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There are those who refer to the Detroit area pianist Bob Seeley as the foremost player in the world, the greatest boogie woogie pianist alive today. There are those, too, who will mistakenly call him low key, in spite of the mighty rumblings that emanate from his supremely talented digits. He doesn’t have a record contract, though he’ll happily sell you any or all of his three self-produced CDs at the gig or by mail. He doesn’t take the show on the road a heck of a lot -- but when he does, he d …
29.01.2011

Handicapping the Clubs

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The week of 11/10/03 should be a good one for fans of jazz vocals in Los Angeles. Carmen Lundy will be gracing the stage of the Jazz Bakery from 11/12-11/16 with violin sensation Regina Carter as a special guest, while Feinstein's at the Cinegrill in Hollywood will feature another fine female singer in Keely Smith. Devotees of the avant-garde should find the next two offerings from the line space line series at the Salvation Theater in Silverlake interesting. On 11/10, line space line features o …
29.01.2011

Carmen Lundy, Close to Home

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Carmen Lundy has been living in Los Angeles for over a decade but her recent engagement at the Jazz Bakery represented an all-too-infrequent local appearance from the talented singer and songwriter. Backing her on stage, as on her excellent new Justin Time recording Something to Believe In, was Regina Carter, the very talented and busy violinist. In a week that included a performance from Keith Jarrett at new Disney Hall downtown, Lundy’s dates at the Jazz Bakery were the talk of the L.A. …
29.01.2011

Qnote

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A new independent jazz label was born on December 1st from the roots set by vocalist Cleo Laine and husband saxophonist John Dankworth: Qnote will try to bank on a glorious past of re-releases and perhaps try to promote some new quality jazz.

TV personalities as well as the usual Jazz crowd attended the reception for the launch of Qnote in London’s Soho. Some of the CDs included in their soon-to-come catalogue will comprise names as guitarist John Williams, cellist Jullian Lloyd Webber, saxop …

Your CD rack is bulging with all those great jazz CDs, but tell me this . . . do you have a portion of your collection devoted to holiday albums? No, you say? Well why not? It’s common knowledge that most of the old jazz dudes and dudettes put out at least one Christmas album during their lifetime. Labels practically made it a mandatory for their artists in the ‘50s & ‘60s. Those time honored albums of Ella scattin’ in the New Year, Nat’s mellow voice setting the holiday mood, Clooney and Bing u …
29.01.2011

Blues Heroes

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The Martin Scorsese-generated blues series, a weeklong extravaganza of blues films presented on PBS stations across the country, was one of the most anticipated events of the past few decades. Given the decline of sales across the board for all genres of music, the folks who make, record and release blues music were hoping for a shot in the arm, akin to the Ken Burns series on jazz and, to a lesser degree, the country/bluegrass film "O Brother". While every label with a stake in the music releas …
DISCS THAT MADE 2003 BEARABLE (in no order whatsoever)

1) Elvis Costello, North (Deutsche Grammophon) The sardonic, erudite rocker turns into (for this album at least) a sober, haunted crooner, crafting his very own counterpart to the 1950s romantic-angst concept album Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely but with all original songs, written with the poignancy of standards like "One For My Baby" and "Angel Eyes."

2) Lee Morgan, Sonic Boom (Blue Note) Sure, thi …
With continued financial woes to face, the aftermath of a war on foreign soil still to be wrapped up, and snipers here in our own backyard, 2003 really wasn’t much to write home about. As has been the case for centuries, man’s art tends to reflect in some shape or form the social conditions of the time and so it should come as no surprise that jazz fortunes were at a low point this past year to say the least. The industry continued to feel the effects of a reissue boon over the last ten years th …
Publishing year-end lists serves to spark debate and (ideally) inspire closer inspection of the music that moves us throughout the year. If you’re like me, you probably shake and scratch your head every time you look at these lists, wondering what in the world the list maker could have been thinking. "They thought what was the best album of the year? What, are they kidding!?" There are lists that inspire, too. I often buy music on the basis of year-end lists, but only if at least some of …
29.01.2011

Best of 2003

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2004 may already be a couple weeks old but it's not too late to run down some of the highlights of 2003. While it seems that playing the time honored game of "things ain't what they used to be" is a perfectly nice thing to do for some jazz fans and critics, the joke is on them if they don't realize that there are plenty of great albums being made in the present tense. The following is by no means to be considered a complete list of the best of '03.

One trend that happily continued in 2003 is …

29.01.2011

Resounding Thinking

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A post-it on my computer desktop keeps telling me to write this article. My experiences in life and with music have increased a gazillion (taking this word from NYT columnist, Maureen Dowd) fold in recent years. I suppose it is for the reason that music for me, as it does for many others, serves as a comforting heartbeat existing outside of my own and informs me that I am not alone. Writing about how the music I listen to affects me is an activity which I like to share because I treat each artic …
29.01.2011

Getting a Line on Dave

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It is seldom that a musician can captivate my ears to the point that I do not want to stop listening to the recordings I have of his music. This is true of pianist and composer, Dave Burrell. A while ago, I wrote about a his performance with his new Trio featuring William Parker and Andrew Cyrille. Now I want to write about Dave, and only Dave.

The opening track of RECITAL (a 2000 CIMP recording with bassist, Tyrone Brown), NEVER LET ME GO, reveals more about Burrell in 8 minutes 50 seconds t …

29.01.2011

Fantasy Jazz

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The relationship between record companies and musicians who aspire to be recording artists is a symbiotic one. The levels of success in those affiliations hinge on both the appeal of the artist as well as on the marketing savvy of the label and their pr departments. Giants like Sony/Columbia, BMG, Blue Note, Verve and Telarc are masters of strategy. They know how to entice talented players to their ranks and, more importantly, how to get the word out to print media and radio, and ultimately to t …
One of the more intriguing concepts of music that of an alternate, parallel language more ancient and more starkly emotional than the spoken word apples to those who play avant garde and free forms of music. The musician who plays "free" jazz, music free from, though not especially devoid of, conventional boundaries of harmony, melody and rhythmic form, is perhaps more tuned into the concept of alternate language than others. These are the players who think in terms of growing the music, stretch …
The passing of the great jazz drummer Elvin Jones at the age of 76 on 5/18/04 marked the end of an era for me. I had seen Elvin live at least once a year from 1990 to 2003, because I considered him the greatest living practitioner of the music. He was a man who created his own style of playing that influenced many but no one duplicated, was the driving force behind one of the all time great jazz groups, the John Coltrane Quartet, a man who sold out clubs and concert halls all over the world perf …
The DVD has become an enormously popular and cost efficient way to get music films into consumer homes over the past few years. Music Video Distributors, based out of Oaks, PA, has released an extraordinary collection of classic jazz on this format over the past few months. Most are pretty bare-boned no fat booklets. Most have nothing in the box but a disc, but this is definitely offset by a very affordable price. These are generally lumped under the Jazz Legends and Swing Era series. Among the …
Sarasota, Florida is the home of many a world class musician that one might consider 'unsung.' I have written about several whom I consider 'role model musician types' one in particular is trombonist extraordinaire, Greg Neilsen. There are dozens of things I could suggest positively about this gentle soul, but at the top of the shelf is his commitment to my favorite side of music, the big band idiom. Kudos too, to his 'barrel-house' size chops & prowess at playing his beloved ax, the trombone. < …
29.01.2011

Brubeck, Living Legend

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Honoring the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy Beach, Telarc releases "Dave Brubeck Remembers," a stunning collection of Brubeck’s solo piano renditions of some of the most popular songs of World War II.

World War II began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland without warning. By the evening of September 3rd, Britain and France were at war with Germany and within a week, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa had also joined the war. It wasn’t un …

CD Review/Bill Evans/'You Must Believe In Spring'/ Warner Bros/R273719

Even posthumously, Bill Evans still remains the penultimate pivotal jazz pianist innovator of the 20'th century. He & his trio define how the jazz trio should be presented. This CD is and has always been a favorite of this reviewer......

CD Review/Jack McDuff/ 'The Prestige Years'/Prestige 24287-2

B3 colossus McDuff offered his bandstand as a forum to the many 'up & comers,' i.e. Ammons, Jimmy Forrest, Benson, …

Blue Note has been the standard by which most jazz labels have measured themselves since Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff founded the record label in 1939. Blue Note has chronicled some of the most important jazz musicians and movements of the past century, most notably those of the mid-50s to the late 1960s, though certainly they remain vital in the new millennium, as well, as evidenced by a roster that includes such stellar players as Stefon Harris, Medeski Martin and Wood and Norah Jones.

The …