I'm really taken with. It was recorded live at Birdland in 2010. The band includes Chris Potter, Antonio Hart and Gary Smulyan on reeds, Alex Sipiagin (tp), Robin Eubanks (tm), Nate Smith (d) and Steve Nelson (vibes). Here's the title track from the album Pathways: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRrTIiAfqIM
7th July Ornette Coleman is often considered inaccessible by jazz pundits and often this is not far from the truth. In the 1980s he teamed up with a band called Prime Time that featured heavy percussion and several guitars. Although this sounds like a recipe for disaster some of their music, and there's plenty on youtube, is melodic and catchy as well as mind-stretching. Check out this from the 1988 Montreal Jazz Festival: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FztwFEk2nMk
4th July Playing For Change is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music. To get an idea of what they are about check out the link;
They also have a website where you can learn more about the project. Although not strictly jazz you get the feeling that many of the mussos are versed in the genre. As I mentioned, check out the link above to find out more.
26th June I was mentioning early New Orleans bands. Of course jazz from that city has a definite style and it's still played today. Recently I've come across a popular contemporary band called Tuba Skinny, formed in 2009, that evolved from a bunch of street musicians. They are dedicated to giving more publicity to the traditional New Orleans style and have a blogsite at tubaskinny.blogspot.co.nz . You might like to listen to their version of Bo Carter's I Get The Blues at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTainjvzeoI
24th June Aficionados of early New Orleans despised the white bands for playing what they considered as novelty music while reckoning the black bands played real jazz. Well, it's certainly true their music came from different sources. White bands evolved through dance music while black bands came from the blues. So-called white music had a great effect on big band jazz while black music had greater influence on small band jazz. Whatever you think, they were all heading for the same place, influencing each other as jazz evolved. To compare the two styles of early New Orleans jazz, black and white, you might try these two links. First up the white New Orleans Rhythm Kings in 1922 with Tiger Rag, this followed by the black King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band in 1923 with Dippermouth Blues: www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0EqJlV8zuc www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwpriGltf9g
12th June This year is the 500th anniversary of the death of Dutch artist Jheronimus Bosch (on 16th August). Nederlanders celebrate the occasion each year with a parade on a canal (imagine our Santa Parade on the Puny Creek). The event is called the Bosch Parade and it set sail this year for the 7th time. It's not jazzy, you might say, but the accompanying background music passes muster and the video is definitely worth a watch! www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kz3FmXckac
11th June Looking back over the 'chats' I note that we don't often feature the piano. It may have something to do with two very fine local jazz pianists, Ashley Windsor and Alastair Monteath, leaving town. Two years ago some stations around London placed pianos in their concourses for passers-by to rattle the ivories. It didn't take long for some very fine exponents on the instrument to emerge. One was Henri Herbert. He normally plays in a high-energy rock band but on this occasion graced the piano at St. Pancras International Station for an impromptu performance to promote a local boogie boogie festival www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8xmSlMb1dg
And while we're on the subject why not listen to Attilio Berni playing Cute on the giant J'Elle Stainer sub-contrabass saxophone with the Italian Moonlight Big Band,
4th June Jim Hall has been called the thinking man's guitarist. Whether you agree or not he plays elegant, mostly single note solos with a very pure tone. It's also been said that guitar and piano don't mix too well - they get in each other's way, in small group performances particularly. Think then of Jim Hall and Bill Evans, just the two musicians, playing together. They recorded two albums of these classic encounters in 1962. I have the first Undercurrent. The jazz is fine, sublime even, although there is, in some sense, a feeling that they overlap, get in each other's way. Jim Hall also played with pianist, Red Mitchell, and bassist Red Kelly in a trio they call the Modest Jazz Trio. Again we have fine jazz but there is still that feeling that one would have preferred to listen to the pure tones of Jim Hall alone or perhaps with a less intrusive instrument such as a reed. Here's Jim Hall with Bill Evans and the Modest Jazz Trio.
1st June Having posted the film It's Trad Jazz (below 23rd May) reminded me of another film that I haven't seen for some time. It's called Jammin' The Blues and features several prominent jazz musicians of the era (1944) including Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Sid Catlett, Barney Kessel and Jo Jones. Barney Kessel was the only white performer in the film. He was seated in the shadows to shade his skin, and for closeups, his hands were stained with berry juice. The movie won a number of cultural awards. It's only short and you can watch it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v_Y3Pbiims&list=PL72CCC9B27B2F40E8
30th May I know many of you like big band music and in my collection I have some Scandinavian offerings that we don't get to hear much. Here's one that might appeal; it's Swedish arranger Harry Arnold leading the Danish Radio Big Band in about 1966. An interesting feature is the inclusion of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a founder member of the pop group ABBA, singing some wistful jazz standards:
29th May I have this album by gypsy guitarist Bireli Lagrene, his first, called Routes To Django, live at the Krokodil. He was only 14 at the time but already showing prodigious technique (although perhaps not much emotion - well, who would aged 14). I fussed around the web looking for a video of his playing at that young age and came across www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkBUjqAB0I that you might like to share. He not only shows us what he can do on the guitar but also takes a more than competent bass solo.
27th May I was listening to a German quartet recently called Echoes of Swing, they reminded me of the John Kirby Sextet with their tight ensemble arrangements and lively solos. The quartet consist of Colin Dawson (tpt/voc), Chris Hopkins (as), Bernd Lhotzky (p) and Oliver Mewes (dm). You can hear them at
www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0F1tVX2N1k or again at
or check out their website at www.echoes-of-swing.de
If you want to remember what John Kirby's Sextet sound like try their version of Blue Skies,Those who like Chris Barber's band might like to look at a rare video clip of Chris's boys playing in East Berlin in 1965. Unexpectedly perhaps, the band begins the set with a vocal harmony rendition of Highway To Heaven. Check out Chris Barber Friedrichstadtpalast, East-Berlin 1965 at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U54D-XJhzlU.
Today, it being wet and blustery and a good day to stay snug indoors, I decided to do something I'd missed doing years ago, in 1962 in fact. In that year they produced a musical comedy film called It's Trad Dad and I decided to watch it. It consisted of wall-to-wall popular music and trad jazz of the era interspersed with a puerile plot and lots of laid-back humour. I hesitate to say I enjoyed it but I did, mainly in the memories brought back. In between tiny sections of plot, a huge swag of contemporary popular musicians entertained with whole versions of their songs - no hacked about bits and pieces of music for It's Trad Dad. Included in the line-up were Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Terry Lightfoot, Bob Wallis all leading their bands, the Dukes of Dixieland and the Temperance Seven. Popular entertainers included Craig Douglas, Helen Shapiro, John Leyton, the Brook Brothers, Del Shannon, Gene Vincent, Chubby Checker and others. There were also the three most well-known disc jockeys of the time. It's dated but a lot of fun. If it's raining and you've got an hour or so try it
22nd May Those of us who attended the Southland Secondary Schools' Jazz competition, JazzFest, last October were undoubtedly impressed by the standard of the bands. We may also have been a little disappointed that we aren't able to hear the bands play again - the event wasn't recorded and the bands don't play often. However, someone at Mount Aspiring did record them playing and did post their music on youtube as they have in previous years. Here's one example from JazzFest 2015, Oleo (there are others, e.g. The Girl From Ipanema and Chameleon). www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaM_Ssif9iQ
21st May And while we're in the mood for trombones try these two guys on trombone and guitar playing the Beatles number Can't Buy Me Love - very tasty.
20th May I came across a Jack Teagarden admirer while surfing youtube. He calls himself Paul The Trombonist and has taken some of Teagarden's recordings and rewritten them as duets (perhaps in the style of J J Johnson and Kay Winding). The effect is most enjoyable and you can catch him/them on:
17th May There must be many of us who periodically travel about the country, on business or pleasure. Maybe we'd like to listen to some live jazz while we're away. Well, good news there is a Jazz NZ - Event Guide to New Zealand Jazz that displays upcoming jazz events around the country. At the time of writing, for example, it advertises Tuesday Jazz In The Bar, a regular at the Esplanade Hotel in Devonport, Jazz at the Blue Smoke in Christchurch and the Ponsonby Road Jazz Club in Rotorua. Check the link:
14th May It being a wet and windy day I was listening to some of Benny Goodman's small groups - his trios, quartets and sextets. They were offshoots of his big band, of course and were used to add variety to his playing and for concert audiences. It put me in mind of other big bands whose leaders, cashing in on the popularity of small groups, also formed these 'bands within a band'. Woody Herman had his Four Chips. Artie Shaw had the Gramercy Five. There were others like Tommy Dorsey and the Clambake Seven, Fletcher Henderson with his Dixie Stompers and Harry Roy and his Tiger-Ragamuffins. Other band leaders like Duke Ellington used to be happy for offshoots of his band to play under other members' names like Cootie Williams and his Rugcutters. These bands were definitely bands within bands but some of the others like Count Basie's Kansas City Seven were small bands that featured their leader at a time when big bands were less profitable - there was no larger band then from which they were formed. Bob Crosby's Bobcats was another of these. I listened to them all on this wet and windy day!
13th May I'm a bit erratic at recognising the death of jazz musicians but today I would like to mention British sax player Joe Temperley who died recently (11th May). He was born in Scotland in 1929 and during his long musical career played variously with Harry Parry, Joe Loss and Humphrey Littleton where he remained for seven
years before moving to America. Then, specialising on baritone sax, he played with the likes of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Buck Clayton and Mercer Ellington before finally settling for the sax chair of Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra. He was truly one of the great Scottish jazz musicians and is well represented on youtube.
11th May Listening to the oldies over recent days got me to hunt down early British Bands. Although they were liable to be called Dixielanders or Hot Shots they were really just dance bands, albeit 'hot' dance bands. Here's a few you might like to try - a group of three under the title Swinging Britain 1936:
1. SCOTT WOOD AND HIS SIX SWINGERS I’d Love To Take Orders From You – vocal sung by Sam Costa
2. PHIL GREEN & HIS BUSKETEERS
Organ Grinder’s Swing
3. TEDDY FOSTER & HIS KINGS OF SWING
When A Lady Meets A Gentleman Down South – vocal sung by Teddy Foster
7th May I've almost certainly mentioned the Diz Disley Soho String Quintet that introduced me to that style of music in the late 1950s. I even have an EP of theirs somewhere. Recently I came across a revamp of the band, they had several, playing a promo track or two for a tour they made in 1986. You can see them at
There's also at least one NZ band playing in this style. They are Twistin' The Swing from Auckland who play regularly at Tuning Fork in Auckland. They are well represented on youtube. And maybe we shouldn't forget the Hot Club Of Southland who have entertained local audiences a few times.
6th May Way back last year on the 3rd August I took you back to the 1940s to hear four revivalist jazz bands from Britain. They had a brief moment of glory, perhaps, playing in jazz clubs around the U.K. at the time. Here are two more I've come across: The Yorkshire Jazz Band which included Diz Disley on banjo/guitar at the time recorded some tracks in 1949 including St. Louis Blues and Weary Blues. You can hear them at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vuw1sOQCIU
Earlier (in 1946) the Delta Rhythm Kings had recorded Tin Roof Blues and Balling The Jack at the South Lancashire Rhythm Club. Hear these at www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDdb01j3-40
29th April Recently, while holidaying in Arrowtown, I heard a busker playing what sounded a bit like a harpsichord. Intrigued, because I couldn't imagine anyone carting such a large instrument about, I followed the sound and came across a guy playing what I later found out to be aChapman Stick (aka stick guitar). This electric instrument, devised by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s, is a member of the guitar family. The number of strings varies but it usually has 10 or 12. The method of playing is similar to that of a piano where the strings are hit (tapped) and the sound taken up by electronics. It can be used to play bass lines, melody lines and chords. Check them out on Wikipedia and on youtube. I particularly like Bob Culbertson's version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps
22 April And here's another weird instrument, the slide alto saxophone. You can hear it played and a description of the instrument if you copy and paste Slide alto saxophone played by Frédéric Couderc and described by Bruno Kampman into the youtube address box. You'll need to be conversant in French to fully understand the description.
20 April While investigating unusual instruments (see 7th April below) I came across some unusual saxophones and there have been many. There's the slide saxophone that seems to be a cross between a sax and a trombone, a contrabass sax which plays very low notes, the conn-o-sax that ...... but you can see a description of these and others on 'Unheard of instruments in the saxophone family'. Just copy that title into youtube to meet a few of these unusual instruments.
19th April Occasionally I receive cartoons and jokes about music from Christchurch jazz pianist Doug Caldwell. Here's his latest contribution.
By the way, have you read Doug's autobiography yet? It's called My Life in the Key of Jazz . Doug is, of course, one of New Zealand's music legends. He's played an important role in the history of jazz in this country and still loves doing gigs around his home city. He has quite a few CDs out if you want to chase them down. I can recommend Brunching At The Ascot Park recorded at the venue in Invercargill and Off The Cuff. He's also recorded with Dunedin pianist Julian Lee and their album is all class - it's called Live At The Edge.
18th April The late Bill Robson of our fair city loved his jazz. He was a big fan of the Dutch Swing College Band and didn't miss a performance when they came to Invercargill (three times?). Bill's predilection in jazz was trad, in the British style (Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball) and big band swing. He occasionally rang me up to chat about bands he enjoyed and one occasion asked me if I would transpose an LP to CD for him. The LP was of a band I hadn't come across before called Enoch Light and his Light Orchestra. I think I should have done as Enoch Light had recorded well over 150 albums, 92 under the names Enoch Light and his Orchestra or Enoch Light and his Light Orchestra. Apparently his album So Nice still sells close to 10 million copies each year. He tended to play smooth, gently swinging orchestral music for older audiences and his gigs centred around top class hotels, restaurants and ballrooms in New York. He was also a noted recording engineer. His bands included many jazz musicians and on the one Rob gave me were trombonist Urbie Green, pianist Dick Hyman and bassist Milt Hinton among others. He is well represented on youtube and elsewhere.
17th April Mentioning a jug band yesterday got me perusing my collection of similar bands from the 1920s and 30s. Some of them, although unknown now, were very popular in their time. The first recording by the Mound City Blue Blowers, for example, in 1923 sold over a quarter million copies. The State Street Ramblers made nearly 50 recordings between 1927 and 1931 while the Washboard Rhythm Kings made over 70 from 1931 to 1933. Other popular washboard bands included the Washboard Serenaders and the Georgia Washboard Stompers. In addition there were heaps of popular jug bands the best known being the Memphis Jug Band and the Dixieland Jug Blowers. Washboards were, of course, used for their cheapness and because they caused less of a problem than drums in the primitive recording studios of the day. Jugs were a cheap alternative to brass instruments.
!6th April Probably like me you've enjoyed the latest VTNZ TV ad with its upbeat and joyful version of Willie Nelson's On The Road Again. I hadn't heard this C & W song before but did know of another song with the same name. Due to its similarity I thought the ad had simply jazzed up the old 1928 recording, that I have, by the Memphis Jug Band. The early version was also recorded by Canned Heat in 1967 and recently given a regular airing by local band Rusdikbil. I decided to check out for other versions on youtube and that's when I found out that the two songs were different. The early version is really a blues and although Willie Nelson has recorded a number of blues his version of the song was something different.
By the way, there are two other songs (at least) called On The Road Again, one by Bob Seger and the other by Manfred Mann - both are on youtube. Finally we mustn't forget Lonnie Donegan who recorded his own, idiosyncratic version of the earlier song under the name Fancy Talking Tinker.
15th April Most of us have heard recordings of English tenor sax player Tubby Hayes. He was also a brilliant flautist. Less well known perhaps is that he was a very fine vibraphonist. You can see what I mean on this BBC interview from 1960 when he talks a little about his career and how he got into playing the 'phone'.
14th April Ken Wellington recently heard the Jazz Vespers Quartet on youtube and enjoyed them. They are a rhythm section (piano/keyboards, bass and drums) with a tenor sax and they play numbers not often heard in a jazz context that include tributes to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder and Henry Mancini.
7th April Another strange instrument used in jazz has been the normaphone. A relatively new addition to the brass family, it soon fell out of favour. Shaped like a saxophone but with a trumpet's mouthpiece and piston or rotary valves, the tenor version of it sounds very much like a bass trumpet or a valve trombone. The only documented alto normaphone player in jazz is William "Hicky" Kelley. An euphonist by training, Kelley played the normaphone with saxophonist Curtis Peagler's Jazz Disciples on the latter's two dates for Prestige label in 1959 and 1960. Both records have been reissued on one CD from the Spanish label Fresh Sounds Complete Recordings: The Modern Jazz Disciples and Right Down Front (Fresh Sound, 2012).
6th April Some years ago I hosted a jazz show on local radio. On more than one occasion the theme of the programme was unusual instruments playing jazz and I included things like celeste, harp and piccolo. We've also mentioned bagpipes in this column (see 24th November, 2014 below). There have been a few bassoon players indulging their jazz including Frankie Trumbauer who recorded on that instrument with Joe Venuti's Blue Four in 1929, on the track Runnin' Ragged. In a more modern style Michael Rabinowitz played with the Charlie Mingus Orchestra on the instrument. Perhaps Rabinowitz's best album is Gabrielle's Balloon with his quartet which you can enjoy on youtube
4th April Fiery tenor player Gato Barbieri recently died (2nd April). Early in his career he played bop of the time but soon turned to the Latin style he is best known for - well, he did come from Argentina. Perhaps one can categorise his playing as reminiscent of 1970s jazz fusion. I have been playing his The Shadow Of The Cat album in remembrance. Here's a link you might like, an early recording (1977) he made with Carlos Santana.
3rd April Occasionally jazz musicians are persuaded to play solos on pop records. Phil Woods with Billy Joel on Just The Way You Are is perhaps the most well known. www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaA3YZ6QdJU
I came across another recently hearing Sonny Rollins soloing on The Rolling Stones recording of I'm Just Waiting For A Friend; www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKLVmBOOqVU
1st April I recently caught up with a new recording by Humphrey Lyttelton. Humph, with Bruce Turner and Roy Williams, was part of the Salute to Satchmo tour that visited Australia in 1978. Rolling back the years and delving back into the New Orleans catalogue, Humph is joined by a local band called The West Coast Jazzmen from North Fremantle. The gig was a 'warm up' before the main event the next day and the band let rip with their version of South. The recording was found on a CDR and restored by David Watson at the Monastery.
28th March Randomise mentioned the band Pigfoot he's heard at the recent Bedford Jazz Festival (see below). I chased them on youtube and found that the quartet featured trumpet, piano, drums and tuba, with not a baritone sax in sight. They have a sound all their own and would be popular in small doses at jazz festivals. I listened to Bigfoot Plays Opera and Pigfoot Plays Motown, you might like to give them a spin.
25th March I've enjoyed the Masada String Trio's work for some time. They made some wonderful recordings in the late 1990s under the auspices of John Zorn playing some of his compositions. Zorn skeptics will find the Trio's recordings surprisingly accessible. The trio play chamber jazz around Jewish melodies. Try this link:
If you'd like to hear a whole concert from the Warsaw Summer Days Festival of 1999, try (but excuse the unnecessary bad language at the outset): www.youtube.com/watch?v=a95ODn5k_1c
Ken Wellington attended the recent Uri Caine concert at the Civic Theatre in town. Here's his review of the event:
The Uri Caine concert was an impressive show of technique and knowledge of both the classical and jazz genres. He started with an improvisation on well known tunes from Mozart, improvising on them in different different piano styles. Not being a pianist, I thought I recognised stride piano in the mix, along with modern jazz intermittent block chords, He then played exceprts from Mahler's symphonies (the 1st and 3rd) and two of his songs, which I don't know. I thought I heard Bud Powell or maybe Art Tatum runs in those improvisations. All these pieces were played without interruption, so the tempo's and rhythm changes were instantaneous between 'tunes'. The freedom with which he played would have made it difficult for a rhythm section to follow I think.
In the second half Uri Caine started with Thelonious Monk's 'Around Midnite', which morphed into Blue Monk. His improvisations reminded me of the way Michael Zhang, the ICBB pianist, used to play. He received warm applause from a reasonably sized crowd, although it looked quite small in the Civic Theatre. For an encore, which he didn't introduce, I heard the tune 'I Got You' amoungst his improvisation on a 12 bar blues format.
I enjoyed the concert, and I would have liked to hear him with a jazz group, bouncing ideas around, as he is a musician who could play in many styles.
You can hear Uri Caine with the Masada String Trio and with his own trio on these two links:
22nd March Randomise also mentioned a trad band he'd heard recently. He enjoys their cheerful music, said there's time enough for us all to embark on new endeavours as these guys are all over 70. Why not have a listen - they're The Millennium Eagle Jazz Band? Here's a couple of links: www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Eo7SfNoCm0
20th March, 2016 I received an email recently from a friend who attended the Bedford Jazz Festival in England. He was at some of the concerts and wrote about them. You might like to share what he wrote - you can check out the bands on youtube. He writes under the name Randomise.
Stuart McCallum and Mike Walker - Mike Walker is the guitarist from The Impossible Gentlemen, so I had great expectations. Together they played a lot of melodic dreamy folky jazz, loosely improved though with very few heart-stopping moments. Walker chatted a bit between songs - reminiscences about his childhood told with a lot of humour, which made their set very entertaining.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Southland High Schools' Jazzfest at the Ascot Park Hotel last evening. Hearing The Invercargill City Big Band (aka The Crazy Rhythm Big Band) during the interval I was amazed at how they are still playing after all these years on and how well. A real nursery for jazz in the South. I also noticed Bruce Chilton had bought himself a baritone sax which reminded me (don't ask why) of Pepper Adams on that instrument. In 1981 Pepper did some short European tours. On one of these, in London at The Flags, he recorded a piece I rather like called Dylan's Delight. Enjoy the link.
Phil Woods, a highly accomplished alto saxophonist who married Charlie Parker's widow, developed one of the most signature sounds on the instrument in small-group and big-band settings, carried on the bebop tradition long after others had moved on, became an very fine composer-arranger and was perhaps best known for his solo on Billy Joel's Just the Way You Are, died yesterday, on Sept. 29. He was 83. There are plenty of his recordings on youtube.
I came across some interesting music recently, a South Korean virtuoso called Luna playing the gayageum, a lute-type instrument (I guess), generating those typical Korean sounds. Luna plays covers of Western music, including the blues, as well as Korean folk music. Try her out on Ray Charles's Hit The Road Jack: www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDgsBl8QC7g
Having a dose of flu (despite a flu jab) can have its upside. Yesterday it was BBC 4's Queens of Jazz. Today I decided to look further for BBC documentaries on jazz and came up with the absolutely delightful BBC 4's Jazz Legends In Their Own Words. The BBC of course has a huge library of jazz film to draw from and here you will enjoy many segments that you won't have seen before. This documentary concentrates on Louis, the Duke, the Count, Dizzie, Oscar and Ella. Isn't it amazing you know exactly who I mean from only their first names. The programme is full of humour as the musicians respond to some top class interviewers who include Kenneth Allsop, Alyn Shipton and Michael Parkinson. Duke Ellington responding to Humphrey Lyttelton's question about how to keep a band together, "You have to have a gimmick ----- give them money!"
To think that a Director General of the BBC, Lord Reith, once wrote in a memo, 'Hitler has banned hot jazz and we should be behind him in dealing with this filthy product of modernity.' No jazz on the BBC would mean no jazz archives. Fortunately no-one listened to him!
I've just caught up with BBC 4's 'Queens of Jazz: The Joy and Pain of the Jazz Divas. The divas featured include Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee and Nina Simone. Besides wonderful footage of the singers and bands at work there are atmospheric street scenes and observations by well-known musicians such as Lisa Stansfield, Loren Schoenberg, Melody Gardot, Annie Ross and many more. It is a film of depth and sensitivity. It covers the difficulties singers had working in the deep south of America, what the decline of the big bands meant to them, what growing old meant. It describes how they coped with travelling for days on end with 18 guys in a bus, the salve for some of drug addiction and how rock music brought an end their careers in the mid-1950s (if they lived that long).
You can Google it or watch it on youtube.
Very tardily I've come across George McKay's transcriptions of interviews and correspondence undertaken as part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council - funded project exploring the cultures and politics of traditional jazz in Britain in the 1950s. The project ran through 2001-2002 and was entitled American Pleasures, Anti- American Protest: 1950s Traditional Jazz in Britain. You can Google it for details. McKay was a researcher at the University of Salford and the exposition (which runs to 30 pages) contains interviews with Philip Larkin, George Melly, Colin Bowden and others. There is a piece on the Beaulieu Jazz Festivals (1956-61). It will be nostalgic for some.
Earlier this year there was posted on youtube a concert with Thad Jones conducting the Count Basie Orchestra. The sound is very authentic and you can catch it via the link:
The kazoo is not considered a proper musical instrument by most people yet there have been a few players who pushed the limits. Back in the mid-1920s The Mound City Blue Blowers sold over a million copies of one of their records - that band consisted of paper and comb, kazoo and banjo plus vocals (later adding a range of other instruments). Few bands have used the kazoo since then although I came across a Polish outfit recently that included an absolute virtuoso on the instrument. They are called the Provizorka Jazz Band. You can find them on youtube playing at the Dresden Dixie Festival in 1988 and later in 1991. The band has a modest line-up with bass, banjo, guitar, clarinet and kazoo. They are all very fine musicians. Have a listen to their versions of Caravan, and That's a- Plenty - and marvel!
Andrew McClure, from Western Southland, loves his jazz and earlier today we were chatting about a concert he would like to organise locally with his friend Vaughn Roberts. Vaughn is a very fine New Zealand composer and arranger. His album Grrreat Stuff composed and arranged for Big Band was recognised as the Jazz Album of the year at the 2010 NZ Music Awards. You can find out more about Vaughn and hear tracks from the album by checking out his website at:
There are also some of his big band arrangements featured on youtube. You can hear, respectively, the Papanui High School Jazz Band, the NZ High School National Jazz Band and the Vaughn Roberts Big Band playing some of Vaughn's arrangements on the following links:
Dylan Elise is a young New Zealand drum prodigy who features a number of time on youtube. Perhaps his most well-known video, with over 9 million youtube hits, was filmed at the Tauranga National Jazz Festival in, I think, 2007. Check it out and be prepared to be amazed.www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHDjGtj18X0
For those who like big bands you might like to look at the NZ Youth Jazz Orchestra 2015 on Youtube. Although only the back view of the conductor can be seen I'm fairly sure it's Roger Fox. There are a number of videos of them playing to enjoy and I recommend Love For Sale.
Another big band, closer to home, is the Queenstown Jazz Orchestra. You may recognise our friend Trevor Tattersfield on trumpet. You can see them via the link,
In Mike Zwerin's book The Parisian Jazz Chronicles he mentions that at one time he wrote under the name of the private investigator and jazz pianist played by Johnny Cassavetes in the early black-and- white television cop show Johnny Staccato. I remember enjoying these as a youngster and the atmosphere created by Elmer Bernstein's brilliant music. Staccato was a private 'eye' who played the occasional jazz piano in a club band. Wanting a shot of nostalgia I watched one of the old episodes on youtube. The club band consisted of Pete Condoli (tp), Red Norvo (vibes), Johnny Williams (p), Barney Kessel (g), Red Mitchell (b) and Shelley Mann (dm). Check out Johnnie Staccato, The Naked Truth and relive a few memories!
It's not often we get to hear jazz bass played as a solo instrument so why not try Charnett Moffett on youtube with his The Bridge or Eleanor Rigby. There are plenty of others but these two serve as a good introduction.
Every year, Jazzwise magazine asks its writers to choose their favourite albums – the releases that most impressed and inspired them. On the link below are the 20 albums which received the most votes from 2010 to 2014. No list like this can ever be considered 'definitive', but every one of these albums is outstanding, and they are sure to inspire many new voyages of musical discovery. www.jazzwisemagazine.com/features/jazzwise-magazine-features/13669-top-20-jazz-albums-of-the-last-five-years
Voted best jazz blog site by the blogrank website is: www.jazzwax.com Reg reckons he checks this out every few days. It not only includes current and historic jazz information but other odd items put together by Marc Myers who writes on music and the arts for the Wall Street Journal.
And if you want to catch up with some prodigious jazz talent you should track down Jacob Collier playing Fascinating Rhythm on youtube. You'll be amazed!
If you are a guitarist or guitar lover you might be interested in these buskers I found on youtube. I've found some who are more jazz-oriented. Just copy the tags and paste them on youtube to watch them. There are some great players out on the street!
Amazing busking jazz guitarist on Stratford High Street, East London!!!!
Jack Austin jazz guitarist busking in Cambridge
Guy with Tin Can Electric Guitar Busking at Dublin
Jack Broadbent Amazing busker should be WORLD famous!!
10th August I've recently discovered the 1961 British film All Night Long set in the London jazz scene of the 1960s. It featured Dave Brubeck, Charles Mingus and a swag of British jazz musicians including Tubby Hayes, Keith Christie, Ronnie Scott, Harold McNair, Allan Ganley, Harry Beckett and others. It wasn't that popular with the critics. David Meeker, author of Jazz in the Movies, described it as a 'ludicrous combination of Othello and Jazz Jamboree that falls flat on both counts.' Non-jazz actors included Patrick McGoohan and Richard Attenborough. Believe it or not the whole film is on youtube. Get a glimpse of the jazz that was going down in London at the time - good music, indifferent acting perhaps and poor plot but still a lot of fun.
Ken Wellington kindly sent me a link to some great jazz coming out of Auckland. Try looking at the Creative Jazz Club (CJC) for a good selection on youtube. There's a lot of fine jazz being played in Auckland.
I've just managed to get a copy of Jim Godbolt's A History of Jazz in Britain, 1955-70. I'm not sure how many were printed but the new owners sure didn't want to part with them as it's taken me quite a few years to track one down in second-hand bookshops. In the opening chapter the author discusses some of revivalist bands that were playing before 1950 including some I'd never come across before. I was surprised and pleased to find that a few are represented on youtube. Check these out:
Freddy Mirfield’s Garbage Men - Miss Annabelle Lee (1943)
Vic Lewis and Jack Parnell’s Jazz Men - Ja Da (1944)
John Haim’s Jelly Roll Kings - That’s A-Plenty
Smoky City Stompers - Careless Love
July 28th, 2015
During the 1990s Paramount Pictures/Lucas Films produced a TV series called The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. A number of them were shown on New Zealand TV and I remember enjoying them with my children. They were a cut above the usual adolescent TV and explored the childhood and youth of the fictional character Indiana Jones. Lucas drew up an extensive timeline and put together enough material for 70 episodes although they were not all made. The series was designed to be an educational programme for younger people, spotlighting historical figures and important events ranging across the first part of the 20th century (you can find out all about the programmes on Wikipedia). One episode that is relevant to this column was called The Young Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues. Set in 1920 Indy is studying at the University of Chicago and working part-time as a waiter. He is taught the basics of jazz by Sydney Bechet before becoming involved in a murder investigation during the Prohibition (cameo performances by 'Louis Armstrong', 'King Oliver' and 'Bix Beiderbecke'). Give yourself a break and relax to the history, albeit fictional, of jazz on youtube. The music is first class. 7 episodes of about 15 minutes each.
If you ever wondered whether Jelly-Roll Morton could really play the piano, check him out playing The Finger Breaker on youtube. You might want to compare his version with those of contemporary pianists Stephanie Trick or Dick Hyman.
20th July I've just seen where jazz is heading. It needs more than just the music these days, you've got to have some other gimmick. Check out the following by copying and pasting it into the youtube address box. Go the Live Music Wheel!
19th July I've just been rereading Mike Zwerin's book Swing Under the Nazis. The author has a very idiosyncratic style as befits a jazz muso perhaps. A review describes it as the literary equivalent of a jam session in an after hours joint on the wrong side of town - loose and untidy, scary, downright rank, exhilarating and exciting. Despite that, it is a treasure of information, affection and understanding. While reading it I played some vinyl from my collection. Jazz recordings made during WWII for propaganda reasons - both from the German side (Charlie and his Orchestra) and the Allies (Spike Jones). For dessert I found Yorkshire Television's documentary Swing Under the Swastika that gives a summary of how important jazz was (one way or another) to many Germans during the War. Both the book and the documentary seem to suggest that 'The Golden Age of Jazz' coincided with the rise of the Third Reich and ended with the liberation. Check out Swing Under the Swastika on youtube.
There are concerns that jazz is dying. I feel them too but then come across youngsters like Andrea Motis and realise that perhaps a new era of jazz is emerging. One with younger bands and younger fans. Andrea first attracted attention as a singer, trumpeter and saxophonist with Barcelona's youth collective San Andreu Jazz Band. Get a load of these youngsters via youtube, they are something special. Now 19 years old Andrea last October featured with her quintet in her Pizza Express Jazz Club debut in London. Check them out on www.jazzandjazz.com/?p=9829
While you're at the computer you might like to have a look at Kids and Music, Ia, Sant Andreu Jazz Band Le Documentaire on youtube. Wow! But it's in Spanish!
I have a few fusion albums in my collection by bands like Weather Report and Return to Forever I can't say I enjoy them much or play them often. I changed my mind when I heard the Japanese band Casiopeia. They are technically brilliant and their ensemble work and energy is amazing. The quartet of keyboards, bass, guitar and drums sound like a whole orchestra and they never seem to put a foot wrong (but then, they're not playing with their feet). Have a listen to their 20th Anniversary Live 2004 concert or Live Liftoff 2012 on youtube
I was reading this old book Jazz in Britain by David Boulton, perusing the list of bands described in one of the later chapters. Of course, I'd heard of Don Rendell's Jazz Six and the Terry Lightfoot band but there were quite a few I hadn't heard of. I decided to see if their recordings were on Youtube and began looking. I very soon became sidetracked, as one does, listening to other bands. I came across the Memphis Jazz Band from Uruguay. I'll keep perusing for other gems but have a listen to this South American band by checking out Memphis Jazz Band - "The Chiche's Pub" Uruguay. Never let it be said the South Americans can't play good jazz!
A number of people I meet tell me about their recent overseas trip and how they enjoyed an evening at Ronnie Scott's Club in London. It's amazing what an attraction the club holds for people, even those only marginally interested in jazz. If you're heading to Britain and want to plan a visit to the club check out the programme on their website www.ronniescotts.co.uk
I recently came across a BBC 4 jazz documentary you might like. It features Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald and others with some wonderful old film clips. The doco is a tad pinched but that doesn't really detract from the enjoyment of the music. You can see it by looking up Jazz Legends in Their Own Words - Documentary on youtube. Enjoy!
Gunther Schuller, classically trained French hornist, composer and conductor whose passion for jazz motivated him to record with jazz musicians and then fuse classical and jazz into what would become known as Third Stream, died Sunday in Boston aged 89.
23rd June For those of you who enjoy the cornet played in a contemporary style you might like to listen to Stephen Hayne's album Pomegranate at www.thewire.co.uk/audio/tracks/listen_stephen-haynes_pomegranate
18th June There are a number of jazz blogsites you can check out, mostly American. The one mentioned above I still consider to be the best but Rifftides compiled by Doug Ramsey is worth a regular peruse. It was v. This blog is founded on Doug’s conviction that musicians and listeners who embrace and understand jazz have wider interests than just jazz. Music is its principal concern, but it reaches past the fashions, trends and commercial facets of the jazz scene of the moment. It considers current artists, performances and recordings not because they are current, but because they have value. Give it a while on: www.artsjournal.com/rifftides
13th June Sadly, Ornette Coleman has just died, aged 85. You might not have enjoyed his music but he was extremely influential to jazz and other forms of music from the 1960s onwards. He was an innovator who defined a styland widened the options of jazz for the young generation of his time. Check him out on the web.
10th June And then there's the BBC documentary; Blue Note - A Story of Modern Jazz. Catch it on youtube. It's wonderful viewing if you like modern jazz.
8th June Frank Strazzeri was a very fine pianist and composer in the jazz genre. I've just come across a documentary about him putting together a CD with some other West Coast jazz musos including Bill Perkins, Bob Cooper and Jack Nimitz. There are some fascinating insights into playing jazz, the different way musicians think of jazz chords and how musicians get along musically with each other. You can check it out on youtube by looking at Frank Strazzeri and Wood Winds West, The making of a jazz CD.
15th March During Carnival in Brazil, music fills the streets. Often that music is frevo, a genre drawing from marches, Brazilian quadrilha, polka and classical music. I've only recently come across it, in particular the Spok Frevo Orquestra. You can hear them on the American National Public Radio (NPR) via the link
20th February I've only fairly recently found out that besides being a rather indifferent blues/soul singer Van Morrison is rather adept at playing instruments such as piano, sax, guitar and harmonica. There are a number of clips of him on Youtube playing the sax, try Live at Montreux, 1974 or Live in Belfast, January 2013. If you hadn't associated Morrison with jazz you might need to re-evaluate.
2nd January 2015 For those of you who liked reed instrumentalists Aurelie Tropez and Stephane Gillot (see 16th and 27th Sep. 2014) you can see a closely related group with some outstanding drum and washboard features on Youtube - just look up the recently posted videos by a group called Two Honeymoons and a Candle.
28th December London A Cappella Festival, 28-31 January, 2015: 2015 marks the sixth year of the annual London A Cappella Festival, run by Ikon Arts, an artists’ management company specializing in singers. And not just any old singers, but professional vocal groups like The Swingles (as the Swingle Singers are now known). Details can be found on www.londonjazznews.com
Buddy De Franco died on 23rd December. A number of websites have tributes to him and you can catch his distinctive clarinet style on Youtube.
In a surprise move Bob Dylan is to release a new album on 3 February, 2015 consisting solely of standards made popular by Frank Sinatra. The album, Shadows In The Night, his 36th album for the Columbia label, features ten newly recorded tracks of well known standards such as Some Enchanted Evening, That Lucky Old Sun, Autumn Leaves, The Night We Called It A Day, I’m A Fool To Want You and Where Are You? all previously recorded by Sinatra. I'm not a Dylan fan and only mention this because many of you are!
12th December Well, it's taken me long enough but I finally got round to hearing local jazz muso (and much more) Kip Tipuna on Youtube. You can hear him by just typing his name in the subject box. You'll find you have a choice of recordings; there's a couple of him singing with the Garden City Big Band, another of him representing Invercargill (in 2009) at the 50+ National Karaoke Champs and four delightful songs recorded solo in what could be his front room. Check them out but better still try and see him in live concert locally.
30th November According to the www.elementsofjazz.com website, Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio has received the most airplay on U.S., Canadian and internet radio stations for the last five or six weeks. The name of the trio is interesting as I have a CD from 1995 of the Gerry Gibbs Sextet called The Thrasher. Gerry is the son of percussionist and vibist Terry Gibbs who had some success in the 1950s and 60s.
26th November You might know that one of this website's members Sam Gray is, among other things, an exponent of free jazz on the piano. He has performed a number of times in Invercargill and is now domiciled in Austria. Some time ago he very kindly presented me with a couple of his albums and I play them when I'm in a reflective mood. Musically Sam is so much more than than a free jazz musician and you can see out just how versatile he is by checking out his website: www.samuelgray.net
24th November I've heard a number of people trying to incorporate the bagpipes into jazz, including Hamish Moore. Perhaps the most effective, with the ability to slide notes and capture a truly jazz/bluesy feel, is Gunhild Carling of the Carling Family Jazz Band. Check her out on youtube - you'll be amazed (just search for Gunhild Carling, bagpipes). By the way, other jazz bagpipers you can find on youtube include Rufus Harley (see and hear him play Coltrane's A Love Supreme), James Rivers (playing at Fat Harry's in New Orleans) and Andrew Forbeswho plays jazz fusion. Andrew, I feel, plays only borderline jazz. That maybe because he plays the border pipes!
23rd November I was listening to Cynthia Sayer's Women of the World Jazz Band on youtube (watch them there) when I realised there haven't been that many all-women line-ups in jazz. Way back there was the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, the Ingenues, Blue Belles, Parisian Redheads (aka the Bricktops) and Lil Hardin's All Girl Band, later we have the Diva Jazz Orchestra and the Tia Fuller Quartet. You can find more about these bands on
While I was looking at Cynthia Sayer's band I also came across the Freedom Jazz Girls from Kiev, the Girl's Power Jazz Band from Cantaloupe Island and Womanoid (check them all out on youtube). There are a few all-girl high school bands too and, in my own collection, the Terry Pollard Septet. I'd be keen to hear of any more you might know.
Trombone lovers might like to look at Trom Jazz At Ya on the sites.google.com/site/jazzatya/ website. Here, via youtube, you can hear the music of people like Urbie Green, Carl Fortana, JJ Johnsonand Frank Rosolino. There are links that will tell you about the Online Trombone Journal, all about trombone merchandise and other useful things to know about the instrument. There are also links to current jazz trombonists. It's a must, I would have thought.
22nd November If you enjoy jazz fusion you might like to check out actualjazz.blogspot.co.nz Its focus is on young musicians and singers. Currently you can hear Malene Mortensen, Dannah Garay, Jaclyn Guillou and Anna Luna Lucas. There's a lot of fine talent out there.
Jazz Services has announced the closure of JazzUK magazine after issue 119. The move is part of the necessary re-organisation/ cost-saving following the Arts Council's withdrawal of Jazz Services' NPO status and funding. There are still two highly rated British jazz magazines you might like to peruse; check out: www.jazzjournal.co.uk/ and www.jazzwisemagazine.com/
Canadian (Alberta-born) vocalist and songwriter Tammy Weis, now resident in London, will present her celebration of Julie London at the 606 Club on November 30th. If you'd like to see her in action check out her rendition of Sway on www.londonjazznews.com . If you're a lover of the trombone you might give Bob Havens a spin, playing Always, on jazzlives.wordpress.com
If you check out the jazzlives.wordpress.com website you'll come across a quartet called Unaccounted Four. They play music from the classic jazz songbook. The idea behind the line-up of two horns, guitar and bass is that venues don't have to rent a piano for the band and the guys don't have to help the drummer carry his gear! It is surprising the range of tones such small group can achieve, they are a delight.
One of my favourite jazz websites is jazzlives.wordpress.com Compiled by Michael Steinman it includes lots of live video, essays, rare photos and films about jazz. It features traditional rather than modern jazz. It's where I first came across the Whitley Jazz Festival and head those delightful tribute bands (see 27th September above). You'll enjoy this one.
24th October Scottish jazz enthusiasts might like to know of www.scottishjazzfederation.com which keeps you in touch with contemporary jazz in Scotland. The website would be worth a look before an intended visit to the country to check out gigs you might want to attend. The site also lists the current Scottish Jazz Awards winners.
Philip Achille is a British harmonica player. He studied at the Royal College of Music and plays in jazz and classical styles. Hear him play jazz when busking in the London Underground. You'll be amazed. Check him out on youtube and Wikipedia.
Son Simon pointed out the new Kenny Barron and Dave Holland album, The Art of Conversation which includes original material and Thelonius Monk and Charlie Parker covers. Definitely worth a hearing on www.nytimes.com/interactive/arts/music/pressplay.html?artist=Kenny%20Barron%20amp%20Dave%20Holland&album=The%20Art%20of%20Conversation
Just back from Australia I thought I'd check out the Jazz Australia website at www.jazz.org.au Here you find information about jazz gigs all over the continent, up-to-date jazz news and, best of all, youtube presentations from a heap of different bands (you can also see them directly on Jazz Australia youtube). This is a great link if you want to know what's going on jazzwise across the ditch.
At last they've posted the gig programme for the Labour weekend jazz festival in Queenstown. There will be three days of free gigs round various venues plus at least four ticketed concerts, mostly to be held in the Memorial Hall. The concerts feature vocalist Jennine Bailey from Christchurch, the Steve Barry Quartet, Benny Lackner Trio and the Mike Nock Trio. Get fuller details by checking out www.queenstownjazzfest.co.nz/concert-programme/
While listening to the Red Hot Reedwarmers (mentioned above) recently, I thought I'd check out the Festival at which they were performing. It seems to be a recently inaugurated annual affair taking place near Newcastle in Britain. The one in 2013 was called The Whitley Bay Classic Jazz Party and if you are a fan of that style of jazz you might like to check out the youtube link. The festival features a swag of recreated tribute bands that include gems like the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks, early Duke Ellington, the California Ramblers, King Oliver in New York (1927), unusual Bix Beiderbecke tunes and so on. Infectious, enjoyable music - remember, the Whitley Bay Jazz Festival on youtube.
Very recently released is an album by the unholy alliance, some might say, of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Despite the anguish the thought of this pairing might bring, it's worth a listen. Tony Bennett is as he always is and Lady Gaga makes a good fist of understanding the jazz songbook. I wouldn't buy the album but was curious to hear what the two singers sounded like together so caught a few samples. You can do this on www.amazon.com Let me know what you think.
24th September, 2014
If you're planning a trip to London in the near future you might like to check out the concerts and club billings in that city before you leave. A great website to let you do just that is www.londonjazznews.com It will also give you a glimpse of what is going down in British jazz at the moment.
23rd September, 2014
Perhaps the bext monthly jazz magazine from the U.K (and aren't you glad you can still say the United Kingdom) is the Jazz Journal. It is available in summary form for free, or in full length hard-copy or electronic form by subscription from www.jazzjournal.co.uk/ It's definitely worth a look.
18th September, 2014
Have you watched the Carling Family on youtube? They are a Swedish family who play Dixieland jazz. Father Hans played trumpet when he was at school in Malmo and introduced his children to music, jazz in particular as they grew up. In the band, besides Hans on trumpet are his wife Aina on banjo/guitar, son Max on clarinet/violin/tenor sax, daughter Gerd on piano/trombone/saxes, daughter Gunhild on just about everything but mainly trombone and Ulf on drums. Gerd's husband plays bass. Their first recordings on youtube, I think, were in 1984 when Gunhild was just 9 years old. You'll marvel at how she handles the low register counterpoint on trombone in the Original Dixieland Jazz band compositions that were first recorded pre-1920. Over the years you'll see Gunhild grow into a mature, very professional jazz musician, entertainer and band leader. Check out the Carling Family on youtube, you'll be thoroughly entertained.
16th September, 2014
I've been watching Les Red Hot Reedwarmers on youtube over the last couple of days. They are a tribute band for Jimmie Noone's Apex Club Orchestra that flourished around 1930. There is a swag of their recordings on youtube but the best recordings, technically, are those from the Whitely Bay Classic Jazz Party made earlier this year. It's really infectious music with clarinettist Aurelie Tropez and multi-reed player Stephane Gillot duetting on classic jazz tunes of the 1930s. They are, to quote the reviews, 'musical racing-car drivers capable of deep lyricism.' They front a very fine rhythm section of piano, banjo, brass bass and drums. Another reviewer writes: 'Please note how ingenious and multi-layered each performance is — a small concerto for six instruments, with variations in timbre and sound achieved not only by impressive instrument-swapping but also through orchestral textures. Not only are they marvelous technicians but they have a thoroughly original approach to their music, which makes their performances lively and varied.'
14th September, 2014
I found another grandson of Django's who plays guitar. Levis Adel Baumgartner is brother of Dallas and Lousson's son. There's a youtube clip of him playing with Simon Berger and Pierre Manetti - they all look very young to be so accomplished. There are a lot of other Reinhardts playing gypsy jazz but I have no idea of their relation, if any, to Django.
13th September, 2014
Loving the music of Django Reinhardt I thought I'd check to see how many of his family were also gypsy (jazz) guitarists. It turns out that there are quite a lot. His brother Joseph 'Nin-Nin' played alongside him in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France as well as making many recordings of his own. Joseph's son Kuick is known to have accompanied him on occasions but I'm not sure if any have been recorded. Django's son Babik was also an accomplished guitarist but in a contemporary rather than gypsy style. Another son, Henri 'Lousson' Baumgartner, rarely performed in public but like all the others mentioned here can be found on youtube by just entering his name. There are two grandsons, perhaps lesser known, who also play guitar; David (son of Babik) and Dallas (son of Lousson). Noe Reinhardt played guitar with David on occcasion. He is well represented on youtube but I'm not sure of the relationship, if any. Another family member is a grandson of Django's cousin who lived in Germany. The grandson is Lulo Reinhardt who is very successful in the traditional style. If you like guitar music why not check them out, on youtube.
8th September, 2014
BBC Four has put out a great documentary entitled 1959, the Year that Changed Jazz. It revolves around four albums that were issued that year by: Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Dave Brubeck - Time Out, Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um and Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come. The premise is that 1959 was the year jazz musicians began exploring new sounds, breaking away from bebop, as illustrated by the above four albums. In that year also, America was going through major political upheaval with regard to civil rights. Some say that Barack Obama is only where he is today due the recognition (read respect) given to people like Miles Davis and Charlie Mingus. You can view the documentary on youtube or at the website www.documentaryheaven.com
Sonny Rollins was 84 yesterday. Check out Sonny Rollins birthday tribute on youtube.
6th September, 2014
If you're a lover of cool jazz you might like to take a look at the B.B.C. historical documentary on the subject. It includes some fine footage of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Oscar Peterson, Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and many more. I viewed mine on www.jazzwax.com (7th September) but I'm sure there are many other places. Enjoy!
4th September, 2014
Hans Koert was the founder and main editor of the Keep Swinging website. In his weekly blog (in Dutch and English) he shared his passion for jazz, jazz-related music, record collecting and other music projects that took his fancy. Sadly, on 4th September Hans died from complications caused by lung cancer that had kept him inactive at his website and blogs for some months. If you’d like to catch up on some of those blogs check out
28th August, 2014 The New York Times has a website that highlights new music of the week and allows you to listen to entire albums for free (for a limited time). The selection does include the odd bit of jazz, for example, jazz trumpeter Etienne Charles has had albums featured. The current selection includes a Dr. John tribute album to Louis Armstrong called Ske-dat-de-dat, The Spirit of Louis. Check it out on http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/arts/music/pressplay.html