Posts filed under “Friday Night Jazz”
Friday, June 15
CASSANDRA WILSON/OLU DARA In the early 1990s Cassandra Wilson
made “Blue Light ’Til Dawn,” an album with light, slow-moving,
Southern-signifying arrangements informed by ’60s folk and pop. The
trumpeter, guitarist and songwriter Olu Dara, a Mississippian like Ms.
Wilson, was one of her collaborators; his own subsequent solo albums,
full of acoustic guitar grooves and rural-blues echoes, complemented
hers. Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, midpark at 70th
Street, summerstage.org, 7 p.m., free.
Wednesday, June 20
BRANFORD MARSALIS/JOSHUA REDMAN TRIO Mr.
Marsalis started making his own records in 1984, Mr. Redman nine years
later. But as if responding to a common call, both these tenor
saxophonists have crystallized what they do best and made possibly the
best records of their careers over the last year: Mr. Marsalis’s
“Braggtown” and Mr. Redman’s “Back East.” With Mr. Marsalis this comes
down to the mechanics of his gloriously coordinated, hard-hitting
quartet; with Mr. Redman, it’s the clarity and flow of his improvising
within the simplicity of a trio setting. Town Hall, JVC, 8 p.m., $50 to
Friday, June 22
STEFANO BOLLANI A fine and
freewheeling Italian pianist in his mid-30s, Mr. Bollani has come to
the crucial understanding that he can find an audience without having
to choose among attitudes, influences and styles: deeply playful or
serious, ragtime, pop, Prokofiev, Jobim, Keith Jarrett, whatever. He is
a particularly good solo performer (as suggested by last year’s “Piano
Solo,” on ECM), so this performance will be a special one. Fazioli
Salon at Klavierhaus, 211 West 58th Street, Manhattan, pianoculture.com, 8 p.m., $25.
Sunday, June 24
LOUIS MOHOLO-MOHOLO A South African jazz
drummer, Mr. Moholo-Moholo was part of the British jazz scene in the
mid-’60s as a member of the Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath,
living in London and collaborating with South African and English
musicians. (See Tern [LIVE]) He recently returned to South Africa, where he leads a big
band.) He’s an exemplary modern drummer, in his flexibility between
strong swing and a free-rhythm vocabulary, and he’s still mostly
unknown here: aside from one Vision Festival show six years ago, he
hasn’t played here since the 1960s. Vision, 9 p.m., $30.
Wednesday, June 27
‘RON CARTER: THE MASTER AT 70’ The bassist Ron Carter, first famous as a member of Miles Davis’s
mid-1960s quintet and then loosed on the jazz world as a ubiquitous
free agent, has played on so many records — including more than 30 of
his own — that a concert like this seems almost necessary, never mind
the fact that he turned 70 last month. He will perform with two other
members of that great Davis group, the saxophonist Wayne Shorter and
the pianist Herbie Hancock,
alongside Billy Cobham on drums; in duet with the guitarist Jim Hall (a
good thing, as their rich duet records are underrated); in a trio with
the pianist Mulgrew Miller and the guitarist Russell Malone; and with
his own quartet. Carnegie Hall, JVC, 8 p.m., $30 to $75.
NANCY WILSON Ms. Wilson remains an
exciting jazz singer, despite the light, low-pressure subtleties of her
voice, and even if her records have been treated as a kind of antidote
to excitement. (Her hits started showing up on the Billboard
easy-listening chart in the mid-’60s, but few can condescend to the
casually brilliant album “Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson” or the
recently released “Live in Las Vegas.”) JVC, 8 p.m., $35 to $85.
That’s all for this belated (and highly stolen) version of FRIDAY NIGHT JAZZ . . .
If It’s June, This Must Be Jazz
NYT, June 15, 2007
Tonite’s guest host for FNJ is a music insider. Although he is known better for many of the newer acts he represents, he is, surprisngly enough, a closet jazz aficionado, and therefore must remain anonymous.
Here’s his take on the O-man:
Oscar Peterson has been recording and performing for over half a century. He may also be the most recorded of all piano players. (And he’s from Canada).
Oscar bridged the swing and bop eras, rooting himself in a style that was at the same time stunningly complex yet elegant and soulful. Nobody used more notes to swing! Oscar is sometimes dismissed because he wasn’t groundbreaking in the way that many of his contemporaries were. But the range of expression he achieved on the piano, and his technical prowess, is hardly rivaled in mainstream jazz.
Many consider his solo recordings of the late 60s and early 70s to be his most outstanding work, but I was always partial to his trio recordings both with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen and later with Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson. The live album "The Trio" from 1973 (not to be confused with a Verve release of the same title) is a great recording of Oscar with Pass and Pederson and shows Oscar at his most virtuosic. Check out the Brown Thigpen work live here.
compendium of his 60s work in both trio and solo settings, the
excellent box set "Exclusively for My Friends" will keep you
entertained for years. Of course, there are the standard "songbook"
albums (George Gershwin, Cole Porter, etc.) and the duets with greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Clark Terry and
But if I had to pick one place to start, and on a
Friday night with your favorite Bordeaux, it would be the 1962 album "Night Train" with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen
It showcases Oscar at his best on both ballads and uptempo numbers and he really shows his blues chops. In particular, note the title track, Bags’ Groove (one the great jazz classics), Moten Swing and Elllington’s great C-Jam Blues. The bonus tracks added to the reissue aren’t particularly special, but don’t diminish Peterson’s brilliance on this record.
(videos after the jump)
Pat Metheny is one of those guitarists that was always interesting, but he never really floated my boat. His style is kinda New Age-y, a bit too cold/technique focused for my preferences. I can see why some people say he is an acquired taste.
However, a friend in the music industry (with meticulous taste) had recommended his latest album with pianist Brad Mehldau (Metheny Mehldau Quartet) to me, and on his suggestion, I gave it a whirl.
It is a delightful surprise.
It is an eclectic disc, ranging from a mix of jazz fusion, acoustic, Celtic, pop, Asian-tinged (41 string guitars!) to Brazilian music. Somehow, this odd and always changing mix seems to work on nearly every track.
This is the second pairing of Metheny and Mehldau colloboration, the first being Metheny/Mehldau.
The pairing works well. Mehldau brings a degree of warmth and intimacy
often missing from more traditional Metheny recordings.
Metheny frequently returns to his earlier electric jazz guitar style, but it seems to work so much better in this quarter than any previous work I’ve heard from him. Its worth checking out.
For those interested in how this pairing came about, there is a two part interview with Metheny and Mehldau after the jump . . .
Turns out it was Gerry Mulligan‘s CD, Paraiso-Jazz Brazil. An eye opener. Clean, cool recording of lovely Latin melodies, all the while overlaid with this dry, reedy saxophone that infused the music with a flavorful sophistication.
That was Gerry Mulligan’s sound. NPR radio observed that Mulligan was "the most influential baritone saxophonist in jazz." But Mulligan was more than that — he was a
commanding composer, an innovative musician, someone who pushed boundaries, yet remained accessible and enjoyable to listen to.
Mulligan’s light and airy baritone saxophone was the epitome of the the "cool" jazz sound. Yet its amazing how easily he could interact with many other musical styles: Ben Webster’s blustery tenor (the epitome of a "warm" sound); Monk’s percussive, fractured piano rhythms and dissonant tunes; the sweet, subtle tension between Mulligan and Chet Baker.
You can pretty much grab any random Mulligan album (I put up a decent selection here) and not be disappointed. You will see scattered around a broad selection of different styles, eras, and musical cohorts.
Are you a Brubeck fan? Monk? Chet Baker? Webster? Desmond? Grab anything, sit back and enjoy.
Mulligan became known for his writing and arranging skills in his teens. He wrote for Johnny Warrington’s radio band in 1944, and for Gene Krupa’s band two years later.
Mulligan hit the big time when he became known for his work (writing, arranging, and soloing) on Miles Davis’ defining album, "Birth of the Cool." Gerry’s compositions for this album included "Jeru," "Godchild," and "Venus de Milo," all songs that would remain in his repertoire long after the initial success of the album had died down. (This album launched and aided several careers of important jazz figures).
Mulligan’s last record came out as one of his most beautiful. Lovely tunes, clever arrangements, and understated fabulous players mark his last recording (John Scofield and
Grover Washington, Jr. play on this).
Mulligan Discography (massive PDF)
Another guest musical director for FNJ this week: Eddie Elfenbein of Crossing Wall Street on Artie Shaw. Take it away, Eddie:
Artie Shaw was cool. Not Elvis cool or Sinatra cool, but a darker, more subdued cool.
What Shaw did was make things look easy. Check out this clip and notice how, even after six decades, his music hasn’t aged a bit. It’s still fresh and smooth. It’s just…cool. (You gotta love Shaw’s reply to the compliments: “Yeah, yeah. Glass of water.” Pure cool.)
Artie Shaw was the very last of the big bandleaders. He died a year ago at age 94 and fifty years after his last performance. He wound up outliving all the greats—Goodman, Herman, Miller. Those names may loom larger today, but back then, Shaw’s star was the brightest. He was making $60,000 a week—not bad for the Depression. With America poised to enter World War II, Time magazine reported that Germans’ vision of America was “skyscrapers, Clark Gable and Artie Shaw.”
Fascists, apparently, have issues with tall buildings.
When Shaw hired Billie Holiday, he became the first white bandleader to hire a full-time black singer. But Shaw detested the limelight. In fact, Shaw hated the words “jazz” and “swing.” No, he considered himself a musician. He hated the audience. He hated the singers. He hated the dancers. He hated other bandleaders (“Benny Goodman played clarinet. I played music.”)
By 1951, Shaw walked away from music altogether and became—what else?—a dairy farmer. Crazy, maybe, but cool in its own way. Duke Ellington told him, “Man, you got more guts than any of us.”
So what did Shaw like? Women. Lots and lots of them. He was married eight times. He nabbed Betty Grable which would have pleased most men. Not Shaw. While they were engaged, he ran off with Lana Turner. (Whoa, Duke was right!) Shaw had an affair with Rita Hayworth. He dumped Judy Garland. He married Ava Gardner before Sinatra. How in earth did he have time enough time for music?
Ah, the music. Brilliant. Here’s an example: In 1938, Shaw took an obscure and forgotten Cole Porter song and made it a jazz classic. Have a listen to “Begin the Beguine.”
If you’re keeping score, that’s a Jewish bandleader playing Negro music written by a homosexual.
Exceedingly trivial trivia: “Begin the Beguine” has been performed a gazillion times since. In the movie, The Rocketeer, it’s performed by Melora Hardin, who’s better known as Jan in The Office. (Told you it was trivial.)
If you’ve never heard of Shaw and want to get your feet wet, I’d recommend: The Very Best of Artie Shaw
That pretty much has it all. Personally, I love “Star Dust” and “Deep Purple.” Wonderful stuff.
BR adds: Thanks Eddy — nicely done. There is a terrific recording of Shaw over at NPR: Performance by Shaw of Shaw’s 1940 Concerto for Clarinet
videos after the jump . .