Recent Articles

Tag Team Jazz, Part 1-2

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Part 1 | Part 2 Jazz has always celebrated rugged individuality, praising those who appreciate others but stay on their own path. So what happens when two (or more) intelligent and original musicians come together? Most of the time, pure magic. Stellar tag teams have made some of the finest records in jazz history. Louis Armstrong / Duke Ellington: The Great Summit: Master Takes (Blue Note, 2001) An absolute “must have" for any ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maria Schneider: Lembra De Mim

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June of 2015 can't come soon enough for fans of the Maria Schneider Orchestra. That month will see the release of the The Thompson Fields--the long-awaited followup to the stunning Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007). In the meantime, Schneider has been gracious enough to deliver a pair of bonus tracks to tide everyone over until the album drops: an updated take on “Dance You Monster To My Soft Song," a piece originally presented on Evanescence (Enja, 1994), and her arrangement of ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia Tribute to Strayhorn and Golson at the Kimmel Center

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Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia Spring Concert Honoring Billy Strayhorn and Benny Golson Perelman Theater Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Philadelphia, PA May 9, 2015 This concert was billed as “A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn," but it was, in fact, evenly divided between Strayhorn's music and that of the venerable Philadephia native, Benny Golson, who brought himself and his iconic jazz standard tunes to the new and highly touted Jazz Orchestra of ...

BUILDING A JAZZ LIBRARY

Vocal Jazz: 1969-2001

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The Dark Age followed by the Renaissance. The tumultuous changes of the 1960s radically changed the American musical landscape. Jazz fell off the American cultural radar, nightclubs closed their doors and record companies moved on to rock. With few opportunities to work and little money to be made, jazz became a music played by the dedicated for the devoted. Jazz singers, who had always acted as a bridge between the jazz and non-jazz audience, found that the middle ...

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 ...



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