Thursday, August 18, 2016

R.I.P. Bobby Hutcherson (1941-2016): World Peace

Bobby Hutcherson, the crystal-sounding master vibraphonist, is dead at 75.

An obituary on The New York Times remembers him as the "vibraphonist with coloristic range of sound":

"Mr. Hutcherson's career took flight in the early 1960s, as jazz was slipping free of the complex harmonic and rhythmic designs of bebop. He was fluent in that language, but he was also one of the first to adapt his instrument to a freer postbop language, often playing chords with a pair of mallets in each hand."

Bobby Hutcherson was extensively recorded for the Blue Note, both as the leader on superb albums such as Dialogue (with Andrew Hill and Sam Rivers) and as a sideman (always bringing a new identity to leaders' sessions) on indisputable modern classics of the 1960s, among which Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch! always passionately remembered by friend and foe.

After the end of his long tenure with the Blue Note, he went freelance, never stayed with any label for too long. However, one of his longest running projects since the late 1970s, was a touring all-star band, The Timeless All Stars, with Curtis Fuller (trombone), Harold Land (tenor saxophone), Cedar Walton (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

John McLaughlin Trio in Hamburg, Part II

Last year I unearthed a VHS tape of  John McLaughlin Trio in Hamburg, 1990, which I digitized and posted here, alas, the second half of the concert was missing

I'm glad to say that the second half, lasting for more than half an hour, and featuring the electric Jozy (even though played acoustically), was found on another tape of mine which I'm posting now. Aside form Jozy, there's an animated, highly exciting Indo-bop sort of scat, which is rather excellent.

Richard Cook and Brian Morton on this band:
"[McLaughlin] is punching out rows of notes which are almost as impressive for their accuracy as for their power. The themes are no longer as obviously visionary and Eastern-influenced and the guitarist seem content to re-run many of stylistic devices he had adopted from the days with Miles Davis through the ringing harmonies of Shakti and back out into a more obviously jazz-grounded idiom."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Motif Records

Listening to Phil Schaap's podcast on Serge Chaloff (Feb 22, 2016), I came across a remark made by the renowned WKCR DJ who after playing a recording by Chaloff, called it a production of Motif Records, "a Boston obscure 78-era label".

The recording in question from April 16, 1949, entitled King Edward the Flatted Fifth, featured Boston-born Serge Chaloff (baritone sax), Charlie Mariano (alto sax), Gait Preddy (tp), Mert Goodspeed (tb), Ralph Burns (p), Frank Vaccar (b), Pete Derosa (d).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Charlie Parker, The Boston Radio Interviews

Bird speaks! Posted online recently as an episode from the Birdmaniac Birdflight show on New York's WKCR, the jazz historian and DJ Phil Schaap presented one of the very few surviving Charlie Parker's interviews in good audio quality, accompanied by Mr. Schaap's commentary and a wealth of information about the historic interview.

At the time of the interview, Parker, fresh from a triumphant concert in Toronto's Massey Hall, was engaged at Boston's Hi-Hat Club. On June 13, 1953, after a prior discussion, he showed up at the Boston radio station to be interviewed by John Fitch who was known on air as John McLellan.

During the course of the interview, McLellan tried to encourage, even unsuccessfully provoke Parker to talk more. (Listen to McLellan's biting remark about Dixieland music to which Parker remains indifferent if not defensive.) No matter how much articulation and encouragement is poured into the interview on McLellan's end, Parker, 32 at the time, remains detached if amiable. He seems to be only interested in "good music", having issues with categorizations and ranking fellow artists:

"Oh, I'd like to differ, I beg to differ, in fact. There's always room for musicians, you know. There's no such thing as the middle of the road, it will be one thing or the other -- good music or otherwise, you know. And it doesn't make any difference which idiom it might be in -- swing, bebop, as you might want to call it, or Dixieland -- if it's good it will be heard."
Parker, maintaining his calm and friendly attitude throughout the course of an interview which doesn't always go in right direction, gives insight into his world by some typically short, poetic statements:

"Most people fail to realize that most of the things they hear coming out of a man's horn, ad lib, or else things that are written, original things, they're just experiences, the way he feels -- the beauty of the weather, the nice look of a mountain, or maybe a nice fresh cool breath of air, I mean all those things."
Parker's knowledge of jazz history and his pedagogic precision in emphasizing the dates -- even if they are not exactly correct -- and his reluctance to talk ill of his colleagues and contemporaries are touching.

Friday, July 29, 2016

The "Sacred" Revisited: A Duke Ellington Memorial

Duke Ellington with Anita Moore at the Rainbow Room, 1972, © Nancy Crampton
Featured here is a great filmed concert whose origins, exact date and the name of musicians are not known to me. Surprisingly, it's not listed either on Jazz on TV filmographies or the discography of the distinguished musicians involved.

This 30-minute-long video assembles songs from Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts, performed in his memory by a superb band which is not Ellington's orchestra or what was left of it at that time. The date, I guess, must be May 1986, when issuing the first postal stamp in Ellington's honor called for ducal festivities and all-star performances of his compositions.

The place? Maybe St. Patrick's Cathedral? If you're familiar with New York City, please go to 16' 12'' for an exterior shot of a church which I assume is the location of the concert.

Also, If you happen to know any of the band members seen in the video, please leave a comment. Those who are more easily detectable are Frank Wess (as), Slide Hampton (tb), Cecil Payne (bs, playing solo on My Love), and Billy Taylor (p). It's quite a line-up.

Vocalists are Priscilla Baskerville, Ellington's brother-in-law McHenry Boatwright, and Anita Moore who was the singer with Ellington Orchestra during the last two years of Duke's life (1972-74) up until the 1980s.

From the repertoire, the songs that I knew are listed below. Two remain unidentified.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Moondog Live in Stuttgart

Cover of a Moondog 7" EP from 1953
The blind composer, street musician, Nordic mystic, and instrument inventor Moondog (born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kansas) moved to Germany in 1974 and lived there until he died in 1999, age 83. (Read about his illustrious, fascinating life on this Wikipedia entry.)

Here, one of Moondog's musical performances is filmed in Stuttgart, 1992, featuring his new compositions which were later released as Sax Pax for a Sax, in collaboration with London Saxophonic. When the album was released 6 years later, it reached no 22 on Billboard chart.

On this video Moondog and London Saxophonic perform:

Dog Trot
New Amsterdam

The band members are:

Friday, July 15, 2016

King of Jazz - Paul Whiteman's Picture at Last

For years, I was curious about King of Jazz, a two-strip technicolor film made in 1930, centered around the Paul Whiteman Orchestra with the leader serving as the master of ceremony in a revue musical.

Even though I had a VHS copy of the film in my possession, the awfully dim and faded colors, reduced to dirty browns and cheap watercolor reds, prevented me from watching it from beginning to end.

Now, thanks to a stunning and expensive restoration carried out by Universal, the film, which was a commercial flop at the time of its initial release, is back in circulation.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bobby Hutcherson: Never Let Me Go

"Eschewing both the prettiness of the vibes and the conventionally bluesy delivery of Milt Jackson, [Bobby] Hutcherson's music had an abstract side which only Walt Dickerson approached," Richard Cook sums up the master vibraphonist's style in his Encyclopedia of Jazz, "yet he kept hold of the slow vibrato that Jackson espoused."

Case in study: Never Let Me Go, performed with the Timeless All Stars at the Subway jazz club in Cologne (Köln), Germany, 1986, accompanied by Cedar Walton (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Billy Higgins (drums).

Is hypnotic the right word for it?

Monday, May 23, 2016