When the music's happening, life is happening.... Why must we only join hands after the storm?... How true are you? Nothing else even matters." --Jef Lee JohnsonJef Lee Johnson, prolific, virtuosic, humble, was in some ways not made for this world. I'm over the world," he sang. He was certainly made for music though.Time to tell the truth about Jef Lee Johnson. For too many, it's better late than never. His brilliance was evident enough, however in his lifetime many people, including fellow artists and the entertainment industry, weren't able to face his truth.News ...read more
Imagine you were given the chance to go back in time and witness four musical events (one each from jazz, blues, classical, and rock history.) What would they be? That's an after-dinner topic friends might discuss by candlelight. If your inner-child has completely matured, perhaps you could approach it as a potential film: if you were given a massive budget to authentically recreate four musical events, what would they be?This idea has intrigued me for a while, so when I interviewed Derek Trucks earlier this year I thought it would be interesting to hear his choices. Clearly, he ...read more
Greetings fellow jazz-junkies, music aficionados and other folks searching for a little bit of meaningful life between the exit signs. My name is Peter Madsen and in real life I'm a professional pianist, keyboardist and composer that once a month will be masquerading as a music-writer for AAJ. Being that this is the maiden voyage of this monthly event I thought I would take the time to introduce myself and tell you some of my ideas for this column.
It all began thirty-five years ago when my poor mother wanted me out of the house and sent me for the ...read more
One of my first great musical experiences in New York happened shortly after I had arrived here in 1980. I was rehearsing once a week with a band co-led by trumpeter Manny Duran and singer Carla White up in Breton Hall on 86th street and Broadway. During one of the rehearsals a shy thin gray haired man with a goatee walked in the room with a tenor saxophone and began to play with us. We were playing something like Tad Dameron's Hot House and this old guy begins to improvise like I had never heard before. With a sound that ...read more
Happy New Year everyone. Hope 2000 was as great a year for you as it was for me and I hope 2001 is even better.
The following is a letter from an AAJ fan with some questions about scales and improvisation. I was asked to try and wrestle these questions to the ground and turn the answers into an article (or two). Check out the letter:
I have a question, which might make a good topic for an article - maybe. In an old interview with Frank Zappa I read a while back, he talks a bit about his guitar ...read more
Welcome back to part 2 of an article in response to a question from Michael a loyal AAJ reader with some interesting questions that I was asked to write about. Once again here's the letter:
I have a question, which might make a good topic for an article - maybe. In an old interview with Frank Zappa I read a while back, he talks a bit about his guitar playing and some of the nuts and bolts of his group's improvisations. He makes an interesting remark about how in an improv; the soloist (i.e. Frank himself) might think, let's play ...read more
Muddy Waters! Muddy Waters! Muddy Waters!
Damn this man could sing and play the blues. Lately I've been listening to his very first recording done for the Library of Congress in 1941 in the fields of the Mississippi Delta. Absolutely some of the finest music ever!!
Beginning in 1933 music researcher and historian Alan Lomax was working for the Library of Congress traveling throughout the Southern United States making field recordings of American traditional music with his 300 pound so-called portable tape recorder. Just imagine carrying this huge beast around in the trunk of your car ...read more