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BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1951-1968

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These 17 years play out like the vocal jazz equivalent of the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Much of the core body of work that makes up vocal jazz was recorded during this relatively short time span. These were the years that saw some of the greatest jazz singers working at the peak of their powers. In the late 1940s, American record companies stumbled upon two ideas that have since become the cornerstone of the ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis

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The following is an excerpt from “Chapter 13: Opening Night at the Village Vanguard" of The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis by Chris Smith (University of North Texas Press, 2014). In November of 1965, Thad and Mel quickly put together a list of the musicians they wanted for their band. While Thad had certain friends at CBS that he wanted to hire, and Mel had musicians he wanted, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band: Certain Relationships

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Drummer Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band continues to spread sunshine and happiness on Certain Relationships, an album recorded in three sessions spanning the half-dozen years between 2005-2011. Of the fifteen selections, nine are vocals --by Pete McGuinness, Hilary Gardner, Andrea Wolper, Mary Foster Conklin or Dominique Eade. In Lillard's optimistic eyes, even the blues are gladsome (as Wolper affirms on Track 5, the buoyant “Happy Blues"). And the shuffling “You Bluesed Me," nicely sung by Conklin, is far more sunny ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ryan Truesdell Gil Evans Project: Lines of Color

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The biggest ribbons in composer/arranger Gil Evans' (1912-1988) resume are three groundbreaking Columbia Records albums he recorded with trumpeter Miles Davis: Miles Ahead (1958); Porgy and Bess (1959); and Sketches of Spain (1960). These were orchestral jazz of the finest caliber, recorded a decade after Evans' earlier work with Davis on the seminal Capitol Records set Birth of the Cool, released in 1957. Evans' charts--written with the the inclusion of the then unusual (in jazz) French horns and the then ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pedro Giraudo Big Band: Cuentos

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Cuentos, the sixth recording by Argentine-born, New York-based composer / arranger / bassist Pedro Giraudo and his first as leader of a fully formed large ensemble, is a rhythmic delight, deftly interweaving the best of Giraudo's South American heritage with contemporary big-band jazz of the highest order. Giraudo wrote and arranged every number, on each of which the irrepressible harmonies and cadences of his homeland play an essential role. Much of the music is thematic, from the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nathan Parker Smith Large Ensemble: Not Dark Yet

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Slip Not Dark Yet into your player and STAND BACK! The Intergalactic Big Band of Doom is about to crush everything in its path. Otherwise known as the Nathan Parker Smith Large Ensemble, this absolutely burning group is simply a thrill to listen to. Smith is the composer and director of the group, creating music which evokes the world (or soundtrack) of say, “Adventures of Roddick" (and “Pitch Black"), “Blade Runner," “Battlestar Galactica," “I Robot" with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project: Lines Of Color

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How do you create a follow-up to an album like Centennial-Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans (Artist Share, 2012)? That beauty--the debut from Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project--was more than a standout record; it was an artistic tour de force and a recording for the ages. In crafting that album, Truesdell married his archeological skills, curatorial instincts, arranger's eyes and ears, organizational savvy, and profound respect for the Gil Evans legacy. All of those aspects are also wedded on this ...

INTERVIEWS

Band Ambition: Sherrie Maricle and Diva

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In the iconic photo A Great Day in Harlem (1958), bandleader and pianist Count Basie has taken a seat on the curb. Eleven neighborhood kids and one ringer, Taft Jordan Jr, are seated single file to Basie's right. Marian McPartland and Mary Lou Williams stand behind the kids, chatting. They are bookended, appropriately, by Oscar Pettiford and Monk. The only other woman is Maxine Sullivan. I never noticed her until now--a telling oversight. Fifty years later, the ...



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