Top 50 JAzz Blog

Friday, September 22, 2017

An Hour with Eddie Jefferson

On this edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour of 9.21.17, we hear some of the music of Eddie Jefferson. Eddie was one of the prime innovators in vocalese-the art of putting lyrics to jazz tunes and solos.  



‪Eddie Jefferson and James Moody‬ "I Cover the Waterfront" and
"Moody's mood for love"  (1956) on Argo

Eddie Jefferson "New York Afternoon (feat. Richie Cole)" from "Keeper of the Flame" (1979) on Muse

Eddie Jefferson "So What" from "The Jazz Singer" (1976) on Inner city

Eddie Jefferson "Harold's House of Jazz" from "Keeper of the Flame" 1979 on Muse

Eddie Jefferson "Sister Sadie" from "The Jazz Singer" 1976 on Inner city

Eddie Jefferson "Lady Be Good" from "The Live-Liest" 1976 on Muse

Eddie Jefferson "Body and Soul" from "The Jazz Singer" 1976)on Inner city

Eddie Jefferson "Benny's From Heaven" from "The Main Man" 1977 on Inner city

Eddie Jefferson "Groovin' High" from "The Live-Liest" 1976 on Muse

Dexter Gordon feat. Eddie Jefferson "Diggin' In" from "Great Encounters" 1978 on Columbia

Eddie Jefferson "Parker's Mood" from "The Live-Liest" 1976 on Muse

Eddie Jefferson "Now's The Time" from "The Jazz Singer" 1976 on Inner City

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Jazz Seduce-O-Meter (updated)

Friends, I have seen the error of my ways and apologize for the sarcastic tone of my recent post on the scientific link between sex and jazz. Looking back at my own experience dispassionately, I see there is in fact a clear link between people's sex lives and their musical taste. "Getz-Gilberto" is guaranteed to get anyone into your bed faster and more efficiently than, say, Black Flag. That is statistically indisputable. 

So, in the spirit of stretching this scientific inquiry to the breaking point, I have created "The Jazz Seduce-O-Meter"-JSOM-designed to help you maximize your musical dollar in order to fully leverage the sexiness of the jazz mystique. Your goal is to reach 10 points. Ten points guarantees results. Understand that each Jazz Seduce-O-Meter must be tailored to your specific demographic**. 

Here is the Boomer version (abridged): 
Bossa Nova: +4 
Miles Davis Birth of the Cool: +3 
Miles Davis Kind of Blue: +4 
Miles Davis muted, playing ballads: +3 
Any other Miles: -4 
Sinatra w. Dorsey: +3 
Sinatra w. Stordahl: +3  
Sinatra w. Paul Anka: -10 
Coltrane w. Johnny Hartman: +4  
Coltrane Ballads: +3 
Any other Coltrane: -5 
Organ Trios: -2 
ECM Records: +2 
Bill Evans: +3 
Anything "With Strings:" -1 
Third Stream Music: +-0 
Avant-garde jazz of any kind: -10 

**Keep your eye on your demographic. A knowledgeable source sends this warning: GIlberto doesn't work with punker chicks.

Mix and match as much as you like, just stay away from the negative numbers and please! Avoid those screeching saxophones at all cost. Let us know whether the Jazz Seduce-O-Meter has worked for you! All we ask here at Seduction Central is that you not name your first born "Cannonball."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Recent Jazz Reading

Jazz In the Movies reflects a staggering amount of viewing and reviewing by author-film archivist David Meeker. It was published in 1981, but an updated version called Jazz on The Screen was published in 2017. It's an oversize paperback, well-formatted, with short blurbs about the films and lots of photos. For the jazz/film/television obsessed, a definitive resource.

That Devlin' Tune is one small part of the enormous output of author-archivist-musician Allen Lowe. What to say about this guy and his work? He's a genre polymath, who explores all kinds of indigenous American music and burrows deeply into what connects and separates the various strains. The combination of related materials that Lowe puts together-musical recordings on CD, print descriptions and discographies-is something one doesn't find anywhere else. Satisfying whether you're a newbie or as a grizzled veteran of the music.
Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce is a stellar biography, written by Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald. Gryce occupies an interesting place in the jazz world. He's not generally put in the highest tier as an alto sax player, but his playing is widely respected, as are his compositions and arrangements. He is also known as something of a mystery man; perfect subject for a biography. Cohen and Fitzgerald have done a thorough job, spoken to many of his peers, listened carefully to his music and put the threads together nicely. There are unknown factors in Gryce's life and some reasoned speculation is offered, but nothing that seems far-fetched. An excellent read.
Art of Jazz: Form/Performance/Notes is a large format, high-end, attractive paperback; catalogue of a three part exhibition at Harvard University museums. This is the blurb: 

The installation ranges from art historical presentations on jazz figures and the "jazz" strategies of fine artists to "jazz" ephemera: posters, album and photography and concludes with 21st century contemporary artists engaging with jazz in multiple ways. The exhibition is filled with several sound installations.

The writing style comes from the "art academy," which may not be that familiar to many jazz people. There is a straightforward introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and short essays of various degrees of accessibility by a number of people on artists influenced by jazz-Romare Bearden, Stuart Davis, Matisse and others. The book contains a number of high quality reproductions of art and photographs and these are, to me, the strong point of the book.
Saved the most difficult for last. Epistrophies, written by Brent Hayes Edwards is an ambitious book that demands an ambitious reader. 

Some of the chapter headings of the book are: "Louis Armstrong and the Syntax of Scat," "The Race for Space: Sun Ra's Poetry," "Zoning Mary Lou Williams Zoning." The issue is not that many of these areas might not be familiar, at least in part, to readers of books about jazz. It's that a general audience might wrestle, as I did, with how Edwards, coming from the Academy, addresses them. 

One part of this is the language. Terms like "alterity," "semiotic," "historiography," "aleatory," "etrange voisonage" tend to slow down the general reader. Reading also becomes more difficult when Edwards references other authors unlikely to be known to a non-academic, general audience. 

The book is most accessible when the author is providing historical data, and his extensive research indeed provides much that is new. 

I found the writing to fall largely between accessible and extremely challenging. There is no part of the book that does not require concentration and, often, re-reading. Take this excerpt, from the chapter on Louis Armstrong: "In vocal expression in music, scat falls where language rustles with alterity, where the foreign runs in jive and the inside jargon goes in the garb of the outsider. But as the examples above demonstrate, the performance of difference in scat is by no means innocent; it is the very point at which the music polices the edges of its territory." (p 36)

The edges of this book's territory are clear enough, but venturing into the interior takes time and concentration. The rewards are there for the intrepid.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Real Zydeco Stuff

In 1987, I went on assignment from the Christian Science Monitor to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. The idea was not so much to cover the festival itself, but to try and find some local music in its natural setting. I wrote about that trip on this blog in 2011.

As noted in that entry, I was fortunate to hear about Walter Polite, living out in New Iberia. My photographer Donna Paul and I found our way to his house, where Walter lived with his family.  He greeted us warmly and we sat happily on his front porch as he played and sang for us, including Hey Lucile, My Baby Don't Wear no Shoes, Don't You Mess With My Tutu and more.

I recently got a message from Keyona Hippolite, Walter's great-grandson, saying he'd seen the article and asking if I still had the audio, as his grandmother wanted to use it for a tribute to Walter they are holding.soon.  So, I dug into the archives and found it.

Bear in mind that this is a 30-year old cassette recording. The audio starts out rough, but after a few minutes, it evens out. This is some beautiful, down-home, yet sophisticated music, from the hands and voice of a master.


Monday, July 24, 2017

As we so often find with jazz performers, vocalist Helen Merrill started young-age 14 and from the beginning, she managed to be both mellow and edgy. On this 7.20.17 edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour on WZBC, apart from her jazz work, you will hear a few recordings made to try to boost her profile outside jazz.


Earl Hines w. Helen Merrill "A Cigarette For Company" 1942 on D'Oro

"Don't explain" "What's New" You'd Be so Nice to Come Home to" "Falling in Love With Love" from "Helen Merrill Featuring Clifford Brown" (Jazz, 1954) on EmArcy 

"Dream of You" "Summertime" "Let Me Love You"  "I'm Just a Lucky so-And-So" Helen Merrill  arr. by Gil Evans, from Collaboration 1956 on Emarcy

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"  Helen Merrill from "American Country Songs" 1959 on Atco

"These foolish things" Helen Merrill from "Helen Merrill Sings Italian Songs" 1960 on RCA Italiana

"Smog" from "Helen Merrill Sings Italian Songs" 1960 on RCA Italiana

"Cannatella" Helen Merrill from "The Artistry of Helen Merrill"  1965) on Mainstream

"Baltimore Oriole" Helen Merrill from "The Feeling Is Mutual" 1965 on Milestone

"What is this Thing Called Love" Helen Merrill from "The Feeling Is Mutual" 1965 on Milestone

"A Man and A Woman" Helen Merrill  from "Bossa Nova in Tokyo"  1967 on Victor

"Norwegian Wood" Helen Merrill  from "Helen Merrill Sings the Beatles" 1970 on EMI

"Vera Cruz" Helen Merrill  from "Casa Forte"1980 on Mercury

"Natural Sounds"Helen Merrill  from "Casa Forte" 1980 on Mercury

 "When Lights Are Low" "And Still She Is With Me" "Music Makers" from "Music Makers" 1986 on owl

"Just Friends" Helen Merrill w. Stan Getz  from "Helen Merrill w. Stan Getz"1989 on Emarcy

"Out of This World"  Helen Merrill from "Clear Out Of This World" 1992 on Emarcy

"I'll Remember April"  "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" Helen Merrill  from "Brownie: Homage to Clifford Brown"  1994 on Verve

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Walked Fud

"His final decade was a difficult one, and a pernicious addiction to alcohol ultimately took him out ahead of schedule. Until shortly before his death on March 25, 1957, Fud Livingston could periodically be seen playing piano at the back of various bars in certain sections of New York City." Notes for the Jazz Oracle Collection.

You're looking a little peaked today, Fud.

You too, Bobby... Set one up for me, ok? And, ah, put it on the cuff, would ya?

Hey, just cause you ain't been in here in a while don't mean you don't owe me for the last 3 times.

I know...

Excuse me, gents. That's alright, I'll take care of it.

I appreciate it, buddy.

That's alright. Still a couple people around here who know who you are.

I'll get the shakes out and then we'll see what happens...One more oughta do it. Bobby?

[Positive nod]

[four stools down] Hey, buddy, you telling me this rum dum is somebody.

When the world was young.

That's good. When the world was young-and gay. I'll say.

I'm good to go now. Hey, mister. You wanna hear a tune? 


You know my song "Feelin' No Pain?"

You wrote that? 

[4 stools down] Yea, that's the rum dum's national anthem. Ironic, ain't it?

Hey, you wise-acre half-wit! I played with Bix Beiderbecke! You understand me? What that means? I played with everybody-Miller, Goodman, Miff, Nichols!

Ok, Fud, calm down. i gotta admit. He knows how to play the damn piano.

Better'n that shit they call music now.

Fud, you were a respected guy. In demand.

Damn right. They needed a nice arrangement, they called Fud.

So, I gotta ask-what the hell happened? 

I dunno, Bobby. Bix died, some of the guys changed their style. I got old. Jazz got old.

[Fud wrestles music from a beat-up piano. He drops a few notes, but a spark of genius survives, or so I like to think].

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mary Lou Williams-Pt. 2

This edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour, WZBC, takes us from 1946 to 1963 in the recording career of Mary Lou Williams. On this show, you will hear MLW move from swing into bop and into the beginning of her specifically spiritual musical phase (although she also keeps the funky side going).



How High The Moon -MLW solo,  Folkways, 1946

Fifth Dimension, Boogie Misterioso, Conversation,
MARY LOU WILLIAMS GIRL STARS Majorie Hyams, vib; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mary Osborne, g; June M. Rotenberg, b; Rose Gotesman, dr Victor, 1946

All God's Children Got Rhythm, Humoresque, Waltz Boogie
,  MARY LOU WILLIAMS DUO/TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p; June M. Rotenberg, b; Bridget O'Flynn, dr. Camden Records, 1946

Mary Lou, Kool, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Kenny Dorham, tp; Mary Lou Williams, p; John H. Smith Jr, g; Grachan Moncur, b. Folkways, 1947

Irving Kustin, Leon Schwartz, Edward Sadowski, tps; Martin Glaser, Allan Feldman, Maurice Lopez, Orlando Wright, ts; Frank Roth, p; Milton Orent, b + arr; Jack Parker, dr; Mary Lou Williams, ld, arr,  Selmer Records, 1947

Benny's Bop, Bye Bye Blues Bop, Benny Goodman Sextet Benny Goodman, cl; Wardell Gray, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Billy Bauer, g; Clyde Lombardi, b; Mel Zelnick, dr; V-Disc Hep, 1948

Tisherome, Shorty Boo, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Idrees Sulieman, tp; Martin Glaser, b-cl; Allan Feldman, fl, cl + as; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mundell Lowe, g; George Duvivier, b; Denzil Best, dr; Kenny Hagood, voc on. King, 1949

Willow Weep for Me, Bye Bye Blues,  MARY LOU WILLIAMS WITH HER TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p + org (1); Mundell Lowe, g; George Duvivier, b; Denzil Best, dr. King, 1950

You're The Cream In My Coffee, From this Moment On MARY LOU WILLIAMS TRIO Mary Lou Williams, p; Carl Pruitt,b; Bill Clark, dr. Atlantic, 1951

Lullaby of the Leaves, Moonglow, MARY LOU WILLIAMS - DON BYAS GROUP Don Byas, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Buddy Banks, b; Gérard Pochonet, dr. Vogue, 1953

Nancy is in Love with the Colonel, MARY LOU WILLIAMS AND HER ORCHESTRA Nelson Williams, tp; Ray Lawrence, tb; Mary Lou Williams, p; Buddy Banks, b; Kansas Fields, dr.  Club Francais du Disque, 1954

Just One of Those Things, MARY LOU WILLIAMS QUARTET Mary Lou Williams, p; Lennie Bush, b; Tony Kinsey, dr; Tony Scott, bongos. London, Swing, 1954

Carioca,  Zodiac Suite
, THE DIZZY GILLESPIE ORCHESTRA AT NEWPORT 1957 Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Emmet Perry, Carl Warwick, Talib Daawud, tps; Melba Liston, Al Grey, Ray Connor, tbs; Ernie Henry, Jimmy Powell, as; Billy Mitchell, Benny Golson, ts; Pee Wee Moore, bs; Mary Lou Williams, p; Paul West, b; Charlie Persip, dr; Austin Cromer, voc. Verve, 1957

Chunk-A-Lunk Jug (Parts 1 & 2),  MARY LOU WILLIAMS TRIO p; Bruce Lawrence, b; Jack Parker, dr., Sue Records 1959

My Blue Heaven, A Fungus A Mungus, St Martin De Porres
, MARY LOU WILLIAMS: BLACK CHRIST OF THE ANDES Budd Johnson, ts, bcl; Mary Lou Williams, p; Grant Green, g; Larry Gales, b; Percy Price, dr; Jimmy Mitchell, voc; Melba Liston, scor + cond; on*. / George Gordon Singers (voc) Mary Records, 1963

Friday, July 7, 2017

Movies and the Tortured Trumpeter

I recently posted about the generally abject way in which actors mime playing the trumpet on screen. But separate and apart from that, there are the parts themselves. I sat down with a Physician's Desk Reference and a copy of the The Road to Milltown and, after viewing and or reading the plots of these films, I emerged with a precise formula to describe the subtle psychological subtext of these parts: JAZZ TRUMPET=TROUBLE.

This is not true in the films I cited that use trumpet playing only to add flash or to signal that a character has hidden depths, like Kurt Russell in Swing Shift, or Billy Crystal in Memories of Me.


And, there are other films where the lead character is a jazz trumpet player and is not particularly tortured, but that can be explained. Take, for example, Jack Webb in Pete Kelly's Blues: does Jack Webb ever play anything other than his usual low-affect persona? No. Red Nichols and His Five Pennies with Danny Kaye: Duh, its a Danny Kaye movie. Or, Richard Gere in-Cotton Club: He's sane, but he survives by dropping the horn and becoming an actor.

As for the rest, we are dealing with trumpet players with some serious issues:
Jack Lord in Play It Glissando, Route 66: Sociopathic
Denzel Washington in Mo Better Blues: Flawed; arguably, deeply so. 
Jack Klugman in a Twilight Zone episode A Passage for Trumpet: Deeply troubled; artificially redeemed (happens a lot with trumpet players in the movies).
Mickey Rourke in Passion Play: well, type- casting.
Dingo, with Colin Friels: enmeshed in a world of self-deception, abetted by the film.
Val Kilmer in The Salton Sea: Messed up, but the film finds a way to make him heroic. More artificial redemption. 
Miles Ahead Don Cheadle: Deeply troubled/ drug issues.
In Bird, Michael Zelniker does Red Rodney: Deeply troubled/junkie
Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to be Blue Deeply troubled/junkie
Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity: tortured in a Monty Clift way
Kirk Douglas in Young Man With a Horn: tortured by the "lost note."
In A Man Called Adam, Sammy Davis Jr.: Deeply troubled on many fronts.  
Burt Young in Uncle Joe Shannon. Deeply troubled; artificially redeemed.
Bryant Weeks in Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend: You got it-deeply troubled.

In Blues in the Night, Jack Carson: Relatively sane, but haunted by the idea that he's not playing "genuine" jazz.
Robert Wagner in All the Fine Young Cannibals: Troubled preacher's son.

There are bad boys and anti-heroes of all sorts in American film, but is there a group that has served this particular cultural niche so consistently? As a trumpet player myself, I'm not sure I say this with pride or humility: We have a lot to live up to. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Mary Lou WIlliams-Pt 1

The great pianist-composer-arranger-bandleader Mary Lou Williams is featured on this edition of the DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour. On this show, you will hear recordings from 1927-1945.


Midnight Stomp,The Bumps Jeanette James and her Synco Jazzers Paramount, 1927

Goose Grease John WIlliams' Synco Jazzers- Henry McCord, tp; Bradley Bullett, tb; John Williams, as + bass-sax; Mary Leo Burley(misspelled) (Mary Lou Williams), p; Joe Williams, banjo; Robert Price, dr. Chicago,  Paramount, 1927

Cloudy-and Casey Jones Special-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Claude FIddler WIlliams-violin  Gene Prince, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bar; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, bassax + ldr; Edward McNeil, dr; Harry Lawson, Billy Massey voc. Brunswick, 1929

Somepin' Slow and Low and Lotta Sax Appeal- John Williams and His Memphis Stompers- Gene Prince, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bs; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Claude Williams, viol; Mary Lou Williams, p + arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, b, bass-s + ld; Kansas City, 1929 Vocalion

Night Life solo MLW Chicago, 1930  Brunswick

Loose Ankles-Snag It- Marys Idea
-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Edgar Battle, Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as + bar; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Claude Williams, vln; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; William Dirvin, bj + g; Andy Kirk, bassax + ldr; Edward McNeil, dr; Harry Lawson, Billy Massey voc. Brunswick 1930

Getting off a Mess-Andy Kirk and His Seven Little Clouds of Joy-Harry Lawson, tp; Allen Durham, tb; John Harrington, as + cl; + same rhythm section only 1930 Brunswick

I Need Lovin', There's Rhythm in the River,
BLANCHE CALLOWAY AND HER JOY BOYS Harry Lawson, Edgar Battle, tps; Clarence Smith, tp + viol; Floyd Brady, tb; John Harrington, cl + as; John Williams, as; Lawrence Freeman, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Bill Dirvin, bj; Andy Kirk, b; Ben Thipgen, dr; Blanche Calloway, Billy Massey, voc. Victor 1931

Walkin' and Swingin, Moten swing, All the Jive Is Gone -Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy- Harry Lawson, Paul King, tp; Eart Thompson, tp +  Ted Donnelly, Henry Wells, tb; John Harrington, cl + as + bar; John Williams, as + bar; Dick Wilson, ts; Claude Williams, vln; Mary Lou Williams, p + arr; Ted Robinson, g; Booker Collins, b; Ed Thigpen, dr + voc; Pha Terrell, voc. New York,  1936 Decca

Corny rhythm, Swingin' For Joy, Clean Pickin' 1936- Mary Lou Williams Trio, p; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr. Decca

Roll Em, Camel Hop 1937-  Benny Goodman, and His Orchestra- Benny Goodman, cl; Ziggy Elman, Gordon Griffin, Harry James, tp; Red Ballard, Murray McEachern, tb; Hymie Schertzer, George Koenig, as; Vido Musso, Arthur Rollini, ts; Jess Stacy, p; Allan Reuss, g; Harry Goodman, b; Gene Krupa, dr; Mary Lou Williams, arr. Victor

A Mellow Bit of Rhythm, Why Can't We Do It Again?
-Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy-see above personnel. Decca, 1937

Arkansas Blues, You don't know my mind-Mildred Bailey, and he Oxford Greys Mary Lou Williams, p; Floyd Smith, g; John Williams, b; Eddie Dougherty, dr; Mildred Bailey, voc. Vocalion. 1939

Zonky- Mary Lou Williams Blues, SIx Men and A Girl- Earl Thompson, tp; Earl Buddy Miller, cl + as; Dick Wilson, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Floyd Smith, g; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr. Varsity 1940

Harmony Blues, Baby Dear  Mary Lou WIlliams and Her Kansas City Seven
Harold Baker, tp; Ted Donelly, tb; Edward Inge, cl; Dick Wilson, ts; Mary Lou Williams, p; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thipgen, dr Decca, 1940

Cuban Boogie Woogie, Ring Dem Bells  Andy Kirk and His 12 Clouds of Joy-Clarence Trice, Harold Baker, Harry Lawoon, tp; Ted Donnelly, tb; Henry Wells, tb + voc; John Harrington, cl +as + bar; Rudy Powell cl + as; Dick Wilson, Edward Inge cl + ts; Mary Lou Williams, p +arr; Floyd Smith, g + el-g; Booker Collins, b; Ben Thigpen, dr; June Richmond, Pha Terrell voc. Decca. 1941

Yesterdays, Blue Skies M.L. WIlliams solo 1944-Folkways

Marcheta, Taurus Mood  Mary Lou Williams Trio- Mary Lou Williams, p; Al Lucas, b; Jack Parker, dr NYC, March 7, 1944 Folkways

Roll 'Em, Yesterday's Kisses  Mary Lou Williams and Her Chosen Five Frank Newton, tp; Vic Dickenson, tb; Ed Hall, cl;Al Lucas, b; Jack Parker, dr. NYC, 1944 folkways

Blue Skies- MLW arr. for Duke Ellington. Solos by Lawrence Brown Rex Stewart, Al Sears, Hodges, Hurricane Restaurant, NYC May 21, 1944 Musica Jazz

This and That Mary Lou Williams and He Orchestra- Bill Coleman, tp; Mary Lou Williams, p; Eddie Robinson, b; added: Claude Green (1), cl; Joe Evans (2), as; Coleman Hawkins (3), ts; Denzil Best (4), dr. NY 1944 Asch

Aries Mary Lou Williams Trio from Zodiac Suite(12 parts) Mary Lou Williams, p; Al Lucas, b; Jack The Bear Parker, dr. NYC,  Asch, 1945

Rhumba Re-Bop, Blues At Mary Lou's,  Mary Lou Williams Girl Stars- Majorie Hyams, vib; Mary Lou Williams, p; Mary Osborne, g + voc; Bea Taylor, b; Bridget O'Flynn, dr. NYC, Continental, 1945

Monday, June 26, 2017

George Russell on the DuPlex

The DuPlex Mystery Jazz Hour took a look at the work of this important composer/arranger/pianist on 6.22.17. Russell should be given his due as an important formulator of the modal concept in jazz,   adopted by so many musicians in the 50's and 60's. He was also a very early adopter of electronic instruments and synthesizer in jazz.



Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra with Chano Pozo "Cubana Be Cumana Bop" 1947 on RCA Victor

Buddy DeFranco "A Bird in Igor's Yard" 1949 on Capital-Buddy DeFranco (clarinet), Al Cohn (tenor sax), Gene DiNovi (piano), Bernie Glow, Paul Cohen, Jimmy Pupa, Jack Eagle (trumpets), Ollie Wilson, Earl Swope, Bart Varsalona (trombones), Lee Konitz, Frank Socolow (alto saxes), Gerry Sanfino (tenor sax), Serge Chaloff (baritone sax), Oscar Pettiford (bass), Irv Kluger (drums), possibly Jimmy Raney (guitar). Composed by George Russell.

Artie Shaw & His Orchestra "Similau"  1950

George Russell Sextet "Concerto for Billy the Kid" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor-Art Farmer (trumpet), Hal McKusick (alto), Bill Evans (piano), Barry Galbraith (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Paul Motian (drums), George Russell (arrange)

George Russell Sextet "Fellow Delegates" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor Teddy Kotick -b, Osie johnson-drums

George Russell Sextet "Ezzthetic" from "The Jazz Workshop" 1956 on RCA Victor

"Manhattan" from "New York, N Y"1959  on Decca-George Russell - arranger, conductor' tpts-Art Farmer - Doc Severinson Ernie Royal Joe Wilder Joe Ferrante; tbpne Bob Brookmeyer Frank Rehak Tom Mitchell Jimmy Cleveland Hal McKusick - alto saxophones Phil Woods - tenor saxophone John Coltrane -Al Cohn Benny Golson -Sol Schlinger - baritone saxophone, bass saxophone Gene Allen - baritone saxophone Bill Evans - piano Barry Galbraith - guitar George Duvivier - bass Milt Hinton - bass Charlie Persip - drums Max Roach - drums Don Lamond - drums Al Epstein - bongos Jon Hendricks - vocals, narration

"Waltz from Outer Space" from "Jazz in the Space Age" 1960 on Decca= -George Russell: arranger, conductor;trumpet Ernie RoyalAl Kiger Marky Markowitz:tbn Frank Rehak: David Baker:Bob Brookmeyer: Jimmy Buffington: french horn Hal McKusick: alto, Dave Young: tenor, Sol Schlinger: baritone Bill Evans: piano Paul Bley: piano Barry Galbraith: guitar Howard Collins: guitar Milt Hinton: bass Don Lamond: drums Charlie Persip: drums

George Russell "The Lydiot" from "Jazz in the Space Age" 1960 on Decca

George Russell Sextet "Round Midnight" from "Ezzthetics"1961 on Riverside George Russell - piano, arranger  Don Ellis - trumpet Dave Baker - trombone Eric Dolphy - alto sax and bass clarinet Steve Swallow - bass Joe Hunt - drums

George Russell Sextet "Nardis" from "Ezzthetics" 1961 on Riverside

"The Stratus Seekers" from "The Stratus Seekers" 1962 on Riverside Stratus Seekers  -George Russell: piano, arranger, conductor Don Ellis: trumpet David Baker: trombone Paul Plummer:tenor John Pierce: alto Steve Swallow: bass Joe Hunt: drums

"Pan Daddy" from "The Stratus Seekers" 1962 on Riverside
"Othello Ballet Suite" from "Othello Ballet Suite" 1968) on Riverside- recorded November 3, 1967 at the studios of Radio Sweden in Stockholm; Alto–Arne Domnerus Drums–Jon Christensen; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tenor– Bernt Rosengren and Jan Garbarek Trumpet – Rolf Eriksson

George Russell's Living Time Orchestra "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature" from "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature" 1969 on Flying Dutchman-Jan Garbarek: tenor, Manfred Schoof: tot,Terje Rypdal:  guitar, Jon Christensen: drums, Red Mitchell: bass, George Russell: piano

Lisen to the Silence- live album by George Russell originally recorded in 1971. Text Credits:"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown, "The Mark" by Maurice Nicoll, "Duino Elegies" by Rainer Maria Rilke. George Russell-timpani, arranger Stanton Davis-tpt,Jan Garbarek - tenor sax,Terje Rypdal-electric guitar,Webster Lewis - organ, Bobo Stenson-electric piano,Bjørnar Andresen- fender bass, Arild Andersen-acoustic bass Jon Christensen -percussion, Chorus of the Conservatory of Music in Oslo, Norway George Russell "Event 1" "Event II" from "Listen to the
"Event III" from "Listen to the Silence" 1971) on Concept Records

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ra Kalam Bob Moses on the DuPlex

Ra Kalam Bob Moses, my guest on the DuPlex of 6-15.17 has been playing drums, percussion and other instruments professionally since the mid-1960's. He has played with a long lost of top tier-and boundary-pushing-musicians and he continues to push those boundaries. He had a lot of interesting things to say about the music and the people, including Mingus, Rahsaan, Coryell, and guitarist-composer Tisziji Muñoz who is Ra Kalam's spiritual guide.



Love Animals "Wholly Moses" from "Love Animals"1967 on Ra-Kalam Records

Love Animal "Dancing Bears" from "Love Animals" 1967 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Bittersuite in the Ozone" from "Bittersuite in the Ozone" 1973 on Amulet Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Ghosts and Spirits" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Sun shower" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Radiating Heart Grace" from "Vintage Visionary Vignetttes" on Ra Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Universal Folk Song" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Love Everlasting" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Sacred Secret" from "Universal Folk Song" 1998 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Explode, Reform and Move On" from "The Illuminated Heart" 2007 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra Kalam Bob Moses "Skyward Home (Leaving the Body Behind - Ascension Into Pure Spirit)" from "The Illuminated Heart 2007 on Ra-Kalam Records

Ra kalam Bob Moses Grege Burk "Radiant Heart Blossom" from "We Are One  2012 on Ra-Kalam Records

Tisziji Munoz "No Self, No Thought, No Mind (feat. Dave Liebman)" from "Scream of Ensoundment (feat. Dave Liebman)" 2017 on MRI

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trumpet Miming in Film: Mostly Jive

No surprise that filmmakers want to feature trumpet players in their films. After all, we are a complicated, sometimes volatile and, ahem, sexy cohort. I've written here about the odd character-illogical bent that movies show toward the species, but in this post, I'll restrict myself to analyzing how well filmmakers pull off the act of shooting a character playing the trumpet or cornet.

Let me note that, technically, no one is actually playing for the soundtrack while scenes are being shot. Music is almost never recorded live on a soundstage, but is recorded in an audio studio and mimed during the shoot (I did this myself as a member of a polka band in the as-yet unreleased Jack Black film The Polka King). That's the only way to be able to isolate any dialogue in the scene and it gives many more editing options. So, even if someone knows how to play, in a feature film, they always have to try and synch with pre-existing audio.

Let's start with the one scene I know of featuring a woman. In The Jerk, Bernadette Peters does an excellent miming job. Before she plays, she lightly licks her lip in a very natural way. Then, she actually fingers the right notes on the valves for a melody in the trumpet key of Aflat. Her embouchure is a little too loosy-goosy and the dubbing is very close, but not exact. She looks like an example of someone who is comfortable with the trumpet and maybe even knows how to play, but is not playing it here.

Jack Lord of Hawaii 5-O fame is in Play It Glissando, an episode of Route 66. Just from the awkwardness of the title (you can play _a_ glissando, but you can't play _it_ glissando), you can see the writers are trying to get hip but can't quite get there. I find that a lot in Route 66, but I love them for trying. Lord is cast in the Chet Baker mold and has the basic look right, but, as in most miming attempts, he's trying too hard to look the tortured soul. He's too stressed, too tense. Also, there's no variation in his chops; no indication that he's actually playing high or low, loud or soft. The director is smart enough to have only one shot where you can see him fiddling with the valves and that's a quick long shot.

Whether or not Richard Gere in-Cotton Club plays the cornet himself is a subject of online debate. The most convincing story I read says he did; not live, of course, but that with Warren Vache's help, he pre-recorded his parts. The scene where Gere's character really plays is not online, but in this clip he does a good job; right stance, overall physical look, amount of tension, fingering the valves properly. Flirting with Diane Lane does break his concentration. I get that.

Denzel Washington in Mo Better Blues does a very credible job. It helps that he is photographed in dim light-makes it hard to see his chops. They put him in the classic Miles pose-hunched over, with little movement. Spike is smart enough to give him a simple riff to play in close up and to pull back in the brief time the solo gets more complicated. Also, they know when the horn should have a harmon mute-and when it's open, for the solo.

Jack Klugman in a Twilight Zone episode called A Passage for Trumpet was not well coached. Here I speak not of his playing (although that too) but what he does when he goes to pawn his trumpet. Watch at :48.

Did you see what he did? First, he slammed his mouthpiece into the receiver-a sure way to get the thing stuck. Then, he actually, put the whole mouthpiece in his mouth. Never happens.

Ok, nuff o that.

I had reservations about other aspects of Miles Ahead, but no question that Don Cheadle was serious about learning how to play and to do a good job synching to the soundtrack. Sorry I don't have a longer clip, but this clip should show how invested he was in getting it right. Keyon Harrold does the real playing.

Jack Just-the-facts-maam Webb, a big jazz fan, made Pete Kelly's Blues. The thing that made Jack's miming work credible is his intrinsic wooden-ness, which actually keeps him from engaging in the St Vitus dance that so many actors are subject to in miming a trumpeter. His valve work is not bad.

In Clint Eastwood's film Bird, Michael Zelniker does a pretty good Red Rodney, at least in terms of fingering. He does not get the embouchure. Red had fairly Dizzy-like puffy cheeks.

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker in Born to be Blue does some things right. His general physical deportment and playing posture is right, but his embouchure is wrong and he also raises his shoulders and gears up a little too much for a breath. Careful video study of Chet would have shown that. As is the norm, his fingering for ballads is good and breaks down somewhat at higher tempos. Kevin Turcotte does the actual playing.

Probably the progenitor of the self-destructive trumpet player was Kirk Douglas in Young Man With a Horn, a film I talk about here. Kirk's performance varies, depending on how fast the music is. There are no clips up of him when he plays jazz, but here, apart from the usual excess physical movement, he does a credible job with a ballad (trumpet actually played by Harry James):

In A Man Called Adam, Sammy Davis Jr. takes on the part of yet another messed up trumpeter. I was a little disappointed in Sammy's miming attempts here, as he was a consummate musician who, I believe, actually played some trumpet. This just means that, although his embouchure is convincing, he didn't take the time to know what cornettist Nat Adderly was actually putting down and there's a lot of random fingering going on. He does a great job of carrying out one of a trumpet player's great fantasies: smashing up his horn on stage.

Montgomery Clift in From Here to Eternity has quite a challenge: to make Manny Klein's trumpet playing look like it came from a bugle. Of course, a bugle has no valves, so even though impossible to do, it's much simpler to mime. We only see him play in profile, so rating his chops is hard, but he has the correct look of a trumpet player who's had too much to drink, but has enough energy left to show off for 16 bars before he passes out.

Red Nichols and His Five Pennies has Danny Kaye taking the title role. Much of the musical slack is taken up by Louis Armstrong and Danny does a lot of singing (unlike Red himself). He comes onstage about halfway through the clip. Before that, you get to hear Pops. When he is playing, Danny is in long shot, with appropriately masking lighting, so not much pressure for cornet verisimilitude. Adequate, I guess.

SHORT TAKES/ ODDITIES  This post would take an eternity to load if I embedded all these, so I just provide the links where you can find the clips.

Amazing. At 29:15, Sugar Ray Robinson ("Biff") gets a lecture on the use of mutes in the TV series Land of the Giants(!) Later, Sugar and the actor play a duet on Give Me The Simple Life. "I hate to call a man a liar, but that's not the first mute I've seen." At the end, the actor has to charm a snake with his trumpet, using a few well-chosen minor scales. Now yer talkin'. BTW, writer Richard Shapiro's first writing credit is a script for Route 66.
Forrest Whittaker, in the production Lush Life does have the length of the phrases down, so that he starts and stops playing phrases at the right time;  points for studiousness. But, he also suffers from the same unnecessary rocking/excess motion that he had when he played Bird in Eastwood's movie. Some playing after opening credits and at 8:00:

Burt Young plays another self-destructive trumpet player in Uncle Joe Shannon. Instead of showing us the tension in his chops needed to hit all those Maynard Ferguson high notes, Burt is in constant motion. Between that and the director shooting into lights and constantly moving the camera, attention is pretty much successfully diverted from how little effort Burt put into knowing anything about the music.

Thanks to FB friend Marty Krystall for reminding me about this, He wrote: "I worked on camera in a few shots with Kurt Russell in Swing Shift, with Goldie Hawn. Kurt studied the trumpet with Zep Misner for two months, and I heard him warming up on the set. He had a very nice, controlled sound. He was a natural trumpet man. I don't know if some of his playing ended up in the film or just his side-lining, but he could play." 

Bryant Weeks sits in for Bix in Bix: An Interpretation of a Legend (Tod Pletcher is playing). Full credit to Weeks for knowing the music well enough to make the fingering look good. It is weird that he brings his fingers up so high, as if each valve needed the pressure of a tuba valve to go down. The actors all do a good job and music director Bob Wilbur makes sure there are no anachronisms and missteps.

For Love or Country; The Arturo Sandoval Story features Andy Garcia as Sandoval, who, of course, is actually playing. Garcia does a very good job, although we might note that since Arturo's valves are almost in perpetual motion, it makes miming fast sections easier than in solos that are less moto perpetuo.

In Blues in the Night, Jack Carson does a credible job. Plus, there's a certain fascination in watching an entire group of actors pretend to play jazz.

One of the most ridiculous efforts and certainly the most vertigo-inducing, Mickey Rourke in Passion Play:

In Memories of Me Billy Crystal plays trumpet and, albeit with too much head movement, does a credible job.

Dingo, a little known film with Colin Friels as the trumpet player(Chuck Findlay playing). I give Friels an B- for his mime job, but worth noting is the fact that this is the only film I ever saw with POV shots of the valves; as if seen through the player's eyes-or nose.

Nice little trumpet scene from The Black Glove with ok miming by Alex Nicol of nice playing by Kenny Baker (I think)

Playing two big band trumpet players, Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith vie for the affections of Goddard in Second Chorus.  Fred does kind of a ragged job with the fingering, while Burgess is a little more precise with fingering but apt to twist himself up into some odd contortions. Bobby Hackett and Billy Butterfield are the real players.

In The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai, Peter Weller, who apparently actually plays trumpet, pulls out a pocket trumpet during a nightclub scene. I'll give it a mention just because, well how often do you see a pocket trumpet in a feature film?

The Salton Sea has Val Kilmer (Terrence Blanchard playing) and the little I've seen on Youtube is disappointing; no effort to synch his valve work with the music and a laughable embouchure. Goo-ily romanticized bilge.

Dennis Leary in The Secret Life of Dentists does a credible job. They keep him in medium-long shot with low lighting. That helps.

Unfortunately, I could find find no clips of Robert Wagner playing trumpet in All the Fine Young Cannibals, no trace of Syncopation by William Dieterle, 1942, that has Jackie Cooper as a jazz trumpet player and could not find clips of Antonio Banderas playing in Mambo Kings

There are many more scenes that could be analyzed, especially in episodic television, but I have evaluated my own level of obsessiveness and feel that things have gone far enough; at least for the moment. I'd ask any readers who can cue us in to other examples to leave a comment here rather than responding on Facebook, although I'm happy if you do that as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Harvey Diamond and Lennie Tristano on the DuPlex

Pianist and teacher Harvey Diamond guested on the show on 6.8.17.  The show is notable for the music we heard from Harvey and Lennie Tristano and because of the insights Harvey shared about Tristano (possibly the only eminence grise in jazz), with whom he studied for ten years.



Harvey Diamond Trio "I Hear A Rhapsody" from "Harvey Diamond Trio" 2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "It's You or No one" from "Harvey Diamond Trio"2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "Sylvia's Dream" from "Harvey Diamond Trio"  2015

Harvey Diamond "Don't You Know I Care" Live  2015

Harvey Diamond Trio "Tenor Madness" from "Harvey Diamond Trio" 2015

Harvey Diamond "Sophisticated Lady" from "Unreleased"2017

Lennie Tristano Trio "Blue Boy"  1947 on Mercury

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh "Smog Eyes" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh "Ear Conditioning" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano Sextette "Wow" 1949 on Capital

Lennie Tristano "Blame me" from "Live at Birdland" 1949 on Jazz

Lennie Tristano "All The Things You Are" from "Chicago April 1951" 1951 on Uptown

Lennie Tristano "Descent into the Maelstrom" 1953 Private recording

Lennie Tristano "Line Up" from "Lennie Tristano" (Jazz, 1956) on Atlantic

Lennie Tristano "Requiem" from "Lennie Tristano" (Jazz, 1956) on Atlantic

Lennie Tristano & Warne Marsh/Henry Grimes. "Continuity" from "Continuity" 1958 on Jazz Records