“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of the evening in c. 1930 that Louis Armstrong taught Buck Clayton how to perform a trumpet technique known as the “gliss”
The legendary pianist Erroll Garner’s most famous composition, “Misty,” was written as an instrumental in 1954 for his 1955 album Contrasts. Lyrics were added in 1959 by Johnny Burke and it became the signature song of Johnny Mathis, and was subsequently recorded by Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James, and countless others. Garner’s version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1991.
In this excerpt from an interview with the drummer Art Taylor, Garner describes how he wrote “Misty:”
In this entertaining short excerpt from Arnold Shaw’s 1971 homage to the jazz clubs of New York, 52nd Street: The Street that Never Slept, Ralph Watkins, owner of legendary New York City clubs like Kelly’s Stable, the Royal Roost (the famed chicken restaurant nicknamed the “Metropolitan Bopera House” due to it being near the Metropolitan Opera House) and Bop City, remembers the blind pianist Art Tatum:
“The 52nd St. performer that stands out in my mind is Art Tatum, above everyone else. Not only his musicianship but the fire in him. He had a way when he was annoyed. When people were talking during his playing, he’d stand up, bang the piano shut, stare in their direction, and tell them off: ‘Quiet, you
I came across a classic August, 1956 piece in Down Beat, “A Tribute to Brownie,” in which none other than Quincy Jones pays homage to the recently deceased Clifford Brown, and expresses a critical eye on the business of jazz – and his fellow performers – at the time…Here is the prominent and most entertaining section of the piece:
Here was the perfect amalgamation of natural creative ability, and the proper amount of technical training, enabling him to contribute precious moments of musical and emotional expression. This inventiveness placed him in a class far beyond that of most of his poll-winning contemporaries. Clifford’s self-assuredness in his playing reflected the mind and soul of a blossoming young artist who would have rightfully taken his place next to […] Continue reading »
Fats Domino is remembered as a rock and roll legend, and idolized by many musicians of his era, including Elvis Presley, who, according Peter Guaralnick, author of Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, referred to Fats as “The King of Rock and Roll.”
In 2006, Jerry Jazz Musician contributor Adrienne Wartts interviewed Domino’s biographer Rick Coleman…You can read it by
Dizzy Gillespie — born 100 years ago today — recalls his childhood in this excerpt from his 1979 autobiography, To BE, or not…to BOP
The pictures show me as a very beautiful boy, but I was the last of nine children and my arrival probably didn’t excite anybody. So many people had been born at our house before. I don’t think Mama felt too blessed about having nine children, unless “blessed” means “wounded” like it does in French. She probably figured someone had put the bad mouth on us.
Every Sunday morning, Papa would whip us. That’s mainly how I remember him. He was unusually mean; and hated to see or hear about his
In the fall of 1944, shortly following his medical discharge from the Navy, Artie Shaw formed a 17 piece band (without strings) that featured Barney Kessel on guitar, Dodo Marmarosa on piano, Ray Coniff on trombone, and the brilliant trumpeter Roy Eldridge, famous for his work with Gene Krupa’s band in the early 1940’s. The band, according to noted critic Leonard Feather, was “quite impressive” and exhibited “a refreshing lack of bad taste and bombast.”
This era of Shaw’s band resulted in several excellent recordings, among them
“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. This edition tells the story of the evening of the 1963 Grammy Awards, when Woody Herman met Bill Evans. […] Continue reading »
We have stood over record bins, thumbing through his records, moved by his breathtaking originality and creativity.
We have made friends over his music, made love to it, cruised in the car to it, introduced our children to it, and defended it against those who don’t quite comprehend his genius.
We love the emotions his music brings out in us – joy, tears, humor, inspiration.
We continue to sit up when we hear “Straight, No Chaser,” marvel at the brilliance of
I’ve been on a Bill Evans kick of late. Call me “crazy” but I just find his music an island of hope and reason in a world fraught with daily “craziness.” And, it is wonderfully low-tech in today’s frantic environment that requires seemingly constant and needless stimulation, created by bots and provocateurs. His music is so…human.
Simultaneous to my kick on Evans is my renewed interest in the writings of the late jazz critic Gene Lees, whose award-winning career included that of biographer, songwriter/lyricist, and editor of Down Beat. His 1988 collection of essays on jazz – Meet Me at Jim and Andy’s – is loaded with remarkable insight laced with knowledge, charm, and appropriate sentimentality (his piece on Woody Herman, for whom Lees gave the full biography treatment in 1995, is noteworthy in that regard). A standout piece worth reading is the tragic story of the trombonist Frank Rosolino, who suffered greatly from depression and whose desperation was so intense that he ultimately shot his two sons before killing himself.
In Lees’ essay “The Poet: Bill Evans,” he writes of his discovery of the great pianist in 1959, as editor of Down Beat, when he noticed, “among a stack of records awaiting assignment for review a gold-covered Riverside album titled Everybody Digs Bill Evans…I took the album home and, sometime after dinner, probably about nine o’clock, put it on the phonograph. At 4 a.m. I was still listening, though by now I