Many elements comprise the spirit of the authentic blues, from the weary, lonesome and forlorn lyrics and voices to the bent, plaintive notes coaxed from weather-beaten, jury-rigged instruments. It's that off-kilter, almost microtonal aspect of true blues tonality that is too often overlooked by cover artists and wanna-bes who reduce the music to three chords and the truth. Guitarist Jon Catler and the other members of Willie McBlind work near-miracles in bringing that raw aspect of the blues sound to ...read more
Jazz Lives: Till We Shall Meet and Never Part Jaap van de Klomp and Scott Yanow Hardcover; 223 pages ISBN: 9789022993538 VIP Books 2008
Now and then a book comes along that defies all expectations. Jazz Lives, a collaboration between Dutch photographer Jaap van de Klomp and American jazz writer Scott Yanow, is just such a volume. Given its structure--short biographies of deceased jazz artists, combined with photos ...read more
This release in the Cadence Jazz Historical Series (recorded in February 1995) is full of surprises, none greater than the successful intertwining of a former Jazz Messenger with one of the premier free-jazz rhythm teams. Saxophonist David Schnitter isn't the best-known of the Messengers tenormen, having joined the outfit during the comparative down-time of the 1970s. But since then he has built a reputation as a solid, reliable improviser. Dominic Duval and Jay Rosen often function as the house rhythm ...read more
The idea of music as communication is as old as music itself, and has become just about as clichéd as some of its referents. Igor Stravinsky once opined that music was powerless to communicate anything. And, truth be told, the number of active instrumentalists who can successfully communicate thoughts, feelings, concepts and dogmas without words is significantly smaller than the number of those who believe they can. Even many vocalists and lyricists aren't as adept at getting things across as ...read more
Pianist Michael Wolff has some of the most expansive vision of anyone working in jazz today. Born in the California High Desert, raised in New Orleans and now making his home in Manhattan, the well-traveled, big-eared Wolff is never short on surprises for his listeners. With his dazzling Impure Thoughts ensemble on hiatus, Wolff's two current albums up the ante beyond that band's extraordinary work.
Michael Wolff Jazz, Jazz, Jazz Wrong Records 2007
The liner notes tout this band as a veritable who's who among the Los Angeles area's most accomplished studio and big-band artists." That's quite true, which is precisely why Kindred Spirits falls a bit flat. It shares much of its personnel with most every other white big band project in Southern California, which makes it essentially sound like every other white big band project in Southern California.
LA is afflicted with this studio-band syndrome, wherein just about anyone who styles ...read more
Nashville pianist, composer and author Charlie Peacock has raised a lot of eyebrows with 2005's Love Press Ex-Curio, the scintillating first release from his label, Runway Network. It marks his first full-on jazz effort in nearly three decades, a bold step away from the lucrative world of contemporary Christian music. The album is the latest in a long series of reinventions for the category-resistant musician.
The album's title is shorthand for Loves Pressure, Exhibits Curiosity." Says Peacock, I ...read more
Harlem of the West: The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era Elizabeth Pepin and Lewis Watts 200 B/W photographs ISBN 0811845486 Chronicle Books 2006
Harlem of the West is a charming, violet-hued paperback that digs deeply into one of America's most endangered jazz legacies. Long before it gained a new reputation in the hippie era, the Fillmore neighborhood west of San Francisco's City Hall was the site of the ...read more