Hardly Strictly Jazz

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Back To... SOUL

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While everyone else seems to have been attending jazz festivals, I've been flying under the radar with film and TV music jobs, so I haven't had the time to write about the summer's recorded music treasures, and it has been bountiful for record/CD fans. Not least of all because some really careful and wise music fans have made sure that round things with a hole in the middle deliver something digital downloads can't: a real package. Two come from Memphis, one from The Other LA (Lower Alabama). There are three this summer that stand out from the pack. ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Pryor Experiences

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If it seems like everything is being anthologized into a box set these days, that's because it is. While on a trip to Amoeba Music (the enormous record store from where I live about a block), I took stock of all kinds of box sets. There was even one of the Mitch Miller Sing Along With stuff. Oh joy. The thought of being trapped in a room with someone who could get through even one disc of that... Horrors.In those pre-Seinfeld days, standup comedians made live albums (roughly one per year), played Vegas showrooms, toured nightclubs, appeared on ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Reliving Elvis

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No matter how much is written, or by whom, Elvis Presley remains impossible to explain. The usual “young white rocker who could sing black" is as inaccurate as any standing American mythology. His legacy has been as mangled as his career was, often to the detriment of the work itself. Yes, at the time of his death, Elvis had become (to use Frank Zappa's description) “that poor guy, that drug-infested blimp." Yes, by 1962 he had become the star of bad movies that spawned mostly bad songs.But look closely, and a much more complex and magnetic artist comes ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Carole Simpson Remembered

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As news of Donald Byrd's passing was leaking out slowly, jazz educator Keith Pawlak sent me a note on Facebook asking if I had heard that pianist/vocalist Carole Simpson had passed away.Her name is barely known except to a few collectors who specialize in female singers of the Eisenhower era. She was during that period almost an archetype--a gorgeous, glamourous blonde with an intimate singing style not far from June Christy and a pianistic approach that borrowed most heavily from George Shearing and Errol Garner. Her first album, All About Carole (Capitol) was an all-standards affair that featured ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Beyond The Blues

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Back when I was a kid--I was born in 1965--the first comprehensive push for children's education about American Black History was on. Elementary school libraries suddenly included books about Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver, and there were even a few books about jazz and blues for young readers.I wish I could remember the title of the book about blues I found in my school library when I was in the fourth grade (about 1976). It was less a history of blues than profiles of several musicians, including Billie Holiday and Leadbelly, neither of whom is ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

John Hartford: Aereo Plain/Morning Bugle - The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings

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John HartfordAereo Plain/Morning Bugle: The Complete Warner Brothers RecordingsReal Music2012 This 1971 album was to the emerging newgrass movement approximately was Bill Evans' Village Vanguard recordings were to jazz piano trios: the flexible blueprint for the genre. Evans and singer/multi-instrumentalist John Hartford both successfully found ways to dissolve the “soloist and his enablers" tyranny, working instead towards the integrated ensemble as the musical engine.Shortlived though this group was, this unit--alternately called The Dobrolic Plectral Society or just “The Aereo Plain Band"--was a revolutionary force in bluegrass music. They only lasted ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams For Beginners

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Fifty years after his death, Ernie Kovacs is de rigueur. Mainstream, even. His angular, imaginative approach to humor was impossible to imitate, but his influence on television-specifically television comedy-is intractable. He's the Thelonious Monk of the small screen. And just trying to play in a Monkish style always points out that Monk is Monk and nobody else is, so it is with TV and Kovacs.The jazz world often assumes that the avant-garde thinks and operates independent from the mainstream. We'd be shocked to find saxophonist Ellery Eskelin on singer Jane Monheit's new disc.But there are other ...



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