Mort WeissRaising the Bar: The Definitive Mort WeissSMS Jazz2010 In late 2006, clarinetist Mort Weiss told his unusual story to R. J. Deluke in an exclusive interview for All About Jazz, appropriated titled Mort Weiss: Sets Sail with Clarinet." His narrative is the timeless, archetypal journey of the hero's circular route to hell and back--much like that of Homer's legendary mariner, Ulysses, except that in Weiss' case, the outcome was far from known. With Raising the Bar, Weiss completes his journey, and provides impressive if less than definitive closure to his story.Read More
It's a story often heard before: musically, these are the best and worst of times. Only this time, in 2010, it seems different. Even as the pool of fresh talent expands, jazz continues to witness a dearth of venues along with the slump in CD sales. Uncounted numbers of talented musicians, young and otherwise, are reduced to playing in venues--if they can find one--for the door and pocket change. Simultaneously, they are recording, producing and hawking their own CDs; often using them like calling cards, to swap with other musicians or to drop off at nursing homes and civic centers ...Read More
Artie ShawClassic Bluebird and Victor SessionsMosaic Records2009Shortly after its critically acclaimed box set comprising clarinetist Benny Goodman's essential recordings-- The Columbia and Okeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions (2009), which was released to coincide with the centenary of the King of Swing"--Mosaic Records has done it again. The Classic Artie Shaw Bluebird and Victor Sessions arrives in time for the 100th birthday (May 23, 2010) of the clarinetist who was the instrumental bobby-soxer equivalent of singer Frank Sinatra and arguably jazz's first rock star, a musician capable of attracting Hollywood screen sirens like ...Read More
Johnny Mercer Clint Eastwood Presents Johnny Mercer: The Dream's On Me TCM 2009
Film director Clint Eastwood's love of jazz and American popular song is far from a secret, especially following his feature-length biopic about alto saxophonist Charlie Parker (Bird, 1988), during which the ever restless Eastwood got the idea to produce a feature-length film about pianist Thelonious Monk, released somewhat later during the same year as Straight No Chaser. Hence, it should surprise few that Eastwood will introduce viewers to a month-long 100th birthday celebration of American lyricist Johnny Mercer on Turner Classic ...Read More
Not long ago a veteran Chicago jazz disc jockey played a track from a female vocalist's new CD only after complaining on the air about the seemingly unending stream of new recordings by female singers sent to his notice each week. The exception to his policy not to play them was due, he explained, to the sender's being a close friend and loyal listener of the show.
From the evidence, the radio announcer's observations about the number of vocal recordings by women would appear valid, but the decision not to play them is regrettable if not without merit ...Read More
Jack Reilly Trio Live At Dean Clough Dean Clough Unichrom 2007
After composing, performing and recording a work motivated by and patterned after a struggle with a life- threatening illness (Innocence: Green Spring Suite, Unichrom, 2007), Jack Reilly might be expected to lighten up on his sequel. Recorded in March 2007, even the cover of Live at Dean Clough, depicting the pianist in an English pub apparently enjoying a leisurely game of pool with his bassist and drummer, might suggest a more playful approach this time out. But Reilly's is ...Read More
Toshiko Akiyoshi & Lew Tabackin Toshiko Akiyoshi - Lew Tabackin Big Band: Mosaic Select Mosaic Records 2008
Jazz was never more schizophrenic than in the 1970s. On the one hand, musicians equally savvy about mixing genres and running mixing boards were selling out arenas and producing lucrative, widely played albums, with bass-heavy danceable beats or soothing instrumental sounds tailor-made for air play on FM radio. At the other extreme, many of the jazz masters who came up with, or slightly before and after, saxophonist Charlie Parker, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and pianist Thelonious ...Read More
In the mid-1950s, Victor Feldman was among the first British musicians successfully to relocate to the US, when he settled in Los Angeles. Becoming an outstanding West Coast" pianist, Feldman was also a memorable vibraphonist. Reissues of three albums recorded in the US from 1957-61 showcase his abundant talent.
Victor Feldman The Arrival of Victor FeldmanOriginal Jazz Classics 1998 (1958)
Although it might have been even better with fewer tunes and longer solos, count this recording a win-win. Les Koenig's Contemporary label made beautifully imaged" recordings--not the dimensionless, flat," in-your-face Van Gelder ...Read More
Six classic albums from the vocalist Peggy Lee catch her at the height of her powers. One or two of these discs may be hard to find in 2009, but the effort of tracking them down, if successful, will be amply repaid.
Peggy Lee Basin Street EastBlue Note 1995
Like the LPs Ellington at Newport 1956 and Beauty and the Beat (in reference to singer Peggy Lee and pianist George Shearing), Basin Street East was a simulation of the live event and, moreover, a flagrant misrepresentation. Only two of the tunes on ...Read More
An Italian vocalist with an elegant and insightful command of the Great American Songbook, Roberta Gambarini's You Are There (Emarcy, 2008) and Easy To Love (Kindred Rhythm, 2006) are treasures waiting for those who've learnt how to listen. Roberta Gambarini You Are ThereEmarcy 2008
Start with a phenomenally gifted, rapidly ascending vocalist of the same heritage as Enrico Caruso and Frank Sinatra, add as the sole pianist the musician who is in 2009 the reigning patriarch in jazz, and finally select a few sterling examples from the Great American Songbook. ...Read More
The singer and actress Eartha Kitt (1927-2008) was the ultimate femme fatale, the most exciting woman in the world" according to film director Orson Welles. Purr-Fect: The Eartha Kitt Collection is an enjoyable if flawed greatest hits collection. In Person at the Plaza a representative and recommended live recording.
Eartha Kitt Purr-Fect: The Eartha Kitt Collection Spectrum Audio UK 2001
She may not have had Edith Piaf's musical instrument or the full, flowing facial geography (but what sculpture!) of a Greta Garbo, or the irresistible, girl-next-door wholesome charm of ...Read More
Mort Weiss All Too Soon: A Jazz Duet for Clarinet and Seven String Guitar SMS Jazz 2008
Not the least of this album's attractions is the title. To those few listeners familiar with the tune, All Too Soon" might summon up one of Duke Ellington's more obscure compositions, were it included in the disc's playlist of no fewer than a dozen jazz classics." Or it could be a reminder of the irreparable loss to the music as a result of the recent, premature death of clarinetist Mort Weiss' brilliant bassist, Dave Carpenter, to whose ...Read More
Oscar Peterson The Complete Clef/Mercury Studio Recordings of The Oscar Peterson Trio (1951-1953) Mosaic Records 2008
How do you criticize pianist Oscar Peterson? The two primary meanings of such a question expose the divide among those who must confront his talent--and, like it or not, no musician or supporter of the music can duck the issues raised by the most prolifically recorded pianist in jazz history. To the one camp, Peterson's playing represents a sort of gold standard and is therefore beyond criticism; to the other side, his inarguable virtuosity and flawless ...Read More
Music-making, from conception to realization, is contaminated by the rhetoric of personality. And even more than instrumental music, vocal performances are often poorly served by language focused on the desires and disappointments, frustrations and satisfactions of the artist's self" rather than on the art." But quite apart from the self-expression (since the Romantic era, a birthright of every child) that inescapably clings to the creative process, what remains is something new that has come into being--a creation, moreover, that is vibrant, whole and, most importantly, universal in its appeal and potential to communicate with others.
At once the ...Read More