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. Despite all of the qualifiers which, in Mort Weiss' case, could be advanced to issue ...read more
Recorded in England in 1958, this little-known session, originally released on the obscure Felsted label, is an inarguable gem. Perhaps even the word masterpiece" is not too much of a stretch. It's doubtful that the putative father of the tenor saxophone," Coleman Hawkins, made a better recording in the age of long-playing records, and it's just as unlikely that a better example of the impeccable touch and melodic inventiveness of the prolific Hank Jones can be found on any other recording featuring the versatile, style-resistant pianist.
Jazz history books frequently use Hawkins to exemplify the harmonic" approach to ...read more
Another album by a female vocalist, another familiar playlist. But hold the assumptions. This is the first and only commercial album by septuagenarian singer Myrna Lake, but that's not the real story here. The recording is noteworthy above all because it refuses to mistake youth for vitality, slickness for substance, or newness for originality.
Myrna Lake's Yesterdays (Jazzing Music, 2008) is less a trip down memory lane than an exploration of the power of memory itself, a musical narrative yielding the discovery that memory, like the songs that are eventually designated standards," is a moment in the present, ...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
The Classic Jazz Calendar 2010, with photographs by Chuck Stewart--a full-page devoted to each of 12 jazz greats--includes a striking photo of Patti Page, representing the month of May. While her inclusion may strike many as unexceptional, for jazz followers who remember the best-selling female singer of the 1950s, her name would seem a problematic fit. Yet she is the only vocalist and female among the chosen dozen (which includes Wayne Shorter, James Moody, Jimmy Cobb, Red Garland, and Grant Green).
Having collected nine gold records with lightweight fare such as How Much Is That Doggie in the ...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