Len Dobbin was a cool jazz voice on the radio when I was a teenager just getting into playing jazz. In fact, my love affair with jazz began in the 1970s when I discovered the album Headhunters by Herbie Hancock in 1973. Up to that point I had been playing pop and folk music, like most teenagers coming out of the sixties. But Headhunters started me on a new journey. For the next few years a learned more about crossover jazz music, later to be known as jazz-funk" and jazz-rock." I wrote and recorded music in that genre, performing with ...read more
Imagine a pianist playing concerts with Benny Goodman and Cecil Taylor in successive years (1977-78). That pianist was Mary Lou Williams. In a career which spanned over fifty years Mary was always on the cutting edge.
She was born Mary Scruggs in 1910 Atlanta. Her mother was a single parent who worked as a domestic and played spirituals and ragtime on piano and organ. At age three Mary shocked her by reaching up from her mother's lap to pick out a tune on the keyboard. Rather than hiring a teacher (for fear the child would lose the ability ...read more
Carol Mennie I'm Not a Sometime Thing CDM 1004 2004
Long closely associated with guitarist composer Dom Minasi, jazz vocalist Carol Mennie steps out as leader and hits one out of the park. Ms. Mennie revealed her deep alto on the recent Dom Minasi release, Time Will Tell, fashioning Monk's 'Round Midnight" into a darkly-colored ballad. Here, she steers through a collection of originals and standards, all framed by Minasi's keen freedom principle, but kept between the ditches by Ms. Mennie's firm vocal command. The best pieces on the disc are the originals. Minasi's ...read more
Elvin Jones, one of the most influential and accomplished drummers in history, passed away Tuesday May 18 due to heart failure. Most notable for his work with John Coltrane, he helped to revolutionize the way jazz and contemporary music are heard and played. Described by Louie Bellson as Mother Earth coming alive with syncopation," there isn't a drummer today in the world of jazz and contemporary music that hasn't felt his influence. Born on September 9, 1927, the youngest of ten children, Jones came from a musical family that included brothers Hank and Thad, pianist and trumpet ...read more