• In honor of the First Lady of Jazz’s 100th birthday…

  • Space Age Greetings, President Trump:

    I am reaching outwards to you from outer space, the other side of nowhere.  (It is a place we both call home).    

    I come bringing harmony in the face of the planet’s doom, which I predicted long ago, when I lived on Earth.

     

     

  • When Billie Holiday and jazz greats appeared on CBS Televisionn…a moment indelibly etched in the minds of those who honor this great woman and those who accompanied her on this date.

  • But by making this song the focus, “people…overlooked what the hell the whole album said.  We didn’t just do one tune and let it stand, we did albums and ideas, and all of those ideas were significant to us at the time we were working on them.”

  • Ella is 100
  • A Letter to President Trump, from Sun Ra
  • A Moment in Time: Studio 58, New York, December 8, 1957
  • Beyond "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Features » Liner Notes

Liner Notes: Ornette Coleman’s Change of the Century, written by Ornette Coleman

In an essential jazz history book Jazz, co-written by Gary Giddins and Scott DeVeaux, the authors describe Ornette Coleman as being “universally revered as one of American music’s most original figures,” and whose influence is “beyond calculation.”  In addition to his musical significance, his six albums recorded for Atlantic Records from 1959 – 1961 “generated a cultural storm, not least for album titles that continued to lay emphasis on the group’s challenging attitude, which — without once mentioning the civil rights struggle — seemed to incarnate the authority of the New Negro: The Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century, This is Our Music, and Free Jazz.”   Those Atlantic albums are creative and emotional landmarks, and for open-minded musicians and listeners, continue to be indispensable material for measuring our respective aesthetic boundaries. 

The importance of these recordings heightens the influence of their liner notes.  But, which liner notes best characterize Ornette Coleman’s work on Atlantic?   Focusing on the first three of the recordings, in the liner notes to the first, […] Continue reading »

Features » Book Excerpts

Hampton Hawes writes about the “dependability” of the piano

I am in the early stages of reading pianist Hampton Hawes’ 1972 autobiography (written with Don Asher) Raise Up Off Me, which Gary Giddins called, in his introduction, “the first book to give an insider’s view of the most provocative and misunderstood movement in jazz — the modernism of the ’40s, bebop.” It is incredibly entertaining and a witty, lucid, and smart read.

In a paragraph representative of the book’s quality, Hawes writes about his respect for and appreciation of his instrument’s dependability:

The piano was the only sure friend I had because it was the only thing that was consistent, always made sense and responded directly to what I did. Pianos don’t ever change. Sittin’ there every day. You wanna play me, here I am. The D is still here, the A flats still here, they’re always going to be there and it don’t matter whether it’s Sunday, Ash Wednesday or the Fourth of July. Play it right and it comes […] Continue reading »

Features » Memorable Quotes

Memorable Quotes: Bill Evans on “listening well”

“Perhaps the hours of greatest pleasure in my life have come about as a result of the capacity of the piano to be in itself a complete expressive musical medium. In retrospect, I think that these countless hours of aloneness with music unified the directive energy of my life. At those times when I have achieved this sense of oneness while playing alone, the many technical or analytic aspects of the music happened of themselves with positive rightness which always served to remind me that to understand music most profoundly one only has to be listening well. Perhaps it is a peculiarity of mine that despite the fact that […] Continue reading »

Quiz Show

Jazz History Quiz #53

This popular music singer once sang backup with her vocal group the Pied Pipers in Tommy Dorsey’s band and occasionally performed under the pseudonym “Darlene Edwards.” By 1955, she had sold more records than any other female artist, and one of her songs was the first record by a woman to reach #1 on the U.K. Singles Chart. Who is she?

Anita O’Day

Jo Stafford

Helen Merrill

Peggy Lee

Chris Connor

Carmen McRae

Lena Horne

Mildred Bailey

[…] Continue reading »